Monday, June 11, 2012

S: is for Salmon

And salmon is freakin' deeeelish!  I made the mistake of grocery shopping while starving last week, but for once came out on top.  I found myself craving lox & bagel.  Not having the patience to ask, "hey where can I find the lox", I went with salmon instead.  No regrets.

Aside from tasting pretty swell, salmon is also a winner when it comes to healthy eating, with several great things to benefit our bods.  It is packed with omega 3's, which research has shown to improve heart muscle function and reduce the risks of deadly heart arrhythmia.  Doctors recommend 2 servings of omega 3's per week for us grown-ups.  Salmon also gives a nice daily dose of vitamins D (100%, B2 (50%) and B12 (50%) for healthy teeth and bones, energy, and good moods!  Lastly, a serving of salmon has the power to fill you up without filling out you out with over half of your day's required protein intake, yet only 180 calories and 10g of fat per 4-oz serving.

Now that I've now sold you on this fancy fish, I will enlighten you on my fancy dish below, coming in at less than 400 calories, 25g protein, and 11g of fat!

Slox n' Bagel

1 whole wheat Bagel Thin
2tbsp lite cream cheese
1 vine ripe tomato, sliced
1 tbsp capers
4oz salmon
olive oil cooking spray
2 squeezes of lemon juice
          Coat skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium low. 
          Place salmon in skillet, skin side down and cook for 3 minutes.  Spritz
          with lemon juice and flip for 2 more minutes until salmon is just done. 
          Remove from skillet and remove skin from salmon (no one likes it anyway).
          Toast bagel.  Spread with cream cheese.  Top with tomato, salmon, and capers.
          Enjoy the heck out of it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

R: is for Reboot

Many changes since my last entry, which seems forever ago.  I have tried my darndest to roll with the punches, but every day has been a challenge and a lesson.  Things are not always what they seem.  Plans are not always set in stone.  The only constant is constant change.  I have no regrets and have loved every minute of the ride.  It has been hard and I have struggled.  But over the past week or two, I have been attempting to come to terms with it all and adapt.  I am ready to take a deep breath and CTRL+ALT+DEL this mother.  There is no better time than now to embrace this life of mine.  Time to reboot and time to realize who and what it is I am living for. 

And with that, I will continue my (super belated) A-Z Challenge.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q: is for Quads

I tone my abs, they get smaller and tighter.  I tone my arms, they get stronger and leaner.  I squat or run or jump or lunge, the bigger my quads get.  No matter how much fat I shed from them, I've got some big girls holding up this bod of mine.  At times, the fight between myself and my jeans straight from the dryer can take a beating on this girl's self esteem.  Heck, sometimes I think even my jeans are crying at the end of it!  It seems no matter what I do, thanks be to Mom, I'm stuck with my thunder thighs.

After my most recent bought with my Levi's, when I was debating on giving up on all that is thigh, I came across the ad below.  I'm not a huge fan of Nike (or really any big brands that do big brand-y things).  However, I admit I must give them props for one of their more recent ads targeted towards women and the assets we struggle with most.  This one is by far my favorite and I wanted to share because I doubt I'm the only owner of these huge gals.

             "I have thunder thighs. And that's a compliment because they are strong. And toned. And muscular. 
             And though they are unwelcome in the petite section, they are cheered on in marathons. 
             Fifty years from now, I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs and then I'll go out for a run."

Upon seeing this I could only think of one phrase: A-men-Sista-Friend!  And aside from that: my thighs look damn good in those Levi's!  Nothing left to do but embrace what Mama gave!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: is for Plyometrics

't is the season to put a little spring in your step!  Plyometrics (sometimes called "jump training" or "explosive exercises") will do just that, while adding variety to your workout, helping increase bone density, prevent injury, and improve your power, strength, and agility.  Plyometric training conditions the body with dynamic resistance exercises that rapidly stretch a muscle and then rapidly shorten it (ie: squat jumps and medicine ball slams).  It is good to do a mix of both upper and lower body exercises to get an all-over workout without tiring your muscles too much too soon in one session.  These types of exercises often imitate the body's natural movement during sports (ie: hiking, volleyball, tennis, running) and thus are often used by athletes to improve overall performance.  More recently however, plyometric training has become more widely used among the general exercise population.

Shape Magazine has an excellent plyometrics workout, suitable for beginners.  You can view the workout by clicking here

As with any exercise, if done improperly, injury can result.  Make sure to use proper form, not to overextend, and if an exercise is beyond your difficulty level, work with an experienced trainer or coach to modify the move to your ability.  As well, make sure to give your body periods of rest (1 - 2 days) between plyometric exercise sessions. 

What else can I say?  Interested in plyometrics?  Hop to it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O: is for Outdoor Dining

The boyfraaann took a mini trek to Actionville last week.  Being that I like food and he likes fire, it only made sense to kick off his visit with a romantical evening grilling out on the porch.  We both love to cook, so this was a great way for us to get creative with our meal, eat healthy, and spend quality time together on the cheap.

We decided to keep things simple with kebabs of veggies and shrimp.  I admit, we did wrap about half the shrimp in bacon as it is currently the largest part of his food pyramid.  Can you blame him?  Bacon is nature's candy...or is that fruit?  Anyway here we go:

One of the great things about this meal was being able to cook both the meat and veggies at the same time for the same amount of time over medium heat on the grill.

Veggie Kebabs
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
1 Zucchini, sliced
12 Mushrooms
1 Squash sliced
½ cup Red Bell Pepper, sliced
½ cup Orange Bell Pepper, sliced
½ cup Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade
Marinate veggies for 30-60 minutes and skewer onto kebabs.
Reserve the remaining marinade.  Place kebabs on grill for about 10 minutes,
turning halfway through and occasionally brushing with remaining marinade.

Grilled (Bacon-Wrapped) Shrimp
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 ½ tbsp dark agave nectar
1 ½ tbsp honey bbq suace
9 slices bacon
18 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
Cut the slices of bacon in half. Partially cook the bacon over moderate heat
to render some of the fat without allowing the pieces to crisp. Stir all ingredients to
combine and add shrimp, tossing well to coat. Marinate 30-60 minutes. Remove shrimp
from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Wrap a slice of bacon around each shrimp
and skewer onto kebab, securing both ends of bacon. Place shrimp on hot grill for
4 minutes.Turn and brush shrimp with reserved marinade and grill for 4 minutes longer or
until shrimp are opaque throughout.

To cut calories and fat, omit the bacon...if you want to be crazy like that.  The marinade is enough to keep the shrimp tasting delicious without it.  Aside from bacon, it was not too bad of a meal, health-wise.  I admit when it comes to the shrimp dish, it may not be the cleanest I've ever posted here.  The veggies were easily a winner on both taste and trim calories while the shrimp definitely offered the perfect combo of sweet and spicy (much like our evening).  So even if you adapt this meal or cook something else entirely, I hope you get out and enjoy the spring evenings.  Grill with friends or loved ones and embrace the night air...before we all get attacked by heat, humidity, and mosquitos in the very near future.  :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

N: is for Never Quit

This morning, I succumbed to weakness and hit up the Chick-Fil-A drive-through for breakfast.  It didn't seem so terrible until this evening when I discovered a new roll during boot camp.  No, we're not talking carby side-dish; we're talking fat, people!  As usual, the thought in my head was "time to start over back on track".  Except I am really sick of starting over!  But this time it also occurred to me that if I am sick of starting over, then I also need to be sick of quitting.  Never quit, never start over, get fit! 

I realize that one fast food meal does not a fat roll make.  But trashy food is too regular of an occurrence for me.  I can't seem to deny myself the sodium or the "easy way out" in exchange for being lazy.  But are sodium and laziness worth the price of my once-owned six-pack?  There are also the logical reasons this is terrible (heart disease, cancer, blah blah blah) but there's no way that I can wrap my head around those serious problems in my mid-twenties.  So we'll go with something immediate, like six-pack.  Ok, and being tired in the gym. Being tired in general.  Having to start over every time I realize how much I've set myself back.

Resetting the motivation and the goals: peace out fast food, welcome back six-pack!  If I stay on track, I'll be there in no time and be able to do laundry off my very own washboard.  If I quit, I'll find myself writing this same pissed off blog in the very near future...Time to break the cycle!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M: is for Muddy

Want an easy way to take a Plain Jane 5k to the next level?  One word: Mud.  Ok, and obstacles.

Last year my sister and I both mucked it up in our first mud run, Rugged Maniac.  Since then, we've both been hooked on getting grubby.  Over the past year, we have gotten down and dirty in four of these 5ks, scaling cargo nets, forging rivers, crawling through mud under barbed wire, and leaping over fire. We typically finish with enough mud in our shorts and shoes to bury the competition...of course I run pretty slow, so my competition is pretty minimal by the end of it.  Really, I'm just there for the food (in the case of last race with the giant turkey leg).

But more than the food, it's a great way to add a bit of spice and excitement to any 5k, burn more calories, and feel like one strong BAMF by the end of it!  Wanna get dirty?  Be sure to check out a mud run near you!

L: is for Lazy Days

I love the spectacular weather we've been having.  I also love relaxing in my living room on my chaise lounge.  To get the best of both worlds, I moved brought the living room (or at lease my chaise) outdoors and I am not ashamed of the tackiness!  Mainly, because the neighbors couldn't see over my porch ledge to be any the wiser.  Secondly, because it makes a damn fine afternoon nap space...until approximately 4:30pm when the sun just brutally beats down on my porch at just the wrong angle.  But before 4:30 it's AMAZING!

One day, I will be a thousandaire who can afford legit classy furniture on my porch.  Until then, I shall merely compensate with this.  Don't hate.

Friday, April 13, 2012

K: is for Kickball

Keeping with the theme of getting exercise and playing like a kid, K: is for Kickball!  According to the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), Kickball is America's New Favorite Pastime. Over the past decade, these adult coed leagues have been popping up all over the United States, and more recently in Europe.  It is a great way to try something new, make new friends, and get active!

For those who may have lived a sheltered childhood, kickball follows rules very similar to baseball, with one team fielding nine positions on a diamond, and the other team coming up to kick (rather than bat).  There are three strikes and four balls, home runes, pop flies, the occasional pickle or stolen base, and five innings of suspenseful fun!  Such a blasty-blast, you don't even realize you're getting a workout in!  What's not to love about that? 

Want to get outside and have a kickin' good time?  Click Here to find a league near you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

J: is for Jump Rope

Want to torch stubborn fat, sculpt your bod all over and feel like a kid again?  Then my friends, I suggest you pick up a jump rope!  And then, I suggest you jump over it repeatedly!

Jumping rope is often touted as the cardio exercise that will get you the most bang for your buck, burning 250 calories in just a 20 minute workout!**  Don't even get me started on the toned legs, sculpted arms, and whittled middle that comes along with it!

As with any exercise, it is important to keep proper form to protect your spine, knees, ankles, and to prevent attacking yourself with swinging ropes (hitting yourself is the worst).  #1: Make sure your rope is the right length: When standing with both feet on the center of the rope, the handles should reach just at your armpits.  Any shorter, get a new rope!  Any longer, tie knots in the ends.  Keep your knees soft.  Jump on the balls of your feet, only about an inch or so off the ground and refrain from the "double-bounce".  Keep your head up, gaze forward and engage your core to ensure proper spinal alignment.  When turning the rope, it's all in the wrists!  Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle at your sides, moving your hands in small circles to turn the rope.

Once you get the hang of jumping rope, you can add variety to your workout by busting some super-smooth moves.  Practice doing scissor jumps, jumping side to side or back and forth in a bell motion, criss-cross leg jumps, jump-kicks (can-can, anyone?), or double-unders (jumping once but twirling the rope under you twice)--you know, for the over-achievers.  Click here for a 20 minute jump rope workout from SELF Magazine.

I feel this is also when I should admit this is my secret talent.  It's the only exercise I'm better at than my trainer (and I remind him every chance I get).  In the second grade, I wound up on our school's jump rope team and like riding a bike, the skill has stuck with me since.  I conclude with a picture of me showcasing my mad skill (because it makes me laugh). 

On that note, feel free to take some advice some House of Pain and "Jump Around"!

**calories based on 145lb woman

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I: is for Intervals

Sorry to be tardy, my A-Z friends.  This whole "back to reality" thing after vacation is a butt kicker (much like today's topic)!

Who doesn't want to add more variety to their workout, build endurance, and burn more calories?  Ladies and gents, the secret is interval training!  Interval training breaks a workout up into periods of high intensity work and periods of rest (my favorite part).  Aside from all of the awesome advantages listed above, interval training can also be used for any style of workout!  Whether your lifting weights, running, doing cardio or body weight exercises, you can get more from the workout by adjusting the speed and intensity at which you work.

Work vs Rest periods can be defined in two different ways: measured intervals and fartleks (haha funny word).  A measured interval is based on time: one minute of high intensity work, ie: burpees, followed by 30 seconds of rest.  Fartleks (it says FART!) are based more on how the body feels.  Using this method, you would do burpees until you could burpee no more and then you would rest until your body felt recovered to begin again.   This method is fairly common with cardio sports such as running or swimming. 

As with any exercise, during interval training it is very important to maintain proper form through your movements to prevent injury.  No one burned any calories by being laid up nursing wounds!  If you cannot safely execute a movement at a certain intensity, slow down a bit.  It it much better to be safe than sorry! 

I close today with some examples of Interval Workouts.  Happy Training!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

H: is for Hiking

Yesterday, the boyfraaann and I decided to celebrate Easter outdoors with a 6.5 mile hike through the Smoky Mountains.  The weather was absolutely perfect and spring was in full bloom with beautiful flowers adding pops of color to the newly green trees and fields.  We caught amazing sights of hawks, rabbits, and even elk!  Living in Florida, I never realized how out of tune I was with seasons.  I've always only ever had two: Summer and February.  During our last mountain trek together, everything was brown and dead and I was a bit scared to come back.  Seeing everything so full of life this time around was simply amazing.

From a fitness front, hiking is apparently the way to a rock hard ass (judging by today's sore glutes). Between the buns of steel workout and the higher elevation, I definitely had trouble at times during the trek up.  Of course, I'm now considering race training in the mountains before coming back home to smoke the competition (I'm talking about you, big sister)!  The hard work definitely paid off when we reached the peak of our hike at the Jump Off and relaxed, our feet dangling over the edge into the abyss as we gazed out into mountains and valleys that seemed to go on forever.  For the journey, I am thankful for the hard work I've done to give my body the strength and ability to complete it.  For the view, I'm thankful for the one who made it and makes all things possible. 

A few Cliff bars and apples later, we decided to head back down the mountain and split the trip in half between walking and running.  I felt like a BAMF while running until I had to move over to make room for a guy actually running up the mountain.  BAMF title revoked and passed onto him immediately.  One day, I will be that awesome.  There we go!  Back to goals--I said it, I set it, you read it, therefore I must stick to it!

Ok, and I'm late for work (and late for posting H)! whoops!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

G: is for Getting High

...on ziplines!
Yesterday, the boyfraaann and I embarked on our first zipline adventure and I think it's safe to say it has us craving more of the high life! We climbed cargo nets, ran (unsteadily) over rope bridges, hung out on wobbly tree platforms, and zoomed through the trees as fast as the birds.   Both the unsteady climbing and the weight limit made me grateful for all the hard (and sometimes not so hard) work I've put in to keep this bod' of mine in shape.  Don't tell the boyfraaann, but this experience is definitely something that the mountains have over the ocean.

Bridges & Platforms:

Fancy Fashion Sense:

Boyfraaann Zips Through Life:

Wanna get high?  Click Here for a listing of zipline locations worldwide!

Friday, April 6, 2012

F: is for The Fritz!

One of my favorite things about my boyfraaann?  The Fritz!

During my C: is for Cardio blog entry, I listed several ways to incorporate cardio exercise into your day, many of which required no gym or exercise equipment.  My favorite on that list: dancing!  And for this reason I am so excited to be visiting my boo and taking in the sweet, funky sounds of his band, The Fritz in Asheville tonight!  I cannot wait to hit the dance floor and break a sweat (err, excuse me--girls don't sweat, we glisten) to great music with great people.  I'm anticipating a good 1,000 calorie burn, which may be more exciting to me than the music itself.  Mostly, I am happy that such a good workout doesn't feel like work at all thanks to the good times and awesome talent of some of the finest entertainment in the southeastern US.  I'm only slightly biased of course.  But really, if you want to go wild, get funked up and find yourself Fritzfaced, you must check out The Fritz!

/end shameless boyfraaan plug.  And now, I'm off to find my dancin' shoes!  I hope you all have a Good Friday and a very, very Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E: is for Excuses

Get rid of 'em!  If it is important to you, you will find a way; if it's not, you will find an excuse.  You only get one body. 
Treat it right! 

Studies show that 150 minutes of moderate activity per week is all you need to make a positive difference.  30 minutes a day, five days a week.  Do the math: we're talking just a measly 2% of your day!  I bet many of you spend more than that surfing channels and the web(don't lie--I'm guilty of this as well and my ass can back me up on that one).
Research has proven that a prolonged sedentary lifestyle causes long term harm to muscles, increased risk of heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses.  Yet, the same cannot be said for the person who stands up and puts one foot in front of the other!  Remember, no matter how slow you go, you're still lapping the guy on the couch!  Whether you get your sweat on in the gym, on the trails, or during commercials in the living room, the point is to get it done.  At the end of the day, the only workout you will ever regret is the one you did not do.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D: is for Drive!

Road trip!  Heading to the boyfraan's house in the wilderness. It's a seven hour trek and until we came upon this living arrangement last year, I never realized how much I could enjoy such a long trip alone.  The thoughts in my head just sort of come and go as they please and by the time it's over, I feel like I've gotten a lot accomplished in this brain of mine!  Throw in a good podcast and jam session or two and it makes for an amazing time, really. 

Even more exciting is that once I arrive there's five days of dancing, bike riding, and ziplining adventures to look forward to!  Oh yeah, and I get to see my boo, as well.  That part's pretty awesome, too, I suppose. :) Basically, I cannot wait. Packing my things and hitting the road!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C: is for Cardio

Ok, maybe there's not going to be a zombie apocalypse in the very near future, but who am I to just take my chances?  In the mean time, I'll hide my true motives for regular cardio sessions (zombies!) with much more widely accepted reasoning: health. 

Cardio has about a bajillion positive effects on your overall health.  It improves your ticker (of which most people only ever get one), strengthens your muscles and bone density, ups your energy, improves your sleep, beats the bulge, and is the best freakin' free therapy around! 

Experts suggest 150 minutes of cardio per week (30 minutes a day, five days) to get the most from its amazing benefits.  Know what's even better?  You don't have to set foot into the gym or succumb to a schedule to complete it!  Studies show that 30 minutes broken up into small spurts throughout the day provide just as much benefit.  It could be as easy as 10 minutes when you get out of bed in the morning, a 10 minute walk after lunch, and jumping jacks in between 2 commercial breaks during your favorite prime-time tv show in the evening!  Other suggestions:
  • Go for a jog or bike ride through the neighborhood. 
  • Pump up your favorite tunes and have a dance party in your living room.  
  • Chores! Raking leaves and vacuuming work just as well.  
  • Make sweet, sweet love!
  • Play like a kid outside: rollerskating, softball, H-O-R-S-E
  • Swimming
  • Hike along trails
  • Lunges or squats during phonecalls or 
  • Jumping jacks or situps during tv commercials
The possibilities are endless when it comes to fitting in that heart-pumping goodness into your day.  We weren't meant to always be sedentary.  Don't just stand there, bust a move!  And in the event that I'm right and we do encounter a zombie attack, you'll be ahead of the game!

Monday, April 2, 2012

B: is fo Buffalo Chicken Dinner!

In February, I found myself battling an insane buffalo chicken craving for weeks (thanks, Superbowl).  Sadly, just looking at the nutrition facts for a meal at my local wing joints made the my zippers want to bust.  I decided if I was going to satisfy my craving while keeping my diet in check I needed to get a little creative.  So I decided to make my own!  Equally delicious and coming in at 1,000 calories less than your average meal at Hooters, what's not to love?!  Not gonna lie, I even cooked while wearing orange shorts!

This might be one of the most basic recipes I've ever posted.

For the chicken:
I opted for drumsticks instead in an effort to prevent myself from overindulging on a zillion wings.  It's easy to blow through 10 before I've realized I've overdone it.  Two drumsticks was the perfect amount to fill my belly and not blow the calories out of the water.  I marinated them in a ziplock for an hour in regular buffalo wing sauce, flipping ever 15 minutes--could've flipped less and even marinated longer, I just get antsy when I'm marinating!

For the fries (because you canNOT have buffalo chicken without fries!):
I sliced a potato to fry-size, placed on a baking sheet in one layer, spritzed with a bit of olive oil and gave two shakes of seasoned salts.  Much fancier than (and just as crispy) frying.

Both the chicken and the fries went into the oven together at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Halfway through, I removed both from the oven to flip (we can't burn our goodies!) and placed them back in.

As proper chicken wing cravings cannot be fully satisfied without something proper to dip them in, I decided to go for ranch dressing.  Regular ranch tends to pack on a ton of calories and fat for days in just two tablespoons.  For only 80 calories and 0% fat, I instead mixed Greek Yogurt with Ranch dip powder. Let me tell you, it tastes just like the real deal!

As soon as my timer went off, there was nothing left for me to do but serve up a plate and dig right in!  Knowing there's nothing to feel guilty about only added to the yummy factor.  So go on, do it!  You will thank me.

And a month and a half later, I am once again craving buffalo chicken.  Thank you, self.

A: Accomplishing Goals (or Not)

I'm a wee bit late finding out about this A - Z Blog Challenge but I'm interested in giving it a go!  Starting at the top, we're at the Letter A which fits quite well with something that's been on my mind lately: accomplishing my goals.

Last night I scanned old entries in my journal and found a pattern of the same things: "I want to save money, I want to eat/drink healthier, I want to kick ass at boot camp every time I want to be motivated at work every day".  I'm almost ashamed to say this has been going on for over two years!  And yet, my pants are still too tight, I often enjoy more wine than water after 5pm, the piggy bank's empty, and I spent waaay too much time on gossip columns instead of financial reports at the office. Why is it that I'm really good at writing my goals out and terrible at achieving them?

My boo and I exchanged goals last summer to hold each other accountable.  We'd check in about once a week and he'd get onto me when I faltered.  But hey, when you're living 450 miles apart, it gets pretty easy to say, "oh, I ate plenty of vegetables today, boo! [onmypizza]"

As of tonight, I've finished off the last of the pizza and made a goal to eat only food I find in my kitchen, rather than spending money to eat out. In theory, this should prevent me from eating any more crap.  Strange, but for some reason, the one goal I typically can accomplish is keeping bad-for-you food out of my grocery cart.  Of course, it is useless when I find myself too lazy to pack a lunch or cook a breakfast and hitting up the drive-thru instead.  But if it works, it could make my ass smaller, my wallet bigger, and my energy levels higher.  Not going to lie, folks--that would be awesome.

So this is where I'm open to suggestions.  How do you stay on track to achieve your goals?  How do you replace your terrible habits with good ones?  How do you decide that the impossible is, in fact, possible? And am I the only one who finds this stuff extremely difficult?!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Harisa's Quinoa Salad

aka my camping savior during No Meat March!  My coworker and friend Harisa brought in this amazing salad a few weeks ago to share (apparently her husband and son only eat "real food" and this did not meet their criteria, so she had a ton of leftovers).  It was extremely delicious so I had to get her recipe.

Thursday night, I made a huge batch to bring along with the boy and I on our weekend music and camping adventure.  We stayed down south at a music festival that his band played for.  Normally, these sorts of events draw tons of hippies and therefore, tons of vegetarian/vegan food options.  However, this was so not the case this time around and apparently my gut knew it before I did.  This recipe definitely helped me get my fill of veggies & protein, eat delicious food, and not break my No Meat March challenge...again.  Yes, I broke it Thursday night at Krystals around 1AM after the boyfraaan's gig.  Being an almost-rockstar girlfriend is so hard, ya'll!  Luckily, the NMM diet is quite cleansing so I couldn't feel gross about it for too long and was immediately back on the wagon Friday morning!  Anyway, who cares about that?  You don't.  You just came here for the recipe!  But first, a picture! :)

Harisa's Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, cooked & cooled
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can of corn (optional--I did not take this option)
1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 - 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
1 or 2 avocados, chopped into bite-sized pieces
juice of a lemon or a lime (or both if ya wanna be like me and go crazy)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

While the quinoa was cooking, I did all my slicing and dicing.  Since I knew I would be eating this all weekend, I squeezed the lemon & lime juices directly onto the avocado to keep them green for as long as possible (it worked).  Once the quinoa is cooled, just mix everything together, cover and chill for an hour before serving.  If you want to add a bit of a kick, it would be yummy to mix some sliced jalapenos in there as well.  Makes 6 - 8 delicious, delicious servings.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bonnie's Veggie Potstickers

My good friend Bonnie showed off this gem a few days ago and I decided to get a little overzealous and be awesome like her.

I've never made potstickers before and admit that just by name alone I had no clue what they even were.  But then here comes Bonnie smack at the start of No Meat March saying, "OMG I MADE THIS AMAZING VEGGIE DISH, EVERYONE!" so I had to give it a try. I did edit this recipe some to keep it vegetarian and omitted an ingredient or two I did not have but they still turned out deeeeelish!

Some things to take note of before you start making potstickers: It is not all that quick.  It took me an hour and a half.  Maybe it shouldn't have, maybe I'm just dumb at potstickers, who knows.  Also, once you stuff and fold your potstickers, do not put them in a bowl all on top of each other unless you do not mind trying to wrestle apart a giant mound of veggie-filled dough later when attempting to place them in the pan.  Just place them directly into the pan after you fold them.  This might actually save a good 20 minutes, now that I think about it...

Bonnie's Veggie Potstickers
6 oz mushrooms
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 bunch of fresh spinach or 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used fresh)
2 large eggs (1 for mixture, 1 for gluing)
1 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
Squeeze of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt 

30 won ton wrappers

Sautee the mushrooms, carrot, and celery.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (minus the won-ton wrappers, ya'll--do NOT mix in the won-ton wrappers!).  Mix in the the sauteed veggies.  Mound small amount of the veggie mixture into the center of each won ton wrapper and brush egg on two sides of wrapper and fold over to seal. Fold the pointed ends together and seal.

In a nonstick 10 or 12" pan add a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil and place the potstickers in the pan starting in center and working out in a concentric circle fashion. Turn heat to medium high and cook until everything is nicely browned on bottom.  Add about 1/3 cup of water, reduce heat to medium and place a lid on pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, remove lid and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes until all liquid is evaporated. Place a large plate upside down on pan and flip potstickers onto plate.

But what good are they without the proper dipping sauce?  Here's what I wound up with:

Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a small/medium bowl. Whisk or stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt, and mix everything together into a thin, smooth sauce.
My own finished product:

So yummy!  I served these with a side of Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n which was also pretty delicious and satisfied my desire for the real deal. I'm absolutely thrilled that it made a lot because with all the time it took, I've eaten off of these about 4 times now and am finally finishing them off today.  Makes up for the time spent, I suppose!  So basically, if you have 70-90 minutes to kill, COOK THIS!

***EDIT! To say that Bonnie normally makes these potstickers as a non-vegetarian dish!  For the omnivore population, replace the mushroom/carrot/celery veggies with either chicken, pork, or shrimp and in the overall mixture add 2 teaspoons of fish sauce!  I have not tried this version but I'm pretty sure Bonnie is completely unable to cook a bad meal, so I would not doubt it is equally as amazing as the veggie version!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No Meat March

So the scale at the gym appears to be broken.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it actually moved in the opposite direction it was supposed to last week, saying I've actually gained rather than lost weight since January.  I've yet to discuss this with my trainer, but I definitely think it's time they invested in a new one.  However, in the event that they do not replace the scale any time soon, I've decided to take on a bit of a challenge as a backup plan.  So far, I'm on day four:

Yes, ladies and gents, No Meat March is a 31 Day Challenge to Go Meat Free.  And yes, I've already been called crazy and un-American.  I am not the biggest meat-eater, but every now and then I love a good slice of bacon or 10 and I've had a severe chicken-wing craving on and off for about two months.  I am once again bidding good-bye to my late-night (post-bar) Krystals combos which is as exciting as it is sad (I'll miss you!).  Walking by the fresh-made fried chicken at the grocery store yesterday to grab my veggie sub was also a huge challenge.  Alas, I'm determined to make this the full month and better yet, to do it right. 

I am most excited to learn new things to cook.  I won't lie, I'm pretty terrible at incorporating fruits and veggies into my diet on the reg...unless wine counts--does wine count?  Because that's pretty regular!  My goal out of this challenge is not necessarily to become a vegetarian.  I'm not a huge fan of labeling myself anyway.  However, I would like to create better eating habits for myself, hopefully for good finally!  I'd love to be able to find healthy, balanced meals simple enough to cook and yummy enough to eat on a normal basis without me preferring to be lazy and order a pizza instead (dinner on day #1, breakfast & lunch on day #2).  Luckily, the NMM challenge also includes a jam-packed calendar of events to learn about different types of food and cooking classes.  My friends at Grassroots Natural Market were also a huge help with suggestions on tasty vegetarian alternatives to burgers and fried chicken (so I feel less un-American and crazy).  My inability to get to and from work without passing by their store also helps make things easier.

That being said, this month's blog entries are bound to be full of new and exciting meat free meals and tidbits of education along the way.  Get excited!  And for you full-fledged omnivores, I'll try to keep it entertaining and tasty enough for you as well. :)

And now, I'm off to the farmer's market!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Zensational Day of Yoga

Several times, I have joined that wonderful man of mine at a local studio for Baptiste Power Yoga.  The room is heated to around 85-90 degrees and at the end of the class, there's enough sweat on the ground to warrant building an ark.  Despite feeling somehow zen and centered at the end of it, my ass definitely got worked.  Half the time I actually felt more like this:

Baptiste Power Yoga is definitely the closest kick-your-ass workout I can think of next to boot camp.  As I've been doing four days per week of the latter, I knew I couldn't muster up the strength for a zenful ass-kicking, but I've definitely been missing my time on the mat.  So when my awesome friend Becky asked if I wanted to join her for a fun day of much tamer Vinyasa Yoga and bicycle riding, I jumped at the chance.

Our day began with a one mile bike ride to the park for a free AM yoga session.  Apparently, this happens once a month.  I never knew!  The weather was gorgeous and as much as I wanted to concentrate on my breath and my being, I could not get over the beauty of the day.  Even though giving in to my distractions might have been against the rules (I have no clue if I was breathing, ya'll), I still wound up feeling completely refreshed and renewed and connected with the universe at the end of the hour-long practice.  Yoga outside just might be my new favorite place to do yoga.  Who needs walls?

After the park, we had a two hour break to ride around and eat lunch before taking our practice inside for a two-hour Hands-On Yoga workshop.  Basically, it was Vinyasa yoga meets massage.  As we went through poses, instructors came around to adjust us deeper into the poses or lightly massage certain areas affected by the pose.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't fall asleep at some point!  I mean, heck, we went through TWO shavasana, what did they expect to happen?!  Not to mention, I'd done about a zillion sun and moon salutations at this point.  My body was fatigued!  But in a good way.  Upon waking, the workshop ended, I ate a few strawberries and a cookie before pedaling off into the sunset (home).

It's interesting.  During boot camp, I find myself thinking, "I need to get stronger. I need to get stronger".  During yoga, I found myself thinking, "damn, my body is strong".  The thing is, I think both are correct.  I don't know that I will ever reach fitness perfection, which is ok.  I like always having a goal--to get stronger.  However, slowing down and paying attention to my body allowed me to see and be grateful for how strong I already am.  And that's enough to get me back to my mat on a regular basis.  Namaste!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Stuffed!

Dinner is complete and I'm stuffed!  And so was the pepper that I ate!  I absolutely LOVE stuffed peppers and sadly admit I have not made them enough.  Perhaps it was because tonight, in the process of cooking, I nearly burned the house down (and regretted removing the fire alarm from the kitchen).  Alas, once I got the smoke out of the house and got things back on track, I wound up making a delicious and healthy meal (adapted from the lovely Gina at Skinny Taste)!

Turkey Stuffed Peppers
1 lb lean chopped turkey meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste
3 large sweet red bell peppers, washed
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked Israeli cous cous
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese
Panko Bread Crumbs

Heat oven to 400°. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into saute pan and heat on a medium flame. Add onion, garlic and cilantro to the pan. Saute about 2 minutes and add ground turkey. Season with salt and and cumin and brown meat for several minutes until meat is completely cooked through. Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Combine cooked cous cous and meat together.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Place in a baking dish. Spoon the meat & cous cous mixture into each pepper half and fill it with as much as you can. Place all stuffed pepper halves on the baking dish and pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan. Top peppers with cheese.  Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove peppers from oven & remove foil.  Sprinkle peppers with panko bread crumbs, broil for 3 - 5 minutes (until crumbs are browned).

Dig in and prepare for your mouth to be amazed!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Breakfast of Epic Proportions

There's really no other way to describe the awesomeness of the most important meal of my day!  Thanks to my new love of Pinterest, I discovered this gem about 30 seconds before stepping into the kitchen for breakfast prep this morning.  So lucky to discover such a yummy treat and glad to have farmer's market goodies on hand to help make it my own!

Baked Egg in an Avocado
1/2 avocado with pit removed
1 egg
2 small asparagus stalks, chopped
3 grape tomatoes halved and quartered
1 tbsp Feta cheese
Jalapeno Hot Sauce (green Tabasco, anyone?)
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to 425F.  Slice the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit.  If necessary, scoop a little more space (depending on size of your avocado and the pit hole).  Put the asparagus & tomato into the hole.  Crack the egg into the hole and top with feta, jalepeno sauce, and salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-15 minutes on a baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet(until the egg is cooked how you desire).  Prepare to be full and happily satisfied for the next 5 - 6 hours. 

Depending on how much of the avocado you remove to make room, you can add just about anything to the dish to customize it to your own style of delicioso!  Spinach, salmon, peppers, bacon, broccoli, zucchini...the list is endless.  Sadly, I only have one more avocado half and I just cannot decide...Anyhoo, I hope you try it!  Make it your own and enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Facebook Etiquette:
Don't Post Anything you Don't Want Your Mother Boss Trainer to See!

For if you do, he will likely remind you of it in boot camp the next morning while he's kicking your ass...

I must admit, those margaritas were damn good (and half-price)!  Was it worth it this morning? eh, I'm not so sure (absolutely).
Now, for a healthy breakfast of plain ol' scrambled eggs, a slice of whole grain extra fiber toast, and some blueberries because PROTEIN, FIBER, AND FRUIT ARE SO IMPORTANT TO MY DAY AND I LOVE THEM!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

World's Fastest Workout

Yesterday I found this and today I attempted it.  Definitely succeeded. 

I can't say I believe it is equal to a 40 - 60 minute run...unless it's done several times over.  But hey, it got my heart rate up and I even had a bit of misty perspiration going on!  I also like knowing that I now have a nice midday "get your butt out of the chair and do something aside from walk aimlessly around the office" option at work...Let's face it.  People are starting to talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Running for Dinner

Whoops!  I missed a bootcamp session this week.  The guilt forced me to pull on my new fancy flashy shoes and run three miles over these two fancy flashy blue lit bridges as the sun went down.

In Actionville, this is as crazy as we get when it comes to elevation and it's left my calves screaming but my, it sure was beautiful!  Knowing I had some good eatin' waiting for me in the slow cooker at home helped move things along.

It's not often I whip out the crock pot, but with a crisper full of veggies that were thinking of going bad and stumbling upon a recipe that would use all of them, how could I say no?  So last night before I went to bed, I sliced and diced and stirred all the goodies, turned on the crock pot and let it do the cooking while I did the sleeping.  This is what I wound up with:

Whole Grain Pasta with Eggplant Sauce

1/2 medium eggplant
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 14-1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can Italian-style tomato paste
4-ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Black pepper
6oz cooked whole grain pasta (penne or rotini) 

Peel eggplant; cut into 1-inch cubes.  In a 3-1/2- to 5-quart slow cooker, combine eggplant cubes, chopped onion, canned tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, sliced mushrooms, red wine, water, chopped garlic and oregano.  Cover; cook on low-heat setting 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Season to taste with pepper. Pour sauce over cooked pasta; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.  Makes about three flippin' delicious servings which are low cal, low fat, but full of fiber and protein! Yum!

And now, I prop up my tired gams and relax. Happy Thursday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fancy Flashy New Shoes!

Bought these pretty little ladies today on a whim before my bootcamp (aka torture) session.  They are the Mizuno Wave Elixr 6 and they are what happens when Fun meets Functionality!  I've been longing for a pair of shoes with a funky design that don't make my feet look too big because let's face it; I'm one size away from shoe shopping at the tranny store.  These puppies fit the bill with their WHAM! IN YOUR FACE! poppin' blue and lime design.  They also happen to be extremely lightweight, yet offer the support I need for a little problem I have called over pronation.

Unfortunately, I've had some sort of near-death disease for the past week so running is out of the question because I prefer just being able to breathe (only a slightly dramatic statement).  I did give them a bit of a whirl during bootcamp and they felt great during all of our jumping up/stepping over/torturous activities.  The rest of me wanted to die, but who needs a working body when you've got comfy feet?!  Hoping for a legit test run on Wednesday to see what these babies are made of.

Here's to hoping my shin splint woes will run away! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Candid Camera Camping Part 2

Around 4:30 the next morning, the wind was roaring through the prairie and the stars were absolutely radiant.  At around 6:30, we were both brave enough to face the weather head on and stared at an amazing sunrise.  It was also 35 degrees which was a bit of a surprise to us, camping in southern Florida and all…we finally decided to rise and shine if for nothing else, than to make a campfire.  The oatmeal and tea were a huge plus as well! 

With a full day ahead of us, we decided it was high time to bike around and explore a bit.  The oh-so-amazing and motivated boyfriend suggested the Military Trail.  Why not? Maybe because it was all sugar sand and we had 20 MPH crosswinds the entire time, I don’t know…Every 10 pedal motions, I was falling off my bike and/or cursing the sand.  Again, how he did not kill me at this time, I’ll never know but will always applaud his patience under extreme annoyance.  That was the day I decided I hated mountain biking.  The upside: awesome wildlife sightings (we saw Bambi and his whole family!) and a breathtaking view.

After a few hours, we headed back to camp.  Due to our early rising, we both took a bit of a nap and finally got a little of that “unplug and unwind” action we’d been craving.  The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering firewood, followed by a three course meal of ramen, beans, and s’mores and finishing up before bed with an astronomy session.  Never have I ever seen so many stars.  During these hours, I was reminded of why I so badly wanted this trek with this oh-so-amazing and motivated boyfriend of mine. 

The weather only got colder the second night. Neither of us slept very well.  By 8:00AM, we began to pack up and head out, excited for warmth.  The bike ride back to our car was only a tiny bit less insane, what with it being light out this time.  I think I complained five less times than I did on the way in.

Alas, we made it home.  To celebrate our survival, we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner (indoors) that we didn’t have to cook ourselves, accompanied by adult beverages.  Deeeelish! 

This might have been the kookiest outdoor trek of my life.  But I’d do it again!  You know, assuming it’s15 degrees warmer, the air mattress pump is charged, and we don’t get lost. 

Candid Camera Camping Part 1

Two-Parter because I cannot figure out how to shorten it and keep the same amount of detail it requires.

For Christmas, the oh-so-amazing and motivated boyfriend and I decided to forgo gifts and take a camping trip for two instead.  We had both been in GO-GO-GO mode for most of the fall and wanted to unwind and unplug surrounded by nature.  So on January 2nd, we packed our bags and headed south to the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve.  Unplug?  We absolutely did.  Unwind?  I’m not so sure…

Our scheduled arrival was for 3:30 so we could bike the 2.5 miles to our primitive camp site before sundown.  It wasn’t until we were an hour out of the way lost that we contacted the park ranger who told us, “turn of the GPS—it doesn’t work”.  We finally made it to the park around 5:15 and strapped our packs to our bodies and hopped onto our bikes just in the knick of time to get to our site before sundown...or not.  After five minutes of admiring the beautiful sunset ride we were taking, we found ourselves in pitch black unfamiliar prairie land.  The next 25 minutes were spent with the oh-so-amazing and motivated boyfriend attempting to navigate the trails with a 70lb pack on his back and me screaming variations of, “I CAN’T HOLD THIS STUPID SLEEPING BAG IF WE RIDE THAT FAST!” and, “THESE GEARS CHANGE ON THEIR OWN!”  No, I don’t know how he didn’t kill me either.

Alas, we found our site and wanted nothing more than to make a fire, make some dinner, and make a place to rest.  Due to 0% chance of rain, we omitted the tent in favor of the two-person hammock.  Obviously, we forgot it’s called Kissimmee PRAIRIE Preserve—as in “good luck finding two good trees close enough together for a hammock.”  Luckily, we had a pavilion on our site and decided it was a genius idea to tie the hammock to its beams.  OSAMB hung the hammock, climbed in to test it out, and assured me it was perfect to join him.  We laid there for a minute or so, finally able to relax and thinking how nice this trip would be--CRACK!  We both hit the ground hard, stunned and confused as the hammock half-dangled above us.  Clearly, the pavilion is not made for hammocks.

Fear not, for OSAMB had stashed an air mattress in his pack!  While he began to build the fire, I laid it out in the prime spot for a night of stargazing.  I placed the pump into the mattress, flipped the switch…and it was dead.  We looked at each other in defeat.  It was at this moment I also realized we’d forgotten the alcohol.  Damn.

10 minutes later, while lying on the picnic table, a lightbulb went off in OSAMB’s brain.  He ran to his pack and pulled out none other than an 8" travel-sized bicycle pump.  For the next hour, we took turns pumping up the mattress.  Talk about one hell of an arm workout!  We celebrated our victory over bowls of hot stew and snuggled together under our sleeping bags, star gazing for all of 30 seconds before falling asleep by 9:30...