Spring Renewal & Poor Man’s Caprese

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What a beautiful weekend!

We’ve had a mild winter here in Minnesota this year. In fact, I don’t ever remember a winter as mild in the Midwest in my entire life. However, after 90 inches of snow during last year’s what-seemed-to-be-never-ending winter, I feel mother nature owed us to be gentle this year. Still, I’ve lived in Minnesota for ten years now and I don’t ever remember such gorgeous weather in mid-March as what we had this weekend:

60s and sunny

Spring brings with it a sense of renewal. Rob opened up the house to let the fresh air in and we began our spring cleaning. While not 100% complete, there is something to be said about the feeling of so many things being clean, fresh, and organized! I feel as if I’m turning over a new leaf by tossing all the paper I’ve been hoarding for far too long.

I began running outside this past week to start preparing myself for my 5k in April. It was difficult. I’m not used to the inclines. {And by no means is our neighborhood hilly!} On one “hill”, I felt like my speed was near walking pace with how slow I was going, but I looked down at my heart rate monitor and found I was still in a Zone 5.

On Saturday, I finished a mile at “race pace” in 11:21. From what I’ve recorded, I believe this is my fastest! I’m trying to keep track of my times so that I can get an idea where I’m at and can compete with myself.

Sunday was a cross-train day, but I still wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. So, I decided to take little Sophie Jean on an hour-long walk. {I didn’t bring Benny Bear because he’s an old man dog with arthritis.}

Benny Bear loves walks, but wouldn't make it an hour... 😦

I strapped on my heart-rate monitor because I wanted to see if I could get my heart rate up walking a little shih poo who likes to stop about every five seconds. {There’s nothing wrong with stopping to smell the roses, right?! We could learn a thing or two from dogs.}. I did get to a Zone 3 about half the time. To compare, I’m usually in Zone 4 or Zone 5 when I’m running.

I have a confession to make.

While I’ve stated that I’ll be running my first 5k in April, I have actually participated in a 5k before: The Dog Day 5k in 2010. But I didn’t run it. Some friends invited me a couple weekends before and I decided to go and bring Sophie.

Sophie Jean pre-race at the Dog Day 5k - 2010

Some people were going to run; others were going to walk. Somehow, Sophie and I split off from the others. That year, I had been running intervals on the treadmill, so I decided to give it a try since I was on my own. Sophie and I finished the 5k in a little over 48 minutes. Sophie wasn’t feeling so hot at the end. I knew this because she wouldn’t drink any water nor take any treats. She ended up fine, though. She could have just been nervous with all of the other pooches around. I am hoping to do it again this year; but I’m not sure if I’ll bring Sophie or not. She’ll have to go through a bit of “training”, too, if I do. 😉

Since it’s fun to compare… here are my 5k times:

  • June 2010 – Dog Day 5k with Sophie: 48 min & some-odd seconds (run-walk)
  • Jan 2012 – Treadmilll: 40:30 (first time running a complete 5k)
  • March 11, 2012 – 5k walk with Sophie: 55:34 (walk)

Spring also has me thinking about salads.

One of my favorites is a traditional Caprese Salad:

Caprese Salad: fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar

While tomatoes aren’t in season here in Minnesota, I still picked up some great ones at Costo and have been munching on them all week:

In fact, I created my own version of a Caprese Salad that I call a “Poor Man’s Caprese”:

Carrie's Poor Man's Caprese

Here are the simple ingredients:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

It’s only between 175 – 250 calories depending on the type of cottage cheese you use and size of your tomato!

Optional ingredients {in case you want to season it up a bit more!}:

  • drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • or my favorite: the Pampered Chef Rosemary & Herb Seasoning {I almost always add this!}

I love tomatoes and cottage cheese, so I just can’t get enough of this!

What do you do to prepare for spring? Do you have a favorite salad or spring dish?

Cheers~
Carrie

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21 responses »

  1. Carrie I have always loved cottage cheese & tomato as well. I like cottage cheese with almost any fresh produce. Nice tip with the balsamic vinegar! Your blogs are awesome keep up the good work! Way to go with the running too. Please let us know if you plan to do the doggy walk Steve was just asking about that this past weekend. Perhaps Rob would like to join as well?

  2. Way to go on getting outside to take advantage of the great weather! I agree, it is SO different to run outside compared to the treadmill! And yes, trying to walk for EXERCISE with the furry one can be quite the experience – every time I do it with Gidget I swear it will be the last, but then again as you essentially said, it’s okay to slow down and just enjoy the walk sometimes too…

  3. Yummy! That sounds delicious! I’ll have to try it.

    Congrats on the walk/runs. I have been remiss. I think I need someone to kick me in the arse to get me going again!

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