Quite Literally

This morning I headed outside and quite literally did some sun salutations.  It was way too gorgeous outside to not have a workout, but I wasn’t feeling like going for a bike ride or a walk.  I decided it had been too long since I last took out my yoga mat and weights. 

Everything around the yard served its purpose.  The picnic table became a place for me to perform chair lifts and pushups.  The front steps became a place for me to have a step workout (jumping up to the first step, jumping back down, repeat…really quickly).  The deck became my yoga studio. 

My outdoor workout was so. much. fun.  Can’t wait to do this again soon! 😀

I’ve been craving French toast for the past few days, so French toast was what I had.  Topped with chunky pb and homemade strawberry jam.

Somehow French toast always reminds me of the weekend.  It feels like such a special treat—reserved for special mornings.  And, might I add, it was quite literally the best breakfast of my entire week.

Morning Snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt, 2 T. Natures Path pumpkin flax granola, and a scoop of PB&company dark chocolate peanut butter

p.s. sorry for the blurry photo—I was quite literally running out the door while snapping the pic  :mrgreen:

This lunch was quite literally a hodge-podge assortment of various things from the fridge. 

  • A huge salad complete with avocado, mushrooms, green bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots and black olives
  • A ramekin filled with baked beans (which, by the way, taste even better today then when they were first made)
  • Kashi crackers

There was lots of crunchin’ action going on with this meal! 😀

+ some sweetness

My parents both had the day off, so we all ate out on the porch for a relaxing lunch…

My parents are quite literally two of the best lunch companions I’ve ever met (in addition to Jessica, a foodie friend of mine who is as excited about sweet potato sushi rolls as I am :mrgreen: )  They’re willing to try anything that I make at least once.  Honest over whether they like it or not. 😉  Appreciative of local, healthy produce and meats.  Foodies at heart.  😀

Somehow the rest of the afternoon whirled by in a blink.  One minute I was doing sun salutations on the deck, the next minute I was at the hospital with my memere, and the next minute I was home eating dinner on the deck.  Blink.  Where does time escape to?

This entire week has been so blissful though, despite all the rushing and time sweeping.  I think this has—at least in part—something to do with the fact that meal time has remained relaxed and laid back.  I’m not one for fast food, and I’m most definitely not one for eating food fast.  Of course, I’ve had moments where I need to quickly inhale a meal (life happens!), but I try to prevent it at all costs.  There’s something special about being able to sit down at the end of a long day and enjoy a home cooked meal, ya know?

Especially when it comes together in under 30 minutes. 😉

Baked Cod, sauteed asparagus (1 lb asparagus + 2 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp lemon juice, sauteed), and 1/2 a very large sweet potato.  Such a satisfying meal!

Oh, and 90% dark chocolate?   This is quite literally my favorite way to end a meal. :mrgreen:

Lately I’ve been falling asleep by 9:30.  It’s awful.  I’ll be in the middle of watching a movie and suddenly I’m asleep.  What can I say?  This girl likes her sleep.  I promised myself that I would at least stay up until 10 tonight, but we’ll see if that actually happens. 😉

Happy FRIDAY!

Question: Have you ever brought your strength training/yoga/cardio outdoors?   This was the first time I used some of the objects around the house to keep active, and I loved it!!  It was so much fun to transfrom the picnic table into a peice of gym equipment. :mrgreen:

Spring Vacation

**Tomorrow is the last day of the sweet potato challenge! 😀  Remember, nothing is too small or too great to be entered. 😉  Just let me know when you post the picture on your blog, and I’ll post them all up on Saturday for all to admire. :mrgreen: 

Twas a busy morning, but I was totally a-ok with that, because it’s also the first day of spring vacation after my 4pm class.  :mrgreen:

I started the day with two large slices of French toast.

  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg white
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 T. flax
  • 1 T. raisins
  • 2 large slices of whole wheat sourdough bread (dunked in the above mixture)
  • toppings: 1 T. peanut butter + 1 banana

With a belly full of breakfast and a cup of coffee, I was ready for the gym!

Elliptical: 2.5 miles, resistance 11
Treadmill: 1.0 mile, 5.0% incline, 4.4 mph
Elliptical: 1.5 mile, resistance 11-12 intervals
Stairmaster: 10 minutes, 8% incline

I’m trying to extend the time that I spend on the elliptical in one go.  I have a tough time mentally staying on the machine for much longer then 15-20 minutes, but I think if I can get through this, it will help me hold on to more of my running endurance. 

Once home, I quickly set out to do my knee and foot stretches.  I’m curious to see what the physical therapist will give me for “homework” tomorrow morning! 😀

I made good use of my knee icing time by studying for today’s quiz and munching on a snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt with 1 T. crushed flax, 1/2 a chunky bran muffin and a tsp of peanut butter. 

Thursdays usually throw me into an “end of week” economic mindset, as I clean out the fridge and combine whatever leftovers I can find to call it lunch. 😀  Today’s hodge-podge included:

  • leftover brown rice with peas (about a cup)
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans
  • leftover broccoli and carrots, steamed (about a cup)
  • “dressing”: 1 tsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar (because what doesn’t balsamic taste good on? :mrgreen:)

Sometimes I forget to add a bit of oil to my lunches, but I try to remember.  Not only does it add such a great mouth feel to the entire dish, it also aids in the absorption of the important fat-soluble vitamins.  If the meal itself doesn’t have fat in it, it’s a good idea to add a bit through healthy olive oil, avocados, nuts, etc. 😀 

Along with my concoction, I packed an orange as well as a pear with some almonds for an afternoon snack.  I ended up stopping by Starbucks for a tall soy misto too since I had some extra time between classes.  It was so nice sipping a hot misto while reading some fresh new magazines.  😀 

Once my last class was complete, I happily drove home with the country music blaring on the radio.  Vacation leaves me just a little on the happy side. 😉

Soon enough there was pizza on the table, along with a huge side salad.  I was absolutely starving tonight for some reason…I’m pretty sure I could have eaten an entire pizza if it was put in front of me. 😉  I ate the first slice, then moved on to the voluminous salad which slowed me down.

Still feeling a little grumbly, I went for a second slice.  So delicious…it was piled high with green peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, onions and black olives.  My absolute favorite toppings. 😀

Tomorrow morning I have an early physical therapy appointment.  I can’t wait to hear what they have to say and I plan on asking them about the causes of my knee pain so I can prevent it in the future.  I have a feeling it’s related to week quad muscles, and possibly overpronation of my foot.  I haven’t ruled out weak hips either, hence my adding hip strengtheners to my daily stretches too.

Ready to do some R-E-L-A-X-I-N with tea, LIFE cereal and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns. :mrgreen:

Question: Favorite Pizza Topping?  I love any and all veggies on my pizza…especially ‘shrooms and broccoli!   Pineapple is a nice addition too. 😀

Always a Runner

This morning I was craving a big bowl of cereal.  I used to eat cereal every single morning, but lately it just doesn’t cut it for me in the “feeling full” department.  Adding a bit of healthy fat and subbing yogurt for the milk seems to do the trick though.  This kept me full for a good 3-1/2 hrs., which is all I would ever ask from my breakfast. 😀

  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 1.5 c. Kashi Go Lean
  • 1/2 banana
  • sprinkle of coconut
  • handful of almonds

Last night I layed out my gym clothes, so that I would have no excuse to skip the gym. 😉 

I also snagged 1/2 of this KIND Mango Macadamia Plus bar as a pre-workout snack…

Looks good, smells good…

Tastes good! 😀

I wasn’t sure if I would like this flavor, but I think the tropical flavored bars are starting to grow on me.  Coconut, mango, macadamia…what’s not to love?  I still like the KIND Fruit and Nut flavors the best though (i.e., Date and Almond = awesome!)

The gym was practically empty today.  I had the elliptical machines, treadmill and stairmaster all to myself, so I decided to switch off between machines and make things interesting.

  • Elliptical: 1.5 miles
  • Treadmill: 2.5 miles (intervals of running/walking)
  • Elliptical: 1.0 mile
  • Stairmaster: 10 minutes

I’ve been focusing on keeping my running fitness up by emulating my normal workouts.  The elliptical is actually pretty close to running in regards to fitness, only without the impact.  It makes a nice sub for when injuries prevail. 😉

That being said, what I was really interested in discovering through today’s workout was whether I still had knee and foot pains.  The elliptical felt perfectly fine, but the treadmill left me achy by the end.  My knee felt stiff and sore as soon as I stopped, and my plantar fascia near the ball of my foot felt tender.  No more messing around…it was time to call the doctor!

First I drove home and had a quick, easy lunch of Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes (courtesy of Cooking Light—click for the recipe!) with a side of mixed veggies.  This meal was super easy to throw together and is so versatile.  While I chose a vegetarian option, you could add diced chicken or shrimp if you wanted.  Black olives and spinach would also be a lovely addition. 😀

+ an apple-to-go as I was running out the door.

My doctor spent some time bending my knee and asking some questions, along with flexing my foot and massaging in different areas to see where my pain was.  She thinks I have plantar fasciitis (which was my first thought too) and chondromalacia patellae (damage to the cartilage which covers the back of the knee.)  In other words?  Running is still off limits!  In the meantime, she told me to build muscle in my quads for the knee problems and to buy some knee sleeves for stabilization.  I’m seeing a foot specialist by the end of March to see if there’s anything I can do aside from physical therapy for my foot.

One step at a time.

It did feel a little overwhelming to leave the doctor’s office with two new injuries to deal with, but I’m glad I went.  I will always consider myself a runner, and this is just the process I need to take in order to continue the activity that I love so much! 😀  It is not the end of the world and it is not the end of running!

When I arrived home, I got right into some exercises for my knee and took a break for a snack: plain yogurt with 2 T. wheat bran, 1/2 a banana and some granola.

+ the other half of my KIND bar

I can’t get enough salads and homemade bread lately.  :mrgreen:

Dinner involved 1.5 slices of toasted whole wheat and walnut bread with a pat of cashew butter…

And a big ol’ salad.

I think my repetitive dinner choice has something to do with the big box of fresh mesculin greens sitting in the fridge.  Just can’t get enough! 😀

For dessert, I broke into this Endangered Species Dark Chocolate bar.

One peice was perfect for hitting the sweet tooth, because it was so intensely dark. 😀

I’m about to make a snack and spend some time researching for a homework assignment.  Hopefully I’ll get to bed at a decent time tonight too, because I have an early morning planned for tomorrow. 😀

Question: Dark, milk, or white chocolate?  I will always choose dark chocolate over milk, but I’m a fan of white chocolate for an occasional treat too. 😀

Grapes ‘n’ Oats

Here it is!! :mrgreen:

Grapes ‘n’ Oats

  • 1/4 c. each oatmeal and oatbran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 [very] ripe banana
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran (stirred in towards end)
  • 15 grapes (chopped in half, saving a few for the top…stirred in towards end)

I loved it!

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I took your words of encouragement and just went with it (although I wish I would have read about the brilliant idea of adding ginger to the mix…there’s always next time!)  I stirred the grapes into the oats towards the end of cooking, which was just enough to get them hot and juicy, without letting them overcook.  I loved the tartness next to the sweet banana.  Mmm…

I finished up so much homework last night, that I was able to take advantage of a very full and complete workout this morning.  Starting with 30 minutes of arms and abs, I then transitioned over to the gym for some cardio.  I’m discovering early on, that my secret for staying motivated at the gym is by mixing things up!  While the occasional 30 minutes of elliptical won’t kill me, I crave variety. 

Today I did 1.5 miles on the ellliptical, then went directly to 10 minutes on the stairmaster (I was sweating bullets on this thing!) and finished with 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill at a 7% incline.  It was not running, by any means, but it did keep me interested and I got a good, sweaty workout that left me feeling refreshed. 

I also just found out that there are two open swimming lanes available almost all of the time.  I am not a swimmer (at all!!) but I would love to get some cardio in that form too.  Working out in the water is such a low impact way of staying fit. 😀

When I came home, I was starving and broke into a juicy orange and some pistachios.

All I wanted for lunch was a big ol’ salad, so that’s what I went with.

  • mesculin greens
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • black olives, sliced
  • green olives
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • dressing: 1 tsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I finished off the last of the Annies’ whole wheat bunnies too. 

+ dessert

This afternoon I made a favorite yogurt snack of plain yogurt, 2 T. crushed flax, 1/2 a whole wheat pumpkin muffin and about a tsp of peanut butter.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  This snack does *not* get old. 😀

 

I order Everday Food by Martha Stewart, and there’s a big pile of them in the magazine rack.  Most of them have gone completely untouched!  Which is a shame, because there are a ton of creative (and tweakable) recipes in there. 

Tonight on the menu?

“Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower”–modified just a bit, by cutting back on the oil and skipping the step of adding vinegar to the veggies (sweet potatoes do not need vinegar, in my opinion 😉 )

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into medium bites
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T. red-wine vinegar
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 T. cold, unsalted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 450.  On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato and cauliflower with 1 T. oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until browned, 25-30 minutes, flipping once.

2.  Heat 1/2 T. oil over medium low.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook until golden and cooked thorough, 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Transfer chicken to plate and cover with foil.

3.  To the skillet, add broth, thyme, and 1 T. vinegar.  Cook over medium high, scraping the browned bits, 3-5 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet and stir in butter.  Flip chicken to cover with pan sauce.  Serve chicken with veggies and pan sauce.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone–everyone!–loved this meal.  It was so simple to put together too, and tasted absolutely delicious.  The extra bit of butter in the pan sauce gives such a rich flavor that will make you swear this is gourmet. 

Next time, I think I’ll double the recipe so that there are leftover veggies and chicken for sandwiches and freezing.

+ dessert…chocolate with bits of coconut throughout.  Yum!  I only have one chocolate left from my Valentines stash!  It’s going to have to be savored. 😉

I have a busy morning planned tomorrow.  But it’s a fun busy, so I’m excited. 😀  It will involve shopping, starbucks coffee, snowman making, and Tae Bo with the sis (a little nervous about that, I have to admit…haha.)

Have a very happy weekend!!!  

Question: (I hope you’re not sick of snow questions yet!)  What’s your favorite snow activity?  I don’t know why building snowmen has to stop after a certain age.  I mean…really!  (a) It’s a workout for the arms and (b) it’s just plain fun! :mrgreen:  Aside from that, I love just taking a walk out in the woods during a snowstorm.  It’s absolutely gorgeous out there!

Building the Breakfast Cookie

Ode to the Breakfast Cookie… 

Step #1: Mix-Ins

Each breakfast cookie starts with good mix-ins.  You can really be creative and add a li’ bit of this and that, but just keep in mind that a very ripe banana is your key ingredient.  If the banana is sweet, you can’t go wrong. 😉

Last night I combined:

  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 [very] ripe banana, mashed well (save 1/4 of it for the top!)
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 1-2 T. milk
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 2 T. crushed flax
  • spices: roughly 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp clove 

Note: If you usually add sweetener to your oats, don’t be afraid to add a tsp or two of brown sugar, molasses, honey, etc. 

Step #2: Mix, mix, mash!

Don’t hold back! :mrgreen:  I smash it really well and add a little bit of milk as I go, until it is moist (but not soppy!)  Really smoosh it all together.

Step #3: Spread

Once you like the consistency of the mix-ins, spread it evenly on your plate. 

Step #4: Refrigerate!

Top your cookie with some saran wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight (or at least 3-4 hrs.)

Note: Don’t forget to hide the other 1/4 of your banana that you are saving for the top of your cookie.  This avoids having any unmentioned members of the family (or friends) unknowingly consume your cookie garnish.  The top of the fridge is a good place. 😉

Step #5: Enjoy!

Top your cookie with the saved banana portion and savor slowly. 😀  I always eat it with a glass of milk on the side and a large glass of water.  YUM!

Last night I had layed out my gym clothes and bag so that I would have no excuse to take a rest day due to rainy weather (yes, rain…the snow is practically gone already!)  When my alarm clock went off at 6:30, I really felt like sleeping in.  Then I remembered all the brave souls out there who get up at 5 to make it for their workout and suddenly I felt super wimpy.  It was enough to get me to drag myself out of my cozy–oh so cozy!!–bed and head out.

The local gym membership, by the way, is a gift from my parents.  They offered to buy me a one month membership at the local gym since I’ve been having the foot and knee problems.  I couldn’t be happier or more thankful.  Thank you both so much! 😀

I kept my workout simple this morning by cranking out 3 miles in 30 minutes on the elliptical at a resistance of 12.  I have no idea how to work most of the machines, or how to get the most out of a gym workout, but I don’t think it will take too long to figure things out.  And with plenty of group classes being offered, I’ll have chances to really spice up my workout routine.  Excited!!!

When I came home, I sipped on a cup of coffee while blogging for a bit.  Somehow my morning seemed much more relaxed then normal.  I think I owe that to getting up early for a workout this morning. 😀

Quick snack before heading out the door to classes!  I’m really loving these Doctor Kracker Seeded Spelt crisps, by the way.  They’re so buttery and crunchy with a nice rustic touch.  This is one flavor I’ll definitely be buying again.  And I’m not just saying that because they sent me these in the mail either. 😉  I’m always honest with reviews, whether I love ’em or dislike them.

I munched on the crisps with some cottage cheese on the side for dunking.

Lunch was awesome!

I haven’t had a wrap in forever, and sometimes they just hit all the right spots.  I spread about 1/4 c. vegetable hummus over a whole wheat wrap, then preceded to add 1/2 c. black beans.  On top of that, I added a grated carrot and some diced celery.  I love eating carrots with my lunch, and grating it this way adds so much sweetness and avoids having to crunch really loudly during a lecture. :mrgreen:

Then I tucked in the sides and rolled it right up into a peice of foil for easy transport.  I just peel back the foil as I’m eating it…no mess required!

Packed away with a pre-sliced apple for munching.

Also along for the ride, I brought a juicy pear and some almonds.  These were both eaten in the library while I was working on some Nutrition Problems Homework Assignments.  Right now we’re learning all about Type 2 Diabetes, which is fascinating.  It runs in my family, and I’ve always had an interest in learning all that I can about it. 

The good news about many cases of Type 2 Diabetes is that diet and exercise can work against the development of it (even if you’re predisposed through genetic factors/heredity.)  And even in the case where medicine *is* required, we can gain more control by implementing good nutrition and staying active. 😀 

Driving home from classes was a bit nerve-racking.  I absolutely hate driving in storms, and it was pouring cats and dogs out there.  The puddles on the road were really deep, and cars were driving incredibly slow to avoid hydroplaning.  Ugh!  Thankfully I made it home in one peice after telling myself to relax and just stay calm.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself that breathing is not an option, it’s a necessity…haha. 😉

The whole wheat pizza dough (click for recipe) that I made a while back makes two doughs which is perfect for freezing!  Talk about a quick and easy meal to put together.  I had two delicious slices plus a whole, sauteed zucchini on the side.   

Sauteed Zucchini

  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • [tons of] garlic powder (I think I have an obsession with garlic powder!)
  • dried basil
  • splash of balsamic vinegar

Zucchini and balsamic were meant to be together.  😀

+ a night snack of yogurt with 2 T. crushed flax, topped with granola (and a couple of grapes, which my dad claims is the best yogurt mix-in…it *was* pretty good!  I wonder how it would be in oatmeal?)

It’s still pouring outside…I hope you all are staying nice and warm and dry, wherever you might be!

Question(s):

1. Do you think I should try adding grapes to my oatmeal tomorrow morning, or is that just *weird*? :mrgreen: 
 
2. Rain storms…love or hate?  I love them as long as I’m home and safe. 😉  And, as long as it’s not thundering and lightening!