Sep 9, 2015

Freekeh Foods - Product Review and Giveaway

Fit Approach and Freekeh Foods recently teamed up to share a new-to-me food with me and my readers.

Source: Freekeh Foods

Before this project, I did not know what freekeh (pronounced: free-kuh) was. I learned that it is a roasted green wheat and is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

According to their website, "Freekeh has up to three times the fiber and protein found in brown rice, and fewer calories than quinoa and white rice." Note that since freekeh is made of wheat, it is not gluten-free.

Freekeh Foods makes three varieties of flavors: original, rosemary and sage and tamari. It is also super easy to cook. Just throw it in a pot with water and cook for 20 minutes.

When I first heard about freekeh, I thought it could be used as a replacement for quinoa or rice. Unfortunately, my kitchen currently looks like this, so I was not able to experiment much with freekeh.

I did, however, cook a batch of the original flavor of freekeh the night before we demo-ed our kitchen. I used it as a topping for a Greek-inspired salad of kale, tomatoes, feta and Greek dressing.

I found the texture of freekeh to be a little nuttier and a little chewier than say quinoa, but I thought that it made a great accompaniment to a salad for those reasons as well. 

I have not been able to try the Tamari flavor yet, but hope to once our kitchen is back up and running. I also see myself using freekeh with other dishes that call for rice or even couscous. 

Want to try a package of Freekeh Foods for yourself? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
DisclosureI was provided with two packages of freekeh from Freekeh Foods and Fit Approach for the purpose of this review and giveaway. No compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Sep 2, 2015

Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon Training - Weeks 16 to 18

Here is a tip. Don't try to train for a half marathon while you are renovating your house. By "renovating," I don't mean picking out tiles and then hiring someone else to do all of the work. I mean picking up a sledge hammer and knocking down drywall by yourself on top of picking out tile and trim!

Here's a little example of what I mean:

While I have been sweating up a storm this way, there has not been much sweating in terms of running or yoga. 

On top of that, between all of the moving things around to demo, I lost my FitBit charger, so I have no idea how many steps I have been doing in the last week or so. Maybe I should just buy a replacement off ebay. 

Week 16: August 10 to 16, 2015
Tuesday: 30 Days of Yoga: Day 22 - 30 minutes

Week 17: August 17 to 23, 2015
Monday: 4.86 on the treadmill
Wednesday: 1 hour of softball - last game of the season!
Friday: 5 miles on the treadmill

Week 18: August 24 to 30, 2015
Tuesday: 4.94 miles on the treadmill

I also completed Days 23 to 27 of 30 Days of Yoga, but can't remember what days I did them. My brain is fried.

Oh yeah, and there are only 17 days left until my fifth half marathon. I'm not sure how this one is going to shake out, but I am definitely not expecting to PR.

Goal tracking:
1. Walked 9.26 (120.6 miles in 2015/66% complete)
2. Ran 14.8 miles (152 miles in 2015/42% complete)
3. 152,074 steps (2,210,753 steps in 2015/61% complete)

Aug 20, 2015

Running with Westin's Gear Lending Program and RunBoston

This marks the final post recapping my trip to Boston earlier this month. I did not get much exercise in during the conference because the conference organizers were a bit disorganized and did not tell us that we had access to a gym until after we had already arrived.

Since I only packed a carry-on bag for my trip, I did not have room to pack my running shoes. But I knew that I would be able to get some workouts in after I switched to the Westin Copley Place because of their partnership with New Balance. Westin and New Balance recently created a Gear Lending Program, where for a fee of $5 you can borrow a pair of running shoes during your stay. Along with shoes, you can also borrow shorts, tops, sports bras and socks.

After I checked into my room, I called the Service line and requested my shoes. I also asked for a top and shorts. After a short wait, this drawstring bag was delivered to my room. You need to be there to sign for the items.

On Saturday night, I was able to use the hotel fitness center. Since I had already walked so much during the day, I only did one mile on the treadmill. 

I love the Gear Lending Program! It makes it easy to workout without having to worry about how you are going to fit your gear into your luggage. Westin also has a RunWestin program, which you can request running routes from the hotel's "running concierge." Also, guided runs are available to join during the week. Westin is doing a great job in supporting a healthy lifestyle.

On Sunday morning, I booked a private running tour of Boston with RunBoston. Just before 7:30 am, I met Erin from RunBoston outside of my hotel and we started the tour. I requested a 4-ish mile route that included the Charles River and the Boston Marathon Finish Line. During the week, she sent me two different options and had me pick the one I preferred.

We started north towards Boylston Street and passed by the Trinity Church.

Then we headed through Boston Public Garden, where we stopped at one of the statues that I had missed on Saturday: an equestrian statue of George Washington.

 The majority of our route was along the Charles River and it was perfect because it was still too early for the crowds and there weren't any stoplights along the riverfront path.

We ran towards the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and stopped in the middle of it to snap some photos.

 The Mass Ave Bridge's length is marked by the number of Smoots. This was an MIT prank, where a student named Oliver Smoot lied down over and over again across the bridge while his fraternity brothers marked how long the bridge was. One smoot is equal to 5' 7", the height of Oliver Smoot. The bridge is equal to 364.4 smoots plus one ear!

As our run winded down, we returned to Bolyston Street and passed by the adidas Boston Marathon RunBase. In addition to selling adidas and Boston Marathon gear, the RunBase has locker rooms and showers and displays historical Boston Marathon memorabilia. I wish I had time to visit the RunBase during my trip, but sadly, was not able to.

Nearby is the Boston Marathon Finish Line. So many years of history and, of course, the horrible event that took place just a few years ago!

Erin ran back to my hotel with me, which is across from the original Boston Public Library

 I had a great time on my run, Erin was very informative and always told me what was coming up, from hills to where we needed to cross or wait at lights. I am glad I did this run. Otherwise, I am not sure that I would have woken up so early this Sunday morning.

I also got a nice souvenir from my tour, a cool tech shirt, which was an additional cost than the tour.

Well, that is all from Boston! Not sure when I will be back.

Aug 18, 2015

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston - Part 2

Meanwhile, back on the Freedom Trail....

I dragged myself out of the comfy hotel room and back onto the sidewalks of Boston. I meandered my way past Boston Public Garden and Boston Common, towards Beacon Hill and spotted the beautiful gilded dome of the Massachusetts State House. It is hard to make out but the dome is topped with a gilded pine cone.

Located on the edge of Boston Common is the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment. If you have seen the film Glory, you know who Shaw and the members of the 54th Regiment are. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. Glory is one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful war movies I have ever seen. I actually read that the inspiration for making the film was visiting the Shaw Memorial in Boston!

The 54th was one of the first all African-American units of the Union Army during the Civil War. These units were commanded by white officers, and Shaw commanded the 54th. Shaw, along with many of his men died in battle but were praised for their valor and honor. I could probably go on and on about this...

Shaw Memorial in Boston Common

Moving back to the American Revolution, I next visited the Old South Meeting House. The meeting house is also an old church building with similar box pews as I saw at the Old North Church, but what this building is famous for is being the place where the Boston Tea Party was organized. 

Old South Meeting House exterior
Old South Meeting House interior

Nearby is the Old State House, one of the country's oldest buildings and the seat of the British colony government and later the seat of the state government. One of the coolest features are the giant lion and unicorn, which are symbols of the British monarchy.

Old State House - Council Chamber

Behind the Old State House is the Site of the Boston Massacre, marked by a stone circle. It was here where British soldiers killed five colonists in a riot in 1770.

Boston Massacre Site

Next, I visited Granary Burying Ground, the graves of many notable figures are buried here.

Including Samuel Adams, Founding Father, signor of the Declaration of Independence and beer company namesake.

John Hancock's tomb can also be found here. Another signor of the Declaration, like his signature, his tombstone is large and fancy! 

Paul Revere's grave can also be found in Granary Burying Ground. Other notables include the victims of the Boston Massacre, members of Benjamin Franklin's family and a third signor of the Declaration of Independence, Robert Treat Paine.

Continuing on, I made my way back to Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. It was a beautiful day and lots of people, families and doggies were out enjoying their weekends. 

Boston Common is kind of like Boston's equivalent to Central Park. It is a large public park in the middle of the city. It also happens to be the oldest city park in the United States. 

The park also has many notable features, including the beautiful Brewer Fountain.

Just north of Boston Common and Boston Public Garden is Beacon Street, where Cheers is located. This is where the exterior shots of the bar, featured on the tv show Cheers were filmed. The bar, originally called The Bull & Finch, was not named Cheers until 2002, which I think is pretty funny or perhaps business savvy? Must be business savvy because I went in and bought a t-shirt for Raisin Bread. I am such a sucker!!

I headed back south and walked through Boston Public Garden. There is a set of statues called Make Way for Ducklings that I saw the first time I visited Boston. But this time, they were all wearing knitted bows or bibs! So cute! 

Boston Public Garden is a very popular spot for wedding photos because I saw at least three different wedding parties as well as a quinceanera around the pond.

After all of that walking, it was time for dinner. I desperately wanted to have some seafood, but since it was Saturday night, lots of places were packed.

I eventually found Summer Shack in Back Bay. I started with a half dozen oysters. So delicious!

Then I had the one thing that I just had to eat while in Boston: a lobster/lobstah roll. Yum!

Wow, that was a long day! Good thing I could go back to my lovely hotel room! 

Aug 17, 2015

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston - Part 1

My conference ended on Saturday, so that gave me half the day to see some of the sights of Boston. I decided to walk the Freedom Trail, and somehow wound up walking 14.5 miles throughout the day, according to my FitBit...and my tired and sore feet and legs.

View of Charlestown

For those who have not been to Boston before, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long path that goes through downtown Boston, from Boston Common to Charlestown, and has 16 historical locations along it.

I started from the north end of the Freedom Trail and stopped first at the USS Constitution. The USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, was first launched in 1797 and is famous for her service during the War of 1812. Today, it is a museum, docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

USS Constitution

Visitors are lucky enough to be able to board the ship and check out some of our country's naval history.

Crew members aboard the USS Constitution are all active duty U.S. Navy Sailors and they are available to answer questions from visitors.

The Constitution is currently undergoing a 3-year restoration project, but is still open to the public.

The Freedom Trail is marked by red brick or a painted red line, so one would think that it would be easy to follow. I, however, managed to take a couple of wrong turns throughout the day, which added to my walking distance!

Freedom Trail red brick path
Cute buildings in Charlestown

My second stop on the Freedom Trail was Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought in 1775 during the American Revolution. It is not actually located in the Bunker Hill section of Boston but in Charlestown. Confusing?

The monument stands 221-feet tall and you can climb its 294 steps to the top. For some reason, 294 steps didn't sound like a lot but it was quite a hot and tiring journey!

Once you get to step 294, you are afforded beautiful views of Boston!

View from Bunker Hill Monument

Leaving Charlestown, I headed back to the North End of Boston to continue on the trail.

I visited the first of three graveyards on the Freedom Trail: Copp's Hill Burying Ground.

Copp's Hill is the last resting place of patriots, like Robert Newman, as well as horrible characters from early American history, like Cotton and Increase Mather, ministers of Salem Witch Trials fame. 

I loved the detailing of the tombstones. 

Speaking of Robert Newman, next up was the Old North Church

It was here that Robert Newman, along with two other patriots, hung two lanterns from the church steeple to communicate the movements of the British Army before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. If you recall from the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, "one if by land, two if by sea." Once the signal was given, riders on horseback, including Paul Revere, disseminated the message.

Interior of Old North Church

I thought the church's box pews were so cool. They were even labelled with family names and dates, mostly from the 1700s.

Next door to the Old North Church is The Ebenezer Clough House, which houses Captain Jackson's Chocolate Shop and the Print Shop of Edes and Gill.

It was super touristy, so I just snapped a few photos. 

Chocolate making demonstration 

Colonial printing press

It was getting to be time for some sustenance, but first, I visited Paul Revere Mall, which features a statue of Paul Revere on horseback. 

Since I was in the North End, which is Boston's Little Italy, Italian food was a must-eat. I popped in to Locale for some delicious pizza. I had the parma with prosciutto, figs and arugula. It was so good, but way too much for me to eat.

Even though I was stuffed, I had to stop in to Mike's Pastry for a cannoli. I am usually not a huge cannoli fan, but who knows when I will be back in Boston. There were a ton of different cannolis but I went with the chocolate dipped to eat later. 

Chocolate-dipped cannoli from Mike's Pastry

I was now carrying around half a pizza and a cannoli. Oh and Raisin Bread was calling me. It was time to head to my hotel to rest my feet and drop off my food.

First though, I saw that Paul Revere's House is right in the middle of the North End.

I hopped on the T and made my way to the Westin Copley Place in Back Bay.

After four nights of sleeping on a twin-sized dorm room bed, I was grateful to be able to come back to a hotel room with a king-sized bed. 

Dorm room in Northeastern's International Village

King room in the Westin Copley Place

This post is getting a little lengthy, so I'll split it up into two posts. More of the Freedom Trail next time!