Friday, March 29, 2013

Fight to the Finish!

Mark your calendars for the first Fight to the Finish, a 5K+ race of extreme obstacles and challenging terrain, to benefit Children's Hospital of Illinois! The patients and families helped through Children's Hospital face obstacles everyday-some small and some life changing. As you pull yourself up a brick wall, crawl through the mud and fight to get through the water first, you'll be reminded of the challenges our patients fight to overcome each day. Funds raised from this event will be used to support the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Pediatric Healthy Living Program.

Saturday, April 27, 2013
Jubilee State Park-Brimfield, Illinois (Map)

Join us for the race, but plan for a fun day full of activities. There is something for everyone. Make your way through the vendor area on your way to enjoy a bite to eat from several local restaurants. Young visitors will enjoy the kid's activity area filled with games, face painting, and much more. This section opens at 9AM and admission is $5 per child (free to those who are racing in the Kids Run).
Providing Comfort to Other Families
=Images= | Houchens DonationBrad Houchens said his family was in shock when they learned they’d raised enough money to sponsor a room in the Congenital Heart area at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Brad and his wife Ashley, of Saint Joseph, understand first-hand what it is like for a family who may have a child in the room newly named after Camron Oakley Houchens.
Their son Camron was born in June 2006 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which essentially means he was born with a two chambered heart as opposed to a four chambered heart.  Camron underwent several surgeries over the next six months requiring him to remain hospitalized during much of that time. In December 2006, Camron was transferred to St. Louis in hopes of a heart transplant. When the family learned a transplant was no longer an option for their son, they asked to be brought back to Children’s Hospital of Illinois where Camron had spent much of his life.
Brad and Ashley knew shortly after Camron’s passing on December 29th that they wanted to do something to help other families. “As we went through the process with Camron, we met others who were going through the same thing. We shared the idea of starting a golf outing in Camron’s memory and our family embraced it,” said Brad. Seventeen teams participated in the first outing held in 2007 at Brookhill Golf Course in Rantoul, Illinois. The outing has continued to grow each year. Twenty-eight teams participated in the 2012 outing, breaking a $50,000 milestone, enough to sponsor a room in little Camron’s memory.
“It was never about recognition for our family,” Brad shares. “We know what it’s like to spend many days in a hospital room. The comfort of the room is important to families going through a difficult time. We only hope to help other families going through a similar situation.”
Photo-The Houchen Family (Ashley, Brylee, Bryson & Brad) in front of the room dedicated in Camron's memory.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Single People Should Workout

Since I started running I notice certain things about people. I notice calf muscles on men and women. I notice 13.1 and 26.2 bumper stickers on cars. I notice when someone at the grocery store, mall, Target, etc. is wearing a specific brand of running shoes like Brooks or Mizuno. I notice biking/running trails while driving in other cities and states. Mostly though, I notice how many really really good looking people there are who attend running and racing events.

Building Steam is a local training program for people who are training to run the Steamboat Classic 4 mile event in Peoria, IL. The participants are mostly women. There's literally hundreds of participants in this program. If you are a single man, this is where you should be. It's not rocket science. There are two couples that I know of who actually met at Building Steam and later were married. I'm sure there have been more, I've only been involved with BS for three years though.

Spartan Races are fun, challenging, and filled with a ridiculous amount of good looking people.

I'm not going to bash anyone who meets/met their significant other in a bar. That's where I met mine. I was just a small town girl living in my lonely world, he was a city boy born and raised west of Detroit ... you know the story. However, if the pool you've been fishing from is not providing great results, then maybe it's time to tread some new waters. Join a gym, training program, running group, trail running group, cross fit class, swimming class, kickboxing class, hiking group, biking group, WHATEVER, just get moving and get a look at what is out there.  I don't even know why I'm putting all of this info here. I should be selling it online and making millions right now! You all are getting it for free because I'm awesome like that.

I just couldn't NOT put this pic in... you're welcome, ladies. ;)
Seriously guys, you think Ryan Gosling is so hot right now just because he has nice abs??? Wrong. Rumor has it he joined a ballet class that was mostly filled with girls. Women love that. Hot celebrity guy being sweet to little kids while learning a graceful dance... yeah, that is gold right there. He will be getting women off of that move for decades. He may as well have saved 100 kittens from impending doom while professing his love for long walks on the beach.

So, the point here is: if you are single and looking for love, GET MOVING. At the very least you will get some healthy exercise. You may even make some wonderful friends, and live a happier life.

Peace, Love, Happiness!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Hard boiled eggs in the oven!

In light of clean eating and Easter I thought I would share that you can easily make hard eggs this year by baking them in the oven!

How easy is it?

It is as easy as turning your oven on to 375 degrees, placing your eggs in a muffin tin, and baking them for 30 minutes. Wa-la! Hard boiled eggs-minus the boiling! I also run mine under cold water right after they are finished baking as it makes them peel easier.

What to do with all of these eggs?

You could have one of my favorite breakfasts by using the egg whites as a great protein source to coincide with your Natural Oats Oatmeal! This breakfast will fulfill your hunger and ensure that you have the energy needed to tackle your day!


You could do what I am doing and make the sharpie eggs above for your Easter dinner decoration. I can't wait to write personalized inspirational messages on each one to give to each family member Sunday!


You could bake those eggs for the Yummy Clean Eating Gracious Pantry Tuna Salad Recipe below! (I buy cage free, organic, natural brown eggs)


Bake them for for the kids to decorate!

Obviously, the options are endless! So let's make it easier on us and bake those eggs!

Bon Appetit!


Have you ever baked your eggs?
What are you going to make with your baked eggs?

Clean Eating Tuna Salad (Recipe Courtesy of Gracious Pantry)

(Makes approximately 8 servings)


  • 3 cans water-packed tuna
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 carrot – grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 a small white onion
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and serve.
Nutritional Content:
(Data is for approximately 1/2 cup)
Calories: 97
Total Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fats: 0 gm
Trans Fats: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 45 mg
Sodium: 227 mg (based on 1/4 tsp. sea salt)
Carbohydrates: 2 gm
Dietary fiber: 0 gm
Sugars: 1 gm
Protein: 18 gm
Estimated Glycemic Load: 1
Please Note: Nutritional information estimated at Data may not be accurate and is subject to the availability of specific foods in their database. Where one ingredient is not listed, substitutions must be used. Therefore, you should not refer to this data as being exact. It’s more of a ballpark figure. The Gracious Pantry does not take responsibility for the inadequacies of the nutrition calculator used. This data is provided as a courtesy and general reference only. 
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Running For St.Jude

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, located in Memphis, TN, helps children with cancer and other serious diseases. Their families are never asked to pay a dime. The hospital sees approximately 7800 children each year. The daily operating cost is 1.8 million dollars. Again, the families of St. Jude never pay for anything.

Danyelle and I are both running to raise money for St. Jude this year. This will be my 2nd year participating in the East Peoria to Peoria St. Jude Run and Danyelle's first. We are both so honored to be able to take part in such an amazing event. Both of us know people and families who have benefited from the services of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We've been touched by both heartwarming and heartbreaking stories.

In 2009, we both were forever changed while following the story of a local boy, Dax Locke. We followed his mother's posts on Caring Bridge and like thousands of other people were deeply touched by Dax's story and his family's strength. Dax and his family fought a courageous battle and after Dax got to see one more Christmas, he passed away on December 30th, 2009. This is a cause that is very dear to our hearts. Although we do not personally know what a parent of a St. Jude child goes through, we can share in knowing the love of a parent for their child. We understand that our children are everything to us. We feel hurt when they hurt and only want to make it better. Thanks to St. Jude, many parents have been able to do just that for their children.

Both of us have donation pages set up online. Our goal is to each raise $750 for St. Jude. All of which goes directly to St. Jude. We will be running in the event on August 3rd. If you would like to donate to our goal please visit one of our donation pages. No amount is too small.

Bekah's St. Jude Page

Danyelle's St. Jude Page

We will be posting from time to time with updates of how much we have raised and local fundraisers that anyone can participate in. Please join us in making this another great year for the children of St. Jude!

Peace, love, happiness, and our sincerest thanks!

~Bekah and Danyelle

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dear Spring, are you there? It's me, Bekah...

It's the first day of Spring. Don't get too excited, it's also only 16 degrees outside as I'm writing this. I think Mother Nature may be going through 'the change.' How else can anyone explain the craziness that is Illinois weather. Sunny and 60, rainy and windy, 20 degrees and snow all in a 24 hour time period. Okay maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but not much.

I'm so ready to go running in warmer weather. In fact, tonight is the first meeting night for Building Steam group leaders. What is Building Steam, you ask? Well, it is a running program that prepares participants for the Steamboat Classic 4 mile race in June. Danyelle and I are both going to be group leaders again this year. This will be my 3rd year being involved with Building Steam and my 2nd year as a group leader. I'm so excited about this, it is such a great program.

Tonight I am meeting up with two of the wonderful ladies who are also leading the group with me, my friends, Steph and Laura. The three of us were leaders together last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to hang out together again this year. We are planning to go for a run tonight after our meeting and I have to be honest, I'm not nearly as excited about that now as I was when we first made plans. I wasn't picturing having to layer up for this run. I was picturing us running in light weight running clothes, not ear muffs and gloves.

My friends know me as the crazy one who loves winter and snow. And I do. But, COME ON!!! Sixteen degrees on the first day of Spring is just stupid. I'm so over it.

The funny thing is that usually the Steamboat Classic ends up being on an incredibly hot and humid day. Luckily, it's a very flat course. Unless you do the 15k instead of the 4 mile, then you will have hills. The race is a really fun time though even with the heat. People come from all over to run this event. Even from Kenya. Peoria firemen always run in full gear which is pretty amazing. There are often brides-to-be running with their bridesmaids, families in matching t-shirts, I think last year their were even a couple men wearing kilts. You really never know what or who you will see.

If you are new to running, Building Steam is for you. If you have been running for years and want a fun experience with some great people, Building Steam is for you. If you are looking to make new friends who share a love of running, Building Steam is for you. If you are looking for something fun and healthy to do as a family, Building Steam is for you!

There will be 4 locations participating this year: Peoria, Morton, Chillicothe, Washington

Also, there are also four other programs besides Building Steam:

Rising Steam: for walkers or beginning runners who are in 6th-12th grade.

Scouting Steam: geared toward Boy Scouts who are working on earning a Personal Fitness Badge.

Access Steam: designed to meet the needs of individuals of all ages who have been diagnosed with cognitive, developmental, or physical disabilities.

Team Steam: geared toward runners who want to become better runners.

Be sure to check out the Steamboat Classic website for more information, dates, times, etc.

Do something good for you and come join us this year!!!

Peace, Love, Happiness!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Simple Salad Recipe

I'm not usually a big fan of eating salad. I go through phases where I will crave salad every day for a week and then not eat it again for 3 months. Today I was back on the 'salad is the best thing ever' train. I do not like to cook a lot which makes eating 'raw' a dream come true for me. It's also one reason that salad is more appealing at times. Lunch time rolled around today and after unsuccessfully talking Fred into making a salad (he likes to cook and is really good at it) I went off to the kitchen to try to recreate one of the simple salads that he often makes. End result was quite yummy and this particular salad was very simple to make.


Baby Spinach
Avocado, sliced
Pine Nuts

I did not measure anything out but made plenty for Fred and I to share.

1 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar

Top with sea salt & fresh ground pepper. Enjoy!

Peace, Love, Happiness!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peoria gets first marathon, Run River City!

RC Race Management and Running Central are thrilled to unveil the maiden voyage of the River City Marathon to benefit St. Jude Runs and we are so excited they did! This will be Peoria's first marathon!
This inaugural event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 19th, 2013. Participants will be part of what will surely become the keystone running event for Central Illinois!  The River City Marathon promises to bring an experience that has something for everyone! We are offering participants the choice of running the 5K, 25K, Marathon, 4 Person Marathon relay, or kid’s Mini Marathon.  This exhilarating course will begin in downtown Peoria, and take participants on a journey through many city neighborhoods that exemplify the characteristics of our community’s historic past, our vibrant present, promising future, and end at the beautiful Peoria Riverfront. Make 2013 your marathon debut with Peoria!

For the marathon course map click: here! For more information on registering click here!

Happy Running!


Are you registered for the River City marathon, 5K, 25K,
 4 person relay or is your child? 

Comment below & tell us how your training is going!
Good luck to you!

Want to chat more? 
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

I prefer my food in color "Natural"!

After reading the article "Mother's Against Food Dyes" Thursday evening I have been scouring my cupboards and kitchen reading food labels. I was disgusted at what I found even in my own household. I researched the validity of their concerns regarding the food dyes Yellow #5 and #6 and I think they have good reason to petition Kraft to remove this from their Mac and Cheese. Especially, since the entire purpose of them adding the dye is for the mac and cheese to be an attractive yellow/orange color. I prefer my food in color "Natural". In addition, I hope that Red #40 and many other additives will be removed right along with them.

Although, our U.S. FDA does not find that there is significant proof to the claims of ADHD, allergies, low testosterone, low sperm count in males, and cancerous tumors the U.K. FDA has already removed these additives years ago. If there is not a concern why remove them? Again I ask why we are adding something to our food to make it attractive in color? I even consulted a friend yesterday (Thanks, Beth) who has removed these additives and others from their household years ago. I consider her ahead of the times. She noticed a significant difference in her child and has been an advocate for this process all along. 

I am thankful for Beth, Vani Hari, and Lisa Leake for starting this petition. They have brought national awareness to this topic. I am in hopes that Kraft will change their product line and others will follow their lead. At this time they have nearly 181, 304 signatures for their petition and need 18,696. If you wish to join this petition click here.

If you would like to educate yourself more on this topic you can 'google' Red Dye #40, Yellow #5 & Yellow #6 or Mom's Against Food Dyes. You will find numerous articles regarding this issue and many journal publications regarding the effects and studies completed on food dyes. In addition, I have pasted one of the many articles regarding this topic below and you can click a Wikipedia link here.

Always learning...


Kraft: Stop Using Dangerous Food Dyes in Our Mac & Cheese

    1. Vani Hari and Lisa Leake
    2. Petition by
      Charlotte, NC

Hi there, this is Vani Hari from Food Babe and Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food. We recently discovered that several American products are using harmful additives that are not used – and in some cases banned – in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, us included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the US contains the artificial food dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These unnecessary – yet potentially harmful - dyes are not in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in other countries, including the UK, because they were removed due to consumer outcry. Kraft reformulated their product for the UK, but not for their fellow American citizens.
It’s time we demand the same here in the US!
Note: Yellow 5 (labeled asTartrazine) is also used in these products in Canada, and we're sure they don't want to have it in their food either!
That's why we are petitioning Kraft to remove all dangerous artificial food dyes
 from their line of macaroni and cheese.
Here are the reasons we are asking Kraft to remove Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 from their Macaroni and Cheese.
Artificial food dyes...
- Are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar).
- Require a warning label in other countries outside the US.
- Have been banned in countries like Norway and Austria (and are being phased out in the UK).
- Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens (a.k.a. an agent directly involved in causing cancer).
- Cause an increase in hyperactivity in children.
- Have a negative impact on children’s ability to learn.
- Have been linked to long-term health problems such as asthma, skin rashes, and migraines.
- Add absolutely no nutritional value to the foods we are eating and are solely used for aesthetic purposes only.
To prove this last point we personally tested both the US and UK versions of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and found virtually no difference in color or taste (see the video above).
We both grew up eating this product, Lisa used to feed it to her kids, and it’s available at almost every grocery store across the country.
Our kids deserve the same safer version that our friends get overseas!
Kraft Foods is the largest food company headquartered in the United States. If Kraft changes their Macaroni and Cheese, we know this could inspire other food companies across the US to finally eliminate dangerous artificial food dyes once and for all.

Would you like to discuss this topic further? Leave a comment!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Running all Fifty: Kissimmee, Florida

Beautiful Sunny Florida! My husband and I lived in Sarasota, Florida for 5 years and we often visit Florida  as our family and friends live there. Yes, we get asked daily "Why in the world did you move to Illinois?!". It really is a simple answer: It is a great place to raise a family!  I have ran in many Florida cities however, I am going to start my review of Florida running in Kissimmee.

My run there occurred  exactly 1 year ago during Spring Break vacation. I woke up early one morning (7 a.m. is early to me!) and snuck out of the condo before the kids and hubby were up. This entails me acting like a "stealth" as my kids hear everything and never want to miss a thing. My husband on the other hand could have a freight train go through the center of our bedroom and still sleep right through it. That is a gift I wish I had.

As I started my run the first thing I noticed was the high humidity and difficulty breathing, followed by the intense sunshine. Florida bods all of those things. If you are a Florida runner proper hydration and sunscreen are a mandatory component. Special props to all you Florida runners! Your runs are more difficult to me. I bet you could PR in Illinois in a second!

My three mile run stayed at an even 10:45 pace along Avenue of the Stars Blvd. I was distracted by the beautiful lakes, palm trees, and fountains. It was especially neat to think that Mickey and Minnie were right down the road. As my run continued the one thing I loved was the pristine manicured lawns and the variety of bird species. Kissimmee is such a pretty place with an abundance of entertainment and activity! 

My run ended back in our condominium complex viewing a gator in the lake...I am still wondering if it is a tourist decoy as he appeared to not move the rest of the week. Nonetheless, I know they are out there and you must take precautions. Best Part of the Run: Going for a swim after! Boom! Another great run! Kissimmee, Florida-CHECK!

Never take a moment for granted and enjoy the run!


Have you ran in the Kissimmee/Orlando, Florida?

Do you run on vacation or take the time off?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are you on Daily Mile?

Do you use Daily Mile to track your exercise and miles? I have for over a year now and I love it! The Daily Mile is easy to use and you can become friends with a group of like-minded individuals. You can motivate each other on your fitness journey or mile goals.

If you would like to follow me on Daily Mile click here!

Happy Running!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Cake Detox...Crap!

Happy Birthday to you...Happy Birthday to you....

As I woke up this morning and threw the cake box in the trash I thought it might be quite possible that I am going through cake withdrawals. My mouth salivated, but my stomach did not. Since Friday (My Birthday!) I have been eating cake! I have had white cake with white icing, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, guitar cake with red icing and chocolate cake (Fred's Cool 40th Birthday Cake! It was Fred's Birthday this weekend, too!), and white cake with chocolate icing. Then to top it all off yesterday I fully embraced a birthday lunch with my lovely grandma that consisted of a buffet of Happy Joe's Pizza! My stomach is saying ouch and my kids think it was the best weekend ever!

Needless to say yesterdays trip to Wal-Mart consisted of buying more toilet paper! Even my daughter commented, "Mom, when I eat junk food I poop all the time!" Yep, if you eat like crap you will get more crap and also feel like crap. I think my dog even got into the birthday party food. After she went poopy this morning she put her behind straight into the snow followed by streaking our snow covered yard! Through the Narnia-like snow I actually think I saw her smile with relief as the steam rolled up from her behind. Happy Monday, "the sh**ters full"! Don't you wish 'you' were our neighbor?! ;)

However, what would a birthday be like without eating some sort of crap?! It is what we do every year and it wouldn't be the same without it! As I am enjoying my banana and coffee I am looking back fondly at the cake box in the trash. I know we will overly visit each other again next year. Now let the food and run detox begin!

Have a great Monday and enjoy every moment!