Archive for July, 2011

July 30, 2011

Guest Post @ Learning Patience

Hurray for Saturday! I’m actually out of town this weekend, but you can still read my jibberish over at Learning Patience. When Corey asked me to write a guest post, I gladly accepted.

Learning Patience

It’s my first guest post, and it’s a brew review (yes, she said she was totally cool with that). I recommend you go check it out on her blog.

If that’s not quite enough for you, here’s a silly article about the 10 Most Unloved Foods in America. I have to admit, I really like some of them. The ones I actually enjoy are eggplant, blue cheese, okra, Brussels sprouts, Lima beans, hard boiled eggs, and occasionally beets and sardines. I’ve never actually eaten a whole sardine, but those things are pretty darn good in Ceasar dressing! 8/10 ain’t bad!

July 29, 2011

One Hot Mess

Happy Friday! I’m about to hit the gym for an arm and pool workout, but first I’d like to mention dinner, upcoming goals, and some foodie fun. This post is really one big hot mess of stuff!

Dinner last night was this. The gnocchi and sauce were terrific. The nutritional yeast on the broccoli? Eh. Not so much. Still a good dinner though.

gnocchi

Goal Time! It is less than one month until my birthday, and my feelings are torn. Part of me is really excited because it means I have survived 25 years on this earth. Not only have I survived, but I’ve made friends, learned lessons, married the man I love, adopted two (furry) children, obtained my master’s degree, and purchased a home.

bride

On the other hand, getting older means exactly what it sounds like- getting older. I’ve been pushed into the mid-to-late twenties bracket. Ugh. I’m not so sure I’m ready for that.

In order to ease into full-blown adulthood, I have a few minor goals.

  1. Start using moisturizer/cream/serum/something: I’ve only tried it because it comes in my Clinique bonus bags. So I made my first anti-wrinkle cream purchase this week. Wish me luck!
  2. Take more calcium: I should have been doing this for years but only do so occasionally. Calcium is important, especially for those with small frames. Maybe I’ll explain why in a future post…
  3. Lose 3 or 4 lbs before my birthday: That’s what I’ve put on so far in 2011. I fully welcome support and encouragement.
Neutrogena Anti-Wrinkle

When did you first start using anti-aging products? Do you use them? Can you tell a difference?

Now I’d like to share a wee bit of foodie fun. It’s time for cooking with beer!

BBQ Mini Meatloaves: I made these for Kev to bring to work a couple weeks ago. I used beer instead of milk or water. You couldn’t taste much beer flavor, but he said they were good.

meatloaves

Pork-and-Pumpkin Chili: Seriously – this was delicious. It has many great ingredients, such as beans, beer, pumpkin, mustard greens, and those little adobo peppers. It’s from Food Network Magazine.

Beer & Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes, Beer Frosting: I was intrigued by this but haven’t made it myself. Dark beer occasionally goes well with chocolate, but I’d definitely omit the sauerkraut.

Brats n’ Beer: From The Smart Kitchen – Brats and beer is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s still so smart.

Beer Sweet Potato Fries: From Edible Perspective – I haven’t tried these, but what could go wrong with sweet potatoes and beer???

Have a good weekend!

July 28, 2011

Thursday Things

I’m just all about awesome alliterations these days, aren’t I?  Well, I don’t think “Thursday Things” will be a weekly type of post, but you can probably expect to see it again every once in a while.  Let’s face it, it’s too darn catchy to only do once!

Yesterday’s body pump class was good and bad.  I saw a buddy in class, which is obviously good.  However, I got an excruciating foot cramp in class.  I get these from time to time, but this is the first time I got one during a workout.  It’s official – I’m calling to find a podiatrist today.  I am no longer able to deny it – I need help.

As you can imagine, today’s 3-mile Thursday is not happening.  I’ll spend the rest of the morning enjoying my coffee with Kevin and packing for this weekend’s getaway.  Yes, I’m packing running gear.  I’m a wishful thinker.  I also hope to do pilates tonight.

Anyway… now it’s onto those Thursday Things.  Here are 5 things I’m loving right now.

1. Cherries!  They make my morning cheery.

Did you know current research shows that drinking cherry juice can combat muscle soreness?  Eating cherries after I workout sure hasn’t helped me lately, but someone did a study – it must be true...

cherries

2. This necklace I got from New York & Co.  I got it about a year ago, but I hardly wear it.  It goes so well with this shirt though, doesn’t it?

ELEVATOR

What? You haven't taken a pic of yourself in the office elevator?

3. Fish in a Cup: I love these little buggars.  I bought both tuna and salmon for my salads this week.  80 calories of easy, portable omega-3s!

Salmon Cup

4. This Pasta Sauce: It’s organic, cheap, and delicious – win, win, and win.  It’s going on my wheat gnocchi tonight!

sauce

5. These Soft Style Shoes: Yeah, they’re lame and ugly.  Due to my aforementioned foot issues, I need a low heel.  I’ll buy them later today with yesterday’s Groupon for Shoebuy.com.  I seriously need to unsubscribe from Groupon ASAP!

Soft Style Shoes
Have you had foot issues in the past?
Would you be seen in public wearing old lady shoes for the sake of comfort?
July 27, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday (And Most Every Other Day)

We’ll get to my meals in a wee bit. First I’d like to share a thing or two about yesterday’s workout. I woke up tired, very sore, and super hungry. It’s a good thing I wasn’t also freezing cold; that’d be too cliché.

kitty

Snuggle Monster wants more zzzzs.... and snuggles

After I finally quit snuggling with my kitty, I had a peeb-covered rice cake. It was the perfect pre-workout hunger fix. I couldn’t do much for the soreness, but I completed 35 sweaty minutes on the elliptical before finishing up with about 20-25 minutes of abdominal work.

I was mainly sore in my lats and inner thighs. This can be expected when you switch up your routines on a regular basis. Gotta keep loading the guns! Instead of hitting the gym bright and early this morning, I leisurely enjoyed breakfast and coffee with Kevin.

Don’t worry; I’m not skipping my workout today. I’m simply postponing it. I’ll attend body pump tonight, and if I have time, I’ll also do 15-20 minutes of cardio before class.

Speaking of breakfast, let’s get to the yum stuff…

Breakfast for the week has included a pre-gym rice cake, a post-workout hardboiled egg, and oats upon arrival to the office. The oats include ½ a cup oats, 1 cup cherries, and 1 or ½ tsp ground flax. Can you tell I really really really like breakfast???

oats n' cherries

Like last week, I’m having a daily salad for lunch. One day I might have to have a wrap or pita instead though. Too much salad makes Tiff a dull girl.

20110726-051253.jpg

Snack consists of an apple and some almonds. I finally sprung for organic apples! Seeing as how they sit at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, it’s about time I splurged on them.  Oh, and I may have also cheated by grabbing a bagel from the break room around 2.  Willpower, 0.  Carbs, 1.

apple

Dinner this week has been a mix of goodness, and it only gets better from here. You’ve already seen the grilled veggie wrap (sooooo good) and the Greek stuffed peppers. Last night was this awesome teriyaki chicken.

chickenYup, it was darn good.

bowl

Tonight I plan to have my always satisfying Chinese Take-In. This is one Kevin can manage while I’m at body pump. Yes, menu planning is very strategic in my house!

Thanks for checking out my eats! Be sure to head over to Peas & Crayons to get other great meal ideas.

What was the best thing you have eaten so far this week?

July 26, 2011

I’ve Been Kirsched

Hello! I hope Monday wasn’t too rough for all of you. I was dragging a bit, but I survived. I was also crazy hungry. I think part of that is because I started a new workout today. I found this workout on FitSugar’s site, and I’ve did it once about a year ago. You can’t take more than two weeks of it (boredom due to high reps 3 times per week), but it’ll kick your booty!

David Kirsch created the circuit workout, and as many of you may know, he is a renowned celebrity trainer. He has worked with Heidi Klum for years and wrote The Butt Book. Seriously, the guy knows how to tone a tush.

Heidi & David Stretch

Source: Heidi Klum on AOL

Before my wedding, I did a similar workout that David Kirsch created a long time ago. I got great results, so I totally recommend you check out this one. I started my workout with 12 minutes on an elliptical/stair climber hybrid machine, and boy am I sore today!

David Kirsch’s Boot Camp Circuit Workout

kirsch

Source: David Kirsch

Oh, and I *might* have cheated on the plyometric push ups. I totally did those on my knees.

For dinner, I tried something new. I’ve made a few Southwestern stuffed peppers, but I made Greek stuffed peppers last night. Kevin got his with a twice microwaved potato stuffed with spinach and feta.

kev's dinnerI stuffed the bell peppers with spinach, red quinoa, tomato, kalamata olives, and feta. As I always say, feta makes everything betta’.

dinnerYou might be wondering why I have an arsenal of utensils. Keep scrolling…

feta pepperIt gets even less attractive…

deconstructed

The spoon, fork, and knife all came in handy. Maybe next time I’ll just grab a shovel…

Oh, and I also followed up with a 100-calorie bag of popcorn. Salty Goodness.

Are you a fan of celebrity trainers? If so, who’s your favorite?

July 25, 2011

campeón del burrito

This weekend, I was the campeón del burrito. It takes a lot to be the burrito champ, but I earned the title this weekend. I enjoyed a day off from work Friday, but I spent it working on the house. Kevin and I took a much needed break from housework on Saturday. We spent the afternoon at the lake, and then partied it up the rest of the night.

I joined about 15 other people to celebrate a friend’s birthday at a pretty awesome Mexican restaurant. Even though it was a big group, everyone really enjoyed their food and received decent service. I ordered the steak burrito. Mmmm… beef.

burrito

It was huge! I didn’t eat my beans and rice as a side, and I pulled most of my rice out of my burrito. I was still totally stuffed! Oh, and if you were wondering, that’s a Dos Equis Amber on the side. Perfect pairing – as usual.

leftover

I took my remnants to-go, which turned out to be an excellent decision. I’ll spare you party details, but trust me, come 3:30 a.m., I was really happy to have those leftovers! I shared, so Kevin was happy to have them too (best wife ever).

The next morning, about 10 of us all met up for brunch. Wow. Worst brunch ever. The food was cold. The menus were misleading, and service was terrible. Even the hashbrowns were pitiful.

brunch

I ordered an egg, onion, pepper, and black bean burrito, or so the menu said. There was actually turkey sausage in it too, which upset one of the vegetarians in our party. I ate it anyway even though I’m not a fan of breakfast sausage.

burrito

I made up for the cruddy brunch when I made my dinner. It was soooooo good! As you can see, it was a spinach wrap filled with homemade yummus (aka: hummus), a few kalamata olives, and grilled veggies.

wrap

The grilled veggies included a portabello mushroom cap, eggplant slice, and some zucchini. I then pressed it all together. Delish! Of course, I also enjoyed a post-dinner treat (2 servings of Vanilla Almond Special K and unsweetened almond milk).

Now it’s time to face the week. Wish me luck!

What was the best thing you did this weekend?

July 23, 2011

NuNaturals Review

Thank goodness for the weekend!  I’m so happy it’s Saturday.  Kevin and I have stated this is going to be a no-work Saturday.  Woohoo!  We’ll be boating, dining with friends, and partying it up tonight to celebrate a buddy’s birthday.  I’m pretty happy to not be wielding a paintbrush, fighting with my Swiffer, or trying not to burn things in the kitchen.  Yup – today will be a good day.  To top it off, I’m still in my pajamas.  That never happens, but I could really take a liking to it!

I was going to run today, but I’m not out sweating my butt off for three reasons.

  1. This is a no-work day, remember
  2. My back is sore from housework, spin class, and more housework
  3. My legs are actually pretty sore from spin too
I hadn’t taken a spin class since my California trip with FitSugar, and the other last time was at least a year ago.  I forgot how much I love love love it!  I was up at level 17 for quite a while, and I was totally drenched in sweat by the end of class.
bike

That's a lotta minute and a lotta miles!

Then I went home to paint, walk to TJs, bake, and cook dinner.  Whew.  No wonder my legs are tired.
**********
So let me tell you about this baking experience.  I used NuNatura’s MoreFiber Baking Blend instead of sugar to make Martha Stewart’s Vanilla Cupcakes.  I wanted to use a tried-and-true recipe for quality control.  I also chose to use 100% organic butter (instead of a subsitute) and all-purpose white flour (instead of wheat) to make sure all other constants were held equal.  (Science Nerd Alert)
mix

mix

These did not smell sweet and scrumptious while baking.  Then they came out of the oven… uh oh…
cupfails

Cupfails

As you can see, they have cracks on top.  After letting them cool, I tried one.  Bleh.  They’re not spongy and sweet.  They’re dense and bland.  They taste and feel like a mix between shortbread cookies and white cake.  I won’t bother frosting them.
I was going to give these to our friend whose birthday we’ll be celebrating tonight, but I think the garbage can will get them instead.
**********
I tried two other NuNaturals recipes – both were made up by me.  I first put the Pure Liquid Vanilla in my oats with cherries.  It was good, but I am not sure I put quite enough in to taste it.
Next, I put the Pure Liquid Cocoa Extract in a recipe I recreated.  I first tried the drink when I was in Greece.
throwback

Throwback pics are OK, right?

Mom and I kept ordering “Nescafe” on our trip.  It is essentially milk, sugar, instant coffee, ice, and more sugar.  Yum!  Today, I used milk, instant coffee, and the Cocoa Extract, hoping for a very sweet and also lightly mocha flavor.
nescafe
Nope.  Not so good.  Not very sweet.  I used about 10 more drops than the “recommended” amount, and it just wasn’t doing it for me.
Another fail.  I know others like stevia, but I can’t say I’ll ever be adding it to my food again.  At least I’m honest!
Have a good Saturday!  I’m off to go brew some real coffee…
July 22, 2011

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest

It’s Friday!  I bet you already knew that, but I just like saying it.  I don’t have to work today (thank goodness), so I plan to paint cabinets in the guest bathroom, go to spin class at 9:30, pick up and put down some heavy things numerous times, and then return to paint a second coat.  I’m pretty pumped, actually.

I’m also still happy thinking about the awesome beer I had last night.  I first tried it at a beer festival; then I was never able to find it.  Two years ago, I found it at a teeny beer shop in Maryland.  Finally!  It was delicious.  I hadn’t been able to find it since… until now.  <– Yeah, that part is best when said in your best movie announcer voice.

good

beer gods have spoken - "this is good"

It’s Sierra Nevada’s Northern Hemisphere Harvest, and it’s popping up everywhere.  Woohoo!  The beer scored a 99 on RateBeer.com and received an A- on Beer Advocate.  Clearly it gets an A+ in my book!  It’s an IPA with 6.7% ABV.  Watch out – it’ll getcha if you drink too many.  It’s an IPA, but it could probably pass as an APA if it really wanted to do so.

Appearance: It has a beautiful amber color.  There is a thin lacy head that lingers like nobody’s business.

Smell: The beer smells of hops and light citrus, but there’s not a huge kick of either grapefruit or clove.  It’s a blend of fragrances.

Taste: It’s bitter.  It starts bitter and ends bitter.  However, the flavor-to-bitter ratio (a useful guide I devised for myself) is perfectly balanced.  It’s not like those beers that are bitter for the sake of bitter.  No, this dog has bite to match the bark.  It is also heavy in both malt and hops flavor.  The malt is more caramel – not overly roasted.

Mouthfeel: Ummmm… wonderful?  Not descriptive enough?  Okay – it is moderate to high in carbonation, but not overdone.  It’s also very smooth.

Drinkability: It’s so drinkable that even Kevin and I agree about its greatness.  Crazy.

beer

This was worth natural light; too bad my best camera is on my cell phone.

This beer was the perfect appetizer for my dinner – turkey burgers with baked sweet potato fries and a grilled mushroom cap.  I was going to have the ‘shroom instead of a bun, but I caved and went for the carbs.  At least it was wheat, right?  Of course, I also had some ice cream for dessert.

Have a great weekend everyone!

July 21, 2011

Clearly Fresh Bags Review

Yesterday’s workout… well, it didn’t happen.  After getting to work early due to my crazy workload, I really just didn’t feel like going to body pump come 6:00 p.m.  Kev so kindly reminded me that you never regret a workout.  True dat.  So I decided to drive my lazy butt from the office to the gym.  When I parked and went to get my bag out of the trunk, I realized it wasn’t there.  No workout clothes.  No shoes.  No workout for me!  I went home and did a 12-oz curl instead.

*****

Remember when I started my little experiment with Clearly Fresh Bags?  Well, on July 5th I put some stuff in some bags.  These Clearly Fresh plastic bags can hold whole or sliced produce, either fruits or veggies, and they supposedly keep it fresher longer than other storage methods.  July 5th was a while ago – let’s see how my produce did…

I took these photos on July 9th.  The banana outside of the bag is clearly a little more brown, but not much.

When flipped, they look about the same.  The banana test was a fail.  Since the hubby likes super fresh bananas (I prefer mine with freckles), I was a little let down by this.

banananananananaI had better luck with my zucchini.  I took these photos on July 19th.  They two veggies look about the same, but the one outside of the bag was soft.  Ick.  I tossed it.  We will be able to eat the bagged zucchini with dinner tonight.

squashSo what’s for dinner, you ask?  Dinner will be grilled zucchini, eggplant, and onion, with turkey burgers.  I’ll have my turkey burger on a mushroom cap (possibly with bbq sauce), and Kevin will have his on a bun, probably with cheese.

In summary, I don’t think I’ll buy the bags.  While I don’t discourage anyone else for buying them, I’m just a cheap-o who didn’t find them quite worth the low price of $3.99 for 10, one-gallon bags.  If you have more issues with stuff going bad, then perhaps they’re for you.

*****

On a side note, while pitting my cherries last night for my morning oats, I couldn’t help but think, “This is the pits.”  Yes, pun definitely intended.  Doesn’t everyone make stupid jokes to themselves while doing mundane tasks???

Well that got me thinking about the  “life is like a bowl of cherries” bit.  See, pitting cherries might not be fun, but it’s worth it. I mean, if we all took the easy road and totally avoided pits, we’d never get to experience peaches, mangoes, nectarines, avocados, cherries, and more.  I’m sorry for the cheesiness, but I just wanted to leave you with something to ponder.

 

Do you make jokes to yourself a lot too?

Have you tried produce-saving bags or other tools?  If so, how’d it go?

July 20, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday

Is it Friday yet???  No?!?  Okay, then it must be Wednesday at least.  You know what that means – it’s What I Ate Wednesday time.  Woohoo!

First, I want to share a little bit about What I Worked.  As I mentioned, I was in a funk Monday, but I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for action Tuesday morning.  My great workout helped power my good mood, and I bet it gave my metabolism quite a boost too.  I completed the ab work for my July workout, and I did this 45-minute elliptical routine.

Time (minutes) Resistance RPMs Cross-Ramp (optional)
0 – 3 3 145 – 150 10
3 – 5 5 160 – 165 10
5 – 10 6 160 – 165 10
10 – 11 6 150 – 160 7
11 – 12 8 145 – 150 7
12 – 13 10 135 – 145 7
13 – 14 12 120 – 135 7
14 – 15 14 110 – 120 (faster if you can!) 7
15 – 20 6 160 – 165 5
20 – 25 Repeat Minutes 10 – 15 Repeat Minutes 10 – 15 5
25 – 30 6 160 – 165 5
30 – 35 Repeat Minutes 10 – 15 Repeat Minutes 10 – 15 5
35 – 40 6 160 – 165 5
40 – 45 7 – 2 (gradually decrease) 145 – 160 5

Work has been crazy this week.  I stayed late last night and will go in early today.  Sooooo, that means I had to skip my workout this morning.  Have no fear – body pump is here… or at least it will be come 6:15 tonight!

Now that the workouts are out of the way, let’s get into the goodies.  This week I’ve been enjoying my three-part breakfast: pre-workout rice cake, 70-calories of protein shake after the workout, and oats with fruit once I finally get settled at work a couple hours later.  I’ve been loving breakfast lately because I splurged for cherries at the store.  Totally worth it!

bowl

I even threw some NuNaturals alcohol-free vanilla stevia into the oats.  Not bad.  I tried putting some in work coffee.  Very bad.  Sticking to tea from here on out…

Lunch is a salad with goddess dressing.  That sounds boring, but at least it’s pretty.  I also enjoy a few almonds on the side.

salad

Snack is half a bell pepper and homemade yummus (aka: hummus).  I had been wanting to make my own hummus for a while, and I finally did it.  Yay!  It was easy, but I don’t know that I’ll do it often.  Tahini isn’t cheap, so it’s not all that much cheaper to make it yourself – especially when you compare it to TJ’s low hummus prices.

hummus = yummus

Dinner has been great so far this week.  I had salsa chicken two nights and light dinner Monday night to make up for my funky mood.  Tonight will be baked chicken (no added fat in cooking), a mini baked sweet potato, and steamed broccoli.  Yum, yum, and more yum.

After dinner a few nights this week, I’ve snacked on cheesecake ice cream.  It’s sooooo good!  I felt hoodwinked after buying it though.  It’s labeled “naturally flavored,” but I’m not so sure anything in it is all that natural.  There are few FDA regulations on “natural” claims, yet I still don’t always read every package like I should.

cream de chemicals

At the store I thought this ice cream said “natural,” not “naturally flavored” (impulse buy?!?), but I still feel tricked.  The mile-long ingredients list includes HFCS, corn syrup, modified food starch, hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, and more.  I think I’m going to start calling it ice chemicals instead, but at least it’s yummy!

Be sure to check out Peas and Crayons’ WIAW blog hop to see all the other great eats!


What was the best thing you ate today?

Are there any ingredients you avoid, or do you buy what looks/tastes good?

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