politics and podcasts

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been greatly discouraged and unsettled by recent current events in the political arena.  It’s not often that I’ll speak of politics here and I really only want to talk about it on a public forum when I feel like it’s useful and contributing in a positive way to the crushing mass of voices out there.  I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of all my thoughts or all the many ways I disagree with President Trump but I will say this: I recently found two podcasts that have provided positive and informative (and entertaining) perspective, which I very much appreciate.  I haven’t listened to all these have to offer, but I’m excited to dig into them.

Pantsuit Politics: Two women – one conservative, one liberal – discuss various issues and current events in the political landscape.  I love that I’m hearing both sides of an issue, but in a non-aggressive way.  They’re not angry, they’re not one-upping, they’re not fear-mongering or attacking.  It’s facts and dialogue and information and it’s modeling a productive way for us to talk and listen to each other.  It’s also helping me to hear about issues outside the scope of media coverage.  I love it.

Presidential: Journalist Lillian Cunningham dedicates one episode to each of our 45 presidents.  I’ve only listened to one of these so far – Donald Trump – but it was so well done.  She speaks with researchers, threads how the past informs the present, and overall affirmed that America is really resilient and has survived tumultuous and controversial presidents in the past.  I’m really excited to go back through and listen to each one of these!  It’s not just a history lesson on each president, but also looking at their character traits, their personal lives, etc.

I’m feeling more than ever that it’s important for me to be an informed and passionate citizen, and I’m grateful for how these podcasts might serve to educate and provide perspective.  Check them out!


monday things

A few random things to share this Monday:

  • I’ve been loving this workout when I need a running break but still want to move.  The instructor isn’t annoying at all which is a huge perk.
  • Two soups we’ve liked recently:vegan sweet potato chowder and roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower soup.  Both were so delicious and immediately got moved to my “eat again” pinboard.
  • I ran 9 miles on Saturday which I think is the most I’ve run since the marathon in November.  February 13 kicks off ultra training, so I’m gearing myself up for even earlier mornings and longer miles.  I’m both ready to get into it and glad I still have a few more weeks.
  • A couple weeks ago I said I needed to fix something and Molly walked over, opened the kitchen drawer, got out a screwdriver, and handed it to me.  At 18 months old.  She’s crazy aware of what’s going on and also prone to tantrums right now.  But in between just wants eye contact, hugs, and to be wrestled.
  • Dave and I have decided what animal each of our kids remind us of: Leo is a dog – he likes to play but also to relax and be alone.  He’s social but needs time to just chill.  Katie is a cat – she likes affection on her terms, she sleeps hard and long, she can be moody but also so charming.  Molly is a puppy – social and just wants to play and be around people and get into things.  Do any of your kids remind you of animals?

eggplant pesto

Today I had an eggplant that was starting to look a little worse for wear.  I’m not a huge eggplant fan – I like it in certain dishes, mostly hidden – but I didn’t want to throw it out either.  My sister suggested making baba ganoush.  I don’t have tahini right now, but I have pesto (even better!) and so eggplant pesto was born!  This is delicious and hides the eggplant, while giving your pesto a nutritional boost.  Bonus: it whips up super fast and easily.

Eggplant Pesto

  • 1 eggplant, sliced in 1/4-1/2″ rounds
  • olive oil
  • 1/2t. salt
  • 1/4c. pesto
  • 2T. lemon juice
  • 1/4c. nutritional yeast (optional)

Lay the eggplant rounds out on a cookie sheet and spray both sides with olive oil.  Roast at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until starting to brown.  Remove and let cool.  Add to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.  Blend until smooth (you might still see some pieces of purple eggplant rind in the spread, but that’s okay).  Serve on top of toast, eggs, potatoes, veggies, whatever!

races · running

my first ultra

Last week I signed up for my first ultra, a 50k in Ohio.  The was following Kimberly, who had just signed up, and I’m so excited!  Running an ultra has always been on my bucket list and doing it with Kimberly just makes it the best.  So June 3 you will find us at the Another Dam 50k.  The course is some trails, some road and very flat.  It’s not too technical or hilly, which is perfect for our first ultra and also perfect for the terrain we’ll both be training on.  I asked Kimberly what training plan she was going to use and I think we’re both going to be basing our training on this one.  It’s 16 weeks long, so right now I’m just keeping my running consistent.  Most days I do 5-6 miles and then I try to do one run a week that’s a little more, although lately it’s only 7 or so.  I’m so excited!!



January 1 I started my second round of Whole30 (eating plan that eschews sugar, carbs, and dairy).  I first did Whole30 back in May.  It was really hard at the beginning and I wanted to sell my children for crackers, chips, and sugar, but then it got easier and I started to get in the routine and I really loved it.  When I finished I was so happy with it.  Here are some of the reflections I had:

D31: I made it through and I’m so glad I did it.  It’s been really eye-opening and habit-changing for me.  My goals going in to this were to change WHAT I was eating and WHY I was eating.  I think both of these were accomplished, although probably moreso the WHAT than the WHY.  Some reflections:

1) Centering my meals on veggies is really not that hard and the meals are still really delicious.  Bonus: I feel better after eating them, both because they’re not as heavy and because I know I ate something more nutritious.

2) After these 30 days I feel more empowered to make choices, especially for snacks, that aren’t centered around crackers.

3) I (hopefully) have broken the habit of getting a snack for myself whenever I get one for the kids.

4) I lost 8 pounds, which is awesome, especially since normally I really struggle to lose any weight while I’m nursing.  I’m back at the weight I was pre-Molly, which feels good as her first birthday approaches.

5) More importantly, I feel way more comfortable in my body.  I feel leaner and lighter.  My energy is more consistent throughout the day.  I’m not bloated.  My clothes fit better.

6) Peanut butter probably isn’t the best choice for me as it tends to make my stomach feel off and gives me gas.  And I think that’s my emotional-eat food in the absence of sugar or carbs.  I’m having such a hard time quitting it!  Almond butter is good, but it’s no peanut butter.

I could probably keep going but in summary: I’m so glad I did this.  I’m planning on keeping going with this (a second round, if you will), to really ingrain these new habits in myself.  I might “cheat” here and there, but overall want to remain close to this eating plan.  I’m also hoping to break my peanut butter addiction.

I kept it up for awhile and then slowly let old habits creep back in.  I was marathon training, so carbs were necessary!  Deserved!  Then it was the holidays so cookies and snacks and everything else.  By the end of November I was already feeling blah and I knew it was because my carb and sugar intake had increased a lot.  But I didn’t change anything in December.  So January 1 I decided to do my second round of Whole30.  It was less because of January 1 and more because it was a good opportunity – special occasions were all past and it was a good window of time for me to try it again.  I also have a trip coming up later this month that I knew I wanted to look and feel my best for.

Technically I’m not really doing Whole30 since I’m eating beans and tofu and sometimes quinoa.  I’m doing a vegetarian version (and beans, tofu, and quinoa are good proteins for me).  But I am cutting out sugar and carbs, especially processed ones, and dairy.  I’m centering my meals on veggies and fruit and protein.

I’m currently on day 5 and it’s been easier this round.  The cravings haven’t been as bad, although some of the crankiness is still there.  But I’m already feeling better – less bloated, more energetic, empowered to make healthier eating choices.  (If you want to follow I post on @snacksmierau on instagram.)

I’ll post about this again at the end, with reflections from a round 2.

Sidenote: to me this is not a diet or a detox.  It’s creating healthier eating patterns and habits in myself.  I know I have a habit of making carbs and sugar the staple of my diet and I’d rather veggies, fruit, and protein were the foundation (and from experience I know I feel better when this is the case).

Have you ever done Whole30?  What was your experience?


Aunt Penny’s Cabbage Soup

My aunt made this soup for me the last time I visited and it was delicious – a perfect fall or winter soup, loaded with veggies, warm and comforting and thick.  I made it New Years Day and am happy to have leftovers for the rest of the week!

Aunt Penny’s Cabbage Soup

3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium head cabbage, chopped small
3/4c. uncooked long grain rice OR 1/2c. quinoa
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
6c. vegetable broth
1 can beans, drained and rinsed (I used black)
1t. paprika
1t. thyme
1T. worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the carrots, celery, garlic, and cabbage until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Simmer 20-30 minutes until rice or quinoa is cooked.  Add more water or broth if needed.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serves 8.

running · running total · Uncategorized


I started 2017 with 7 miles.  I took a couple days off at the end of 2016 for a tight groin muscle, but wanted to start 2017 running.  I’m glad I did.  The morning was cold and dark and quiet and I had the streets and lingering Christmas lights all to myself.

I don’t know how many miles I ran in 2016.  I started logging miles, took a break, logged some more, then forgot again.  I ran 2 marathons and PRed both, which was unexpected and so exciting.  I learned to run in the cold and actually enjoy it.  I logged miles with friends and plenty alone.  I ran circles around the pond and up and down the main streets.  I got faster, slower, faster again.  I found more of myself in the steady drum of my feet, cleared my head, worked out emotions, rehashed conversations, made mental notes, prayed, cried, and recited scraps of poetry.  I created mantras and then never spoke them.  I wondered what would be next, worried about what would be next, pushed after what was next.  I wore out shoes and recharged my Garmin, I chafed and blistered and lost a toenail (maybe forever).  I grew leaner, stronger.  I remembered what I loved in running, in myself.

I’ve been pregnant or nursing for some, if not most, of every year since 2011.  This will be my first year back just me and I’m really excited to see what I can do, what else will wake up inside of me.  Some thoughts:

  • This 50K in June with Kimberly.  It’s really cheap and doing an ultra (or more) has been a goal of mine since 2010.  Starting with a 50K would be a great way to test the waters and really doable from a training perspective.
  • My tenth marathon.  Not sure if I’ll go big (something like Chicago or Cleveland or Indianapolis or Grand Rapids) or small and scenic, like Presque Isle.
  • PR the half marathon.  My current half marathon PR is from May of 2010, so I’d like to go after a new one.
  • Keep running for fun and for me.  It’s easy for me to sometimes get lost in the “should” of running – I’m training for a race or to keep weight off – but when it comes down to it I run because I love it and because it makes me more me.

I’d love to do some strength training and yoga in there, too, but I’m not certain enough that I’ll really do it to make it an official goal.  But maybe!