Friday, April 29, 2011


Am I the only blogger that loves to eat and be healthy that is not obsessed with oatmeal?

Seriously, I have been reading a ton of blogs and I seem to be the only one who isn't completely in love with oatmeal. There are even blogs dedicated to just oatmeal!  Sure, I go through kicks where I'll have steel cut oats or overnight oats for a week or so, but those trends are pretty rare. I try to eat oatmeal- it's low fat, high fiber, full of vitamins and minerals, and it's whole grain- but my kicks never lasts.

Here are my issues with oatmeal:
  • I do not have much of a sweet tooth and oatmeal tends to have a sweet component to it.
  • Oatmeal, though filling for most, seems to leave me hungry before lunch time.
  • Texture. I do not like old fashioned oats unless made into overnight oats or a doughy smoothie... or cookies. At times I can go for quick cut oats because they have more of a chew, but even these are too mushy for me.

With all these oatmeal issues, I have decided that I will stick to what my body craves int he morning: EGGS. I love eggs- fried, in an omelet, baked, scrambled, hard-boiled, poached- and usually, with ketchup. Because I love ketchup as much as a 5 year old. Heinz ketchup to be exact. I am definitely a ketchup snob. And please don't lecture about the sugar content. Believe me, I know. But there are worse vices, right?

I'm guessing it's the staying power of protein and a little fat that fuels me for so long without feeling weighed down. I love that eggs are so versatile that they can handle almost any ingredients. Perfect for the leftover queen that I am! Plus, they are a savory/salty breakfast food which is much more up my alley.

Some people are still stuck on the idea that having an egg yolk every day is unhealthy for your cholesterol. Not so! Research shows that it is the saturated and trans fats in food that are dangerous for cholesterol levels in humans. Thus, the 200g or so of cholesterol in one large egg is generally thought to be a safe amount in healthy adults if consumed daily since the saturated fat in eggs is low at 2 g (total fat is 5g). One whole, large egg is only about 70 calories and contains 5 g of protein.

If you are still yolk-a-phobic, here are some more nutrition boosters that you can get from that yolk.
  • Choline-  helps form neurotransmitters, aids in the absorption of folic acid (especially important for women!), and reduces inflammatory markers in the body
  • B12- important for heart health
  • Lutein- protects eyes as you age
One yolk is good for you, but more is unnecessary (moderation my friends!). This is why I generally use 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites any time I make eggs. The white has only 16 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, and 4 g of protein! A great way to add protein and not much else is with egg whites.

The added plus of eating eggs is that they are inexpensive. Budget-friendly, versatile, satisfying, and quick. What could be better?

This morning it was the last 1/4 of the baked buckwheat with the usual toppings and a fried egg on top of the rest of my baby spinach- sauteed. If all this talk is making you crave eggs, try this recipe (a great pre-workout breakfast or lunch).

  1. Heat pan on medium-low heat.
  2. Scramble 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg. Add splash of milk if desired.
  3. Add baby spinach and sauteed mushrooms to eggs. 
  4. Add mix to heated pan sprayed with EVOO cooking spray.
  5. Add dollops of Tangy Feta Dip to eggs.
  6. Keep moving eggs in pan and cook to desired consistency. Dip should melt right into eggs. I like my eggs cooked but not too dry.  Tasty and healthy.
Clearly, this recipe has a ton of wiggle room. Use any veggies or cheeses you like and just scramble right in.

If you want more information on eggs, the George Matelhan Foundation has a comprehensive profile that does a great job explaining the benefits in greater detail. This site has great information on a variety of healthy eats and is based on scientific research.

Shout out to Susie for a doing a 20 story stair climb at 3 am Wednesday morning for a pick me up at work. A little sweating during break at work = instant energy and smile! Two days later, my calves are STILL screaming!

Off for a busy day and weekend. Hoping this breakfast will hold me over!

Not sure I'll be posting but will try. :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

swim workout: numero #1

Headed to Whole Foods for a grocery shop. I have a busy weekend ahead so I had to shop today and buy things that are quick to make. On the menu for next week: Mediterranean Chicken Pita, Asian Marinated Tempeh (this is a new food for me I'm trying so it may turn into PB&J), and grilled eggplant & zucchini. I also bought kiwis, apples, cucumber, green pepper, jicama, Greek yogurt, and low fat cottage cheese (all organic). I had a coupon for Pacific Organic soups so I bought the Thai Sweet Potato and Creamy Tomato to try. Will review once eaten.

Groceries... without any impulse buys!

Snacked on a serving BBQ Popchips, kiwi, and six Sour Patch Kids when I got back. Not a heck of a lot of nutrition but tasty! Did leave me about as hungry as when I started snacking though :(

For dinner, I bought more Dover sole today (still on sale!) which I marinated with lemon, lime, garlic, EVOO, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Grilled the sole- this time in a grill pan since last week it was falling through the grill. On the side it was salad and organic short grain brown rice (from the bulk section at WF)... in the rice cooker. If you eat a lot of rice, this is a great investment. It cooks the rice perfectly.

I also used up rest of the broccoli slaw I bought last week. Mixed that with 1/4 cup Hellman's mayonaisse, scallions, flat leaf parsley, lemon, 1 tsp Dijon mayo, and pepper. All fresh items in this were organic... nice work my moi! Note: when you use mayo, I say use the real thing. (If I didn't say this I think I would be disowned from my family). It tastes SO much better that you don't need as much, and the amount you do use is worth it.

Finally, as promised, the swim workout from earlier...

Swim Workout #1

Warm Up: 200 M

2 x 50 M Freestyle at pace of choice
2 x 50 M One-sided Freestyle (Pull with left arm x 25 and with right x 25 during for each set) 

Core Workout: 1300 M

400 M ( 4 x 100 pull ) on the 2:15
300 M ( 4 x 75 freestyle ) on the 1:30
200 M  ( 4 x 50 kick on kickboard) on the 1:40
100 M ( 4 x 25 freestyle) on the :30 

2 x 50 M Backstroke on the 1:20 
2 x 50 M Sprint up, easy back on the 1:00 
2 x 50 M Backstroke on the 1:20

Warm Down: 300 M

4 x 50 M Freestyle w/ fins on the 1:00 
2 x 50 M Any stroke at pace of choice.

Total Distance: 1800 M 
My Total Time: 45 min 
(This will vary based on how much you rest in between sets; I did not rest much.)

When I say "2 x 50 M on the :30" I mean that you have 30 seconds to finish 50 meters (2 laps at my pool). If you finish in less than 30 seconds, rest until that 30 seconds is up and start the next 50. If you need more rest than allowed in the time slots, rest between the large sets (i.e. rest after you do the full 2 x 50).  Just rest enough to catch your breath, you want to keep up that heart rate!

If the time slots seem too fast then add on time and try to swim in that time consistently. You will be much less frustrated and be able to focus on your stroke if you just allow yourself to have more time, say :40 for a 50 M instead of :30. You should only feel like you are sprinting when the workout says sprints!

I never used to time myself like this until I went to a few Master's Swim workouts at my pool. It is a much more efficient way to swim because you get an idea of how to set your pace. You can also see how you progress and challenge yourself by playing with the time. Sets also help set small goals, which breaks up the monotony of swimming so many laps... 72 of them in this case!

I will have to add more sprints to my workouts as I continue. This workout totals over a mile so it may not be a great one to just jump into the pool and swim after a long swimming hiatus. Then again, that's what I did!

Questions about the workout? Just leave a comment and I'll answer!

flip FLOP

Breakfast today was 1/8th of the bake with Flax PB, coconut flakes, and agave nectar... I feel like I have been eating this thing forever! P.S. It doesn't photograph well.

I also made a smoothie. I'm not a someone who eats a lot of smoothies... just don't find them filling. But today the mood struck, so I went with it.  This smoothie is more liquidy than others since the only frozen thing I used was the berries, plus I used kefir which is essentially drinkable yogurt and thus liquidy. I hid spinach in it too since I have SO much to get through... you can't even taste it (or see it)!

Berry Kefir Smoothie

1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used TJ's Very Cherry Blend)
1+ cup baby spinach
1 cup Pomegranate Kefir 
five fresh strawberries (because they are about to go bad!)

Throw everything in a blender. Blend. Enjoy. Difficult, I know. Makes a really big smoothie for under 300 calories.

After breakfast... ok RIGHT after because I literally finished my smoothie as I walked into the gym... I headed to spin class. The teacher was actually my best friend from preschool's mom; I haven't seen him in years and years but I went up after and reintroduced myself. She was a great instructor and the workout was very hill heavy, which I love! Music was just ok, way too much pop/hip hop kind of stuff which is not my thing. A good sweat overall. 

Afterwards, I headed to the pool. Unfortunately I forgot flip flops. Ew. So I had 3 options: go shoeless, wear my flippers around, or leave. Leaving was not an option ebcause I haven't been in a pool in a month and finally got there. Flippers? I'm goofy but NOT wearing flippers around the locker room and into the shower. The gross option was chosen. I know, not the best example as a nurse, but I rewashed when I came home at least! Once I got in the pool, I felt really motivated and did an awesome 1800 meter workout in 45 minutes. I'll post that workout later, it was a good one! 

Option 2: Rejected.

Afterwards, lunch was definately in order. The salad of the day was baby spinach (obviously), roasted yellow beets, strawberries, pineapple, and 1/2 an avocado. The dressing was Lemon Tahini. Tahini is roasted sesame seed paste and most commonly known as a component of hummus. Its really tasty and provides a lot of zinc, copper, manganese, and lots more. Click here for more info on sesame. Note: tahini is pretty high in calories (100 per TBSP) and fat, so use sparingly! 

Lemon Tahini Dressing 
(1 serving) 

1 T tahini 
1 T warm water 
1 scallion, chopped 
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together. Thin with lemon juice or water as desired. About 100 calories per recipe. 

Sweet potato "fries" seasoned with Kosher salt and cayenne on the side! 

TJ cinnamon almonds for dessert...  and Diet Coke because I love it. It loves me too, see the heart?

Off to do lots of errands and grocery shop. With a list this trip :) Tempted to make this Mediterranean Dip, but know it won't get eaten. Another day! More rain today, but at least there is thunder... I love thunder.

Groupon Alert! 

CKO Kickboxing classes are on Groupon North Jersey today. Normally I'm not into kickboxing but these classes use punching bags so I'm in! $49 dollars for 10 classes. That's 75% off! Buy it if you live near any of the locations.  I will be using mine this summer. Click here to see the deal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

some like it hot

First, a quick shout out to Susie for climbing up and down twenty flights of stairs at 3 am last night on our break! My calves are burning today but it was the best energizer. Didn't take long but we both came back with a smile on our red and slightly sweaty faces. It energized me all the way home!

It was 1/4 of the recent Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat with TJ's PB with flax, coconut flakes, and agave nectar for breakfast and off to get some Zs for a few hours. Has a pre-workout lunch of eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and Tangy Feta Dip served with pineapple, mango, and 3T TJ Cinnamon Almonds of the side.


After three work nights in a row, I hit the ground running, er, spinning. I headed to a 4:30 class with "various instructors." Scary. I have liked most of my spin instructors but had one guy the very first class I took at this gym and didn't go back to spinning for months because it was HORRIBLE! Techno music + meat head + self-help book rolled into a spin instructor.

Turns out the instructor was a personal trainer in his mid 60s who did an Ironman in 2009 (which makes him instantly cool). His class was very different from the others I take with women instructors. The one thing he did very well was short intervals, which kept us in our aerobic zone most of the time and pushed us anaerobically periodically. A great way to work on pacing and endurance. However, I wish there was more "I feel like I'm going to collapse" anaerobic stuff where your heart rate soars and your face gets sweaty and red! Crazy? Maybe but I love the feeling of accomplishment when you work to the edge of your anaerobic threshold (aka maximum heart rate). Yay endorphins!

The only other issue I had with the class is that Mr. Ironman talked the whole time. Personally, I like to get into the music, let my mind go, and sometimes sing along (only at a whisper though... no, I'm not THAT girl). He made this really hard to do this because he was talking about so many technical things elated to the workout. And he counted. A lot. Any time we did sprints Mr. Ironman ticked off each five seconds. Timekeeping destroys me mentally when I work out. Hence, why I like running outside without at a watch as opposed to on a treadmill.


It was off to yoga (with 20 min of strength in between to kill time). I have said it before... I like my yoga HOT. But, my Groupon is finished so I thought I'd try yoga at my gym. It was supposed to be a Vinyasa 1 class but there was a sub so it was more Hatha yoga instead.

I have to say, it was a great class for mindfulness, relaxation, and stretching. All three of which I need. I tried to focus on those and actually enjoyed because I knew my body was thanking me. Overall, however, I don't see this becoming a habit. Unlike hot yoga, traditional yoga practices do not feel athletic enough for me. (Yes, I know I am missing the relaxation part of yoga with this mindset). So, looks like I will try to get to hot yoga when I need it to encompass my workout as well, and go to yoga at my gym on days where I have time to work out AND go to yoga. There's just something about sweating out half your body mass that is super satisfying.

Any who... just got back from Panera with Mom, Pat, and Colin. Had the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad which is my favorite. Pretty healthy right? Well, I also ate my weight in bread. This is what happens when your family shares food and your brother gets soup in a bread bowl. Mmm sourdough.

Off for five days! Yay!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

and the clock begins to tick...

What happens when you realize you have a fridge full of delicious fresh foods AKA foods that go bad quickly? Dinner. I made the following salad and  ended up having to throw more than half  in a container so that I could finish it on the way to work. It was that huge! The mix...

Cleaning Out the Fridge Salad
  • Base: Organic baby spinach
  • Veggies: scallions, white corn, raw broccoli slaw
  • Fruit: mango, strawberries,
  • Carbs: 1/4 cup wheatberries
  • Protein: black beans, 1 T roasted sunflower seeds, 1 T roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), bleu cheese
  • Dressing: Kosher salt, cider vinegar, EVOO, and agave nectar

I know it looks like the fridge exploded on my salad, but it was actually pretty good! And a perfect vegetarian complement to my three nights of burgers at work!

I still have a ton of baby spinach, so tonight I figured it was time to saute a bunch of it. This is the  best part of baby spinach- just when you get sick of it you can cook it all down and make something totally different. So tonight it was baby spinach sauteed in garlic and EVOO cooking spray, 1/4 cup wheat berries, roasted organic yellow beets, blue cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Had 1/2 an avocado on the side and packed kiwi, pineapple, and mango for dessert.

It was really good!

Tip: To roast beets, just remove greens, rub with small amount of EVOO, and wrap in foil. Bake for about 1 hour at 375 or until fork tender. Skin peels off with fingers or peeler very easily once cooled. So easy! 

Off to work-- 3/3 and then a bunch of days off :)

the buckwheat bake... a work in progress

This week, I made the Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat again, but with two tweaks. (Thank you Ashley of the blog Edible Perspective for such a great base recipe to play with!) First, I swapped the cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice. A good swap, but not strong enough in flavor. I am thinking next time I will double the pumpkin pie spice and maybe even add some canned pumpkin. Will let you know when that experiment happens!  I also swapped out the walnuts for almonds. Disappointing. The walnuts add a flavor and "warmth" to the bake. The almonds are just too flat for this dish. FYI: the batter in this recipe may seem liquidy, don't worry that's how it should be!

I've found that I usually only eat 1/2 a serving of the bake (1/8th of the recipe) and top it with PB and either coconut or agave syrup. This allows me to have an egg on the side- I can't seem to give up my eggs! Only problem with this strategy is that I essentially have 8 days worth of the bake. I think I will take a week or two off from the bake and only make half the recipe next time (and as muffins)!

Monday, April 25, 2011

i love (olive) burgers

Ihave to confess... I made my lunches for this week on Saturday but the pictures are only showing up now. The major reason is that keeping up with writing is hard work, but also I needed to actually taste my burgers before I shared the recipe.

Lunch this week :

- Chipotle-Olive Burgers with 1/3 organic avocado, tomato slices, and romaine on whole wheat hamburger bun from TJ's
- Organic sweet potato "fries"
- Sliced pineapple and strawberries (not organic because I couldn't find any... this is a work in progress!)
- TJ's Fresh Mozarella Cheese Stick (like string cheese only fresh mozz)
- Fage Greek Yogurt
- Organic Gala apple
- Organic Baby carrots
- Diet Coke (always!)

I know some people may be turned off by the idea of three days in of red meat, but this is pretty rare for me. Last week I pretty much was vegetarian all week, so a few days of red meat is fine by me. I made sure to use 96% lean meat to keep the fat low. A 4 oz serving is only 150 calories, and I split the pound of meat into 4 burgers. These burgers are delicious- the chipotle adds some heat, olives add saltiness and moisture, and the parsley gives a fresh, earthy taste. Even if you don't love olives try them- the olive flavor is not too strong.
Chipotle-Olive Burgers
Chipotle-Olive Burgers
1 lb 96% lean ground beef
20 large green (Manzanilla) olives, chopped
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped finely with seeds
2 T adobo sauce
Italian flat leaf parsely, chopped (1 large handful)
Black pepper to taste
Add chipotle, adobo, olives, pepper, and parsley to ground beef. Mix together with hands until well mixed. Do not go over-mix, just incorporate ingredients. Form 4 hamburger patties. Grill to desired temperature. If planning to reheat, cook slightly shorter than usual. Serve with avocado, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat buns.

Burgers on the grill- look at all the green!

Burger Toppers

I've made variations of these olive burgers before but this is the recipe I have enjoyed the most so far! I wrapped mine in foil to bring to work so that I could heat the burger up more slowly than if using the microwave.

For the sweet potatoes I just sliced into "fry" shapes and sprayed each side with EVOO cookng spray. Then I sprinkled with TJ 21 Seasoning Salute (tasty and salt free!) and Kosher salt. Bake at 450 degrees on a baking sheet. Flip once the top side starts to brown. Cook until both sides are browning and starting to crisp. Best eaten fresh. If reheating, use toaster oven. I ended up using the microwave at work last night, and it still tastes good, just mushier.

Sweet Potato "Fries" and Organic Baby Carrots

The sweet potato fries go really well with this burger- a healthy twist on classic burger and fries!
I lead the lesson at GOTR for the afternoon. The topic was redefining definitions of beauty and valuing what's really important. The girls had such great responses to "We are beautiful when..." but my favorite was "we are beautiful when we are united." How awesome are kids? So insightful...

Off to make a salad of all the random ingredients I can find in my fridge. Should be interesting!

easter... updated!

Finally have a moment to write, so I figure I'll recap Easter a bit. I ended up sleeping in until 10 even though I wanted to get up for a run AND swim. Are we seeing a trend here? I just figure it's better to attempt to get up most days so that at least I actually follow through on them half the time!

Before church we had breakfast as a family with my cousin Candice and her two lacrosse teammates as the guests. Breakfast was an egg dish that we always have on holidays. It's made of shredded potatoes, eggs, cheddar cheese, and bacon.... how could it not be delicious? I had fruit on the side and resisted the cinnamon rolls and biscuits so that I could have seconds on the eggs. I'll have to put the recipe on soon!

After Mass, I squeezed in a quick  3 1/2 mile run. It was just too beautiful out not to, especially since we have been sorely missing spring! Post-run it was nap time, which killed me since I fell asleep to everyone having an Easter egg hunt- with all of the eggs filled with $1. Soooo jealous!

The Easter Chef and  I
My mom made Easter dinner and was nice enough to plan it so that I could eat with everyone before I left for work. The menu was:
  • Honey baked ham
  • Roast beef (rare! yum!)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Corn and peas
  • Grilled pineapple (amazing)
  • Salad of butter lettuce, strawberries, and Mandarin oranges with blush vinaigrette
Excellent dinner, good work Mom!

Unfortunately, I only got a picture of the antipasti platter since I was rushing out the door after dinner. I had a few pieces of salami, red pepper, and fresh mozz off the tray before heading in for nap.

The Antipasti

I also had a serving of Gertrude Hawk Peanut Butter Bunny Smidgens before dinner. Candy right before dinner is what Easter's all about, right? PB Smidgens are basically Reese's but 1000000 times more delicious and bunny shaped. Can it get any better? I would have eaten way more than four if I hadn't glanced at the calories first. Yikes!

I had to put a picture of this hilarious/awesome gift from My god son. Yes, he is 10. It's a steel wine bottle holder... if you can't tell its a nurse. Complete with needle and stethascope. I love it. Even included a bottle of red. What a thoughful godson :)

Wine Bottle Holder, RN

I really hope there are more Smidgens when I go home...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Spent the waking hours of the day with family and then off to work after nap and Easter dinner. No time to post today but hope you and your families had a lovely day! We finally got some sunshine which was much appreciated :) Post more later...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

gratitude... even on a rainy day

This morning I work up excited to doa 3 or 4 mile route to coach GOTR. Then I realized it was POURING and GOTR was moved inside. Running to an indoor practice in the rain seemed like a bad call, so I drove. Indoor practice today was focused on gratitude and the girls were so thoughtful with their reflection on thankfulness! We also did yoga, since running really didn't work in the room, and I was happy to see the girls really liked it. I wish I was exposed to yoga so young! After GOTR it was off to a delicious brunch of goldenrod (a dish of hard boiled eggs, toast, bacon, and a special sauce), fruit salad, and mimosas all made by the lovely Norah Janson. After such a relaxing morning I was in no mood to run in the nasty weather.

I knew I'd have an off day soon. I've been excited and motivated to work out for days upon days recently, so an unmotivated day was bound to happen. Today was rainy and yucky plus it was the first day in months that my asthma started bothering me (the longest stretch in years!). Thus, I had plenty of excuses not to run. However, my rest days are built into my schedule when I work three days in a row and the last time I ran was a week ago. So, I convinced myself to get running clothes on for one simple reason: I thought of how mad at myself I'd be later if I didn't run. And off I went! 

I figured I'd treat myself by starting off going down the steep hill I usually walk up toward the end of my run. Excellent move- I felt happy as soon as my feet hit the pavement and the whole way down, even though it was tricky on the steep and slippery hill. After this though, the endorphins stopped suddenly and I was again reminded of the fact that I did not want to be running. This was compounded as I hit flat road and the asthma kicked in. Not to mention the fact that the Under Armour I was wearing was way too hot for the weather. If you think I'm complaining now, you should have heard the self-talk that was going on between mile one and mile two!

I'd like to say the endorphins kicked in by mile two- not so. I headed up long, moderately steep hill. I pushed hard for two reasons 1) I wanted to be done ASAP  and 2) I had to meet up with Liz after my run. Loving the run was definitely not one of them. I kept pushing for the rest of the run but to be honest, I was just not happy to be running. I felt motivated for the last 1/10th of a mile only because I could see my house- and I sprinted to it!

Why am I talking about a miserable run? Because I think its an important piece of the fitness puzzle. Getting in shape is a really difficult habit to start and a really easy habit to break. Today was just a day where I hit a wall. I wasn't tired or injured, I just didn't feel like being active. For me, that's the excuse that spirals me into missing multiple days of exercise which I know leaves me feeling sluggish and unhappy. I just had to force myself to exercise today, which is OK once in awhile.

Here's the silver lining of "bad" days- often, they will surprise you. Many times I feel happy to be running/swimming/etc as soon as I actually start the activity. But even when on days like today when that hapiness doesn't strike, pushing myself is still rewarding. For example- today I set out to do 3 miles and changed my route part way through to mix up the scenery. I ended up doing 4.5 miles in 40 minutes. I went further and faster than I had in a long time- and realizing that is what finally triggered some happy running endorphins!


Motivation shows up sometimes when you least expect it and I need to take a page from my GOTR coahing handbooke and remember to be grateful for that :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

fish tacos

It was just my mom and I tonight so I made fish tacos- perfect since we are the only two who really eat fish.
For the fish:

Wild caught dover sole marinated for 6 hours in fresh lime juice, black pepper, and crushed garlic. I grilled the fish but should have used a grill pan  because this was so  think and flaky it was falling through the cracks! Saved most of it though! For

For the tacos:

  • Cubed organic avocado
  • Small corn tortillas (60 calories each)- heat wrapped in foil on grill while fish cooks
  • Organic broccoli slaw (plain) 
  • Organic black beans, frozen yellow corn (thawed), and chopped green onions
  • Spicy Chipotle Yogurt- plain greek yogurt, lime juice, 1 chipotle w/ 1T adobo sauce, flat-leaf parsley
"Fried"Okra on the side:

awkward shadow... indoor light is bad for food pictures

And a shared Kennebunkport IPA from TJ's split with Mom. I love IPAs...

... but not sharing a beer. I don't think it'll become a habit. I like my beer too much and my mom agrees. Off to see Kelly, in from Cali, and to have a beer or two more!

the grocery shop

Let me just say, hot yoga with Marion last night was FANTASTIC. A great workout but also unbelievably relaxing. Norah and I kept looking at each other when we were bowling and saying how relaxed we still  felt. Yay!

I got up this morning for 9:45 spin.... decided sleep was more valuable than getting up for te 8:30 class. IT was a1 egg + 1 egg white fried in a pan with cooking spray and a the end of the Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat with PB and shredded coconut on top. Spinning was great- I was still tired but so glad I went and got a good sweat. Then it was off to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to shop for the week with a snack of TJ Cinnamon Almonds and an apple to ward off too hunger impluse buying.

I have three rules for grocery shopping and they are all in an effort to allow myself to affordably while increasing my intake of healthful and organic foods. These rules are :
1) Plan out meals in advance.
2) Make a list (Be conscious of what ingredients are already bought so there is no doubling up or food waste)
3) Follow the list. Allow wiggle room with produce to adjust for best priced items.

The Loot

I broke two out of three today... oops! I went into grocery shopping with a mental inventory of what I wanted to make and of what I already had around, but a solid list is so much better. I ended up behaving well in Trader Joe's and even worked into two new foods to try: TJ's Valencia PB with Flax and Kefir pomegranate drinkable yogurt. Reviews to come!

I did well in the produce section at Whole Foods and bought wild caught dover sole for fish tacos tonight for $6.99/ pound. Only needed 1/2 a pound since its just my mom and I for dinner so it was quite a deal! All was lost, though, when I got to try about 10 samples throughout the store. Whole Foods why must you do this to me? I wanted to buy about 5 of the samples but settled on just one- Little Green's Schroom Burger. It was delicious but pricey at $5.99 for only two patties. One splurge isn't too bad though, right? Plus they are from Paramus, NJ and I like to promote anything NJ that may help reverse the Snooki image.  Mushroom burgers are a long shot, I know.

Lunch was more Lentils Puttanesca, but I actually wasn't sick of them. Just popped them in the microwave with the end of my tub of spinach and topped with parmesan cheese and a slice of baguette with EVOO. It was tasty and I didn't miss the pasta today, which is rarely the case. I love pasta.

Dinner is fish tacos with "Fried" Okra. Pictures and recipes later tonight. Off for a a busy afternoon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

creating a habit

Warning: this post is lame. I had work from 7:30 last night until 11 am today because I had to go to my new graduate nurse program. Basically I got 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Yikes. Now I'm headed to hot yoga with Norah. Hopefully my efforts to pre-hydrate at work last night paid off.  Just having a quick snack of the Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat with Skippy Natural PB and dried coconut flakes and a small glass of OJ.

I'm off now. Will update later if possible but I plan on some Red Mango fro yo and bowling tonight. I warned you this was boring. I am just trying to create a habit of posting every day. Tomorrow is a grocery shop and cooking so pictures to come!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

just give it a tri

Had a slice (1/4) of the Breakfast Berry Buckwheat Bake this morning and yesterday. It is very healthy tasting. By that I mean that it is not very sweet and definitely tastes whole grain! Overall its a good thing, but I have to find the perfect topping. I used PB-Yogurt Dip yesterday, but the dip is not sweet enough. Today it was Skippy Natural PB- perfect! Same as Monday but less stingy on the amounts. Much better.
Dinner was basically the salad from the last two nights in a wrap. 2T wheat berries, cuke, baby spinach, roasted sweet potatoes in a whole wheat wrap with a spread of Spicy Lemon Hummus and Tangy Feta Dip. Just enough variation not to get bored. Had that with a Fage 0% yogurt with Blueberyy Acai- my absolute favorite yogurt and a nice shot of protein.

Since its my third shift tonight, it means yesterday and today passed with no exercise. I am lucky enough to have a pretty active job, but I still miss the sweatiness of a good workout when I am in shift mode. If you haven't noticed by now, I have some serious exercise ADD. I like swimming, running, spinning, hot yoga, Pilates, group fitness classes, and strength training. I am also trying to get into road biking and would love to take Aerobarre and boxing classes- I will try pretty much anything.  Sometimes I wish I had the discipline to stick to one actviity and get really good at that but its just not me.

Whenever I start to get bored, I switch to something else. Usually my workouts are dominated by only a few types (right now its spinning, running, and hot yoga) and then I add in other workouts as boredom arises. I also think my body responds best to muscle confusion- but its not for everyone. I feel stronger, my clothes fit better, and I seem to get more endoprhins out of each workout when I keep my body guessing :)

This chaotic style of fitness is why I decided to recruit some friends and sign up for the  Danskin Women's Triathalon in Sandy Hook, NJ which takes place in September (there's still openings to sign up!). This should be the perfect event to channel multiple interests into. Obviously, I will have to swim, bike, and run to train. But, in addition, I have to add in strength training in order to perform well and hot yoga is great for strengthening and stretching out the overworked muscles. Bingo! And chaos becomes a plan. 

I haven't started training yet, its still too early. Right now, I am just trying to build the three pieces of the tri by swimming, spinning, and running. I tend to run three to four miles 2-4 times a week and spin twice a week. Swimming used to be twice a week until I got into spinning, so I need to add that back in. I've been attending the master's swim workouts at my pool. The workouts are great but its STILL not spring out and when the weather is hasty I just do not have the motivation to get into the pool. As for hot yoga, that has been twice a week for the last month and I hope to keep it up... it's an expensive habit though!

Once June hits I know I need to make some semblence of a training plan, so I should probably start looking around for a plan that fits well with schedule. Once I find one and/or make on I will be sure to post it. Please leave comments if you have any ideas.

Heading into the home stretch of what my work week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

creature of habit

Doing three shifts in a row at work, so nothing exciting on the cooking or fitness front. When I work days in a row, I literally get home, eat something quick, shower, and hop into bed from 10 am - 5pm. Then its dinner and out the door around 6pm. Tonight's dinner is that same as last night because it was so good!
Made a salad with organic baby spinach (can you tell I bought a HUGE box?) and topped it with: crumbled bleu, chopped tomato, chopped English cuke, roasted organic jewel yams (spicy from  a dusting of cayenne), roasted organic broccolini, 2 T wheatberries, and 1 T hummus. Dressing was 2 T of Girard' s light champagne dressing. Yum.

On the side I toasted 2 slice of TJ organic, sprouted flourless whole wheat berry bread with a thin spread of Tangy Feta Dip. FYI: "sprouted flourless whole wheat bread" sounds much more intimidating than it is. You will like it if you like any whole wheat bread. It is the TJ version of Ezekiel bread I think. The slice I hadhas 80 calories, 5 g protein, 15 g carbs, and 2 grams fiber per serving. Apparently there are dates and raisins in it but I don't see or taste any... maybe its just the sweetener? Anywho, the bread has a short ingredients list that I can pronounce, and its whole grain. More another day on why sprouted grains are so good for you too! 


And for dessert... a banana boat! I thought every kid ate "banana boats" growing up, but in college my roommates assured me they had never heard of it. Guess it was just a family thing. A banana boat is just a banana cut in half and topped with cinnamon (and agave or honey if you want it sweetened). Then you cut the banana into slices and leave it in the peel. The slices are the "boaters" if you will. Got me to eat my bananas growing up, and I still love it. Picture another day I am in a rush! Had this with a cup of coffee with lowfat milk from my Tassimo with 2 tsp organic turbinado sugar. Perfect energizer before work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

cooking up a storm

I'll keep this entry sort because there are recipes to get to. Had 1/4 of the Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat I made last night topped with just a thin spread of TJ raw and unsalted almond butter, a drizzle of agave nectar, and a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes. It was really good and just the right amount of breakfast to give me energy before my workout without feeling too full.  The bake is a modified version of this bake from the blog Edible Perspective.

Breakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat 

8T raw buckwheat flour ( I ground my own from raw buckwheat groats)
2T raw buckwheat groats
1 banana
2 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used blueberries, cherries, and blackberries)
1/2 t baking powder
4T chopped walnuts
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2T flax seeds (Omega 3s!)

Preheat oven to 350. Mash banana until gooey and mix in milk, egg whites, and vanilla. Mix flour, groats, cinnamon, berries, baking powder, and flax in separate bowl and add to wet mixture. Spray pan ( I used a shallow, round pan with an 8 inch diameter) or muffin tins (makes about 6 muffins). Pour into pan. Bake about 30 minutes, until center is cooked through. Makes 4 servings at about 200 calories each.  Top with nut butter, drizzle on agave, or crumble in yogurt. If not eating immediately, heat in toaster oven before eating. 

Made it to 8:30 spinning this morning where we rocked out to a fair amount of classic 80s songs. I didn't hate it! Came home and did 30 minutes of a Pilates DVD for some quick strength training since I wasn't motivated to do it myself. Then it was a second small breakfast of Tangy Feta Scrambled Eggs.  Which feature the Tangy Feta Dip i made last night. The dip was inspired by a dip saw in Whole Foods that I was too cheap to buy! Just checked the ingredients list and modified to my taste. Perfect use of a block of feta I was feeling uninspired by.

Tangy Feta Scrambled Eggs 

1 whole egg
2 egg whites 
1 chopped Campari tomato
handful of organic baby spinach 
1 - 2 T Tangy Feta Dip 

Simply scramble all ingredients together, add a splash of milk if preferred. Cook over low heat.

Tangy Feta Dip  
(very rough measurements, it was all but eye and taste)

6 oz feta cheese 
juice of 1/2 organic lemon 
2 organic scallions 
generous handful of flat leaf, organic Italian parsley 
5 sundried tomatoes packed in oil 
10 kalamata olives
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) 

Put all ingredients in food processor and blend to desired texture. 

(This didn't photograph great but I promise its tasty)

The rest of the morning I packed up my lunch for the next three days. Dinner is Lentils Puttanesca over some Barilla Plus angel hair pasta. I have been wanting to make a puttanesca sauce recently since olives and tomatoes are two of my favorite flavors and since lentils were next on my list to experiment with this seemed perfect.
Lentils Puttanesca

 3 cloves chopped, fresh garlic 
1/2 chopped red onion 
3- 14.5 oz cans diced, no salt added organic diced tomatoes (thank you TJs!)
20 kalamata olives 
3 T capers- rinsed
1 cup French Lentils

For lentils: Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Rinse lentils in cold water after picking over for stones (I found none). Add lentils and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 35-45 minutes. Lentils should be soft but not mushy. 
For sauce: Heat EVOO in pan. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red peppers. Cook until soft.  Add tomatoes, capers, and olives. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Add lentils to pan. Add about 1 cup of water to mixture to allow for absorption (I didn't do this and my sauce was dry, but had great flavor!).
To finish: Top with flat leaf Italian parsley and shavings of Romano cheese if desired. Serve alone or with pasta. Serves five (1 cup servings). Calories are about 235 per serving, not including pasta.

Along with the Lentils Puttanesca and angel hair, dinner this week includes:
- 1 T Spicy Lemon Hummus and 1 T Tangy Feta Dip w/ 1 cup organic baby carrots 
- 2 T TJ Cinnamon Almonds 
- TJ Pomegranate Greek Yogurt
- Diet Coke (my biggest vice, and one I am not giving up as of now!)
- PB-Yogurt Dip w/ small organic gala apple

PB-Yogurt Dip 
Mix together 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 3 T natural peanut butter until smooth and well mixed. Dip fruit or spread on toast  Makes four servings. 

The 3 day lunch assembly line. 

This is how I earned the nickname Mary Poppins at work. You never know what I'll pull out of my packed lunch box. Luckily Mary Poppins is my favorite movie so this is quite the compliment :)

Off to nap before GOTR at 4 and to work after that. I better move it!

sunday sweaty sunday

Last night at work I was reading the back of my Food Should Taste Good Jalepeno Chips, at 5 am mind you, and read the following from Pete Lescoe, the company's founder:

I love food.  I’ve been working in restaurants and grocery stores my whole life, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that food tastes best when it’s made with real ingredients.  That’s why I started my own company, dedicated to making wholesome, healthy snacks.  As for the name, Food Should Taste Good, it kind of wrote itself.

Amen Pete. We must have been friends in a past life. 

Speaking of friends from a past life... I miss my roomies. ( college = past, not friendships!)

Anyways... great night at work last night. I had three really nice kids with nice families and all kiddies that decided to sleep. :) Of course, there was abundance of junk food- three dozen Krispy Kremes and baked goods galore. These aren't even my real weakness but I usually end up snacking on them anyway- even though I'd much prefer protein or some chips. I took a step back before heading down the road into a sugar coma and thought about whether I really wanted anything. I realized I didn't and grabbed my salad. Later, however, I did have a triangle of an appetizer similar to spanakopita, a bite of chicken, and a bite of some ground beef patty thing from a family who gave the nurses some Egyptian food. Everything was tasty and relatively healthy- plus they were snacks that I actually enjoy. Nothing to feel bad about there. Yay for mindful eating!

Tried to make the most of what Sunday I had left after sleeping until 2:30. It was lunchtime for me so I made the Spinach, Bacon, and Romano Eggs I had yesterday for lunch, On the side I had 1/2 of a banana, 1 organic kiwi, and 1 T Spicy Lemon Hummus  on a toasted whole wheat english muffin (high fiber, low calorie). 

Made it to hot yoga at 4:00. And my lord, it was HOT. Usually the room is set at 95 degrees and heats up as we practice due to body heat. However, today the class was right after a highschool men's lacrosse team had a yoga event- so the room STARTED at 106 and kept climbing! Hot yoga became dehydration yoga. Had a great teacher, Kim, who wasn't quite as nurturing as Marion from the other day but kept a great pace and reallly pushed us. She also chose poses and a way that flowed perfectly. The heat was really challenging for me and at one point Kim said a pose should feel "yummy." Yummy? Really? Try  "this pose shuold feel like you are going to die and there is a chance you may!" She also told use to use the pool of sweat on our mat as a focal point during one pose. Attractive but accurate. Despite the moments of torture, I enjoyed the class. It always feels like an accomplishment when I leave, plus I feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and stronger. 

Went to 5:30 mass for Palm Sunday and dinner with the fam tonight which was nice since so often I leave for work before dinner. Tongiht was pork loin cutlets (fried only using cooking spray), salad, steamed asparagus in vinagrette, roasted potatoes, and coleslaw (only lightly dressed so it was crunchy and not a calorie overload). Good work Mom!

After dinner I was in a cooking mood and for the last 2 hours I made Lentils PuttanescaBreakfast Berry Baked Buckwheat, Tangy Feta Dip, and roasted veggies. A glass of merlot and some country music kept me company through the cooking and clean up. I will hopefully have pictures tomorrow when I post the recipes- can't find batteries for the camera anywhere!

Off to rehydrate and get to bed so that tomorrow I can get lots done before working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. What was I thinking with this schedule??

Saturday, April 16, 2011

what's a GOTR coach?

If you've read my "about me" to the left of the blog,  you may have wondered what a GOTR coach is. GOTR stands for Girls on the Run.  GOTR is an international running and self esteem program for girls in 3rd- 5th grade. Over a 10 week season we train for a 5K but do so each session in the context of a lesson plan focusing on healthy eating, fitness, bullying, self esteem, positivity, being a friend, and being yourself. The season culminates in a 5K where dozens of local chapters join and run together. It is an AMAZING program and focuses not on speed but self accomplishment.  If you are interested in coaching, fundraising, or donating please visit Girls on the Run NJ for NJ chapters (where I coach) or Girls on the Run for the international organization.

That's my little plug for GOTR- I mentioned it because this morning we had our 9:30 practice. It feels like late Feburary, not mid-April; we all had gloves, hats, and multiple layers on in the wet, 40 degree weather. I have to say though, I was really proud of my girls- they all ran 2 miles in under 45 minutes and we are only 3 weeks in! This is such a determined group which makes it extra fun to coach.

After GOTR I was freezing and knew if I went home I wouldn't work out so I just ran through the neighborhoods near where we practice. My muscles were so stiff from the cold that the first mile was really rough. I ended up making it three miles, but my hip and ankle were bothering me which is what I get for taking two weeks off of lunges and squats. Looks like restarting those will be a goal this week.

Needed a small meal since the two low-fat Nutrigrain Waffles with agave and strawberries was not enough to last until 5 pm tonight. Made scrambled eggs (1 whole, 2 whites) with 1 TBSP crumbled bacon, handful of baby spinach, and shavings of Romano cheese (Parmesan would work well too). These were awesome- picture definitely did not do it justice. I didn't even use ketchup... which I almost always put on my eggs.  They had a lot of flavor and just enough bacon to make them super tasty without a lot of fat. Here they are:

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Bacon, and Romano

After, I cooked some wheatberries and ground up some buckwheat groats into flour to use later this week. I also made hummus! I have wanted to for so long but never got around to it. It is so easy that I feel silly for putting it off. Here's my recipe, but you can play around with it. I looked at a bunch of recipes to get an idea of how much tahini (roasted sesame seed paste) to use. Most seemed to say 1/4 to 1/3 cup per can of chick peas. I used only 3 tbsp and it has plenty of sesame flavor for me.

Spicy Lemon Hummus
1 can (15 oz) organic chickpeas 
3 TBSP Tahini 
Juice of 1 organic lemon
Crush red pepper (to taste)
Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
- Put all ingredients in food processor and turn on. Blend to desired consistency. Thin with water to desired consistency. I like mine smooth and used about 3 T. Next time, I may add a litle EVOO for texture. Will let you know how that goes!

Then it was arts and crafts time. I wanted to make mason jars and paint a strip of chalkboard paint on them to use as labels. The jars are perfect for food storage (cabinet, fridge, OR freezer) - they are BPA free and you can see exactly what you have and how much. However, once I started putting everything in the jars I thought it looked too cool to paint anything on. I'll just use a sticker if I have have two jars that look to similar! Here are just a few.... I bought twelve and they are all filled!

Now its time for a shower and nap before work. Just packed up my dinner/snacks for work:
- Salad: organic baby spinach, 3 oz grilled chicken, 1 T bleu cheese,  2 T wheatberries, 1 T roasted sunflower seeds, 1 T roasted pumpkin seeds, English cucumber, tomatoes
Dressing: 2 T balsamic + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + 1/2 T EVOO
- Snacks: 3 T TJ Cinnamon Almonds, small organic gala apple, homemade hummus and 1 c carrots, Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno Chips
-Breakfast (for the drive home): TJ Pomegranate Greek Yogurt, 2 T hemp granola

May seem like a lot, but all the portions are completely reasonable. For me, the key to keeping up healthy eating is variety and great flavor. I think this falls into it well! Enjoy your Saturday night and keep your kiddies well so that work isn't too crazy :)

cummerbunds and bow ties

As usual, I tried to bite off more than I could chew today. I wanted to make the food I am going to eat this week at work, do my art project, and assemble everything to make an herb garden. Instead, after a nice run with Annie I went home to  a house full of juniors getting ready to head to prom. I ended up chatting with the kids and parents, drinking red wine, and eating appetizers as my dinner. I mostly stuck to the baguette slices with TJ Roasted Red Pepper Dip, fresh mozzarella, and cucumber. They happened to be a healthy option, but mostly they were delicious!  Wanted a picture but we ate them too fast... next time.

Here's a pic of Pat and I before prom. He looks handsome, love the bow tie and cummerbund- so classy. I, on the other hand, have yet to get out of those running/spinning clothes. I did put on perfume for good measure though!

Pretty sure one of us made some sort to obnoxious/inappropriate joke right before the picture... typical.

Ended the night just catching up with Annie and enjoying a Dark and Stormy. Overall a relaxing, fun day. Bed and Girls on the Run tomorrow- in chilly weather unfortunately. I am thinking spring may never come. Will try to finish up those good intentions as well...

Friday, April 15, 2011

yay! pictures!

Last night before heading to bed I put the contents of my version of the Dough Boy Smoothie from the blog KathEats. My only real modification was that I added chocolate whey protein powder to kick up the smoothie.  The recipe follows. Mix together with spoon and leave in blender overnight. Blend into smoothie in the morning, adding a splash of milk to desired consistency.

Chocolate Overnight Oats Smoothie
1/2 cup lowfat milk 
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 
1/2 scoop Designer Whey Protein (chocolate) 
1/2 banana
Sprinkle cinnamon 

The smoothie was tasty and since I woke up late for Spinning, it was quick to make and travelled well.  Went to 9:45 spinning with a new instructor. The only problem with spin classes is that you are subjected to whatever music the instructor chooses. Sometimes the music is perfect but other times it doesn't seem right for the pace or, even worse, it's just bad taste in music. Luckily, today the music was great! The theme was cover songs so they were all familiar but with a spin. No pun intended. 

After working my butt off at spinning, it was an on the go snack of a small, organic granny smith apple and 2 tbsp of TJ Cinnamon Almonds. These almonds are just sweet enough and so tasty! They also have only three ingredients- cinnamon, sugar, and almonds- which fits right in with eating real, unprocessed foods. Then it was off to buy things to start an herb garden and an arts and crafts project, which will come later! 

I put a good effort into making lunch today since I had the time.

I had friend okra when I was out in Colorado visiting my cousin and have wanted to make a healthier version ever since, so that's exactly what I did.  I had the okra with a big salad and seltzer with POM juice. So satisfying. Recipes (and pictures!) follow.  

"Fried" Okra 
1) Clean, dry, and slice okra into bite-sized pieces. 
2) Dip in egg/milk mixture. 
3) Toss in cornmeal, salt, pepper, and paprika. 
4) Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, turning once.
note: I've also done this with fresh onions to make healthier onion rings

Spinach and Bleu with an Egg 
Organic baby spinach 
Fried egg
Sliced strawberries 
Toasted sunflower seeds 
Sliced English cucumbers
Crumbles of raw, whole milk bleu cheese 
Chunks of organic WF french baguette
Balsamic vinegar and EVOO

I used my family's camera today, which will suffice until I decide on a camera to invest in. I figure my pictures will improve as I take more. Off for an afternoon run with Annie before more cooking to get ready for the week. Making the most of this day off!