Hey there friends.

It’s been awhile.

Let’s talk about doubt. Doubt is an ugly, heavy thing. It can be a major stumbling block to success. Living with doubt is kind of like swimming through shark-infested waters … with a fifty pound dumbbell tied around your neck. Not only are you constantly weighed down, but you’re also on edge, anxiously wondering when the next crippling attack will come. Basically, there’s a lot of fear involved. Fear is never productive.

I was in doubt. I worked hard all summer: sweating buckets, pushing my limits, rising before the sun to get in a run before the stifling heat made it impossible. I committed a lot of time and effort to making myself stronger, faster, tougher. It wasn’t for kicks and giggles; I had a goal. I knew, that upon returning to school, I would have to tryout again to earn a place on the team that had come to mean so much to me. So, I put in the work required to get to where I needed to be.

Still, I doubted myself. And when the time came to take to the 2k test that had been hanging over my head all summer, my doubt was a hundred pound dumbbell and the sharks were hungry. Not surprisingly, I didn’t make it that first time. I stopped blogging because I wondered if I would even be able to call myself a “rower” for very much longer.

But there were people who believed in me and who refused to let me quit. There were the friends who gave encouragement, the teammates who erged beside me through extra workouts, the coaches who saw something in me that I couldn’t. There was my family, whose support never wavered through the weeks of uncertainty and mental and physical exhaustion.

And so it was that one morning I sat down on the erg, slammed everything I had against those foot stretchers, and blew right through my goal.

So, long story short, I’m back. This rower’s still hungry, and ready to get even stronger.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which a friend shared with me:
“A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.”
- Arthur Golden

Confession: I actually made these on Thursday.

Realization: Today is Saturday.

The Honest Truth: “Fish Taco Friday” just has a nice ring to it, so that’s what I’m going with.

While we’re on the subject, aren’t cilantro and lime just a dreamy combination?


Wait, we weren’t talking about that?  My bad.  We should have been.

Fish tacos are just the sort of meal I crave after a tough summer workout. They’re high in protein thanks to the fish, the flavors are refreshing like you wouldn’t believe, and you can do them so many different ways.  A restaurant in my hometown tops theirs with mango salsa, shredded cabbage, and crème fraiche.  My favorite burrito place near campus offers a version with radishes, lime, and avocado cream.  I like to think these babies offer the best of both worlds:

Fandamntastic Fish Tacos

serves 2

For the fish:

  • 2 filets of white fish (I used cod)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • A dash of cumin
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
Combine all ingredients except fish, then pour your concoction over the filets and let them marinate in the fridge.  Give them at least 20 minutes, and then prepare as desired.  I pan fried mine, but you could grill or bake them as well.  Ideally, you want the cooked filets to be firm, but flaky.

For the tacos:

  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • This creamy chili sauce (I substituted plain Greek yogurt for the mayo)
  • Fresh cilantro and lime
While the fish is cooking, you can go ahead and start assembling your tacos.  Simply divide your toppings evenly between the four tortillas and then add the fish whenever you’re ready.  Fold ‘em up, insert into mouth, and escape (if only momentarily) to a mental Margaritaville.

It’s hot like sauce, and I’ve been waking up craving just one thing:

SMOOTHIES.

What went in the blender this morning:

  • 1 6 ounce organic peach yogurt
  • 1 frozen ripe banana
  • 1 fresh peach
  • A handful of thawed frozen blueberries
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • A scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
The perfect marriage of the summer fruit I love and the quality protein I need, plus some Omega-3s thrown in for good measure.  I drink smoothies all year long, but I find I enjoy them most in the summer, when it seems like I can chug water and Greaterade all day and still wake up feeling dehydrated the next morning.  There’s no specific formula or recipe I follow; usually I just throw in whatever I can find in the fridge.  I can offer a few golden rules for smoothie success though:

1. If you want to take your smoothie to the next level of deliciousness, add a frozen banana.  Room temperature bananas are also good in smoothies, but they won’t provide the same creamy texture.  The riper the bananas are when you freeze them, the more pronounced their flavor will be in your smoothie.  If you’re a bargain hunter (like this girl), you can stock up on those molted brown bananas that are always on quick sale at the grocery store and then just toss them in the freezer until you’re ready to get your drink on.

2. Adding protein powder is a great way to up your smoothie ante.  I usually opt for powders made from soy, rice, or other vegan protein sources, but I’ll use whey if that’s all we have on hand.  I find the extra protein gives my smoothies staying power, and it’s helpful for muscle recovery after a tough workout.  If protein powder isn’t really your thing, nut butters also make a great addition to any smoothie.  One of my favorite combos: almond butter + banana + coconut milk + dates … just do it, you can thank me later.

3. I’m a big fan of greens in smoothies, but some work better than others.  In my experience, spinach blends up much more nicely than my beloved kale, and collards are iffy.  If you have a super powerful blender, go for it.  Otherwise, stick with the spinach.  Your throat will thank you.
UPDATE: I was whipping up a green monster the other day and realized I had neglected to mention a crucial aspect of the smoothie creation process: layering.  I like to start with some sort of fruit base, followed by any ground or powdered ingredients (flax, protein powders, etc.), then any greens I’m using, and finally, more fruit and any liquids (such as juice or soy milk).  Putting heavier items on top of the powders and roughage prevents them from flying up and sticking to the sides and lid of the blender once you get to the actual blending step.  That means less chunk and more yum, not to mention less waste!

I love dairy.  Dairy doesn’t always love me back.  Life’s not fair (No milkshakes for this kid.), but you learn to deal with it.

That said, thank God for goat cheese.  Like many lactose intolerant folks, I find goat’s milk easier to digest than cow’s milk.  It doesn’t hurt that goat cheese is perhaps one of the most delicious edible substances on the planet.  That’s not an exaggeration people.  It’s also surprisingly versatile; and sometimes a sprinkle of the good stuff is all you need to elevate a dish from “This is good.” to “I WANT TO KEEP PUTTING THIS IN MY FACE FOREVER.”

The perfect compliment to Jenna’s babaganoush soup, made with some gorgeous organic eggplant I scored at the farmer’s market:

Crumbled on top of an arugula salad with snap peas, fresh peaches, walnuts, and a honey vinaigrette:

I might even go as far as to say goat cheese is the George Clooney of the food world: a distinctive presence, mature and complex, smooth yet assertive, and good in a variety of roles.  

“If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?”  Because it’s cheese, silly.  Insanely delectable cheese.  That’s not an exaggeration.

 

Haters gonna hate, but my family loves Costco.  Like, really loves Costco. There’s just something magical about the combination of bulk savings and tasty free samples.  And you just can’t beat a 26 ounce jar of MaraNatha natural almond butter for under six bucks.

Especially when you dig overnight oats as much as I do.

Strawberry Almond Butter Overnight Oats

a bulked up version of the KERF classic 

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 6 frozen strawberries, chopped
  • 1 6 ounce organic strawberry yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened organic soy milk
  • 1 (almost) empty 26 ounce jar of almond butter
Mixed and mashed, then an overnighter in the fridge.  
Makes one hearty serving, or two lighter ones.

Yesterday, this only served one.  And let me tell you, I needed every last delicious spoonful.  I’m taking a chemistry course at my local college this summer; I leave my house at 7:30 and sometimes don’t get back until after 1.  I always pack a snack, but that’s not a guaranteed stopgap, even with a breakfast like this.  As soon as I get home, it’s time to eat.  I had tossed some organic kale from our local farmer’s market in a blush wine vinaigrette and stuck it in the fridge alongside my oats to “marinate” overnight, so I pulled that out for lunch yesterday and topped it with halved fresh cherries, a handful of sunflower seeds, and a Boca Chik’n patty.  I also had some warm hunks of wheat baguette with butter on the side.  Bliss.



Okay, so that’s actually a picture of a similar salad I had this weekend.  But you get the idea.  After lunch, it was time for a quick nap and some cardio.  Despite the fact that it felt like Africa outside, I knocked out 3.4 sweaty miles in 30 minutes, then hopped on the erg for 30 minutes of steady state.  After a shower, a snack, and a huge glass of Greaterade, I headed to work.  I”ve got a job coaching lacrosse (Fun Fact: I played in high school.), so “work” for me entails two hours of corralling stick-wielding elementary schoolers.  That alone is a workout; they move pretty fast for having such short little legs.

So yeah, I needed those oats.

I created this blog awhile back, but something kept me from actually posting anything.  It was like I was waiting for the perfect moment (or maybe the perfect meal?).  Maybe I was hoping to wake up one morning and be struck by some divine inspiration.

That didn’t happen.  I did strike a telephone pole with the rear bumper of my car though.  Good times.

Then yesterday I ran my first 10k, something that probably would have been out of the realm of possibility just a few short years ago.  I felt strong.  I felt accomplished.  I felt moved to finally get serious about this blogging thing.

So here I go, starting from a finish line.  Here’s to first steps.  Because sometimes, the hardest part is getting out the door.

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