Archive for August, 2011

August 19, 2011

I Love Friday (And Other Things…)

Hellooooo! I’m so happy that it’s Friday, I want to share some of my happy with you all. Although a video of my happy dance might make you chuckle, it wouldn’t be as enlightening as another Things-I’m-Loving post.

Here’s what I’m loving as of lately…

1. This hair color. I’m getting my hair done next weekend, so what do you think of this?tresemme model

IMAGE SOURCE

2. My new shoes! I know I already talked about them in my How to Buy Shoes post yesterday, but they make me that happy!

3. Grapes. I know, it’s a lame one, but I love ‘em. I got these organic ones free with a $5 purchase this weekend. Free grapes taste better than regular ones.

4. Target clothes. Seriously, I got the skirt, top, and shoes for under $60. Then again, I have a health/fitness blog, not a fashion blog. I know my limits.

5. My birthday weekend. Yup, I’m celebrating a couple days early. Who celebrates on a Tuesday?

What has been making you happy lately?

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August 18, 2011

Running Shoes & Wands

The wand chooses the wizard… it’s not always clear why.

—Ollivander

My new running shoes! Keep reading to find out how buying running shoes is like purchasing a wand…

mizuno

First off, old shoes can lead to injury. I have Mizunos, which are cheaper than other brands, but they do not last as long. Not even the Weasleys can use hand-me-down or worn-out wands, so don’t even think about using old running shoes!

Ron Weasley

If you don’t know the style you need, or if you are just interested in changing it up, you benefit from visiting a specialty store. Harry and his buddies went to Ollivander’s. I’ve visited a number of specialty shops, including a few Fleet Feet Sports stores in various states.

The knowledgeable sales staff in any specialty store should watch you run in the shoes you try on. They view your stride and help you find the best fit. Some stores even record your feet while you run on a treadmill. I never knew how wobbly my feet looked until seeing them on camera!

Mr. Ollivander lets his patrons test their wands too. That’s important, especially if you blow things up in the store like Harry.

This weekend, I already knew I wanted a new pair of Mizuno shoes, so I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I tried on two Mizuno stability shoes. (Stability helps with wobbly feet!) I went with the more expensive pair. You can’t scrimp on wands either. I doubt phoenix tails and dragon scales come cheap!

Don’t be embarrassed trying on shoes. The last time I bought a pair of shoes, I had the sweet sales lady bring out 7 or 8 pairs, and yes, I ran around the store in most all of them.  Ollivander cant wand-fit a patron on the first try either.

shoes

Lastly, don’t buy what’s cool or cute. It’s rarely the best thing for you. Dad wouldn’t let me get anything cute for my first running shoe. After running through my first good pair, he analyzed the bottoms of my shoes to see where I wore the most tread and cushion. Then he suggested my next pair. My physical therapist later recommended the exact same shoe my dad had selected. Trust me; they weren’t cute!  I doubt it was cool to get the sibling wand of Valdemort, but you know what – Harry’s too cool to care.

Oh, I got a pair of cross trainers this weekend too. They’re sooooo awesome!

new balance

Do you have a favorite brand of runners, walkers, or cross trainers? Ever been to a specialty shop?

August 17, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday: Simple Eats

I know today is “What I Ate Wednesday,” but I have to share a wee bit about yesterday.  I swam laps in the morning, and that made me sooooo hungry and tired for the rest of the day.

Speaking of tired, I got the kitties new toys last night, so we played like champs.  Leia was totally tuckered out by bedtime.

Okay, now on with the eats…

Breakfast this week includes half a banana before my workout, then 100 calories of oats + 80 calories of protein, and the other half of the banana once I get to the office.  Soooo hungry by the time I get there!

recycled pic

Lunch is boring but wonderful.  No new veggie bowl recipes this week!  It’s a turkey wrap with lettuce, mustard, and leftover shredded carrots.  I pair that with tart, green grapes.

it's a wrap

Snack has been good, but it was too small Monday and Tuesday.  I had carrots with 1.5 servings of hummus.  I am bringing a couple extra crackers for the other days this week.

Sorry – no snack pics.  Then again, do you really need more photographs of yummus?  I think probably not.

Dinner has been excellent.  I’m the queen of simple meals, and Monday’s was pretty much perfect.

Dessert included two graham crackers (not pictured).   Tuesday’s dinner wasn’t bad either…

Of course, cooking meat for dinner draws extra attention to the dinner table.

table shark

I promise I don’t drink a beer every night with dinner.  It’s actually very rare that I drink mid-week at all, but these were just hitting the spot.  Plus, they’ve been in my fridge for months, and I’m sick of looking at them.

What is the best thing you’ve eaten recently?  Do you think other people’s eats are interesting? 

I like checking out other people’s healthy meal ideas.  Check out all the great eats at Peas and Crayons’ weekly WIAW post:

August 16, 2011

Whole-Wheat Vegan Carrot Cake Loaf (That Actually Tastes Good!)

What’s up Tuesday?  You’re looking lovely today, especially compared to Monday.  Sorry Monday, you’re just not my type.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s weekend recap, I baked a bit on Saturday.  No, I wasn’t ill, I actually just felt like baking.  Crazy, right?  I didn’t want to make cookies, brownies, or anything too addicting.  I was going for hearty & healthy with a side of sinful.  That’s exactly what I found when I discovered Angela’s whole-wheat vegan carrot cake loaf.  Try saying that five times fast.

loaf

I did not follow the recipe completely (do I ever?), but it still came out wonderfully.  It’s idiot-proof.

This was my first food-processor shredding experience, and the excellent results made me giddy.  I just wanted to shred shred shred.

carrots

Maybe I got a little carried away on the shredding.

While stirring the wet ingredients, I was just a wee bit short of the maple syrup requirement.  So, I subbed a plop of molasses.  I’m not sure if the molasses made a difference, but in my head, the loaf got a hint of gingerbread taste.  In short, I totally recommend the plop.

The best thing about vegan baking?  Licking the dough without fear of salmonella from any eggs.  Woohoo!

While licking my spatula, I noticed the advertisement on my Pandora station.  A Victoria’s Secret model was standing there judging me in my own kitchen.  Frankly, I think she was jealous.

I tried to let the loaf cool on my makeshift rack, but you really need a wire rack for this.  The loaf was fragile yet heavy, so I was scared it would fall through the wires.

My last recommendation?  Butter.

Do you bake on a whim or special occasions only?  Link up if you’ve got a favorite baking recipe.

August 15, 2011

A Weekend of Pictures

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was too short, but it was good. I had a very relaxed Friday, but Saturday was a bit more eventful.

I worked out, baked, bought shoes, and enjoyed a date night with the mister. For my workout, I continued the Vacation Countdown plan from last week. I wish I were actually using it to count down to a vacation! I also did 45 very sweaty minutes of cardio on the stationary bike.

I felt a bit sore Sunday from all that leg work, but it wasn’t too bad. It’s good to feel the burn!

I’m glad I worked so hard at the gym, I needed to pre-burn Saturday’s snack. I know frozen yogurt is trendy right now, and while I don’t deny it’s yum-ness, I have to confess that I prefer good ole’ fashion ice cream.

This one’s got peanut butter and brownie bits inside. I couldn’t think of a better combo if I tried! Here’s a random fact about me, one of my favorite smells in the whole world is the smell of an ice cream parlor. I consider it a comfort smell; it brings back memories – and usually means I’m about to get ice cream!

Although they probably should have, the indulgences didn’t stop there. Kev and I had a great date night. With dinner, I enjoyed a Wolf Hill Brewing Co Trooper’s Alley IPA (say that five times fast) with my steak.

Sadly, the filet was over cooked and dry, but at least the beer was good! The restaurant got all their meat from local farms. Sweet.

We weren’t ready to end the night just yet, so we went for a nightcap at a different lounge/restaurant/bar/thing. I had a really awesome wine (not a great beer selection), and Kev got scotch. For the wine-o readers out there, I had a glass of Edge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

I detoxed a bit last night with a side salad and veggie wrap. The wrap had hummus, spinach, kalamata olives, grilled onion, and grilled red pepper.

Yes, it was as awesome as it looks! I think it even tasted better than my dry steak from Saturday, but don’t tell Kevin that. 😉

What was the best thing you did/drank/ate this weekend?

August 13, 2011

Super Lazy Saturday

It’s Saturday, and I’m feeling lazy as ever.  It’s 7:45, and I’m still in my pajamas.  Luckily they’re my favorite pajamas, and I’m getting a little kitty lovin’ while blogging.  It was a rainy morning, and even though the rain stopped, I still can’t seem to get my butt to the gym. Yeah, I’ll get there, must maybe about 30 minutes later than anticipated.

I want to thank everyone for you open-minded comments on yesterday’s post.  The vegetarian/ vegan/ pescetarian/ whatevertarian debate hits close to home for a lot of us, and I’m happy you accept me for being a human garbage disposal.  Seriously – I eat (and generally enjoy) just about everything.

In case you too are having a lazy Saturday, here are some links to keep you busy… well, busy doing basically nothing, that is.

Lastly, I wanted to share a book with you all.  I finished The Poacher’s Son yesterday.  It was a fast and very entertaining read.  I thoroughly recommend it.

The Poacher's Son

Have a good weekend!

August 12, 2011

The Great Debate

Helloooo Everyone!  Here’s a secret… I stayed out too late watching The Help last night, so I totally skipped my 5 a.m. workout.  Don’t worry, I packed my gym bag so that I can squeeze in a quickie tonight after work.

Today’s post isn’t particularly informative or enlightening.  Sorry.  Hopefully it’s at least provocative.  I should clarify.  It’s mentally provocative – like, stimulating or something.  It’s hard to get my brain working on Fridays, but this was my inspiration yesterday…

And I thought I was having a rough day.  I’m pretty sure those chickens had it much worse, and that brings us to today’s topic – to be, or not to be… vegetarian.

I’ve tried to learn more about how my food gets to my plate.  After seeing movies like Food Inc., reading books like The Kind Diet, and visiting websites, such as PETA (I know… I know… just roll with me here), I become increasingly aware of the mistreatment of farm animals.

I’m not talking about cute mom-n-pop farms, and I’m not going to discuss any gory details.  I won’t even get into the terrifying Super-Bug argument.  But let’s face it, being a Purdue chicken is bad.  Really bad.

What I haven’t learned from the media, I’ve learned from my two cats.  They are not people, but I still love them.  Their personalities (maybe that should be cat-alities?) are incredibly unique.  They even have favorite house guests!  Would I eat them?  Not a chance.

my family

So then why am I not vegetarian?  (Vegan actually, because I also despise the way factory farms treat the cows and chickens that provide dairy and eggs).  I love steak.  I love bacon.  I also love how healthy and unprocessed lean meats are.  Lastly, I love that I’m not a bother to the people around me.  (I’m not saying all vegetarians are bothersome, but we’ve all met 1 or 2 of “those” vegetarians.)

salami

Kev trying the salami in Florence

 I also like that there are mom-n-pop farms that produce sustainable and ethically raised animals.  Sure, the animals still die, but who doesn’t?  I can live with that.  Many organic farms still aren’t as cruelty-free as I’d wish, but the link below states the differences between organic and conventional that show how organic is clearly a step in the right direction:

***Organic vs. Conventional Livestock Production: A side-by-side comparison (Jan. 2010)***

Soooo, I guess I try to limit my meat consumption, and I buy organic animal products as much as possible.  However, I’m just not ready to give it up yet.  Maybe I never will.

 

Have you ever had the “to be, or not to be” vegetarian debate?  If you are vegan/vegetarian, did you do it all at once or gradually make the change?

August 11, 2011

Strength Circuit & More Nom Nom Noms

I started a new workout this week, and I think you might like it. It’s easy on my “injured” feet but isn’t too easy everywhere else. I found the routine in a 2009 issue of Muscle & Fitness Hers, and they have a guide to “The Vacation Countdown” workout on their site.

This is a four day split that has you lifting on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Follow this for weeks 1-4:

  • Week 1, complete the circuit on the given day 2 times, resting 60 seconds between exercises
  • Week 2, complete the circuit 2 times, but rest only 45 seconds
  • Week 3, perform 3 rounds, and rest 30 seconds between the exercises
  • Week 4, complete 3 or 4 rounds, resting 15-20 seconds

The pics in the magazine are pretty motivating, but they’re intense. Yeah, I guess M&F Hers thinks I should try to look like this…

The 1st circuit includes the first 7 exercises on the list, Dumbbell Swing to Walking Abduction. The 2nd circuit, which you perform on Wednesday, goes from the Dumbbell Squat to the Abs Circuit. I also added in weighted Leg Lifts before the Dumbbell Squat.

Friday’s circuit includes the Romanian Deadlift through the Arm Circuit. I may add something else here as well, but I’m not sure yet. The 4th circuit includes the last 5 exercises.

Even after all this sweating, I’m still happy enough to be like this… (except for the half-smile/half-tough-girl expression)

buff stuff

So far this week, I completed 25 minutes on the elliptical Monday, and I had an excellent swim Tuesday. I also completed 25 hard minutes on the stationary bike Wednesday, and will go for another swim today. Hopefully I’ll have more time Friday or Saturday for at least one long cardio session. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Oh, and last night’s dinner of eggplant, zucchini, basil, and grape tomatoes topped with sauce and feta was pretty yummy.

bake

I thought I might get away with eating one third of this so that I could have 2 nights of leftovers, but after seeing how empty my little plate looked…

half baked?

I decided to just go ahead and eat half of the pan anyway. Oh, and I also snacked on quite a few Kashi Pita Crisps in sea salt flavor. These things are fairly processed, but for junky snack food, they are darrrrrn goooooood! (To be honest, they aren’t thaaaaat junky.) There’s even a coupon on their site right now, so check it out if you want to save a buck.

Do you work out at home or the gym? How do you push yourself to reach the next level in your training?

August 9, 2011

WIAW: Normal Edition

Guess what!!! I flailed around in the water swam for 15 continuous minutes yesterday morning! Woohoo! That’s a first for me. Here was the overall workout: I completed 10 minutes of lower body pilates before heading into the pool. I then swam 15 minutes, walked 1 minute, and swam 14 more minutes. It was an excellent start to the day!

Okay… moving on to the yum stuff….

I wish I had a cool theme for you guys this week, such as WIAW Dessert Edition, Vacation Edition, or even Pretty Picture Edition, but I don’t. Luckily, WIAWs are always fun as-is. Check out Peas & Crayons for other WIAW posts.

Breakfast has been broken into only 2 parts this week. Yeah… crazy. I’m having 1 of the 2 Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy bars or a banana pre-workout. I thought the bars would be like Nature Valley bars, but they’re actually sooooo much better.

From Official Kashi Site

Once I get to the office, I’m having 1 scoop (80 calories) of all-natural vanilla whey protein cooked in 1/3 cup of oats. I top that with a shake of pumpkin pie spice and 3 diced almonds. The protein to oats ratio is a little off, so it comes out sort of like a rubber muffin top. It’s not particularly tasty, but it’s fun to eat and super filling.

alien protein oats

Lunch is the awesomeness I described in yesterday’s recipe. It reheats very well.

tuscan food is good, even if it's not tuscan

So far, snack has been either a pink lady apple or a plum with 1 serving of 2% cottage cheese. Although it’s pretty good, I think I may change it out one or two days with a Larabar, yogurt, or something a little more sinful. Muah-ha-ha-ha! I hope I see a cookie in my future!

plum

Ya think that was a gigantic blueberry at first?

Dinner Monday and Tuesday was vegerific. I made a bag of these veggies with a little extra broccoli slaw added to the mix while I cooked 1 serving of quinoa (divided between both nights).

veg love

I served baked general tsao’s tofu. Yum! Yes… I’m one of those oddballs who actually likes tofu, especially baked.

general tsao's tofu bowl

Tonight will be an Italian-style bake of eggplant, zucchini, chickpeas, red sauce, and Parmesan or feta. I’m pretty pumped!

Of course every night has at least 1 treat. Monday was half a green apple with a spoon of peeb, but Tuesday included loads of popcorn. Who knows was I’ll be craving later tonight!

What was the best thing you’ve eaten lately? Are you a fan of tofu?

August 9, 2011

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

It has been a loooong time since I’ve shared a recipe, or at least it feels that way.  When Trader Joe’s didn’t have what I needed to make a lentil curry dish for lunch this week, I was forced to go against the list.

Regular readers probably know that I’m a stickler to my store list.  My handy-dandy list limits impulse buys, ensures I remember (most) things, and keeps me from wandering around like a lost and very confused child.  Yes, the list is a must, so you can imagine how devastating it can be when my little TJ’s is missing 3 of the 5 ingredients I need for a recipe.

I improvised.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 0.  But my improvisations helped me make something awesome.  TJ’s – 1, Tiff – 1.  It’s a tie; I’ll leave it at that.

rice bowl of yum

Tuscan Tomato Rice Bowl

the yums

Ingredients

  • 5 servings of brown rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium veggie broth (best if it’s got a fair amount of tomato in it)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • small handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, chunked/diced/whatev
  • 1/2 cup fresh, thinly sliced basil
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (looking back, I think I’d buy a frozen box of it next time)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 oz sliced, sun dried tomatoes NOT in oil (I used 5/6 the full 3 oz.  I ate 1/6 in a sandwich.  Recommended!)
basil

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package directions in broth.  Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients.
  2. Heat oil in pan.  Add onion and saute until soft.
  3. When rice as 10 minutes remaining, gradually fold or stir in spinach.  It will wilt and cook down significantly.
  4. To onions, add fresh tomatoes and basil.  Cook and stir 3 minutes or so, then remove from heat.
  5. When rice is done cooking and needs to rest, stir in any remaining spinach, chickpeas, and sun dried tomatoes.  Then stir in the onion, basil, and tomato mixture.  Let all ingredients cool slightly.  Serve into 5 containers for a week of awesome lunches.
ready 2 go

This comes to approximately 310 calories per serving if you divide it into 5 servings.  It really depends on which ingredients you choose, but that’s about what mine equaled.

Note 1: I would have loved to have added a little more fresh spinach and some toasted pine nuts.  However, I cook on a budget.  I also cook simple meals.  I think you all will appreciate both aspects.  If not, go buy yourself some pine nuts.  I bet they’re lovely.

Note 2: I would have also loved to add feta cheese.  That’s no surprise.  I’m also keeping an eye on calories, and I think many of you will appreciate that as well.  If not, go buy yourself some feta.  I bet it’s lovely.

By the way… I named this “Tuscan” because of this funny “news” article from The Onion:

Area Woman Will Eat Anything With ‘Tuscan’ In Name

MARCH 2, 2009 | ISSUE 45-10

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, NJ—Veterinary assistant Lauren Millardi, 27, will eat any dish prefaced with the word “Tuscan,” sources reported Monday. “Tuscan shrimp, Tuscan garlic chicken, it doesn’t matter,” said Millardi’s boyfriend, Tim Vernacini. “I’m not really sure if she even knows what makes food Tuscan, but there’s something about that region-specific culinary modifier that she finds inordinately appetizing.” Vernacini added that Millardi likely would have loved the 2003 movie Under The Tuscan Sun had it not failed to meet her strict film criterion of having taken place between the years of 1743 and 1919.

This dish would actually be much more “Tuscan” if it included white beans and orzo instead of chickpeas and rice.  Close enough though, right?

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