Review: Luvo Frozen Entrees

Disclaimer: I received 5 Luvo Frozen Entrees to review  as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I love to eat, but I’m not a very consistent cook.  I will on occasion cook breakfast or dinner but it’s so much easier to just go out.  Although not great for the bank account ;).  So when I had the opportunity to try Luvo’s healthy frozen entrees I jumped on it.

The Luvo philosophy is simple (from their website): We want to make it easy to make good choices by creating wholesome, nutritious meals that taste amazing. And we’re doing it by sticking with a few guiding principles:
Food should be delicious
Food should be nutritious
The Smart Choice should be the Easy Choice
Food should come from a good place

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I received my entrees from Luvo on Wednesday in a Styrofoam container with dry ice inside.  All of my entrees were completely frozen when I took them out of the box.  I didn’t leave them on the porch for long after the UPS driver delivered them so I don’t know how long the dry ice would have lasted, but it was still a pretty big piece when I opened the container.

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In the box were 5 entrees, 2 breakfast and the other 3 lunch/dinner options.  The breakfast choices are Farmers Market Frittata & Steel Cut Oatmeal.  For Lunch/Dinner they have a lot of different options but I received Chicken Chili Verde, Orange Mango Chicken & Red Wine Braised Beef & Polenta.  I have to say that their vegetarian & pasta options looked amazing and I definitely want to try those as well.

The Luvo entrees have a very unique green package that allows the food to be steamed and it comes out fully cooked every time (no frozen centers or cold spots).  They recommend microwaving the entrees but do have conventional oven instructions as well.

I have an old 600 watt microwave, the same one I’ve had since college lol, and it cooked all my entrees perfectly in the recommended time recommendation.

Once you take them out of the microwave and let them sit for 60 seconds to lock in the flavors, you cut one side of the bag and then gently shake the entree onto your plate.  This allows the entree to come out exactly like on the box and separates the flavors.  It is a truly unique method and super cool.

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I started off trying the Chicken Chili Verde with Polenta & Black Beans for an afternoon snack.  With only 300 calories, it’s not quite enough for me as a meal, but it was a super tasty snack :).  There are 6g of Fiber, 25g of Protein and only 490mg of Sodium which is a big deal because most processed food has so much sodium it’s ridiculous.

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I enjoyed this entree and thought that the salsa had nice flavor, I should have mixed it a bit more with the chicken because it was a little bland on it’s own, the polenta was a nice choice just a tiny bit grainy and the beans were delicious.

Next up, I tried the Steel Cut Oatmeal, which is Vegetarian & Vegan, comes with a side of peaches, apples & pineapple and a coconut almond topping on the cinnamon spiced steel cut oatmeal & quinoa.

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This was very good, the fruit was amazing and super flavorful.  I loved the taste of the oatmeal although it was a little dry for my taste.  With only 260 calories, 6g each of Fiber & Protein & only 120mg Sodium this is a great option for a tasty & healthy breakfast.

The next day I tried the Farmers Market Frittata with Sweet Potato Mango Hash & Spicy Garden Salsa.  I loved the frittata, I thought it has great flavor and was just a little cheesy as well at the sweet potatoes.  For me personally, there was too much salsa and it was a bit overpowering.

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Another great option for breakfast, this vegetarian entree has 4g Fiber, 12g Protein, only 250 calories and 350mg Sodium.

And to finish up the remaining entrees, Sean & I shared them yesterday.  We split the Orange Mango Chicken with whole grains, kale & broccoli & the Red Wine Braised Beef & Polenta with Roasted Brussel Spouts, Butternut Squash & Cranberries.

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Orange/Mango chicken. This was probably my favorite of all the entrees (outside of the oatmeal). The chicken was so good and super moist. The rice quinoa blend had a Green Tea infusion that wasn’t quite my fav, but Sean loved it. The veggie on this one was Kale & Broccoli and really cooked well mostly because there wasn’t any sauce on it.

Another low calorie option, this entree only has 280 calories, 3g Fiber, 17g Protein and 450mg Sodium.

Braised beef – the beef was amazing super flavorful, not at all something you’d expect from a frozen entree. The veggies were so so but that’s mostly because I don’t like Brussels sprouts. The cranberries were yummy & whole & the polenta while a little bland was more enjoyable than on the Chicken Chili Verde.

With 4g fiber, 17g Protein, 300mg Sodium & 250 calories the Braised beef again would be good afternoon snack for me, with all the running, exercise, I need more calories but I definitely enjoyed the beef for a nice protein option.

All in all, while these entrees are not high enough in calories for my personal needs, I definitely think I would use these as a healthy snack alternative or in addition to a hearty salad for lunch &/or dinner.

Have you ever tried Luvo entrees?

Where I’ve Run Wednesday: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

A few weeks ago the awesome peeps at Altra asked us ambassadors to tell them about some of the amazing places that we get to run.  So that got me thinking Sean & I have had the opportunity to run in some really amazing places, both on trail and on the road and I’d love to share those places with you.  So here goes…the inaugural Where I’ve Run Wednesday (WIRW for short) and I’m starting with one of our favorite spots near San Diego – this was posted to the Altra blog about 2 weeks ago but it wasn’t super clear that it was my post 🙂 oops so I’m sharing it here as well.

The very first time I came to visit Sean in San Diego (for our 2nd date) we went out to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Descanso, CA near Julian. I’m not sure what we were thinking because it was a super hot August day with temps reaching 100 degrees. But that day we would run/walk/hike 10 miles, giving me a small taste of what the mountains near San Diego would offer, like seeing the golden fields that California is known for the first time.Jenny Nakamura photo 1
Since that day in August 2014, Sean and I have spent a lot of time out on the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the neighboring Cleveland National Forest, and on the PCT. These trails play host to a number of events, including the San Diego 100, Cuyamaca 100k, Mount Laguna Marathon, and Noble Canyon 50k.Sean has run all of these races so he has been a good guide, and we’ve explored a lot of the trails that are a part of these races. Some of our favorite spots include the third loop of the Cuyamaca 100k, which is approximately 18 miles of trail that takes you from Camp Cuyamaca into the northern section of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park before entering into Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and a short section the PCT before returning to the camp.

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The views once you hit the PCT are absolutely spectacular, and I tend to pinch myself because it’s hard to believe that I live so close to such a beautiful place.  I really love this photo too because it shows how vast the area really is.  It’s hard to believe it’s just 45 minutes from the beach.

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Another area that we like to visit often is in the Cleveland National Forest. There is a great spot off the Sunrise Highway—the Meadows Aid Station at San Diego 100—that we’ve spent a lot of time at lately, mostly because it’s a little flatter and more runnable. The single track in this area isn’t too technical and is well cleared. This area is a part of the Noble Canyon Trail and this winter we encountered a lot of snow, which was super cool.

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There is so much to explore in this area. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has over 100 miles of trail. Cleveland National Forest has over 920 square miles of trail, including over 100 miles of the PCT. And the Anza Borrego Desert State Park has over 916 square miles. The landscape is so diverse, from desert to fields to mountains to forest.

And the views? Well you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.

What are some of your favorite places to run?

Race Recap: Coldwater Rumble

2 weeks ago, Sean & I went to Phoenix to run at Coldwater Rumble.  I was going to run the 52k and Sean the 100 mile.

Sean totally killed it in the 100 mile with a 23:32:40 finish!  His third sub 24 hour 100 mile race.

I, on the other hand, didn’t quite kill it in my race – but it helped me to realize a few things so I can work towards fixing the issues to be a stronger runner. I talked about these issues the other day.

We drove out to on Friday – It’s about a 6 hour drive to Phoenix depending on where you are going.  We wanted to get there in time to get a good nights sleep because the 100 mile race started at 6:00am.

We hit up my favorite place in the valley for lunch, Flower Child and had some yummy clean eats.  Side note: I’m soooo excited they are opening a location in Del Mar in the fall.

Flowerchild, Phoenix, clean eats

Packet pick-up was available either on Thursday, at an awesome local running store, I-Run or Friday from 4 – 6pm at the race start Estrella Regional Park or the day of.  We opted to pick up our packets Friday evening for a few reasons. #1 to see where the race start was so we could scope out a good spot to park for race morning.  #2 Sean needed to do his streak run so we figured we could do it on the trail. #3 the shirt size Sean wears tends to run out quickly so we like to get there early if possible.

Packet pick-up was super quick and easy.   We got our bibs, I got a shirt and since I picked a women’s medium – which was just a little too big – I would go with a small next time, I was able to pick from either the 2016 green color or the 2015 navy blue.  Neither said the date so it was just for a color preference.

Sean got a green shirt, a super nice logo gym bag and a logo beanie.

After picking up our stuff, we headed out to the trails for a quick 2 miles.  Funny enough we ran into the lovely Jen from Dirtbagrunners while we were out there.  We got a quick photo and then headed back so we could get some dinner.

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We got our gear together, we were going to have to check out of our hotel before the race so we needed to make sure we were able to pack up quickly.

Fortunately we were really close to the start – less than 10 minutes away so the alarm wasn’t too early.  I think I set mine for 4:15am.  We got up, got dressed, did a quick and simple strength training routine and then got ready to head out.

We decided to bring a cooler with us since we drove because even though they had a great aid station at the start/finish area, we wanted to have our favorite things in the cooler.

We got there early and got a good spot near the start/finish.  Dropped off Sean’s drop bags the far aid station and then waited until we were close to the start time.  A few of our instafriends were there, dasilentassassin, runemz, and Shannon who would totally kick butt in the 52 miler.

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It was time for the start, it’s a relatively small race and it seemed like no one wanted to go first so I saw Sean leading the way for about 2 steps before someone else took off.  Later he said that no one wanted to go so he figured he’d lead the way 🙂

Coldwater Rumble, Aravaipa Running, 100 miles

My race was going to start at 7am so I had an hour to kill.  I watched the sunrise, which was gorgeous and chatted with Emily & Shannon for a bit, watched Shannon start her race and then got ready for my own.

I was feeling surprisingly good that morning.  It was a little chilly but not too bad so I felt like I would be fine running in shorts and a tank top.  When it was time to go, I started towards the middle/back of the pack but I was feeling good and surprised when everyone started walking up the hill at the beginning.  Since we had run this part the night before I was feeling confident, but I held back a bit & followed the pack.

we run social, estrella regional park, goodyear, arizona

Once we got up and over the first big hill, I just focused on taking it step by step thinking about getting to each aid station.  The first one was at 3.7 miles – this was a big station because we would pass it twice.  I got a few orange slices and a cup of water.  I didn’t fill my bottle because I didn’t drink much of my bottle at all.  I’d say probably less than 1/4 of the 20 oz bottle.

Sweet M Images, Altra running, coldwater rumble, goodyear, arizona, trail running, lululemon, aravaipa running

After munching on a few orange slices I thanked the volunteers and headed off to the next aid station.  One think I’ve learned from Sean and I think I did a really good job of here was just thinking in terms of one aid station at a time.  This next station was 8 miles out and one of our friends told us that like 6 miles of it was going to be sand so I occupied myself listening to music and biding my time until we got to the sand.

The desert is so beautiful and this course didn’t disappoint.  I miss running the Arizona trails on occasion and it was a perfect day for running.  There were a bunch of little ups and downs and I kept seeing quartz out on the trail.  At one point there was a giant boulder of quartz that was so beautiful.  I took a picture of it and some of the course, but alas, I destroyed my phone later in the day and lost all those pics.

During this section I was still feeling pretty good and just taking everything in stride.  I was drinking occasionally and I think I ate one jolly rancher.  Around 6 miles into this section we hit the sand.  It was rough, but I just kept moving one foot in front of another and I knew that we were coming up towards the aid station soon.

And then I could see it!  It was like an oasis in the desert (lol, it was a desert oasis!)  I got to the aid station, had my bottle filled with water, ate a bunch of orange slices and headed out for the next station which was about 4 miles away.  At this point, I was feeling ok.  I had about 3/4 of my bottle in the 8 mile section.

So off I went, at this point I had been getting passed by marathoners for a while, and during this section quite a few of them were passing me.  I was ok for the first mile or so, most of which was in the sand again – ugh – but then it started.  By the time I saw Sean a few miles into his second loop – near the aid station – I was struggling.  I hugged him and cheered him on, he was feeling really tight but good, and then headed to the aid station.

At this aid station, I got my bottle filled again, had more orange slices and a cup of ginger ale because I had a weird feeling in my throat.  I started running this section, which really was challenging, it was a very rocky and slightly hilly section.  I think I ran about a mile before I started feeling sick.  I had a few ProBar bolt chews, drank more water, had some PowerAid from my second bottle and nothing was helping.  With every sip I just felt more sick.

Sweet M Images, Altra running, coldwater rumble, goodyear, arizona, trail running, lululemon, aravaipa running

It got to the point where I was pretty much just walking with some small sections of running.  As I mentioned in my last post, I hate being sick so I was trying to avoid that if at all possible, which meant more walking.

I finally got to the road and ran the rest of the way in.  I got to the finish line area and they asked me if I was finished.  I could have said yes and got my cup and been done, but I wasn’t positive I wanted to do that yet.

I went to the aid station, asked for some more ginger ale, which the very nice volunteer offered to flatten it for me.  As I was drinking it, I started getting really cold, I had been feeling fine out on the trail and she recommended I go talk to the med tent people.

I ended up over there under a blanket and a sleeping bag having my blood pressure taken, it was surprisingly good, but my pulse was somewhat weak.  We discussed that I was dehydrated, uh yeah – so true – TMI but when I finally went to the bathroom many hours later it definitely wasn’t a color I’ve seen in a very long time.  Basically the fact that I had been sick, taking Mucinex and more importantly not drinking much at all during the race, especially for the desert climate was all working against me.

So needless to say, I ended my journey that day at 20 miles.  I have no regrets and I actually feel good that this happened.  Surprising I know, but it’s pushed me to really focus on my run nutrition and making some changes.  I’ve got a bunch of nutrition coming in the next few weeks and I’m excited to start experimenting and running to my potential.

If I had been hydrating & fueling properly, I think I could have had a decent race.  My legs and lungs actually felt great.  I finished the first 20 miles, even with the last 4 miles taking quite a long time, in 4:24 which I was happy with, but I know I can do better and will do better at a future race.

After I warmed up, I got changed and spent the rest of the day crewing Sean.  My family came by to hang out and ended up taking me to closest Apple store, about 45 mins away, so I could get a new phone after I smashed my in my trunk.  I have no idea what I was doing but thank goodness I was able to get a new one and get back before Sean finished his 3rd loop.

I would just hang out in the parking lot mostly in the car, sleeping (since I was going to be driving home the next day) and waiting for Sean to finish loop 4 & 5.  When we saw him after loop 3, it was around 7:30p and he was gunning to finish loop 4 by midnight.

He was just barely over this at about 12:30am.  Got some fuel and I sent him off hoping of a sub 24 hour finish.  He got to the last aid station with about 90 minutes left and then his Garmin died so he booked it in.  I was watching around this time and saw 2 lights coming down the mountain and then one single light.  The single light was gaining on the other 2 and then they were all coming in on the road to the finish and I saw that the 3rd light was Sean!!!  He was going to crush the sub 24.  He ended up finishing 8 seconds behind another runner.  Incidentally the runner he came in right behind is someone I’ve been following on Instagram for a while, Jason of CookTrainEatRace, who also had an amazing race!

I’m so proud of Sean for working so hard and having a great race.

Now for the specifics on this race.  Aravaipa Running has been doing this for a while and they have it together.

Swag: Shirts are have the logo on them, they are comfortable and a nice material

Photos: Though Sweet M Photography and were up about a week from the race.  They did put up a few free teasers which Sean was one of. But the others were available for sale.  I paid $5.95 ea for 2 photos.

Sweet M Images, Coldwater Rumble, Aravaipa Running, 100 miles

Live Results: Streaming throughout the race, I kept checking them throughout the night so I could see where the leaders were so I had a better idea of when I needed to be up to see Sean

Finisher Awards: If I had finished, I would have received a logo’d tumbler and two coasters – there were no medals for any race but the 100.  100 mile finishers received a buckle, in Sean’s case he received a silver one that said 24 hours, or if you finished over 24 hours it was more of a gold color and a bit smaller than the one he received.  He also got the tumbler and coasters.

Altra running, coldwater rumble, goodyear, arizona, trail running, aravaipa running, sub 24 buckle

Parking: There is a $6 fee to get into the park, it was a daily fee so I was good overnight but we did have to pay to get in to pick up our packet too

Camping: There was the availability to camp, I believe it was a $20 fee but then you could set up your own tent.  Aravaipa had tents & sleeping bags that you could rent as well.  We thought about it but I figured I’d be warmer in my car so we just brought a sleeping bag and I slept in the car.

Course: Well marked.  It was a washing machine race so you would alternate directions on your loops.  It is an deceivingly difficult course with rocky technical areas and sand.

All in all, I think it was a well run and well organized race.  I would definitely go back and run there again.  I’d like the opportunity to see what I could do on this course with proper fueling.

How I plan to win at running…

So let’s be honest here…Running is hard.  And I’ve been making it a lot harder on myself because I’ve been neglecting a few keys areas.

How I feel during a hard, hot long run

#1 – My run nutrition sucks.  I feel sick on most long runs and that’s because I have yet (after 8 marathons and 28 or so half marathons) to dial in my nutrition.  I think I always revert back to my track days when I didn’t eat much because I was so afraid to throw up after a race (TMI – I have a huge aversion to throwing up and I would rather not eat than get sick – I’ve been like this since I was a kid).

#2 – My mental strength, not so good.  I try, but then when it gets hard, I have a really hard time powering through so normally my brain works against my body.

#3 – I just run and while this is fine and dandy, I’m not going to get a PR if I don’t do speedwork & have a bit more focus as far as my training goes.

So what I am I going to do about this?

#1 – I’ve decided to run more shorter distance races for a few months after the LA Marathon on Feb 14.  I’m going to focus on the half marathon and will get a new PR.  I’ve run 28 or so halfs and I’ve only run under 2 hours twice.  My current PR is 1:57:26 and I’m going to work towards a 1:55.  Which considering where I’m at right now is going to definitely take some work to hit those 8:46 miles.  I’ve got the San Diego Half in mid March which I plan to use as a goal race.

I will train to PR in the marathon.  Sean & I just signed up for the Vancouver USA Marathon on June 19.  It’s a flat & fast course and perfect for a PR.  And it’s not until June so it gives me plenty of time to train and really work towards a PR.

#2 – Start believing in myself more.  I have it in me, but I let my mind defeat me every time.  I am getting a new Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wrap with my mantra – I Can & I Will.  And I’m going to get a few books to read on how to work on this.

#3 – Focus on my run nutrition.  I’ve been saying this for a while, but it’s obviously a huge problem for me and something I really need to dial in. I shouldn’t feel sick on every run.  And since eating seems to be an issue for me, outside of oranges and jolly ranchers I rarely eat anything on a long run.  I don’t like Gu, I prefer more natural or real food type products but even though I take them with me, I rarely eat them.

I will be trying the CarboPro Hydra C5  as well as TailWind.  Each of these products has 100 calories per serving so hopefully if I like the flavor, I’ll be able to drink my calories and stop feeling sick every long run.  Sean also tried this awesome tasting Core Proven Nutrition drink mix at Tahoe 200 last year and it can be mixed with either of these other products which might be an option.

I love running and I want to keep doing it, injury free of course, for a very long time but I would like to feel like I’m accomplishing something.  I’m hoping that focusing on these three areas will help me to succeed in achieving my goals this year.

Do you have a favorite way to get in your speed training?

I’d love to hear what you do to get past the mental aspect of running.

And what are your favorite ways to fuel on a long run?

January Recap & February Yoga Challenge

It’s hard to believe we are already one month into 2016.  So here’s a quick recap of what happened in January & what’s coming up in February for me.

January was a relatively quite month for us, we kicked off 2016 here in San Diego and only had one road-trip runcation to Phoenix for the Coldwater Rumble.

Mount Woodson Fun

Running – 122 miles (just shy of my 125 monthly goal to get to 1,500)
31 days of strength training
2 races – SD Trail Marathon & Coldwater Rumble – recap coming
2 trips to Phoenix (one for work, one to run :))
2 weeks of being sick
1 trip to Mount Laguna to find snow

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Last month Sean & I started incorporating a strength training routine into our daily schedule.  This routine is pretty simple and we modify it based on what we have going on (races, being sick, etc) it’s really been helping us both with our running.

The nice thing about this routine is that you can make it as hard or easy as you would like.

Pushups – 5 sets (I’m up to 50 total which is huge for me since I could barely do 5 when we started)
Bicycles – 200 or more
Scissor Legs &/or Flutter kicks – 100 each
Squats – 5 sets (again I do about 50 they make my knee hurt)
Lunges – 5 sets (again I do 50ish these too make my knee hurt)
Plank – 3 minutes minimum including 30/60 sec of side plank (each side)

I plan to keep it going past the challenge end date of Feb 14.  And this month I will be adding in yoga to my daily schedule.

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To kick off my February Yoga Challenge (this is my own personal challenge to do at least a short yoga routine every day in February) I’m joining Fit Approach and Prana for the #pranaSpringStyle #PoseofTheDay Challenge from Feb 1 – 5.

Want to join in?  Here’s what we’ll be working on this week.

Feb 1: Let’s get a little WILD for Monday! Drop a Wild Thing for today’s #poseoftheday and the first day of #prAnastyle!

Feb 2: It’s #transformationtuesday! For today’s #sweatpink and #prAnastyle #poseoftheday, show us what you’re working on in your practice! Bust out some blocks and straps, grab a spotter or a wall. It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? 😉 Full pigeon or dancer tip: use a strap to make the overhead bind!

AND / OR: There’s always a way to modify a posture! Working on #handstand? Grab a wall for L-pose! It’s a great way to build core and shoulder strength, and to get used to the feeling of having your hips up over your shoulders.

Feb 3: Rock out your favorite standing balance pose today! It can be anything that challenges your balance on one leg, so don’t hesitate to get creative and, as always, have fun!

Feb 4: Today we’re working on expanding through the spine even as we’re strength-building and staying grounded in a lunge. Option 1: Crescent Lunge with a backbend.

AND/OR: Option 2: Reverse Warrior. Keep sinking down into your lunge even as you are arching through your side body behind you! Ground down to lift up!

Feb 5: For the LAST day of the #sweatpink #poseoftheday challenge, show us what your favorite #restorative posture is! Child’s Pose, Savasana, Legs Up the Wall… Enjoy and relax!

Use the following hashtags each day: #sweatpink #poseoftheday #flexandflow #stopdropandyoga #yogaeverydamnday #prAnastyle #prAnaspringstyle and tag @fitapproach @prAna

February is going to be a busy month for us with a lot of travel, the LA Marathon, Marathon Olympic Trials, Gasparilla Half Marathon and of course lots and lots of running.

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Lots of running, traveling, yoga & strength training coming up in February!  Have a great month!