Whoooaaa! U-turn!

wtamb-avi_002635702The sound you heard last night was me applying the brakes and making a U-turn on my current nutrition trajectory.

You see, I have been allowing myself a treat here, and a treat there, and all of a sudden I realized that I was spiraling back toward my old eating habits full speed ahead!

I am not one to make excuses, but I do know that the past months have been very intense around here, and I am very aware of my tendencies toward emotional and stress-related eating. Given that, I know that I have been letting myself give in to eating because I want to and not sticking to eating what and when I need to.

So, what do you do when you have this sort of wakeup call? Well, you do not wait, and you make your very next meal a good one. In my case, it also means that I set my alarm and get up and start my day with a good hearty workout to remind my body why it needs proper fuel!

I was somewhat surprised to see that the scale actually has gone down, but that just shows how meaningless the scale can be. I know my clothes have started getting snugger. I have found myself choosing the more relaxed fit options rather than the ones that fit nicely (because they aren’t so comfortable right now). If I was just going by the scale I might believe the lie.

But I know better. So today is a new day. I ran this morning – even in the crazy humidity. And I am restarting my PiYo today in earnest – along with the nutrition that goes with it – so that I can really start strengthening and building my flexibility to go with my running.

One other thing that I will be doing very soon is the 3-Day Refresh. This will be the perfect “mini-reset” to get my body really on the right track again!

You may need a u-turn, or maybe you’re not so far off and you only need to adjust the wheel a bit. Either way, It’s never too late for a restart.

Have you ever let yourself inch away from your goals little by little until you realized you were headed for the wrong target? What do you do?

 

(Image found on justwalkwithme.com.)

Sweet Pickle Relish

A couple of years ago, my mom bought me a magazine: “Canning,” from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens, 2012. Nestled in this little printed treasure are some of my favorite recipes for canning. I just started my 3rd year of making pickles, and my go-to sweet relish recipe is in this magazine.

I don’t know if you can or not, but it sure is a treat to have food in my pantry and know exactly what is in it. We don’t buy pickle relish any more. As a bonus, my little starter garden is working, and this first batch of 2014 uses my very own cucumbers!

Several folks asked for the relish recipe, so here it is:

Sweet Pickle Relish

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Yield: 7 half-pints

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon

Calories per serving: 22

Fat per serving: 0

Sweet Pickle Relish

Ingredients

  • 6 cups seeded and finely chopped pickling cucumbers (6 medium)
  • 3 cups finely chopped onions (6 medium)
  • 3 cups seeded and finely chopped green and/or red sweet peppers (3 large)
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • Cold Water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Instructions

  1. In an extra-large, nonmetal bowl, combine cucumbers, onions, and sweet peppers. Sprinkle vegetables with salt; toss gently to coat. Add enough cold water to cover vegetables. Cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer vegetable mixture to a colander set in sink. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  3. In an 8-quart stainless-steel enamel, or nonstick heavy pot, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric. Bring to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add drained vegetable mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until most of the excess liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
  4. Ladle hot relish into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
  5. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
http://fitwithwendylee.com/2014/07/sweet-pickle-relish/

I love being able to preserve the freshness of fruits and vegetables when they are in season! Do you can your own vegetables? Or maybe vegetables you are given or buy when in season? If not, is it because you think it is complicated? It really isn’t! Some things are good first-time canning items (like pickles or tomatoes) and I would love to help point you in the right direction if you want to give it a try!

What’s the Best Workout for Those with Bad Knees?

I hear “but I have bad knees” a lot when talking with people about getting active and working out. Here is a great article to shed some light on what that might mean to you, and how you may be able to do more than you think. There are some videos of some great strengthening exercises as well. I’ve provided the TeamBeachbody.com article here for you:

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E1001_Art3_PiYo_700

“What’s a good workout if you have bad knees?” – Martha W.

The Short Answer:

“Bad knees” is a broad term, but in general, the more you can work your knees, the stronger they will get. Unfortunately, this turns into a Catch-22 when your knees hurt during exercise. You need to exercise to relieve the pain, but the pain is caused by exercise.

The key is patience. Seek expert medical advice and follow the rehab exercises they give you. Then, when you’re ready, return to your regularly scheduled activity, following the advice of your therapist. If that activity happens to be a Beachbody® program, you’ll find additional advice below.

The Long Answer:

Here’s a five-step rehabilitation plan to help with those aching knees.

Step 1 – Talk to your doctor. Some doctors, whether through laziness or fear of liability, shell out advice akin to “if it hurts, don’t do it.” Unfortunately, most of us have knee pain at some point in life. If we don’t work through it, the situation gets worse.

Regardless of your doc’s optimism, your rehabilitation begins with a diagnosis. That’s why you need a doctor. Whether your knee pain is debilitating or just nagging, it’s well worth your time to find out exactly what is going on. The alternative solution is trial and error—and that can make your knees worse.

Step 2 – Do your rehab. No matter what your problem is, your doctor will recommend some physical therapy (PT). Like doctors, some PTs are better than others, but do what they say regardless. Even archaic protocols shouldn’t hurt you. A good PT will just push you harder and take you further. Either way, you must do your PT before moving on. I know, it’s boring (everyone says this), but if you’re serious about fixing your knee issues you need to take this step seriously. It’s the foundation for everything else!

Step 3 – Think holistically. Most chronic knee problems don’t begin with your knee. Unless you’ve had an acute injury, most knee (and back) pain radiate from imbalances in your pelvic girdle (your hips). The simple exercises and stretches in these videos should be incorporated into your regimen as soon as you’re cleared from your PT. Hopefully, they’re similar to what you’ve been doing with your therapist.

 

Step 4 – Assess your doctor’s clearance advice. This is where the steps diverge, as all knee issues are not the same. Eliminating knee pain follows a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” rationale, meaning that the more you’re able to handle training-wise, the quicker and more effective your comeback will be. Along with that advice, however, is the more important logic that you don’t want to reinjure your knee. That is first and foremost, and should dictate all of your actions.

For simplicity sake, we’ll use the two most-common diagnoses: 1) You are cleared for any activity, and 2) Avoid anything that puts excessive stress on your knees, like running.

Step 5, part A – If you are “cleared for any activity.” Congrats! Go start exercising! However, if you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, I strongly recommend a round of P90X2®, by far Beachbody’s most effective workout program for knee issues. It’s designed around protocols used to keep professional athletes on the field—and keeping knees healthy is the biggest challenge they face. The program targets stabilization, especially in the hip area, and building a super-solid foundation.

Whether or not you’re fit enough for X2 is a different discussion. It has an extremely modified version (hotel room modifications), so you can do the program if you aren’t super-fit, but it’s still very advanced. If you’re in reasonable shape, this would be your go-to. If you are unsure, try the P90X® Fit Test, which you’ll find here. If you can handle P90X, you should be fine with P90X2.

If you can’t do the Fit Test, start with an easier program (see below). Body weight is stress for your knees, and losing extra weight will function in the same way as making your body stronger. So even if you’re cleared for anything, if you have a lot of weight to lose, pretend you’re cleared for limited activity.

Step 5, part B – If you are “cleared for limited activity.” Again, congratulations! (Sort of.) This diagnosis usually happens after an acute injury or for those who’ve ignored pain for years and lost knee cartilage. You still have the same biomechanical goals of stabilizing your body, but you have to be more careful about how you do it.

Almost any Beachbody entry program might be right for building knee strength in this situation, depending on the severity of your condition. The rule to think on is this: Whatever you do that doesn’t make you worse, makes you better. So every time you finish a workout without pain, or pain worse than you already have (if you’re at a constant dull level of pain but still cleared to move), you’re improving your ability to eliminate the pain altogether. Also, every pound you lose is less stress on your knees, which will help lessen strain, and, thus, pain. So watch your diet, and move as much as you can. Your body will respond in kind.

Here’s a rundown and synopsis of some options to consider, from easiest to hardest.

Tai Cheng®– This is a great mobility and stabilization program that almost anyone can do. Downside is that it won’t burn many calories or quickly change your body composition. Upside is that, no matter who you are, it will improve your knee issues.

21 Day Fix® – Currently, Beachbody’s best entry-level, knee-friendly program for those who need to lose some weight. While there is some jumping in this program, and even a “plyo” workout, there are always modifiers you can follow.

Hip Hop Abs® – This predecessor to INSANITY® takes jumping out of the equation, combining basic hip hop (you don’t need to know how to dance) and a lot of ab and hip work in the entry-level weight loss program.

Brazil Butt Lift® – There is some light jumping, and a lot of squatting, but if you can handle it, this program focuses on your butt and hips and greatly improves the stability of your pelvic girdle. This makes your body “track” better, reducing the strain on your knees.

Body Beast® – Controlled weight training is a great way to change your body composition without putting a lot of stress on your knees. If you want to lose weight, don’t follow the “bodybuilding” focus of the nutrition guide. You can both lose weight and strengthen your knees effectively pumping iron with Sagi.

PiYo® – Chalene Johnson’s combination of yoga and Pilates is great for hip stability and core strength, both vital for combating knee pain, making it a good choice for those who don’t have specific ACL/MCL (or lateral) knee issues, as there is a lot of twisting at speed.

P90X3® – While it’s a hard program, you can modify every move in every workout and have it serve as an effective entry point. This program, like X2, builds a super-solid foundation. It lacks the specified stabilization movements (because it doesn’t use stability balls) but that also makes it a bit easier to adapt to.

Article courtesy TeamBeachbody.com, 2014

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How do you deal with knee pain? Did you know that there are usually ways to allow you to work through it/improve it? Are you more inclined to blindly push through the pain or seek answers from a doc/PT first?  I’d love to hear from you!

KIA!!

For those of you who don’t know, I decided this spring to start taking the adult karate class after my kiddos finish theirs each week. After completing two rounds of Les Mills Combat, I thought it would be good to develop the discipline of learning one style now that I had a taste of a mixed martial arts format.

It’s been a pretty humbling experience – especially the sparring. I just about have my Seisan kata all the way through which is a huge mental victory for me since there are a lot of steps!

BUT! Last night was one of the coolest things I have done so far. We spent the early part of the class working on technique & practicing on re-breakable plastic boards of steadily increasing difficulty. Then we got to do the ultimate… breaking a board! I never would have imagined doing something like this,  and it is the most amazing thing when you realize you did it (and did it right so that it didn’t even hurt!!). All those “KIA”s from my COMBAT really paid off – the yell/exhale is important to delivering max power.

I was able to have it captured on video, so without further ado, here’s my “KIA” moment:

It is so important to try new things and challenge yourself physically and mentally.  What new adventure have you tried lately?

PiYo is HERE!

PiYo is HERE!

Quick update… PiYo has been released, and you can get it NOW with FREE shipping!

From celebrity trainer Chalene Johnson, PiYo is a low-impact, high-intensity 60-day body transformation program. It uses the most effective pilates and yoga inspired moves set to a fast pace to help burn fat and sculpt long, lean muscles.  Carve every inch of the body without jumps, weights, or strained joints.

Plus, when you get the Challenge Pack (includes your first 30 days of Shakeology and more!), you get special pricing as the Challenge Pack (normally $160) is on sale now for just $140.

Here’s a video that will introduce you to PiYo and the Challenge Pack.

Want to see pricing and all the options available? Check out all the details and order at my store.

Contact me with any questions, and do let me know when you order yours so I can support you as you strengthen your body from the inside out!

 

PiYo – It is almost here!

PiYo_logo_COO_800x800I wanted to make sure you all were aware of a new program Beachbody is introducing this month: PiYo.

Strange name, I know. But it is really going to be a game-changer for those of us looking to gain strength and flexibility without high impact and without weights. Body-weight resistance is very powerful, and Chalene Johnson has taken the best of Pilates and the best of Yoga and brought them together in a fast-paced workout to define your body.

This is a 60 day program, and the workouts range from 25 to 45 minutes in length. Here is a link to a video with a good overview – you can also sign up there to be in the first batch to know when it is available.

I love a workout that provides modifications for beginners – I know this is going to be something I will use a LOT when I start this program since I have very little flexibility! I am looking forward to how the improvements will show up in my triathlon performance as well as in my karate and day-to-day activities!

Check out my Facebook page for links to a couple of beginner move explanations. You CAN do this! Your body is craving this flexibility!! Use the contact form at the bottom of this post for more information and to find out about getting started with the next PiYo group for support and encouragement as you work for strength and flexibility!

Your body is CRAVING flexibility!

Team Beachbody Summer Sale

HUGE Sale! DEEP Discounts!

Starts Wednesday, June 4, 2014 and ends at 12:00PM PST on Monday, June 9, 2014.

summer-sale-june-2014Some of the best programs are available at crazy discounts!

Plus, there are great clearance discounts on apparel as well as markdowns on some equipment (need a foam roller or some Les Mills COMBAT gloves?).

Check it all out here: http://www.beachbodycoach.com/wendydlee

Zucchini-Carrot Bread

Zucchini-Carrot Bread

We all know how important it is to eat our veggies. And, as you probably also know, color variety is important. So, here is a yummy recipe that my kiddos (and all of us!) really enjoy. The best part is that it is LOADED with veggies – green AND orange – and they don’t even mind :-)

The Classic Zucchini CookbookThis comes from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook by Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman. It’s a great resource for the gardener whoneeds some creative ideas for that bounty of squash that overfloweth (or for those of us who just really like squash of all kinds). I got mine at the bookstore of Backwoods Home Magazine.

To make it a smidge healthier (actually quite a bit) I use my homemade unsweetened applesauce in place of half the oil.

Now, on with the recipe (I marked my modifications and notes to the recipe in italics.):

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil (or, 1/2 c. oil and 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce)

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup chopped nuts  (I personally leave these out)

1/2 c. bran cereal (I forgot to add this the last time and it was still yummy. I have also substituted ground flax meal.)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two 8- by 4- inch loaf pans. (I use coconut oil and a 4-loaf stoneware pan.)

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, applesauce if using, and sugar. Beat until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Squeeze the zucchini to remove any excess moisture. Add the zucchini and carrots to the sugar mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture, nuts, and cereal and stir just long enough to combine. Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

4. Bake the loaves for about 1 1/2 hours, until a tester inserted in centers comes out clean. Note that it will take less time if you are baking smaller loaves in a mini-loaf pan.

5. On wire racks, cool the breads in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto the wire racks and cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves (or 4 mini loaves).

Enjoy & let me know if you have some yummy recipes to help the kids (and others in your family perhaps) get their veggies!

 

Goo in the Shoes, and Other Assorted Misadventures of a Crazy Triathlete

At the risk of spending too much time analyzing this past race, I just have to get it on “paper” so I can move on to the next challenge. You see, for all the times I wonder what gift, exactly, it is that God has blessed me with, I can very clearly see today that it must be my ability to laugh at myself. And, now I invite you to laugh with me :-)

A quick bit of background first. This past weekend (5/17/14), was the Cedars of Lebanon Triathlon, and was my 3rd time competing in this event. Last year, I had just come off of an intense training for an Olympic Distance tri in Montgomery, so I was primed for a good result (and got it – won my group even!). After competing in my very first triathlon as a “Beginner” in 2012 (also at Cedars), I have since competed in every event as a “weight-class” category. I have been working hard through the off-season (Beachbody Ultimate Reset and Les Mills COMBAT) and managed to get down to where I was no longer eligible for the weight class, so I competed this year in regular age group (40-44). I had really built up my expectations for the race as my swim training was going well, and my run was consistently hitting sub-10s and closer to 9:30s for a mile.

We decided, even though it was only 40 miles from home, to take advantage of the State Park location and borrow my parents’ camper for the weekend. It was nice being laid back and really relaxed, and not having to get up at o-dark-thirty to drive to the race. I had laid out all my transition goodies at home and checked and double-checked that everything I needed was in the bag – including a gel pack for before the swim and one for after the bike in case I was dragging. When I set up for transition, I was slightly confused, because I couldn’t find my 2nd gel. But, no worries, I had grabbed a banana from the camper as we walked over, so I could eat that before the swim and use the other gel for the run.

It was a COLD day in May for Tennessee. The air temp was probably low 50s, and the pool temp was 71. After setting up, I just took my sweatshirt off and let myself get acclimated to the air temp in my tri suit. Yes, I felt cold, but it made me jump around a bunch and stretch and warm up fairly well. I was #207 into the water, so I didn’t start right at 8 (more time to get good and chilled). Sure, the water feels warm compared to the air… for a few seconds :-). As soon as I got in, I dunked under to force my body to get used to the cold water – this was one day it would have been nice to do the diving start from swim team days. When it came my turn to start, I pushed off and felt STRONG in the water. My first 50m was great. I came up a bit short of the wall and that threw me off just a touch. I got under the rope and started the second length. About half-way down, I raised my eyes – under the water still – to see if I needed to shift to pass, and I took on water. Wasn’t so much breathing the water but swallowing. Weird. No big deal I thought, recover, move on. Then it was every other stroke or so, I just couldn’t seem to get in a groove where I wasn’t trying to drink the pool. When I started my 3rd length, I actually had to stop a moment to come up for a full breath. I struggled through that 50m, then made a clean turn under the rope, and headed in to finish the last 50m. That last length was as strong, if not stronger, than the first 50m. I kind of stumbled a bit on the steps coming out, but all in all I finished well and was so glad to have had that good last length to head into the next segment of the race. I have NO explanation for the middle 2 and the struggle I had breathing. I suppose the water temp could be to blame, but it really felt like I didn’t know how to swim for a while there.

Now to run to transition – actually felt good here. I did have an extra step in my T1 this time, as I had added a half-zip windbreaker to ease the windchill on the bike given my wet self and the mid-50s temp. NOTE: I REALLY need to make myself practice my transitions. I did OK, but I know I am slower because my brain has to actively engage in the process rather than it being second nature.

Got to the bike mount line and took off. Once I was clipped in, I really felt great. Nothing real notable here, except that I FELT really strong, but still turned in a slower time than last year… by FIVE minutes!  And on the same equipment even! Ugh. So frustrating! Of course, there is the fact that I did manage to get off balance while unclipping at the dismount line and fall (just call me “Grace”), but that does not account for 5 minutes. The only thing I can figure is that I mentally was enjoying the scenery too much instead of having my head in the game. I also will say that I know I did not do nearly enough “on the road” bike training leading up to this. Lots of time on the trainer, but I’m sure my shifting and bike technique could have been much better.

Now, T2 was fairly uneventful (technically, my fall was before the timing mat, so that delay was part of the bike time LOL!). I did decide to shed the windbreaker, and I am glad I did – the temp was perfect for running!

I have done some bricks (bike then run immediately after) while training, so I didn’t feel that concrete feeling in my legs, but I struggled to ramp up my speed for some reason. My toes on my left foot almost felt like they were numb… just a weird sensation that I have never noticed before. There was no pain, so I just pressed on. This was the only part of the race that I got the Garmin punched properly, so I knew my pace the whole time. I managed to pull a 10:00 for the first mile, but I was bummed because I knew I was/am capable of better than that. At some point during the second mile, I decided that it wasn’t cold toes, but that my insole must’ve pulled up under my toes somehow. I know these shoes are on their last legs, but I was surprised that they would do that. I ended up slowing some even for the second mile, but I did try to keep pushing. Towards the end, going up the hill, I had my fellow triathlete friends from across the country cheering me on in my head, reminding me not to leave ANYTHING out there, so I really pushed that last little bit. But, I just didn’t get that mental strength soon enough. My run was the most disappointing for me, because it is where I have worked so hard and have made so many gains lately.

After the race, I couldn’t get back in transition right away, so I grabbed some food and went to wait for Jackson to get done with his T2 and head out for his run. I was really wishing for my sweatshirt trapped in transition!

I went down to meet Jackson and run with him through the campground and up the final hill (to support him, but also – selfishly – to get warm again!). He did GREAT – he still does run/walk, but I am so proud of how he has progressed.

Once we finished up, Jackson got some food, and we were able to get the bikes and other stuff out of transition. Jerry and the boys didn’t want to wait around for awards, so they took all that back to the camper while I hung out for the award ceremony.

I had seen my total time (1:07:56) in the preliminary results, but really couldn’t tell whether I had placed or not. I did have my sweatshirt now so had warmed up considerably by now. When they announced the Athena Masters class (the weight class I competed in in the past), I realized I would have won that group. That made me feel pretty good. Then they got on to age groups, and Jackson ended up placing 3rd in 12 & under! I hated he wasn’t able to get on the podium, but I was able to get his goodies, which made his day! I didn’t place, but I was OK with that, because I was just glad for Jackson.

Headed back to the camper – I actually ran a good part of the way back to get warm… by now I was down-right chilled! As I was getting ready to clean up, I was finally able to investigate the mystery in my shoes. Turns out, in the process of toting my goodies to transition, the mysteriously missing Hammer Gel had found its way INTO my shoe and I just slid my foot right in on top of it. Needless to say, I have a gooey MESS inside my shoe, and I am still debating on whether they are worth salvaging. They are the same shoes I ran the Kaiser Coastal Half Marathon in back in November, and they are really done. I just usually keep the last pair as a backup. Perhaps the last, last pair can step in this time :-)

This is by far the strangest, most discombobulated race I’ve done, and I am glad to have it behind me. I can be very proud of the fact that, despite myself, I managed to finish 5th out of 24 in the 40-44 Women’s group, and I was only 6 seconds back from 1st. My goal for next year is to finish in under an hour, but now I will focus on the next super sprint coming up in June: 200yd swim/6mi bike/1mi run. Focus focus focus :-)

Just in case you want to see the gory details… click here for the full results.

A new twist on salad: Cucumbers, Carrots, and Shrimp

I love to try new recipes, and I especially like to find ones that incorporate healthy veggies and proteins in a new and yummy way. Reading the April 2014 issue of Runner’s World, I came upon just such a recipe in The Athlete’s Palate section. I couldn’t find a link to the recipe on their site, so I am going to include it here to save you a trip to the library :-). Full of the right kind of carbs, plenty of protein, and good, healthy fats, this is really a dream meal for an athlete or anyone trying to eat healthier!

spicy-carrot-shrimp-cucumber

Spicy Carrots and Shrimp with Cucumber Salad

INGREDIENTS

For the Cucumber Salad:

3/4 cups rice-wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 Japanese or English Cucumbers, sliced thin
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 Thai chile, sliced thin
1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1/4 tsp. salt

For the Carrot Mixture:

1 pound baby carrots (4″-5″ long), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 1/2 cups sourdough croutons
2 cups loosely packed cilantro
Black sesame seeds, toasted

To make the cucumber salad: combine vinegar and honey in a pot. Warm over medium-low heat (stir occasionally), for 5 minutes, or until honey dissolves. Cool in fridge. In a large bowl, add cucumbers, shallot, chile, ginger, salt, and cooled honey-vinegar. Toss well. Set aside.

To prepare carrots, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add carrots. Cook 4 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain carrots and cool 3 minutes in the ice water. Drain again. Set carrots aside in the large bowl.

In another bowl, toss shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp. Cook 3 minutes per side, or until fully cooked. Place shrimp in the carrot bowl. Add cucumber salad, along with 2 tablespoons juice from the salad, avocados, croutons, remaining tablespoon oil, and cilantro. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesames.

NOTE: One thing I would do differently is to serve the croutons on the side or just sprinkle them on top instead of tossing them in. They got a bit soggy, and in my leftovers today they were just wet so I pulled them out completely.

Serves 6.

Calories per serving: 335; Carbs: 43g; Fiber: 7g; Protein: 13g; Fat 14g

Recipe copied from April 2014 issue of Runner’s World magazine.