Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Skinny Buffalo Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas

With all the articles we read highlighting the benefits of spices on our health, I have been trying to experiment with heat to see how much I can tolerate. When enchiladas was selected as the request for a meal to work with, I thought hard about what I could do to step outside the box, while adding in some kick start your metabolism spice.

Buffalo chicken wings came up on my Pinterest during search for inspiration time (Pinterest is such a wonderful resource for looking up new ideas). I thought maybe I could make buffalo enchiladas. The challenge was to make them a little healthier, as enchiladas are traditionally calorie bombs. I know I can afford to eat a few more calories; the miles I run provide me with the luxury not everyone has....mind you, I work damn hard  for those extra miles! Regardless, I wanted to make this a more nutritious meal to focus on what I could add, rather than what I would take away.

I came up with Skinny Buffalo Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas. Using Greek Yogurt instead of cream cheese, major calories are cut down, and protein is added. Vegetables bump up the nutritional value of this meal to make it a well balanced, but very enjoyable taste of an American Classic.

I cooked my chicken breasts in vegetable stock in the slow cooker for 4 hours prior. This resulted in tender shredded chicken, but you could cook them however you like, or use chicken pieces if you prefer.

These Skinny Buffalo Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas by are wonderful to enjoy this American classic without all the calories or fat of deep fried chicken wings.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves 6


1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp sriracha
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

6 whole wheat tortilla wraps
2 chicken breasts, shredded
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 cups spinach
1/4 cup edamame
1/4 cup black beans


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to break the blue cheese into very small crumbles. Add in the greek yogurt, paprika, vinegar, garlic powder, sriracha, cayenne, pepper, lemon juice and salt. Stir well. Adding more sriracha or cayenne pepper for more heat if needed.

Drop 1/6 of each of the vegetable ingredients, and 1/6 of the chicken onto a tortilla wrap. Spoon 2 tbsp of the buffalo blue cheese mix on top. Roll up, and place seam down on the 9x13 pan. Repeat with the other 5 tortillas. You should use around 2/3 of the buffalo blue cheese mix. Reserving 1/3 for the top.

Spread the remaining mixture on top of the tortillas, and sprinkle with any leftover vegetables.

Cook for 20 minutes, until beginning to turn golden brown. Turn to broil for 2 minutes, until the edges are all golden brown.

Remove, and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information

382 calories, 14g fat, 1218mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 8g sugar, 17mg cholesterol, 24g protein

What traditionally high calorie meals have you made a healthier version of? Do you tend to focus on what you can remove from a meal, or what you can add in to make it more nutrient dense?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Adapting to Weather Changes: Humidity

Happy Marvelous Monday! I know that is pretty easy for me to say right now, as I am not currently working, but the #100happydays challenge has really been changing my perspective on just how much joy I have in my life. I would honestly recommend it to anyone. It really makes you appreciate the little things; even down the beautiful blue of the sky. You can follow my #100happydays through my Instagram.

I had a wonderful time in Indiana, and we had great weather too. I really like Bloomington as a town, and would honestly be happy to live there if I could....maybe someday.

Enough blurb, onto this weeks Adapting to Weather Changes post. If you missed last week, I wrote a post on the benefits of training in, and how to adapting your training to windy conditions.

This week I am going to focus on unfavorable weather condition most people are working against right now. I have heard from various people that the "soupy" weather is making training rather difficult. Now could not be a more appropriate time for this post....especially as August is usually the worst month for humidity. With the Chicago marathon in early October, a big chunk of my training is going to feature humid mornings.

Adapting to Weather Changes: Running in Humidity. Elite Athlete Tina Muir shares her advice for training over the summer months when the humidity is high

Anyone who has been to Florida/Georgia/anywhere in the South will know that running in humid conditions can be miserable, but many do not consider the effects humidity will have on your body when exercising. The dew point on humid days is usually significant and needs to be considered, as you can put your body in extreme danger through overheating.

Dew point is defined by the Dictionary of Environment and Conservation as "The temperature at which water vapour in air will condense on a cool surface and form drops (dew). This is the temperature at which a parcel of air would become saturated if it were cooled with no change in the amount of moisture it contained or in the atmospheric pressure."

In English please? 

As the dew point rises, and the air becomes more saturated with water, it becomes harder for your body to cool down as the sweat cannot evaporate off your skin. This means your body has to work much harder to keep your internal temperature constant. This is why it is especially uncomfortable on days when it is humid, hot, and there is no wind because your body struggles to cool itself.

How does this affect my training?

If you continue to push through at the same effort level you usually would, without the regulation of your temperature, your body will function only to maintain the temperature of your vital organs by directing its energy away from your muscles. This is why you may feel cold sometimes after a race on a humid day as your body is confused and not working properly. This is a serious sign of overheating.

When you check the weather before a run, look at the dew point and humidity. The closer the humidity is to 100%, the more it is going to affect you. The higher the dew point, the more that will also affect you. 

Running Times created this chart on how you should adapt your training based on dew point:

50–54Very comfortablePR conditions
55–59ComfortableHard efforts likely not affected
60–64Uncomfortable for some peopleExpect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
65–69Uncomfortable for most peopleEasy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
70–74Very humid and uncomfortableExpect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greaterExtremely oppressiveSkip it or dramatically alter goal

I became severely dehydrated in my marathon, which caused me to feel freezing....and by the way, I honestly thought I was smiling in this photo....that is one painful looking "smile"
How does humidity affect people differently?

Unfortunately, studies have found that all unfavorable weather conditions affect slower runners more than faster runners due to the speed assisting with the evaporation of sweat. They also affect female runners more than males due to the larger ratio of surface area to body mass combined with the slower overall speed. This means that humidity does not affect everyone the same, and it can be difficult to make suggestions for everyone.

One study featured in PLoS One analyzed the results of six of the biggest marathons in the world (Paris, London, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York) in a long term study covering 1, 791, 972 participants from 2001 to 2010. They found that humidity had a high impact on performance, and was significantly correlated with a drop in performance levels. 

How should I change my pacing/time goals?

Do not panic if you feel fatigued when it is humid. It is normal to feel as though you are working much harder, as your body is reacting to the stress it is under, and will be unable to dedicate as much energy to your muscles performing at their best. Keep the chart shown above in mind when you are training in humid conditions.

On these days, from my experience, it is best to run by effort level. Have a rough indicator of the pace you would like to run at, but go based off the feel. You should be able to tell if you are going too fast through your breathing and perceived effort. On humid days, I tend to not look at my garmin for the entire duration of a workout, knowing that the reason I feel bad is not because I am out of shape, but because my body is working hard. This is also a great time to use your heart rate to make sure you stay within your limits.

Trust your instincts on humid days, run by feel
Runners World wrote a great article with tips for running in humidity, but this is the most important part: Be mindful of the early warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches, tingly skin, and confusion. Call it quits if you experience any of them—even if you haven't reached the end of your run or the finish line yet. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Will it get easier?

If you continue to train in humid conditions, your body will learn to adapt after two weeks. As your body gets used to the humidity, it will acclimatize and get easier. You will need to consume A LOT more water than you usually would; before, during and especially after working out. 

What else do I need to consider?

Humidity is often called the "poor mans altitude", in the way that your body reacts to it. Humidity should be treated as serious as running in altitude, and the adjustments should be similar. Remember, it is critical to ensure you are consuming enough water, and replenish with electrolytes after. Enduropacks have a great spray for adding to any drinks, or you could use Ignite In Refresh, Skratch, or any other sports drink. 

This is when the pee test comes in especially handy. This means that you should continue to drink water until your urine is very pale yellow. The biggest indicators of dehydration are dark urine, and an elevated heart rate. 

One way to know roughly how much water to drink is to weigh yourself before and after your run. The difference in weight, is how much water you need to consume (16oz water in a pound).

Finally, remember that although it can be miserable, there are all those winter months we all countdown to the summer. This is one of the downsides, but it will make all those fall races seem SO MUCH EASIER when the humidity drops. Hang in there, and trust that it is only making you stronger!

Would you rather run in the morning humidity or the heat of the sun? What is your favorite way to replenish? Have you ever raced in very humid conditions?

Oh, and NEXT Monday (July 28th) will begin my Meatless Monday Linkup! Cant wait to see what you can join in with :) Get cooking......meat free of course!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Special Place in my Heart

Happy Saturday!

I am enjoying a few days in Bloomington, Indiana and am making the most of the time I have here with friends. It is incredible that I can come back here after 21 years, and still feel like this is home. I am not sure I have ever talked about living in Bloomington on here, but for those of you who don't know, I actually lived here for three years when I was a kid. Yep! From ages 2-5, my family lived in a cute little suburb in Bloomington. We met some wonderful friends, who are still our friends now! Most of my first ever memories are from my time here with Gloria, which should give an indicator of how special it is to me.

Therefore, I am going to end this post here, as I enjoy my time here, and leave you with a few pictures.

Staying in Gloria's beautiful home

Visiting the lake we spent many summer days at

Lunch at Fourwinds, was delicious, of course!

My first ever wine tasting, which was a lot of fun!

Oliver Winery Lake

Some beautiful two tone flowers

Had to throw in some childhood photos of me from my time here; with Tiffy

Jess and I, while we were still cute :)
Have a marvelous weekend!

Would you like to hear more about my life in Bloomington? What are your first memories?

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