Lately I’ve been trying to cut down on my expenses.  And after I looked at my spending and habits, the most costly and reoccurring expense is going out to eat.  So to change this, I’ve decided to try and make some of my favorite restaurant meals at home.  One of my favorite go-to’s is East Village Asian Diner Monk Pots.  This isn’t an exact replication, but my take on the concept.  I was overwhelmingly surprised with how f*cking tasty this was.  As a result, I’ve ended up eating this 6 nights in the past 2 weeks.

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DIY Monk Pot

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 bags frozen rice
1 zucchini, sliced into matchsticks
1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 package shredded carrots
1 large can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 bag baby spinach
3-4 eggs
Olive oil
Equipment: cast iron skillet and wok-sized pan
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook the rice according to instructions (totally cheating using frozen rice. Option to cook rice like a normal person).
  2. Place the cast iron skillet over medium heat and heat the olive oil.  Add cooked rice and let it sit and crisp.
  3.  In the meantime, separately, place the wok-sized pan over medium heat and heat olive oil.  Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until al dente.
  4. Add shredded carrots and garbanzo beans.  Cook until it warms and softens.  Finally stir in the spinach and cook for one more minute.
  5. Towards the end, in a separate pan, cook an egg over easy.  Cook 1 egg per serving.

If you’re eating alone, this will last you 3-4 nights.  I ususally serve myself 1 cup of rice and 1 heaping cup of veggies, topped with 1 egg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, a little soy sauce and some sweet chili sauce!

This is super simple, delicious and filling.  If you try it out, let me know what you think!

 

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Last week I had a sudden realization that I don’t have to wait until it’s pitch black outside to go for a run. If I run immediately after work, I can catch the last of the sun, the sunset, and the remaining light in the sky. And I couldn’t work in a better place to run right out the door. With the ocean only a block away, there’s literally no way to go wrong. Whether I run atop the sandstone bluffs that tower the ocean, or follow the mini residential alleyways that parallel the beach, I’m rewarded with sweeping views, a cool breeze, and the fresh scent of foliage.

It’s one of those runs you take for granted. You run so often you get sick of it. It’s not until you completely take it out of your routine that you begin to appreciate and enjoy it again.

I realized that running is really important to me. Without it, I get incredibly antsy and irritable, where I feel like I’m crawling in my skin.  I need it for therapy, but not just to think.  Mainly to keep moving.  To be active, alive and to keep myself sane.

I went through a brief phase (about 2 weeks) where I was feeling pretty run down. I’d go to bed Friday night after not doing much but maybe grabbing one beer. I’d sleep in on Saturday, for over 10+ hours and still feel incredibly tired and groggy. I had an unbearable 3 mile run that made me question why I was running. I thought I was overdoing it with yoga. I thought I was just burning out in general.

But then I reassessed what changed in my routine and realized that maybe taking blood pressure medicine when you already have low blood pressure isn’t the best for your energy levels. So I stopped that. Immediately. And now, I’m back to feeling like me.

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However, something else has changed. Lately my running motivation is not the same. I’m signed up for Mountains 2 Beach in May, with the intention of re-qualifying for Boston. However, I don’t know if I’m in the right mindset or dedicated enough to train hard. I feel like I need to get back to the place where I run for fun, run for me, and run to enjoy the run.

I’m looking forward to this weekend at the Sean O’Brien 50k with Elisa. We’ll be camping. Running trails. Enjoying the ultra running community. And I’ll also be taking over the @RACEPLACE Instagram Friday through Sunday. So make sure to follow me on my personal and the RP Instagram!

Weekly Workout Recap (1/24-1/30):
Sun – 4.5 mi Joshua Tree hikes
Mon – Power Yoga
Tues – Rest
Wed – 6 mi
Thurs – 6.5 mi
Fri – Rest
Sat – 10 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 22.5 mi
Hours cross-training: 3.5 hours
2016 miles: 73.25 mi

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Sunday it rained.  And I couldn’t have been any happier.  It was the perfect excuse to sleep in, make no plans, and do absolutely nothing (and be ok with it).  My biggest plan for the day was to run some errands and make this soup.  This was my first time making curry, and I’ll definitely be making it again.  Maybe next time I’ll put it atop a bed of rice to add some texture and also extend the life of this soup 😉

See the Anything-You-Have-Coconut Curry Soup from Pinch-Of-Yum for the recipe.

For the “Anything-You-Have” toppings I used shaved carrots and zucchini, red cabbage and bean sprouts.

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Last week I had the opportunity to review Sun Basket. Sun Basket is a meal kit delivery service, shipping fresh organic ingredients from west coast farmers directly to you.  With accompanying quick and healthy recipes developed every week, this makes weeknight dinners easy. I received 3 meals for 2 people. For the week, I selected:

  • Grilled shrimp and blood orange-jicama salad with salsa verde
  • Burmese pork and vegetable stew with lemongrass
  • Turkey-apple sausage, beet-apple salad, walnut vinaigrette

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I loved this because it gave me the opportunity to entertain. The first night I invited London over for the grilled shrimp and blood orange-jicama salad with salsa verde. It was a light and refreshing meal packed with protein.

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The next night I had Kevin over for the Burmese pork and vegetable stew with lemongrass. This soup was very warming, super fragrant with a robust flavor.

Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I wasn’t able to make the turkey-apple sausage, beet-apple salad with walnut vinaigrette meal.

I loved how Sun Basket introduced me to new flavors and new meal ideas. These were super easy to put together with all of the ingredients exactly portioned out so nothing went to waste. Definitely makes living a healthy and active life more streamline and easy!

For only $11.49 per meal (per person), I think this is a great deal. It will definitely get you in the kitchen and save you time (grocery shopping, prepping, portioning). And with paleo, gluten-free and vegetarian options, there’s something for everyone, regardless of your dietary preferences or restrictions.  Sun Basket is currently available to be shipped to California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada.

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Before we left on our Jtree trip, I made a menu that tried to roll over ingredients from dinner to breakfast to condense our load and pantry.  No room for excess/full bottles of condiments and booze!

We made this for the ULTIMATE pre-hike, hearty, loungy Sunday camping brunch.  Basically…we killed the camp food game!  Honestly, if I had a restaurant I would serve this to you.  So give it a shot, camping or at home, and let me know what you think!

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Savory Breakfast Oats
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup water
2 Italian sausages (pre-cooked)
1 container sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 avocado
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil water and add oats.  Cook until water is absorbed.
  2. Separately, simmer the mushrooms until cooked.
  3. Heat the sausages until internally warm.  Cut into slices.
  4. Cube avocado and crumble feta.
  5. When you’re almost ready to serve, cook eggs.  We tried to make these a little runny, but they kind of steamed all the way through.
  6. Evenly divide between two plates and layer oatmeal, mushrooms, sausages, avocado, cheese and egg.

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As I’ve read, Joshua Tree is not one for bountiful trails and hikes say for like Yosemite NP.  However, it’s filled with what I would call points of interest (such as Arch Rock and Skull Rock), that are easily accessible and less than 1 mile off the paved road.

Originally I wanted to do The Lost Palms Oasis hike, one of the longer hikes in the park (around 7 miles).  However, once we arrived we realized this located near Cottonwood Campground, roughly 30 miles away from us.  So instead, we decided to do 2 shorter hikes — the first one classified as a “challenging hike,” and the second as a “short walk/nature trail.”

Both of these hikes were easy to find from the road, clearly indicated by wayfinding signage.  The hikes themselves were well maintained and straight-forward.  For example, we thought finding the petroglyphs would be more challenging, but even they had signs pointing towards them.

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Ryan Mountain — “challenging hike,” 3 miles out-and-back with 1,000 feet elevation gain.  The total elevation ends up being a little over 5,000 feet, with sweeping 360 views of the entire park, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio.

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Barker Dam — “short walk/nature trail,” 1.5 mile loop, with the only body of water in the park and Indian Petroglyphs.

I’m glad we did Ryan Mountain first.  Although it is deemed a strenuous hike, we had no problem going up and down this within an hour and 30 minutes, with a prolonged break at the top.  If we had only “hiked” Barker Dam, I think we both would have been fairly disappointed, although the Indian Petroglyphs definitely made up for this (we were so stoked and intrigued!!!).

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Where do you camp when all the campgrounds are full in Joshua Tree?

With no real plans except for a few campsites in mind (e.g. White Tank, Jumbo Rocks) Kevin and I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park late on Saturday afternoon to a full park.

We were informed that the only campground with open sites was Cottonwood.  However, Cottonwood was 30 miles away within the park, basically at the South entrance/exit.  So instead, we decided to weigh our options and scout out the backcountry sites.

I had read of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping which is free and primitive camping outside the National Park (and from what I’ve read quite desolate).  However, we found out that you can do dispersement camping (pack-in, pack-out) at designated Backcountry Boards inside the park.  These are located throughout the park (look on the map for the blue B’s).  All you need to do is find the Backcountry Board, and fill out a free permit that basically provides the information for your car (so you can park overnight) and some accountability for yourself going out there.  The only real restriction to backcountry camping is that you must be 1 mile from the road and 500 ft from any trails.

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After driving through the White Tank campground and realizing that even though all of the sites are divided by huge boulders, there is still a lack of privacy.  Going off the grid was exactly what we both wanted, needed and liked (camping is all about isolation!).  We ended up using the Twin Tanks location (you can see 12 other spots within JTNP here).  With just enough time to carry 2 loads from the car (we’ve worked on condensing since our first dispersement camping experience) and set up camp, we took a hike to the nearest rock formation.  After climbing about 50 feet up, we reached the top for the most majestic sunset.

I find that camping in completely remote locations is the best way to disconnect and relax.  With no cell reception, and the sun serving as your gauge of time, it’s easy to lose yourself into complete stillness and tranquility.

We also happened to catch the full moon which illuminated our little valley like a spotlight!

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I feel like after 24 hours in Joshua Tree, we had a pretty good understanding for the park.  Even though I had done some research prior, it’s always hard to place things in perspective and know how they all relate!

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Running is hard.

On Saturday I had the hardest run ever. And as you’ll see I only made it 3 miles. Originally I was going to run 6-8 miles, which quickly turned to 4-6 miles when I slept in too long. With plans to go to Joshua Tree that afternoon, I didn’t want to tire myself out too much. However, even 3 miles was a struggle. I think I learned I was dehydrated in general that morning (drinking coffee and no water before my run) and from the week of doing wayyy more yoga than I’m used to.

Somehow I’m supposed to be running another ultra on February 6th…we’ll see how that turns out!

Camping in Joshua Tree was amazing and I’m working on a short recap of where we stayed, hiked and what we cooked (aka our super gourmet savory breakfast oats)!

Weekly Workout Recap (1/17-1/23):
Sun – 13 mi pacing Carlsbad Marathon
Mon – 8.75 mi Rancho La Costa
Tues – Hot Yoga
Wed – Hot Yoga + Vinyasa
Thurs – Hot Yoga
Fri – Rest
Sat – 3 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 24.75 mi
Hours cross-training: 4 hours
2016 miles: 50.75 mi

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I’ve mentioned it before, and Kate’s literally laughed in my face when I’ve said one of my goals has been to clear up my skin. For someone who had moderate pubescent acne, it’s stricken pretty hard as an adult.

For the past couple of months I’ve been pretty religious with my skin care, taking my “acne kit” around with me for anytime I’m not home.

I’ve gone from dermatologist prescribed (day topical: Acanya, night topical: Atralin, oral: minocycline,wash: Sumadan), to OTC (Juice Beauty), back to derm (night topical: Epiduo, oral: spironolactone).  You’ll see instead of having the whole gamut of prescriptions, I have one night topical and a blood pressure pill that doesn’t really work well to lower blood pressure but works better for acne (don’t ask me).

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With this regimen, I was in need of a gentle wash and natural moisturizers. In search of this, I found my favorite skincare, Skinfix, just came out with a face line! Like the hand repair cream and rash repair balm I use, the face line is about as natural as you can get (which is important, especially when you’re dealing with an acne war zone!).  Made with natural ingredients and pH balanced, the formula is free of parabens, synthetic fragrance and dyes making it gentle and non-irritating.

Here’s what I’ve been using:

Foaming oil cleanser (97% natural) — I know my gut instinct is to gravitate towards an abrasive scrub to get rid of all oils and impurities.  However, when I do this, I find my skin produces more oil to compensate for everything it’s been stripped of. In stark contrast, this Skinfix foaming oil cleanser utilizes natural oils to keep your skin supple.  It’s dermatologist recommended and for all skin types.  It also uses coconut based cleansers that gently wash away dirt and make up, without stripping the skin’s essential moisture.

Hydrating lotion (95% natural) and Moisture boost serum (97.5% natural) — I’ve been using the hydrating lotion during the day and the moisture boost serum at night to lock in the benefits.  Both of these moisturizers are lightweight and help make my face look fresh, moisturized and “dewy” without feeling overly greasy or oily (a big struggle for me)!

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Brightening eye cream (96.5% natural) — I’ve also been using the eye cream because Daja (the girl who’s done my makeup for a couple recent photoshoots) recommended using one because the skin beneath your eyes doesn’t absorb regular moisturizers the way the rest of your face does.  It’s definitely something I’ve neglected in the past, but it’s already helped to brighten the dark circles under my eyes.

All of these products are now available (and on sale!) at Ulta.

What’s your tried and true skin regimen?

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For some reason it’s always the easiest for me to neglect these blog posts, when they should be the easiest to write!

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Well, it took me about 10 days after the first of the year to get my first run in.  And in fact, my first activity back was a spontaneous hike with Danny Chan (my old photographer, check out his vlog — Don’t Sleep On It — so awesome!).  Danny moved to Thailand last fall and happened to be in town, so we caught up and hiked Stonewall Peak where we found there to be SNOW.  Little did I know this was actually a thing.  Other people were also parked in the Paso Picacho campground day-use lot with the objective of sledding!  Afterwards we visited Julian for some good ol’ Miners Diner and famous Julian apple pie.

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This past weekend was a long weekend, but instead of going on any adventure (although I wanted to), I ended up just staying home and keeping it mellow.  I did a lot of yoga, read more, cooked meals and paced Elisa at the Carlsbad Marathon.

So…what else is new?  I’ve been going to a lot more yoga.  I feel like with yoga I have to set an intention to go (how ironic). However, the yoga classes I have been attending have been relaxing (no more sculpt), so even if I’m tired, it’s easy to convince myself to go stretch in a heated room and know I’ll feel amazing, energized and accomplished afterwards. Just working on that #newyearnewbod (just kidding!).

I’ve also continued my reading habits.  Every night when I get into bed I’ve been opting to read instead of mindlessly scroll through Instagram or watch several episodes of anything on Netflix. It’s been very satisfying, and I’m also exercising my deep reading abilities 😛 So far I’ve finished two books this month, The Opposite of Loneliness, and Into Thin Air.  And I’ve just started A Walk In The Woods.  I’ve become obsessed with reading, enjoying the company it provides and the ability to just get absolutely lost in something that’s actually intellectually stimulating.

How’s the start of your new year?

Weekly Workout Recap (1/3-1/9):
Sun – Rest
Mon – Rest
Tues – Rest
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Power Yoga
Fri – Rest
Sat – 4 mi hike
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Hours cross-training: 2 hours
2016 miles: 0 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/10-1/16):
Sun – 10 mi Rancho La Costa
Mon – Power Yoga + 5.5 mi
Tues – Hot Yoga
Wed – Lululemon Run 6.25 mi
Thurs – 4.25 mi
Fri – Hot Yoga
Sat – Flow Yoga + Vinyasa
Total Weekly Mileage: 26 mi
Hours cross-training: 5 hours
2016 miles: 26 mi

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