i am an athlete

02 26 2014.

A few days ago my spinning coach asked the room whether they considered themselves athletes or not. My immediate reaction was to shake my head: no. I’m not an athlete. My head shake garnered her attention and she asked me why I didn’t consider myself to be an athlete.

I recounted my high school years. I never did school sports. I had joined a travel soccer league in middle school, participated in half a semester of track & field as a sophomore and dabbled in softball and snowboarding. The truth was that I had tried a myriad of sports but never committed or fell in love with any.

Somewhere along the way, I got it stuck in my head that if I didn’t play sports in high school, I wasn’t an athlete. If I didn’t train as a youngster, I could never be an athlete.

I have no problem calling myself a runner. I’m a runner! I run. I love to run. It took almost a year of running to comfortably assign myself that title. But athlete? Something about it sounds like a step above. I feel like I need a certificate to call myself an athlete – the same way that I carry a college degree.

Shortly after I answered my coach’s question, a woman next to me who is in my swim class (another of my triathlon training classes) caught my attention and said, “You’re a swimmer.”

I’ve been thinking about that question since that evening. I’ve been thinking about the older women around the room who nodded when asked and confidently answered, “I am an athlete.” Reflecting on my current situation: I’m 23 years old. I’m more active than I’ve been in years – perhaps in over a decade. I care more now than I ever have about my health and fitness. I seek to improve and make physical progress. I’m training.

As a fairly modest person, I’ve realized that I should be proud of my accomplishments. Physically, I’m making leaps and bounds. Mentally, however, I’ve been holding myself back. Once an athlete, always an athlete – sure. But for someone like me who’s late to the plate, it’s never too late to start.

I am an athlete.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - Spice & Dice

Let me start by saying that this is not my recipe. I made these last night and they were so delicious (and easy) that I had to share. This recipe belongs to the wonderful Shannon over at Rumbly in my Tummy.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - Spice & Dice

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - Spice & Dice

If these muffins look delicious to you, hop on over there and grab the recipe! You won’t regret it. They’re perfectly sweet with some satisfying sour.

Take-To-Work Breakfast Smoothie - Spice & Dice

I always wait until I’m at work to eat breakfast. My mornings tend to be hectic and I prefer to eat in the relaxed environment of my workplace. I’ve packed everything from cereal and parfaits to oatmeal for work. This week I decided to try something different – travel-safe smoothies.

Take-To-Work Breakfast Smoothie - Spice & Dice

These are extremely easy to do and you can prepare them the night before! Just get all of your ingredients together, put them in a bowl, cover, and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. You can blend the ingredients the night before and store them in a mason jar in the fridge – but I prefer the fresher taste you get from blending it in the morning. The yogurt and almond milk tend to separate if they sit together for hours, too.

Take-To-Work Breakfast Smoothie - Spice & Dice

Take-To-Work Breakfast Smoothie - Spice & Dice

Take-To-Work Breakfast Smoothie (Strawberry Banana)

yields: 1 smoothie (2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp & 1 tsp chia seeds, divided
  • 1 large banana, sliced
  • 4 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • a handful of spinach
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • ice, crushed (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a blender, mix 2 tsp chia seeds with the banana, strawberries, almond milk, greek yogurt and spinach. Stir to combine any spinach that may have stuck to the side.
  2. Add the cinnamon and crushed ice. Blend again just until the ice and cinnamon are combined.
  3. Pour the smoothie into a mason jar, top with remaining 1 tsp chia seeds and bring to work! (Or you can just drink it right then!)

*You can try this smoothie with other fruity flavors too! Other great combinations:
Strawberry & Kiwi
Peanut Butter & Banana
Mango & Pineapple

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

I love quinoa. It’s a relatively new addition to my diet but I’ve grown fond of its texture and taste as well as its versatility. I’ve eaten it in breakfasts, snacks, disguised as other foods, and in salads.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

This salad is perfect for works lunches. It keeps for a while in the fridge, it’s fresh and filling. I take pride in my work lunches. I’m on a strict budget and have packed a work lunch every single day since September. That’s five months that I haven’t spent a dime during a lunch break. It’s a habit that’s grown on me and now I aim to keep it going.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad - Spice & Dice

Behold. My smorgasbord of a salad: Vegetable Quinoa Salad.

This recipe makes a lot. It lasts me an entire week, sometimes longer. It’s also the perfect amount for a party dish.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad

yields: 8-10 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed/microwaved)
  • 1/2 orange pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans (washed)
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine first 13 ingredients (through pepper). In a smaller bowl, combine the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. Stir the mixture into the larger bowl. Mix well. For best taste, refrigerate for an hour to allow the mixture to absorb into the vegetables.

my introduction

02 13 2014.

Hey readers. You’ve stumbled upon my latest venture. These are the chronicles of a “wannabe chef,” a health nut and a fitness fanatic.

It’s taken a few years of hard work and a mental adjustment, but I can finally say that I love my body. I strive every day to give it what it needs and now craves, and these needs have become my pillars for a happy body and mind:

  • clean, healthy food;
  • exercise;
  • lots of water;
  • plenty of sleep; and
  • time to relax.

I’ll be covering fitness and nutrition in the coming posts.