Monday, April 29, 2013

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

Happy Monday!  Just kidding, there's no such thing.  HA!

Today wasn't a bad day, as far as Mondays go, but compared with the glory that was this weekend, today's gloomy skies did not have me pumped for the week.  At least I started my day with a kick ass workout--very minimal rest breaks as I ran around the gym trying to avoid the smelly guy working out in a full sweatsuit.  Seriously guy, if you're going to sweat that profusely and wreak that intensely in your current getup, change out of that unitard and in to some real gym clothes.  Gross.

Workout

So today's workout included one of my favorite moves: box jumps.  If you're in decent condition and have warmed up properly, these are a quick way to rev up your heart rate.  Sometimes I like to throw in 5 box jumps between sets of different exercises when I'm doing my own thing at the gym to increase the intensity a bit.  The real key is to start the movement in a squat position, and explode through your feet up to your destination, making sure to land softly in a squat again (butt back!), like so: some cute guy with excellent box jump form.  I usually just jump up to a bench because my gym doesn't have nice boxes and I'm too nervous to hop on to stacked aerobic steps for fear of toppling over and being that girl.  If you don't want to jump up to something that high, start with 1 aerobic step or even just jumping in place. 

***Disclaimer: I'm not a personal trainer, but I live with a former trainer to the rich and famous at the Ritz in Boston so I've learned a bit along the way :)

Eats

Since last night's meal was a total win, I was really looking forward to recreating another dish from Practical Paleo tonight (the Coach had leftovers for lunch today and is still raving).  And trust me, I was not disappointed.  I used the pineapple teriyaki sauce from the cookbook in a stir fry with chicken and veggies and it was DELICIOUS!  Here's how it came together:

Pineapple teriyaki chicken
Ingredients:
1.5lb chicken thighs, diced in to bite-sized pieces
1c pineapple, chopped
1/2c water (I used half water and half juice from the pineapple)
1T ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2t cayenne
2T low sodium tamari (soy, aminos, etc)
optional: 2T nut butter
 veggies of your choice

In a sauce pan, mix the pineapple, water, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and tamari in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Once you've gotten that going, heat a skillet over medium-high heat with some cooking fat and brown your chicken.
After 10 minutes of simmering, blend your sauce (I used an immersion blender, but you can put it in a blender).  You could leave it un-blended if you want, you'll just have a chunkier sauce!  At this point I thought the sauce looked a bit thin so I added some sunflower seed butter which I thought gave the sauce a really delicious texture (complete nut butter addict here).  If you choose to add nut butter, add it after you've blended your sauce.
When your chicken is cooked through, add the sauce and steamed veggies of your choice.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mcj7i42rCc1rcut6bo1_500.jpg


You all know that I love a good stir fry, but this one was something else.  The pineapple added a subtle sweetness, though possibly overshadowed by my addition of nut butter, so if you want more pineapple flavor either skip the nut butter or, even better, add more pineapple!  The Coach asked if I could give him a side of pineapple, because he's sort of a pineapple fiend (similar to my nut butter addiction).  This was a really nice spin on the Thai stir fry I've been making weekly, since the fresh fruit offered a nice tang to the dish.  I would definitely recommend trying this sauce out, drizzled over any meat and veggie combination!

Hope you all have gotten over your Monday blues by now!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Creamy Bolognese

How about the amazing weather this weekend, huh?  I don't know about everyone else, but the temps were in the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, not a cloud in the sky.  Definitely got my Vitamin D in this weekend.

Workout

Not so much on the workout front this weekend.  Saturday I went to the gym in the afternoon for some easy cardio on a spin bike while reading my book.  I sat outside for a bit yesterday but didn't move around much, so by the end of the day I was starting to feel the infamous ants-in-the-pants, so opted for a quick calorie burn.  Today I walked around the Union College campus where the Coach works in the bright sunshine.  Briefly I wished I was back in college until I noticed that half the kids had their noses buried in textbooks while they laid out on towels, were the other half were obnoxiously playing golf with tennis balls aimed at those studying.  Yup, don't miss college that much.  Also, it made me feel super old.  I can't believe I graduated 5 years ago...

One thing I wanted to mention: some people have asked me some specifics about the tempo sprints I do on the treadmill.  I've already detailed the numerous benefits about high intensity interval training, and going all out on the treadmill is an easy way to ramp up your fat burn at the end of a workout.  It's best to start out sprinting for 15 seconds, then hopping off the track on to the sides of the treadmill for 45 seconds.  It sounds silly, but if you're nervous about the jumping off part, practice it before you ramp up the treadmill!  Trust me, it's better to prep for some badass sprints and practice than fall off the treadmill because you've never jumped off the moving track before.  The incline should be set at 1% minimally, and basically you want to set the speed as fast as you can safely sprint.  I always start at 8.5mph and ramp it up from there, maxing out at 10mph (it's just not safe to go faster than that, if that gets easy just up the incline).  It should go without saying that you should not hold on during the sprint itself.  Start with 4 sprints, then 6, 8, etc. as they get easier.  You can also play with the rest time--go to 20 on / 40 off, or 30 on / 30 off.  These should be hard.  Like breathing hard, sweating profusely, hands-on-knees kind of deal by the end.  Enjoy!

Eats

As I mentioned last week, I'm on a total paleo-book reading kick these days.  I rarely actually buy books, especially cookbooks since I tend to come across all of my recipes online.  However, I had heard awesome things about Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, so I decided to screen this book first by taking it out from the library.  The author does an amazing job detailing how certain foods negatively (and positively) affect the digestive system, and goes in to great depth about how various conditions can be improved or worsened based on diet alone.  This book is a great resource and I definitely plan on buying it to have a personal copy to reference.

Besides the ridiculous amount of helpful information, there were also tons of yummy looking recipes in this book.  I decided that while I still have this book checked out til the end of the week, I'm going to make a recipe from it every night.  Tonight's menu: creamy bolognese.  Did you know that traditional bolognese from Italian restaurants usually has heavy cream in it?  News to me.  So this recipe has a nice dairy-free swap that I was super curious to try out.  I would say that I was more inspired by the recipe, since I made a bunch of swaps and barely followed the original.  These swaps include: subbed canned tomato sauce for white wine, used an onion and a pepper for the mirepoix since the Coach hates celery, and used fresh sausage instead of the suggested mix of veal/beef and pork plus bacon (too many ingredients to deal with).  If you're interested in the original recipe, here's the link: original Practical Paleo bolognese recipe.  Here's how my interpretation came together.

Creamy Bolognese
Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
16oz Italian sausage
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1t dried oregano
1/2t cayenne
1/2c coconut milk
6oz tomato paste
8oz tomato sauce (no spices in it, just the can)
s&p

Heat a skillet with cooking fat over medium-high heat and saute your onion and pepper until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir around for 1 minute.  Add the sausage and cook until browned.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, season with s&p, and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 20-30 minutes and taste, adjust seasonings to your liking.

I served this with zoodles (just found out that's what you call the zucchini noodles you make with a julienne peeler) but you could also serve this with roasted spaghetti squash or any other veg.

Bolognese_PracticalPaleo
http://balancedbites.com/2013/03/easy-recipe-spaghetti-squash-bolognese-practical-paleo-ideas-for-replacing-pasta.html


As far as meat sauces go, this one came together relatively quickly and tasted sooooo delicious!  Not like coconut at all, which I was slightly concerned about.  Instead, the sauce was thick and creamy, perfect for when you want some Italian comfort food but don't have time to wait for it to simmer on the stove all day.  The Coach was definitely a fan--he gave it the highest rating of any dish I've made recently!  Kind of an ouch for my recent culinary adventures but I can deal.

*          *          *

Just wanted to do a quick check-in on the Whole30 front (no grains, legumes, sugar or dairy).  I'm officially one week in now, and I can already tell a huge difference, both in how my clothes fit and my overall energy level.  I definitely found myself searching out extra food this past week, as my body came off the roller coaster diet I've been on since my last go around at this detox.  For the beginning, I just focused on eating all healthy, clean foods without worrying about amounts.  This week I'm going to reign in my portions and snacking, since I've probably (definitely) been overdoing it with the almonds/walnuts.  At least that's my current game plan.  Fingers crossed I can resist the call of the nice white wine sitting in the fridge that's just calling to be sipped in this nice weather...

Hope everyone has a nice start to their week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thai Stiry Fry

So today was a long day at work BUT something pretty awesome happened.  My patient's 4-year-old granddaughter was visiting her, and after I complimented this little munchkin on her stellar bright yellow sunglasses, she promptly did the entire Gangnam Style dance.  It. Was. Amazing.  I asked her to do it again (obviously) and she grabbed my hand and then taught me how to do it.  I high-fived her and then she offered me a fist bump, after which she said "Wattup".  I loved her.  I want one JUST like that.  Totally made my day.

Workout

Today was the third day in a row that I had to be in to work early, so I skipped the gym.  That is, I set my alarm with the intention of going in, then woke up at 5 and couldn't bear the thought of another rushed workout.  And then I couldn't fall back to sleep.  So instead I slowly sipped my coffee and then actually went to the supermarket to get some non-perishable items.  6:30AM is a great time to go to the grocery store, by the way.  Then a nice Starbucks run and phone chat with my mom before work.  A weird but kind of awesome start to my day!

So when I was more motivated to haul tush in the gym yesterday morning, I did a tabata workout (a tabata is just a format for high intensity interval training where you do something hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and repeat).  Yesterday I alternated lunges with a 12kg kettlebell and jumping rope--this is so easy to recreate at any gym or at home, just hold a dumbbell (or no weight at all) and do jumping jacks if you don't have a jump rope.  I alternated each exercise for 6 rounds, then rested for 2 minutes, then repeated one more time.  So basically my workout looked like this:

20s lunges
10s rest
20s jumping rope
10s rest

Do that 4-6 times.  Then rest for a few minutes.  Then do it again.  Not that complicated right?  It reads pretty easy but it will jack up your heart rate quickly, let me tell ya.  Major sweaty mess status right there.

Eats

So ever since I made sunshine sauce from The Clothes Make the Girl, I use the delectable topping on just about anything, on the reg.  It's such a cinch to throw together and any ingredient thrown in the mix comes out tasting amazing.  This recipe uses sunflower butter (I get Organic SunButter, it's the only one that doesn't have cane juice in it, an added sweetener), but you could easily swap in almond or peanut butter.  I don't follow the original recipe exactly, but I have to give that blogger credit for coming up with this unreal sauce.

Thai stir fry
Ingredients:
16oz ground turkey (or chicken, or pork)
coconut oil
1 lime, juiced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1T ginger, grated
4T low sodium tamari (soy sauce, aminos, etc)
1T rice vinegar
1/4c sunflower seed butter
1/2c coconut milk
1/2t cayenne (or sriracha if you don't mind the added sugar)
Any steamed veggies you like--I used 12oz each of the following, chopped: snow peas, french green beans, and carrots

First, brown your ground meat in a large skillet in some coconut oil.  While this is working through, steam and chop your veggies.  Whisk all of the other ingredients together in a bowl.  When the chicken is cooked through, dump the veggies and the sauce in the pan and cook for a few minutes.  Make sure to taste this and adjust as needed!

paleo pad thai
http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/


This is so good.  Every time I make it the Coach and I silently nod at each other while we're inhaling the deliciousness (yup, that's a word).  If you like Asian food, you must try this.  You could even make a little omelet on the side in some sesame oil, chop it up and toss it in the mix for some added protein and a take on pad Thai!  I rarely garnish my food because I'm usually too hungry by the time it's done to care, but some chopped cashews (like in the picture) never hurt anyone.

Happy almost end of the week everyone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

Hi there blog world!  Hope everyone's week is going well so far!  After coming back from Boston, I wasn't particularly inspired to try lots of new dishes this week, and I've been enjoying some old standbys so far, including stir fried cabbage sausage and apple.  I really had no idea that cabbage could take on such a sweet taste.  Yum.

When I did Whole30 last time around, I made sure to have a cup of tea each night after dinner--something with a sweet taste to simulate dessert (I realize that I'm not fooling anyone, a giant bowl of ice cream would have been much better but, alas, I need to fit in to my scrubs every morning).  Last time it was vanilla chamomile which was pretty stellar.  But I've discovered something better.  Coconut cocoa tea.  Kind of like sipping hot chocolate before bed.  Plus, tea made with cocoa powder has lots of antioxidants, so that's a bonus.  But who am I kidding, I like pretending it's real chocolate.

Workout

Today's workout was grueling.  The Coach likes to sneak in these tough kettlebell complexes in to my workouts, and they always destroy me.  Today's format was pretty straight forward with 5 exercises, and 5 rounds.  First round: each exercise 5 times.  Second round: each exercise 4 times.  And so on until your last round when you do each exercise just once.  Sounds easy, but it's not.  I used a heavier kettlebell for today's workout, but in case you don't have access to a kettlebell, try something like this while holding two dumbells (maybe 10lbs each?) at your sides:

Dumbell Complex
5-4-3-2-1- Squats
5-4-3-2-1- Bent over row
5-4-3-2-1- Lunges
5-4-3-2-1- Shoulder press in a 1/2 kneeling position (a.k.a. "proposal pose")
5-4-3-2-1- Push-ups
Repeat 2-3x through as quickly as you can with a 2-minute rest after you've completed the full complex

 The key to these kind of workouts is hauling ass.  That's what revs up your heart rate best and does all sorts of good things for your bod.  Try it!

Eats

So I'm going to repeat another oldie but a goodie now.  Like a serious goodie.  Like make this tonight.  Enter: sweet potato fries, adapted from Simply Recipes.  I usually make a sweet potato side dish once per week--I figure I work out at least 5 days a week so a higher carb night is allowed.  This is my absolute favorite way to eat sweet potatoes, ESPECIALLY when I dip them in almond butter.  Holy sh*t.  Pardon my language.  But not really, because you'll say that too when you try these.

Sweet potato fries
Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes
2T olive oils
1T salt
1T seasoning (my favorite is pumpkin pie spice, goes so well with almond butter, but you could do Cajun, curry, chili powder or whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 450.
Chop up your pots however you like.  The easiest way for me is to cut one lengthwise wedge off the side of the potato approx 1/2-1" thick, then rotate the pot so that the flat side is against your board for stability, then cut another lengthwise wedge.  Keep rotating until you've cut the whole thing, then slice those wedges in to fries.  Best way to come out of your prep with all 10 fingers intact!
Mix your fries with the oil, then your seasoning.
Cook at 450 for 15 min, toss, then cook for 10-15 more until crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

Media
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/oven_baked_sweet_potato_fries/
I'm obsessed with these, and shocked at how yummy they are.  Every.  Single.  Time.  The Coach and I can't get enough.

That's all for now.  Happy eating everyone :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mexican Cauli Rice

I am so sad to see this weekend end.  After Friday night's intense events and being glued to CNN all evening, the Coach and I were beyond excited to head in to our hometown of Boston to celebrate our friend Jill's birthday--hi Jill, I hope you like this shout out as you're drinking your morning cup of coffee :)  Even though we were in the city for less than 24 hours, we had an amazing time.  Despite this week's heartbreaking events, the spirit in Boston is only stronger and there was just a contagious energy in the city.  The Coach and I walked around the Commons in the afternoon sunshine (please note, the Boston Commons have a suspiciously strong odor on a beautifully sunny 4/20...just saying), and then had a blast at dinner followed by singing our hearts' out at a karaoke bar.  In Chinatown.  Many memories made, let's just say that.


https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/?ui=2&ik=611a3d8843&view=att&th=13e2efbd7b7cd6a1&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-5Fc-0sBK5kNMiZhG-vAuO&sadet=1366587939891&sads=EV99xKKnaN9fPBLpHJYTHPqsBzI
Before we rocked out Don't Stop Believing

A quick update: today starts a new Whole30.  For those of you who don't know, this is a 30 day program where you eliminate sugar (including alcohol), grains, legumes, and dairy.  I did this back in February and had an amazing experience, but I foolishly planned lots of events for when I finished this detox and all my hard work went right down the drain.  This time around, I'm going to try to not even focus on my "end date", and just concentrate on eating clean.  I'm so weirdly excited to be doing this again, it's pretty much not normal at all.  I finally caved and ordered the book It Starts With Food, which I've read is a great supplement to the program--it's written by the people who created Whole30, and it basically just summarizes the science behind the "rules" in a practical way.  I've been on a Paleo book-reading kick lately, so maybe get ready for a book report some time soon...

Workout

With all of our traveling this weekend, I didn't get to the gym, so instead I'll share with you some exercise-related information I read the other day in my nerd-tastic spare time, courtesy of Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint.  I can't recommend this book enough--he does a great job explaining why it's so beneficial to replicate the dietary habits of our ancestors, and how to do it in a modern world.  I've learned SO much from this book, so if you're at all curious about the science behind the paleo diet, or how to "live primally", i.e. incorporate the lifestyle more in to your daily habits, I'd recommend checking this book out.

In addition to lots of dietary advice, this book also establishes some "Exercise Laws", including the importance of ensuring you get lots of low level activity through out your day.  Basically, this means getting in easy cardio, like walking, biking, or hiking.  I never fully grasped just how important it is to supplement strength and high intensity interval training with basically just moving more through out the day.  These are the primary reasons why "moving frequently at a slow pace" is important:
  1. Improved fat metabolism: increases your metabolic rate
  2. Improved cardiovascular function: decreases risk of heart attack or stroke
  3. Improved musculoskeletal system: strengthens bones, joints, and connective tissue
  4. Stronger immune system
  5. Increased energy
Not such a bad list, huh?  I get a lot of walking in at work, but I'm looking forward to warmer weather so that the Coach and I can get in more post-dinner walks to really try to apply this law on a daily basis.

Eats

I'm too enamored with riced cauliflower, my kitchen just can't handle it.  Seriously, cauli florets everywhere...clearly this is not enough to kick the habit of me making something using this method weekly, but I'm going to have to retire this cooking style soon so I don't get tired of it.  Today's recipe was inspired by this recipe from HealthyLivingHowTo.com.  And it rocked.  It came together like this:

Mexican cauli rice
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
16oz ground beef
1T chili powder
1T oregano
1/2T garlic powder
1/2T onion powder
1/2t cayenne
10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1T tomato paste

First, rice your cauliflower.  I like to do this by roughly chopping the cauliflower, putting it in a blender then filling the blender to the top with water.  Then just pulse 5-10 times until your cauliflower is the desired size.  Drain in a colander while you do everything else.
Brown your beef in a skillet in a cooking fat of your choice over medium-high heat, season with s&p.  Once your meat is cooked through, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the spices.  Mix this around a bit until incorporated, then throw the riced cauliflower in and season with more s&p.  Once everything is nicely stirred in to one big mess, throw a lid on the pan and cook for about 15 minutes over med-low heat or until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking.  Done!

http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2012/06/how-to-eat-mexican-food-and-still-fit-into-your-skinny-jeans.html


I wish I had some avocado on hand like in the picture, because I think that would have been a delicious addition.  This meal was really good--it made a ton of food, was pretty easy to throw together, and had a nice kick from the cayenne.  Definitely a make again!

Hope everyone had a nice weekend, good luck starting the week!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tangy Chicken Thighs + Cardio Newsflash

Happy Hump Day!  I had a fantastic day off today--my mom is on school vacation this week so I took the day off to catch up on some quality mother-daughter time.  We spent the day walking around Saratoga, enjoying the beautiful 60 degree weather, eating a delicious meal, and shopping in lots of fun kitchen stores.  Does it get much better than that?  I scored some excellent deals to add some pops of color to my kitchen; I really could browse around specialty food shops and cooking gadget stores for hours on end.  It's my best endurance sport.

Workout

Soooo I didn't work out today.  Instead I slept in until the ripe old hour of 7AM, and slowly sipped my morning coffee while listening to the sweet sounds of birds chirping and Matt Lauer reporting.  Anyone out there jealous yet?  Well, you should be.  I could have stopped by the gym later this afternoon but I just decided to enjoy my down time.  But I did want to take the time to share this great article I spotted on Facebook this morning: Why Sprinting is Better for Weight Loss than Jogging, written by Ashley Williamson.  We've all seen (or been) those people, riding on the elliptical for an hour or jogging at a steady speed while watching a full 60 Minutes show.  This article does a great job summarizing why 1) this is not doing you any benefits, and 2) might be doing you some harm.  I really recommend you check out this article, but here's some brief points:

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves quick but intense bouts of exercise, either running at an all out sprint or doing some other exercise like squats or jumping rope for 15-60s with a rest in between the intervals.  Total exercise time is anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
  2. Studies show that between 2 groups of individuals performing conventional cardio (30 minutes steady state) versus HIIT, the latter showed improved metabolism after 6 weeks.
  3. HIIT is superior for fat loss for the following reasons: anaobolic effect (builds more lean muscle), improved aerobic capacity (results in more energy post-workout), better insulin sensitivity (your body absorbs glucose--carbs from veggies/fruit/grains--better so it is less likely to be stored as fat), afterburn effect (ramped up metabolism), and less post-workout hunger (long cardio causes your body to use your muscles' glucose stores as fuel as opposed to fat stores so your body sends signals to eat more to replace the glucose).
  4. "Fat burning zone" myth: conventional wisdom says that true low intensity cardio is better at burning fat since you're more likely to use stored fat as fuel; this is actually true.  However, this is still a relatively inefficient way to burn off excess pounds: multiple research studies show that HIIT results in more fat burn overall in less time.  By doing steady state cardio, you will be most efficient at releasing cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on your body.
  5. To wrap up: add some HIIT training to your workouts if your goal is fat loss.
That felt like a book report.  But it's so important.  Our society is all about bang for your buck, so why not start with how we care for our bodies?  Work out harder.  For less time.  To look better naked.  OK?

Jumping off soapbox at this point.

Eats

I actually made this recipe a few months ago and never got around to blogging about it.  But it's good.  Really good.  This is not Whole30-approved (I mention this because I will be launching Debs 2.0 starting this Sunday, starting with a new 30-day detox), but for anyone reading this who doesn't mind a little Greek yogurt in their diet, this is for you.  As I can best recall, I threw this together like so:

Tangy chicken thighs
Ingredients:
8oz plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1t coriander
1t paprika
1/4t cayenne
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1t salt
1 lb skinless chicken thighs
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (I used butternut squash)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a dish, then add the chicken and veggies and stir it all up.  Arrange everything on a baking dish, and throw the springs of thyme on top (some leaves will fall off during the cooking process, and even if they don't they still perfume the whole dish).  Roast for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Picture
http://www.thefitcook.net/1/post/2012/03/tenderly-tangy-chicken-thighs.html

 This dish was unbelievably juicy and flavorful.  The yogurt really made the chicken moist, and the mix of spices (especially the lemon) made the whole dish taste bright and fresh.  The Coach and I loved this--any ideas on a Whole30-compliant alternative?  Bascially a non-dairy sub for the yogurt...I'm thinking coconut cream (the solid part of the coconut milk you get from a can).  I will keep you updated on the developments!

Back to the grind tomorrow.  I guess I can't complain after such a perfect day, I only wish it could have lasted a little bit longer!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sad Day + Oven Baked Burgers

It didn't feel right to publish the post I was planning on writing yesterday.  As someone who went to college and grad school in Boston, a place where I met my husband and lived my first year of married life 5 blocks from the marathon finish line, yesterday's events hit far too close.  My heart goes out to my second home, and I'm sending lots of love to everyone affected by the tragedy.

*          *          *

Workout

So I've finally started a new workout program!  Well really it's the same program I started last month, just rebooted for April.  The Coach recommended some tortuous metabolic finishers to up the fat burn so I was pretty excited/terrified to get try them out today.  Today's workout looked like this: stability ball leg curls, dumbell rows, goblet squats, 1-arm bench, and farmer carries.  1-arm bench is a versatile exercise where you hold a dumbell in just 1 arm, which really challenges your core if you're set on not tipping off the bench.  I finished everything up with 20/20 battle ropes, x 5.  For a high intensity sesh lasting less than 5 minutes, this killed me.  Only 20 seconds of rest after throwing those heavy ropes around gave me crazy jello arms.

Eats

I really love burgers.  I'm desperate to have a grill so I can throw some burgers on to get that yummy flavor that you just can't simulate indoors, but alas, our outdoor living space is somewhat limited these days.  I've tried indoor grill pans but we also have pretty poor ventilation, so this tends to smoke up the apartment and make my clothes smell like burnt meat.  Not awesome.  So when I stumbled across this recipe for oven baked burgers, I was excited to try it out.  And...success!  These burgers turned out juicy and flavorful, and were a perfect counterpoint to the mountain of sauteed onions I smothered them with.  Here's how this one went:

Oven baked burgers
Ingredients:
1lb ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1/2t garlic salt
1/4t pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients together until just incorporated--overmixing will result in tough burgers!  Then simply divide the meat mixture in to 4 patties, throw on a baking rack over a cookie sheet linted with foil.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, flip, and bake for 10-12 minutes more.  Let those guys rest for a few minutes before eating to let the juices redistribute, then top with your favorite accompaniments!

Oven Baked Burger
http://healthylivinghowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/oven-baked-burger-1024x680.jpg

The Coach and I were really impressed with how flavorful this dish turned out, given how simple it was.  And I really loved being able to avoid opening every window and door in the apartment to air out the smoke.  I'm pumped that I nailed down this cooking method so that I can experiment with lots of different accompaniments as the warmer weather sets in--I'm thinking toppings like guac or bacon jam.  Holy yum.

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 Hope you all took the time to hug someone you love today, I know I did :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

Happy Hump Day!  Apparently the ultra-relaxing weekend I had was not enough, and I'm already feeling exhausted and ready for Friday at 5.  Anyone else with me?

Workout

Possibly adding to my overall blah-ness today is a case of the workout blues: I'm still doing my own thing at the gym these days (planning to start a new program next week), but upon waking up the morning my body just felt BEAT.  Every couple of months I get a random bout of hip pain (I know, I'm approximately 85 years old)--I'm not sure if this is just based on my anatomy, my years of poorly trained cross-country and track in high school (basically going from sitting on my butt all summer to running 5+ miles daily), or something else entirely.  Regardless, it's annoying but usually goes away with a couple of days off.  This morning I went in to the gym without a clear plan as to what I was doing, and noticed some achiness in my hips as I was warming up, so I opted to do a mostly upper body and core workout that looked like this: rear-foot elevated split squats (bodyweight), bent over rows, anti-rotation press, shoulder presses in half kneel, and stability ball front planks.  It was a good workout, but I'll probably skip the gym tomorrow.

I feel old.

Eats

Last night's dinner was a new recipe that I was very excited to try.  After my successful pumpkin and sage "risotto" made using riced cauliflower, I've been on the lookout for similar recipes.  This cauliflower rice pilaf had such a unique flavor, it was definitely a nice change up.  Here's how it came together.

Cauliflower rice pilaf
Ingredients:
1 large head fresh cauliflower
cooking fat
10 prunes, diced
2T raisins
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground cinnamon
s&p

To rice the cauliflower, I chop up the florets in to large chunks and toss them in the blender.  Then I fill the blender to the top with water, pulse the whole thing about 5 times and voila, riced cauliflower!  Just drain it in a colander while you put everything else together.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add  1 tablespoon of coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the prunes, raisins, onion, garlic and spices. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Toss in the riced cauliflower and saute until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Try a bite, then season with salt and pepper.

I threw some cooked sausage in with everything at the end to make this a complete meal.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2013/03/30/cauliflower-rice-pilaf/
 The flavors in this dish were really interesting--the cumin and cinnamon melded really well with the dried fruit.  The Coach and I agreed that it was delicious and worthy to be saved and tried again!

I'm hoping I somehow manage to summon some energy to wrap up this week, wish me luck!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Balsamic Roast Beef

Hello blog world!  Hope you all had a nice start to the week today.  The Coach and I scrubbed our apartment clean yesterday so I felt ready to start this work week on a new positive note.  This past month has been kind of out of control, so I'm determined to leader a calmer life this next few weeks.

keep-calm-and-keep-healthy
http://soaddicted2fresh.com/fresh-life-health/

 Good motto, huh?

Workout

Today's workout was a repeat of one of last week's circuits, so nothing too exciting there.  One of my favorite exercises to do is a kettlebell deadlift, since I know it's a nice booty-builder, and I'm on a never ending mission to reject my flat tush genes.  The biggest kettlebell at my gym is the 32kg, which I can deadlift at 10 reps x 3 sets without too much struggle (kind of annoying, wish there were more options to go up in weight).  I usually try to organize my workout so that I can stay in a small corner of the gym without having to move around too much, though I always feel like I'm being chased around by the trainers--seriously how is it that you need this specific bench, when the entire rest of the gym is free?  Anyway, today was no exception so I dragged out my 32kg kettlebell, turned around to do bench press and when I came back a trainer was all over my corner.   She looked at me and said, "I didn't think you'd be throwing around the biggest kettlebell!"  Ummm is that an insult or a compliment?  Shocked or impressed?  Hmm I'll just assume the latter of the two.  Anyway, when you're in the starting position for a deadlift, you want to make sure the weight is between your feet, you're sitting back with your bum down and chest tall.  Your shoulder blades should be pulled back and your abs engaged.  Then simply explode up, squeezing the crap out of your glutes as you do it.  Then slowly lower the weight back to the floor.

fitness
http://www.empowernetwork.com/1612119k/files/2013/02/Slide1.jpg
That's exactly what I look like when I do deadlifts...in my dreams...where I am apparently from Sweden...

Eats

So after eating the cocoa coffee chili rubbed pulled pork for 3 weeks, I was ready for a change when it came to meal planning this week.  Enter: balsamic roast beef.  Crockpot recipes are my favorite when it comes to lunch protein because I can make a big batch of food at once.  I've made this recipe before and love the flavors.  Plus, the Coach is not big on any kind of slow cooked beef (pot roast, brisket, roast beef, etc) so using the food for a midday meal is a nice way to eat what I like without listening to the Coach complain.  Which he of course does as nicely as possible.  Here's how this recipe came together:

Balsamic roast beef
Ingredients:
3-4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)
1c beef broth
½c balsamic vinegar
2T tamari
1T honey
½t cayenne
4 cloves garlic, chopped
 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

Put the roast in the slow cooker, mix all the ingredients together and dump over the meat.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours until tender, then take the meat out, cover with foil, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.  For a gravy to drizzle on top, I strained the cooking liquid then boiled it in a saucepan while the meat rested.  Then just pull apart your meat and top with the gravy.  That's it!

Balsamic Roast Beef Recipe from addapinch.com
http://addapinch.com/cooking/2012/10/25/balsamic-roast-beef-recipe/


Seriously, this meal is so good and SO easy.  I mean did you see the directions?  Literally mix and dump.   Can't beat that!  The balsamic vinegar adds a delicious tang to the meat, while the tamari adds a nice salty flavor that balances nicely with the savory rosemary and garlic.  I served this with sweet potato fries and it was a perfect match.  Although lately I've taken to dipping my sweet potato fries in peanut or almond butter, so in order to satisfy that weird but good craving, I sort of ate the meat and fries separately.  Still a total win in my book.

Anyone have any good meals planned for this week??


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Creamy Chicken Verde Bake

Happy weekend everyone!  I am so happy that this week is OVER.  Work was extra busy this week, plus working a full day Sunday just seemed to make the days endless.  This weekend I don't have many plans, except for going out to dinner last night with my bestie.  We went to Dinosaur BBQ in Troy--my first time going and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.  I got an amazing plate with pulled pork and smoked brisket and maple whipped sweet potatoes on the side.  Sadly, I promised the Coach leftovers but there were none to be seen (barely restrained myself from licking the plate), so being the nice wife that I am, I got him a half rack of ribs to go.  Not too shabby, huh?

The Coach and I enjoyed a relaxing morning today, including a trip to the Iron Roost in Ballston Spa.  Ummm gluten free waffle + bananas + nutella = smiley sugar coma.  That place is stupid good and I can't wait to bring everyone I've ever met there.  Yum.

So two meals in a row out is pretty rare for me--the Coach and I usually go out to eat a couple times a month total so back to back has left me feeling fairly large and in charge.  I'm looking forward to some nourishing food these next couples of weeks, but I don't regret the two DELICIOUS meals I had, plus the good company I shared :)


Workout

Friday morning I put together another circuit for myself that looked like this: kettlebell deadlift, off-set push-ups, off-set kettlebell squat, one-arm bench press, and front plank with hip flexion.  That last one uses Valslides, which are discs that provide an unstable training surface that allows you to simulate slideboard exercises.  I've used them for reverse lunges too, and they are just killer.  A lot of the exercises today targeted core, so by the end I was having a tough time keeping my abs tight--definitely a sign of a hard workout.  I finished up with 60s on, 60s off jumping rope.  Definitely a productive week in the gym!

Eats

Thursday night I made this Creamy Chicken Verde Bake adapted from Fast Paleo.  This recipe calls for arrowroot to use as a thickener--in these recipes I tend to skip any added thickeners, whether arrowroot, coconut flour, cornstarch, etc.  I'm just too lazy to spend the money on those extra ingredients.  If I'm cooking something on the stove, I'll just spend an extra couple of minutes simmering the sauce to thicken it, or (more likely) I'll just suck it up and have a runnier sauce.  Oh well.  So I'll include the arrowroot in the ingredient list, but just know that I didn't use it--yes the sauce was a bit thin but still delicious!

Creamy chicken verde bake
Ingredients:
1.5lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cups green verde salsa (about 1 jar)
1 can unsweetened full fat coconut milk (I used reduced fat because it's what I had on hand)
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 TBS arrowroot, dissolved in 2 TBS cold water (I skipped this)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the butternut squash in the bottom of the pan, season with s&p.  Place the chicken on top of the squash, season with s&p.  Mix the salsa, coconut milk, salt and cayenne in a bowl, then pour over the chicken.  Bake for 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
If you use the arrowroot to thicken your sauce, bake for 30 minutes then add the arrowroot/water mixture to the pan and stir a bit, then bake 10 minutes longer. 

http://fastpaleo.com/wp-content/themes/timeforfood/lib/timthumb.php?src=http://fastpaleo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/creamychickenverde1.jpg&w=470&h=320&zc=1






This recipe could not be easier to throw together.  You literally just toss everything in the pan and let it cook away.  The Coach and I agreed that the flavor of the chicken was amazing and it stayed so moist and tender by cooking it in the coconut milk sauce.  The butternut squash was only medium.  Next time I'll play around with the vegetable--I adapted the recipe by adding the squash since I thought the sweetness would play off nicely with the spicy salsa, but next time I might try just some sliced onions and peppers for a fajita-type take on the recipe.  Definitely a make again though--plenty of leftovers!

The Coach and I are spending this weekend doing some Spring cleaning, since he is just now unpacking his bag from the work trip he got back from on Sunday.  Don't say nagging never accomplished anything!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sundried Tomato Chicken Bake

Finally some Spring in the air today!  I was totally pumped to roll my windows down on the drive home from work.  This winter has felt endless, and as much as this might surprise anyone that knows me, I can't wait to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  I've previously mentioned my evil alter ego, "Summer Debs", and though I always fear her emergence as the days get longer, I am just dying for some vitamin D these days.  So yeah, those chirpin' birds totally put me in a good mood today.

Workout

Today was a continuation of my free form gym strategy.  Breaking free from a formatted program for a couple of weeks is actually kind of nice--it was even better at my mom's gym, where I could hop on the stepmill after my lift (no crazy tabatas on my to-do list).  Don't confuse the stepmill with the stepper: the former is that beast of a machine where you tower over everyone at the gym and, gasp, actually do a functional activity.  I love it, sweat dripping on the machine and all.  But my gym doesn't have one, womp womp.

Moving on from that sad song, here's what I did today at the gym: single-leg squats, lateral step push-ups, single-leg deadlifts, TRX inverted rows, and stability ball roll-outs.  I LOVE lateral step push-ups.  Well, I love all push-ups because it never ceases to amaze me that I can actually do a proper one.  But these babies will fire your core like no one's business.  Here's a good video for how to do this exercise correctly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQLYAeybzsI.  Anyone recognize that guy?  He's pretty cute if you ask me... ;)

I finished today's lift with some quick high intensity intervals: 60s on, 60s off bike sprints on a spin bike.  Bike sprints never get any easier.  I like to crank up the volume on my iPod while I do sprints and inevitably I'm breathing like an animal and look up to see a sweet old woman daintily strolling on the treadmill next to me, staring at me and my obscene sounds.  Sorry, I'm not sorry.

Eats
 
This delicious recipe came courtesy of my sister Marji.  She told me this Sundried tomato chicken bake from Everyday Paleo was an easy throw-together meal with yummy results.  She was not lying.  As usual, I changed things up a bit, adding in some chopped cauliflower to up the veg content and ensure that this was truly a one pan meal.  You know I love those.  Here's how this one came together:

Sundried tomato chicken bake
Ingredients:
1.5lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
8.5oz jar of julienne cut sun dried tomatoes, in oil
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
8-10 leaves fresh basil
1 head cauliflower
s&p

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Chop the cauliflower and scatter on the bottom of a baking dish.  Season lightly with s&p.  Place the chicken breasts on top of the cauliflower and sprinkle with more s&p, then the garlic and basil.  Next, spread the sundried tomatoes with the olive oil from the jar over the entire dish.  Seal tightly with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

http://everydaypaleo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/IMG_2942-1024x682.jpg

This meal was super good.  As in, the house smelled like I was cooking a delicious feast, mouth watering for the entire cooking time sort of goodness.  This really was so, so easy to put together--the most time consuming part was chopping the cauliflower, which I admit can actually be sort of a chore.  I find florets everywhere for days after I chop cauli--you'd think I was chopping it hibachi style, knives flying in the air.  Looking beyond that, this really is a great standby, foolproof dish that I definitely recommend!

Only one more day until the weekend, which for me can't come soon enough since I worked on Sunday.  I'll feel much better once I get the paycheck with some overtime :)  Hope you all have some fun weekend plans!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Welcome Back + Best Ever Meat Sauce

Well it's been a long time.  And I have some excuses, but they're all rather lame: basically life has gotten the best of me this month.  Ever since I finished my Whole30 (no grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol for 30 days), I've sort of gone off the deep end, alternating a few days of healthy eats with out-of-control binges.  Not good.  I think the biggest issue is that I viewed Whole30 as a strict month-long detox, when really I should have considered it as an avenue to create healthier habits for myself.  The Coach and I have lots of things planned this next month, so doing another Whole30 is just not realistic.  Instead I'm going to strive to live by the Whole9 guidelines.  Whole30 is the detox, based on the Whole9 lifestyle in general; in case you're curious checkout the website at http://whole9life.com/.  I plan on doing Whole30 for most meals, with the occasional exception.  Clearly for me, abstaining completely leads to me daydreaming about wine and gluten-free pizza with an inevitable binge-fest, so I'm hoping that this loose plan will work better for me.  And I'm going go try to keep up the blog better, so my 3 readers can help keep me honest :)

That being said, let's get back to the good stuff.

Workout

I've been doing my own thing at the gym lately.  The Coach wrote me a program, but I was in CT for a few days last week and was lucky enough to use my mom's gym.  From previous visits, I knew that things are set up pretty differently there, and the gym in general was way busier than my ghost-town gym so I wrote myself a quick program that would be more conducive to that space.  My work schedule this week shifted to the earlier side, so I decided to just do another round of the same program to keep things simple and speedy.  Today's workout looked like this: rear-foot elevated split squats, Bosu push-ups, jump squats, assisted pull-ups, and side-plank rows.  I finished up with a quick 10 minute run on the treadmill.  Quick but tough!

Eats

Part of what has made the past few weeks so challenging has been the fact that the Coach has been traveling for play-offs.  Knowing that I won't be sharing my meals with my favorite food critic made me very unmotivated to do any real cooking.  Last week I made a big batch of meat sauce before he left, which I then ate for a bunch of dinners spooned over steamed broccoli.  Holy yum.  Luckily for me (not for the team), play-offs are over and the Coach is back to enjoy some good eats, so stay tuned for some new recipes!  In the mean time, this is the so-good-I-could-drink-it-with-a-straw sauce that I made to tide me over last week--this stuff should come with a warning label, it's that addicting.  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly from Table for Two; I've made this twice and the second time I changed things up by using a combination of beef and hot Italian sausage which was also delicious.  Here's how the original went down:

Best ever meat sauce
Ingredients:
1lb 80/20 ground beef
1 6oz can tomato paste
6oz water
1 24oz jar tomato puree
6 garlic cloves, minced
1t dried oregano
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1/2t cayenne
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
Optional: 1T sugar (I used sugar the first time, skipped it the second time without a noticeable difference)

Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat and brown your meat with S&p.  When meat is almost cooked all the way through, throw in your garlic and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Pour in the tomato paste, puree, and spices including the basil.  Then fill the 6oz tomato paste can with water and add that to the pot.  Let the whole thing simmer for about 2 hours to develop the flavors, but check about halfway through cooking to adjust your seasoning.

http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/2012/10/17/great-grandmas-pasta-sauce/

 This sauce is amazing.  Two hours sounds like a long cooking time, but really it doesn't take long to get the whole thing prepared and then you don't have to touch it for the length of two episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Yeah, I would know.  So if you're in the mood for some comfort food, try this.  The Coach ate his carb-style over pasta, and I had it over roasted broccoli which was a scary delicious combination.  Make this, make this now.

Hope you've all really missed me in my absence, and rest easy now because I'm back!