Monday, October 10, 2016

Chicken with Sundried Tomato, "Cream Sauce" and Quinoa

It doesn't take much to realize that I have not posted to this blog in about 4 years. That's a long time, right? Well, actually the past 4 years have gone by in a blink of an eye and these days my life looks pretty different. I have an almost 5 year old named Gracie and 6 month old Ruby. These little lovely's have my husband Jeff and me playing a balance act of family, work, and being an athlete.  I wouldn't change it for the world.

I wish I could share and let you know the exact recipe for success ( there isn't one) but I can telyl you that one of the biggest factors for us keeping up on life and still being able to train and compete is good nutrition!

Fall is officially here and the cooler temperatures tend to lend us to warming dishes that are also known as comfort food. Traditionally speaking, comfort food is high in calories and has not so healthy fats. However, there is another way. You can still have nutrient dense meals that also satisfy an active lifestyle and the soul!





  • 2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4 fillets
  • 2 T. Flour
  • 2 T. finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper

For The Sauce:
  • 2 T. avocado oil or olive oil 
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  •  7oz jarred sun dried tomato strips in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms 
  • 1½ cups milk (reduced fat, skim or full fat milk) *SEE NOTES FOR DAIRY FREE OPTIONS
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) mixed with 2 tablespoons of water**
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (do not include for dairy free option)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh shredded basil, to serve

  1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and parmesan cheese. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the chicken in batches until golden on each side, cooked through and no longer pink (about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken). Transfer onto a warm plate.
  2. Add the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil; sauté the garlic until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms; fry until the mushrooms are just soft.
  3. Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add in the parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts trough the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan; sprinkle with the fresh basil and a title extra pepper (optional), and serve over cooker quinoa 

*Substitute milk with almond, rice, oat, or coconut milk. Alternatively, if using cream in place of milk, do not add the cornstarch mixture. You won't need it.
**For a gluten free option, find GLUTEN FREE Cornstarch where available

And there you have it! I love this dish for a lot of reasons. It feels like a comfort dish but is truly a super high protein and low glycemic meal thats great for keeping your blood sugar stable in between training when you don't really want a bunch of simple carbs in your meal. I served this dish with steamed broccoli but any green veggie would do or a nice nutrient dense salad. YUM!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter Cooking Classes!

Winter Cooking Classes for families and Kids!

Make Your Own Baby Food

Making your own baby food is easier than you think! During this demonstration and hand-on class you will watch the selection, preparation, and storage of wholesome food for your baby. Participants will leave with some samples for baby to try!

Tuesday, Thursday 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm; 2 sessions starting January 31, 2012, ending Feb. 2nd, 2012 Tuition: $75.00 Materials Cost: $10.00

Cold Nights, Warm Memories (Family Cooking)

Heat up evening meals with healthy and savory soups and stews. In this workshop for all ages, we will cook multiple tasty soups that can be customized to your family style and dietary needs. Chili with all the toppings, corn chowder, and Italian white bean and greens are on the menu to name a few. Children are welcome. A supply fee of $20 is payable to the instructor in class for the whole family or an individual will pay $10.

Saturday, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm; 1 session starting January 28, 2012, ending January 28, 2012 Tuition: $49.00 Materials Cost: $20.00

Cupcake Wars Ages 7-14

Have fun creating these delightful treats! Learn baking and decorating tips, tricks of the trade and, at the end of class, take your creations home to show off. Everyone will take home a copy of recipes. A

Saturday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1 session starting January 21, 2012, ending January 21, 2012 Tuition: $49.00 Materials Cost: $10.00

All Things Doughy Ages 7-14

In this fun and sticky class, learn how to master cinnamon rolls, gourmet pizza, and pretzels. A $10 food supply fee is payable to the instructor in class.

Saturday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1 session starting February 4, 2012, ending February 4, 2012

Tuition: $75.00 Materials Cost: $10.00

Valentine’s Day Hearts and Tarts Ages 7-14

Learn how to make perfect heart cookies and tarts to give to your Valentine. Student Chefs will bring home treats to share.

Saturday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm; 1 session starting February 11, 2012, ending February 11, 2012

Tuition: $49.00 Materials Cost: $10.00

Fun With Fondue Ages 7-14

Making fondue is fun and easy! In this class, student chef’s will make sweet and savory fondue with all the dippers! Recipes include cheddar cheese dip and s’mores!

Saturday, 9:0am-12pm; 1 session February 18th, 2012 Tuition: $49.00 Materials Cost: $10.00

All classes are offered by Julie Olsen at Monarch High School. She is the Culinary and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Monarch High School. She is a professional culinary educator and pastry chef who also has a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She believes in a whole food cooking concept and tries to incorporate a healthy flair to everything she prepares.

Please register by visiting or calling 720-561-5968

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Long Runs and Cupcakes

We are going into the third week of January and one of my few New Year's resolutions is to update my blog posts more frequently. Now that I do not have a big Ironman race to train for my mind often wonders in different directions thinking phrases such as "now what?" and " what is the next big thing to work towards?". While the daily grind of being a teacher and other daily obligations keep my mind busy, it is during frequent long runs I ponder such questions.

It is no surprise to most people when I say that I want to have my own cupcake bakery. Ever since I was a young child my interest was on Kitchen Aid mixers and using my cake decorating kit my Aunt Liz bought for me. This hobby and passion led me to my first job in a Wegman's Bakery while in High School. I enjoyed it so much that I considered going to culinary school for baking and pastry arts. For some reason and to this day I am still not sure as to what led me astray, I went in another direction and went to school for nutrition and dietetics.
During my time in school my running background grew into cycling. I met a woman named Tracy Corey at Plattsburgh University in New York who put the bug back in my ear about doing a triathlon. It had been years since I thought about a triathlon, perhaps since I dreamed of competing in an Ironman back when I was twelve years old. Although, I never did an actual triathlon while at PSU, the thought stayed in my mind all the way until I transferred to Florida State in Tallahassee. While finishing up my degree, I met Chris and Erinn Gelakoska. They pushed me to do my first race and from that point on I was back on track to achieve my dream of qualifying and completing Ironman Hawaii. Now that this dream has become reality, I am focusing my energies into a passion that has worked synergistically along the way. However, I am taking the steps to bring it to the next level: The Cupcake Farm.

I did not want to post a blog entry about my business venture but now that Ironman Hawaii is over, I feel as though this is the next big thing in my life. I am not jumping into anything too quick and not even thinking about a store front just yet. My goal right now is to try some of the Farmer Markets in the Denver area and start to establish a name and promote my product, the rest will go from there.

In the meantime, while I plant my seeds and raise my chickens, I continue to find balance in my life. My meditation and release to everyday stressors are through my long runs. Ultra running to some is a crazy sport-perhaps more so than Ironman triathlons. However, I find something about LOONNGG distance running that helps keep me grounded every time I finish a run. I can not end this post without mentioning my boyfriend Jeff. He has been one of my most supportive people in my life. Nobody has ever biked next to me for over 3 hours while running or withstood a 6 hour bike in 100 degree heat to help me achieve my goals. It is great to share my life and training with such an amazing guy and I look forward to helping him in pursuit of his athletic goals.

And so here I am with no great event to report yet as Tom Olsen once said to me, "This is a quiet time", and this time may be just that. However, it is the quiet times in life where we prepare for greatness, again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moving Forward

For some reason, getting motivated to write a blog post has been like pulling teeth lately. I have had countless ideas in the past 6 months of what to write about and even have started posts 6-8 times but never finished. Now here I am almost a month after completing the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. After over a year of anticipation and preparation for what I thought was the biggest race of my life, I realized it was only the end of a chapter in my book of life.


What made preparing for Ironman Hawaii especially grueling was that I qualified for the event over a year before hand. Ironman Wisconsin was the first qualifier for 2011 which proved to be satisfying in the sense of ample time to train yet having to think about this huge event for over 13 months was more difficult than I anticipated.

I started the winter with much enthusiasm and motivation to train hard and prepare to have my best race possible. With the help of tri and cycling Coach Jared Berg, I was really working on my swim and run efficiency. One of my early season events included a great spring weekend race with sponsor Native Eyewear. After completing a few running road races and racing my first handful of bike races, I transitioned to my planned events: The Mile High Duathlon Series and The Boulder Triathlon Series. I was fairly pleased with my results coming in 2nd overall Elite female in the Duathlon series and I believe I was 2nd in my age group in the tri series. Another notable finish was a 4:47 at the Boulder 70.3 in August. This was a tie for my PR in Miami, Florida back in 2007. Not too bad for altitude!

The Boulder 70.3 was my last race before Ironman Hawaii. It was in the original plan to do one more race before the big event; however I was honestly not interested in doing any more races at this point. I felt I could put in just as much effort into a hard training weekend as any race.

Any Ironman athlete or dedicated triathlete can most likely describe a point in their training where they are feeling unmotivated and questioning why they are dedicating 20+ hours a week of their life to training. That moment happened to me during an early morning long trail run in N. Boulder as I was running with fellow triathlete, turned runner, Jenni Keil. I remember not wanting to do my scheduled run and simply tired or perhaps in need of a rest day or two. About an hour into my run, I managed to find the only rock, on a predominately smooth dirt trail, to trip on. After tripping and rolling into horse shit (literally!), I felt a huge pain coming from my knee. As I pulled up my miraculously not ripped knickers and saw blood and bone it was all I needed to get queasy and almost pass out. With the wonderful assistance of Ms. Keil, she picked me up and drove me to the ER where I received 6 stitches right across the knee. Long story short, I was forced to take 2 weeks of recovery (according to the doctor), however I was back in action and swimming and running within a week. I believe this is just what I needed to recharge my motivation 6 weeks before the race!


The Week before the Race

For the individuals that know me well, they know that there is always some sort of drama that occurs the days/day leading up to my race. I sometimes wonder if my full-zip triathlon suit breaking minutes before the gun goes off at the Miami Man 70.3 or the 4-5 bike flats that I got the day before another race, is what gets my blood moving and pushes me to have a better performance. The Ironman World Championships proved to be no exception.

I was very calm and collected the weeks leading up to my race right up to my arrival at the airport. Little did I know until stepping up to bag check-in that my flight had already left due to a change that I was never notified about. I ended up having to leave the next morning which was not the end of the world; however my extended stay in Denver led to me trying a new massage therapist. The massage was so deep that there may have been some slight nerve damage that caused my right shoulder to be in a lot of pain. As if that was not enough, I received a parking ticket while getting the destructive massage due to unknowingly expired plates! I suppose most would think that a series of unfortunate events could happen to anyone, like some sort of domino effect. Well, instead of taking control and letting it not get to me, I became frustrated and let this energy follow to Hawaii….

My arrival in Hawaii was relatively smooth until bike pick-up. I had mechanical issues that caused undue stress and were not resolved until the day before the race which was the last thing I needed. It wasn't until the Friday before the race that I realized what I was letting happen to me mentally. My training was done, the hours logged, nutrition planned and the race was in less than 12 hours. I had chosen to let these negative things bother me rather than letting go, in turn creating the energy for more negativity to occur. At that point though, I decided to let it all go. I have been an endurance athlete for many years and during that time wasted countless amounts of energy being nervous and anxious on things I couldn't control leading up to the race. I had to remind myself about what I already knew; to be present and prepare to reap the benefits of what I have been working towards for the past year (and really even longer)! I knew that the work had been done, the sacrifices had been made, and it was my turn to experience my life long dream to compete in the Ironman World Championships!

Race Day

With my careful consideration to be mindful and present, I woke up race morning with a sense of peace and determination. I wasn't going to let the race morning hype get to me. As a matter of fact, I turned out to be pretty silly and exited all the way up to the swim start!


There is nothing easy about a 2.4 mile swim for me and while the swim at Ironman Wisconsin was certainly the same distance the waters in Madison seemed a bit friendlier. Positioning is everything in a mass swim start and the starting line in Hawaii is a deep water one. Mentally, this was tough for me because I had a poor start being trapped between a couple thousand of my closest friends. Every athlete has experienced this situation to some degree in the race, but I felt like I could not move forward for the first 10 minutes and the traffic jam continued for at least the first half of the swim. Once I was able to get moving, my spirits improved, the nerves eased up and exiting the first leg of the race was done with a huge sigh of relief.


When people ask me which part of the triathlon is my strong suit, I usually say it's a toss up between my bike and run. Getting on the bike after the first transition was a smooth process and I flew through the first 15 miles with ease and a smile on my face. As I was warned, the Queen K Highway, where the majority of the race took pace, was undoubtedly the most mental part of the race for the bike (along with the run as part of the run segment was here too). The infamous winds started to show up around mile 40 where it was a struggle to even take a hand off my bars to grab some water. I believed that I was greatly prepared for these expected winds after bearing the winter and spring winds and gusts along Route 36 in Boulder where I believed their intensity would be hard to beat. Looking back, I think the winds almost got the best of me and going into the run I knew I had to let it all go before gearing up for the 26.2 ahead. My stance switched again- back to the mindset of being present and taking one step at a time, literally.


Similar to Ironman Wisconsin, getting off the bike proved to be less relief than expected due to the extreme tightness in my quads and gluts. It was so bad I couldn't even sit down for the volunteers to help me get my running shoes on. Instead of panicking though, I started repeating to myself; the longer I kept running, the more my muscles would relax and that good, "zone like" feeling would happen. Looking back, I think I had to repeat that belief to myself for the first 30 minutes before I found my grove and let my race really begin!

Just like the bike course, the run winded its way to the Queen K Highway and at this point, the pain started to set in. I managed to keep going, blocking the pain out, by focusing on the white line in front of me and knowing the ends was near. Mile after mile, aid station after aid station, I got closer to the finish, to my dream, that was a long time in the making. One aspect of the race that is commonly overlooked is nutrition while racing. There are a myriad of options and this can sometimes be confusing as to which which product to use. I have personally tried just about everything on the market. However, I have gone back to what I think of as the original sports nutrition product- PowerBar. During my training and the entire Ironman I used only Ironman Preform, Power Gels, and the original PowerBars. PowerBar keeps up with the latest in Sports Nutrition and uses the best ingredients to keep me fueled for the long haul! When there was about 2 miles left, I was back in town and could hear the roar of the crowds, the announcer and for the first time on the run took a sigh of relief and began to smile. That smile continued until I crossed the finish line of this epic race, completing my dream, and able to say, I AM an Ironman(woman)!!

Boom- Done! Now this era of my life is done and I am ready to move forward....

Just a quick note on the post-race. I had a wonderful vacation- a much needed and deserved week to relax and reflect on all of the hard work that went in to the past year preparing for this race. I also want to thank my boyfriend, Jeff, and Kay Stolsis for being there to support me on this big day. Jeff was there on the bike and run course cheering me on while putting in over 60 miles on a beach cruiser! My dad, brother, aunts, and uncles also were there in spirit cheering me on and I am grateful for their financial support for this expensive trip. Last, I want to thank Jenni and Jeff Keil who are amazing friends and coaches. They have taken this journey many times and provided me with invaluable tips and advice

Moving Forward

Even before my race started, thoughts of "now what?" went through my head while I already began to plan the next stage of my life. I certainly don't have it all figured out nor do I expect to. However, I do know that I am ready to put out energy specifically into 2 areas of my life, my career and ultra running. My love of art and cakes is driving me to one day soon open a cupcake bakery. I plan to keep updates on this new adventure. To fill my need for endurance exercise, I am striving to compete in 5-6 ultra trail marathons with the possibility of a 100K foot race in August. I can't wait to see what the year the will bring for me!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

As an artist, I truly appreciate beauty when I see it. For me, creating something is very therapeutic and I manifest my art though my cakes, mosaics, and various pieces of art. It is how I express my myself and give affection to others.

Most women know that when they move to a new area, one of the hardest things to do is find a good hair stylist-especially when you have highlights or color treated hair. I found Mary Cahill-owner of Form and Function Salon and Industrie after admiring some of my student's hair. The concept of Form and Function is to offer high quality haircare at an affordable price.

I can't say enough about Mary and her wonderful team of stylists! She is an artist and has the talent of making people look and feel great- or as she says, "creating beauty from the inside out". Thank You Form and Function for being one of my awesome 2010 sponsors!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

More Gluten Free Goodies...

Testing recipes can be a challange-especially when you are working gluten and perhaps dairy free. I personally find it to be a fun challenge when I'm able to make a food taste good when using non-traditional ingredients. Even if you are not a accustomed to using gluten free ingredients, I can guarantee these 2 recipes will appease all palates alike. If you are not motivated to buy the 3 different flours I mention below, feel free to purchase commercial gluten free flour blends such as Pamela's gluten free baking mix, or Bob's Red Mill all purpose mix. Enjoy!

Udi’s Granola Banana Bread

2 cups very ripe mashed bananas

½ butter or Earth Balance Buttery Spread

½ cup honey

2 eggs

½ yogurt or coconut milk yogurt

3/4 cup gluten free flour blend*

1 ½ t. xanthum gum

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Oil 4 mini loaf pans

Mash bananas well

Cream together butter and sweetener

Add eggs and beat until mixed

Add yogurt, vanilla, and bananas. Mix well.

Stir in Udi’s granola

In a separate bowl mix all other dry ingredients.

Combine and mix well.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or when a tooth pick comes out clean.

Raspberry Filled Granola Bars

¾ cup butter or Earth Balance Buttery Spread, softened

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ cups gluten free flour blend*

1 ½ t. xantham gum

½ t. baking powder

1 ½ cups Udi’s granola

1 t. Almond or vanilla extract

1 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar

In a separate bowl, premix flour and baking powder.

Add granola and mix.

Add dry mixture to butter and sugar, mixing together to form a crumbly mixture

Pat 2/3 of mixture into a baking pan (13x9 lined with parchment paper)

Spread preserves on top

Sprinkle remaining granola mixture evenly on pan

Bake for 20-25 minutes

Cool pan completely and cut into squares.

*Gluten Free Blend: 1.5 cup brown rice flour, 1.5 cup potato Flour, and one cup Tapioca starch.

You can also use other already mixed GF flour blends.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Choco-Banana Bread Pudding

The first time that I tried bread pudding was about 6 years ago at a Mongolian barbecue of all places. I remember it having dark chocolate, bananas, and caramel- perhaps the best thing I have ever tasted. About a year ago, I had some allergy testing done and one of things that I am slightly sensitive to is gluten. Not to the point where I get sick or can label myself a Celiac, but enough to cause a lethargic response that is less than ideal for my active lifestyle. Having confirmation, I try to avoid wheat and gluten as much as possible. Admittedly though, I do enjoy an occasional beer or two.

This recipe was a creation stemming from my love for the rich and comforting taste of bread pudding- made gluten free. Udi's bread Company and Gluten Freeville are running a recipe contest using their products. Developing this bread pudding came right to mind. What's nice is that is can be made dairy free if necessary. I am super excited about Udi's new breads because as us "wheat-tards" know, most commercial gluten free breads are not very tasty.

Give this decadent bread pudding a try- evn if you are not avoiding wheat. Although not tested, I am sure a firm regular bread can be used to.

Udi's Granola Banana Bread and Raspberry-Filled Granola Bars to come soon!

Gluten Free Choco-Banana Bread Pudding

4 eggs

2 cup whole cows milk or alternative (recipe tested with rice milk)

1/2 natural sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 Loaf Udi’s Gluten Free bread, cut in ½ inch pieces

2 very ripe banana, diced

1 60% good quality dark chocolate bar broken into pieces

2 teaspoons of good vanilla

1 teaspoon rum or extract

Prepare an 8-inch square baking dish by spraying the sides and bottom of the pan.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, rum, and vanilla,

Mix the bread, banana, and chocolate chips and arrange in the prepared pan.

Pour the milk mixture over the top of the bread and let stand for five or ten minutes pressing any dry bread on the top gently down into the custard mixture.

Refrigerate the mixture for several hours or until ready to bake.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, or until pudding is puffy and golden.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Serve warm topped with caramel or chocolate sauce and your favorite ice cream or non-dairy alternative