Saturday, February 27, 2010

All things green and lovely...

I did it today. By "it" I mean I fell prey to the much touted Green Monster. I had my doubts. I did. For everyone who said you can't taste the spinach, you are 100% correct. I was hesitant to create a smoothie whose largest ingredient was spinach. It sounds, well, less than appetizing. The appearance, well, the same. Now that I have had one, I REALLY liked it. I know...

What ended up putting me over the edge was just the idea of this being an easy way to get in some more veg. Over the past month I have really been eating more "cleanly"; however, in taking stock of what I have been eating, I found that green vegetables seem to be lacking. Not that I DON'T eat them, I think in terms of food that I can tote around with me, fruits and carrots are more of the go to items. Today was the day I decided to put it to the test. Granted, I was starving when I got home so ANYTHING might have tasted good but it really hit the spot. (Literally starving, I am pretty sure there was a Feed Karen telethon or other charity in the works...)

My smoothie contained:

1 c milk
1 c ice
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1 small banana
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder

I am not going to lie, the sight of it in a blender made me doubt. CR was buzzing about the kitchen as I was throwing it together and turned his nose up at it although lets face it, he just started eating broccoli in the last year so his veggie tolerance isn't as finely tuned as mine. I secretly think if I put some chocolate powder in there he would love it. (Right now, CR is making a note to himself to not accept any suspicious chocolate shakes from me.)

Whirl it all up for a little bit and drink up. You absolutely cannot taste the spinach. You can't. I will say next time I might try strawberries in there as I like my smoothies to be slightly tart. Overall, it is worth a try even if you think it might not be your thing. Ignore the color and drink your veggies!

Side note on taking stock of what you are eating... I have been using the daily plate link on to sort of journal my eats. I am not really one to count calories but I do like to track from time to time to get a better picture of what I am eating. I find I tend to snack less when I am logging it as I don't want to see a box of girl scout cookies on my list as interesting as it might be to see the calorie count for that sort of indulgence. Samoas, I love thee... :)

CR just sampled a chocolate-banana version of the green monster. He was fully aware going in that there would be spinach in his smoothie. His only request was that I stay nearby "in case he gagged" :) He proclaimed it to be "not bad" and couldn't finish it because he was cleaning his motorcycle but asked me to save it for later. If he could manage to drink it, we all can. Trust me on that one.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Give a man a fish...

It turns out my hubster, CR, may really NOT like eating the same thing day after day after day for 19 years. Who is this person? First he tells me he is tired of cereal, now this... I came home last night and he was making a tuna sandwich. What the ?!?! He said "I found these cans with the pop top in the cabinet". It turns out he didn't know where we kept the can opener. I wasted no time telling him. I only hope the fact that it is one of those smooth edge jobbies doesn't throw him. You know what they say... Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Turns out there wasn't much teaching needed - the man only needed a can opener.

In other news, my PC had a virus this week. Really. Not one of those that requires a simple download and a little scrubbing of the files. This one required a trip to the PC hospital. Is there anything more frustrating? What kind of person enjoys creating a virus and then spreading it to the rest of us causing us to spend time and money to fix? It is so wrong. Well, it wasn't all bad in the end. I didn't lose any files and CR got me a sweet new monitor for my trouble. My old one was pretty tiny but it worked and I was truly fine with it. My new one is 19-inches of viewing and typing pleasure AND he got me that BEFORE I told him where we keep the can opener :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Run the Reagan...

Don't ever believe a word I say... If my fingers are typing, I am probably lying. Well, not intentionally. Remember when I said I was only doing three races this year? Maybe it was four, can't remember. Anyhow... The call of the race was too much for me today. My first race EVER, or at least EVER since I started actually training for such things, was the Run the Reagan. It all started with a 5k back in 2008 and then last year I ran the half marathon at Run the Reagan. This year I wasn't going to run at all. Not because I didn't want to but more because I had to work. As luck would have it, I was blessed with a blanket of snow and ice yesterday. As luck would also have it, the race directors bumped the start back 4 hours. How could I say no to one of my favorite races that not only would be run in the snow which makes for a great story but also doesn't require me to get up early? You see my point.

I stepped outside this morning to this and it all fell into place from there...

I ate some oatmeal (must share this fab recipe with you sometime...), chipped the ice off my windshield, brushed my teeth and headed out.

The thing with "snow" in Atlanta is that it usually is more ice than snow so driving can be a scary proposition. Thankfully, once I made it out of the neighborhood, the roads were mostly clear and I had almost no trouble at all making it the 15 minutes to the race. (Another reason this is one of my favorites - the short drive time). I only had to pause twice for cars to get pulled out of ditches. I am assuming they landed there last night although it did make me think twice about continuing my journey!

I arrived at the race and was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who showed up. I had envisioned me and 5 other people so my chances of an age group win were looking pretty good in my mind - ha! The race directors did an excellent job of pulling this together. Like I said yesterday EVERYTHING closes here when it snows so it is quite the effort to convince people to leave their homes. This particular race is run on a highway which they close for 24 hours each year just for the race so keeping the roads closed in order to delay the start apparently wasn't an issue. I am so glad I ran it. It was just what I needed to kick the last bit of the crud out of my lungs and get some miles under my belt. I also loved the fist pump I got from a random stranger at the start. Funny, the little things make you happy. :)

I also got to try my new GU flavor, Vanilla Gingerbread. Truthfully, I have had it for a month or so just haven't had a chance to use it. This one is a winner. Not too sickeningly sweet. I think the ginger kind of cuts down the sweetness. Good thing I like it since I have 2 boxes. LOL.

When I got home, I was starving. I really wasn't feeling the usual banana, granola bar, bagel offering at the race - even though they did have cream cheese and peanut butter which was a nice touch. Hubs had not eaten either as he has been glued to the TV for the Daytona NASCAR races this week. Being valentines and all I decided to make something instead of heating up leftovers. Winner, winner, mid-day dinner!

I heated up two of these sausages. I am pretty sure they aren't part of the eat clean diet plan but neither is the tub of popcorn I plan to eat later so ... it is still a work in progress!

With a side of rice, tomatoes, chili peppers and zucchini... This is actually the leftovers so imagine TONS more zucchini in the mix.

and a little kick of this and that. Tabasco in the rice and mustard for the sausage.

It was given two enthusiastic thumbs up from hubster. He never eats zucchini. I am pretty sure he was just REALLY hungry. He said something about me being the best cook ever. Again, just REALLY hungry. Hope you are having a great weekend. I think the race is almost over which means I need to get ready to go see The Wolfman. Talk to you soon!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow, Presidents and Valentines

We have a little situation here. It doesn't happen often but it did today. Some people think it is a four letter word. I think it is AWESOME. LET IT SNOW! I can say that because we only get snow like this maybe once every few years. I can't remember the last time we had this much. Yes, in Atlanta we shut everything down. We shut some things down at the mere suggestion of snow. It started snowing around 2:00 and is still coming down. So beautiful. I am sure it will be gone tomorrow but for now, I can just enjoy the loveliness of it all.

My co-workers and I all learned today the purpose of a snow brush. I have seen such things but never had an occasion to use one. Luckily I had the foresight to hire someone from New Jersey. Someone who brushed all our cars off as we were leaving. He really deserves a raise!

The lovely view from my car...

and on my street...

and in my backyard...

I heart snow. Can you tell? Another happy outcome of the snow was I didn't have to work tonight. Like I said, we close EVERYTHING. So no work tonight. I was actually supposed to work all weekend but the tennis tournament was cancelled due to the snow so I am off all weekend. Almost all of the courts in Atlanta are outdoors so any rain, or in this case snow and it really messes with the scheduling of tennis matches. Especially juniors tournaments where they play more than one match a day. Sometimes I feel bad for those kids and their parents waiting around during rain delays.

As luck would have it, it was a three day weekend for me from my main job anyhow due to President's Day on Monday so WOO HOO! Actually, I have mixed feelings, the cash I make during tournament weekends is pretty sweet so that I will miss. I will not miss getting up at 5:30 to be at the club at 7:00. I am pretty sure I will be over it pretty quickly as the thought of waking up without the aid of an alarm clock sounds pretty great right now.

Tonight was a quick and easy dinner night. Hubster had one of those Bertolli type frozen meals in a bag. He is so spoiled. :) I had a Kashi Veggie Pizza. It is pretty good. I am normally not a veggie pizza kind of girl but I like the thin crust. I will say the contents of the box do not exactly look like the photo on the box but do they ever? Hubster actually stole a slice and proclaimed it to be "not bad". High praise from someone who only learned to choke down broccoli a month or so ago.

In other news, I used the coffee grinder this morning for the flax seeds. That thing is the bomb diggety. Absolutely worth the $15 to grind up those bad boys. Of course now that I have ventured down the flax seed path, I learned of a new seed today. I had heard of it before - chia. They apparently are the super hero of the seed family. Who knew? Speaking of knowing... Did you know that chia pets were actually sprouted chia seeds? Maybe I am the only one who didn't put two and two together on that one. ch-ch-ch-chia.

Check out the benefits. All that from a little seed.

1. Help weight loss. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss. They reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper.

2. Feel fuller faster: They can also help your diet by making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.

3. Hydration for athletes: They are also great for athletes because the "chia gel" can hydrate the body.

4. Reduce your blood pressure: There's evidence to suggest they can reduce lower blood pressure.

5. Omega-3: They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!

6. Benefits for diabetes: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.

7. They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don't need to be ground up.

I will have to do some more investigating on this one. I have heard the texture can be a little odd especially if you soak them because they absorb the liquid and become very gel-like. Definitely worth a try though.

Any big plans for Valentine's Day? Hubster is dying to go see the wolfman movie with Anthony Hopkins. He was a HUGE fan of all the Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman movies as a kid so I think I can spot him this one even though it isn't really my kind of movie. Might be a little too sci-fi like for my taste. I am more a chick-flick type girl. The things I do for a big tub of buttered popcorn love. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fightin' the Crud...

These guys have nothing to do with my post... they are salt and pepper shakers that I pull out every winter because they make me happy. I only hope when I start going senile they don't start talking to me like an episode of the twilght zone. :)

So "the crud" has been going around the office lately. I have been immune to the crud for years. I used to be a regular when the crud stopped in for the season. I would always take a little bit and be miserable for a month. For some reason for the past several years, I have been immune. I have a theory that it has to do with my overall health and general fitness (seriously.) I could be wrong. Part of it is that I have no patience for the crud. The minute I feel it making its way into my head, I douse it with Airborne and any other remedy of the moment. This year the crud got a little bit further than usual. My remedies were no match for the crud. The crud had a partial victory. I would say if this were a tennis match, the crud retired in the 2nd set giving me the victory. It did knock me down for a couple fo days but NOTHING like cruds of yesteryear. I am almost 100% after taking a couple of days of rest. I am quite proud. Obviously, so proud I feel the need to tell the world. LOL.

So the clean eating thing is going pretty well. I am not saying there haven't been a few trips off the wagon but in general, I am staying the course. I got my Eat Clean Diet book which I am perusing at the moment and even went so far as to buy some flax seeds. Another proud moment this week. As it turns out flax seeds aren't all that simple. I envisioned myself casually sprinkling them on salads, yogurt, whatever. They really don't work that way it seems. Unless you grind them up they pass right through your system and really aren't much benefit. Something about grinding up gets them going. How does one grind up a tiny flax seed you ask? Well, I was wondering the same thing. I envisioned sort of a pummeling with one of those bowl and pestle combos. I don't have one so that was out. Then I read you could grind them with a coffee grinder. I don't have one of those either. My next thought was maybe somehow my immersion blender would do it. I failed to really think that one through. I dumped a tablespoon down in the cup, inserted the blender and spun every last seed flying out of that cup, across the counter and all over the floor. Not exactly what I had in mind :) Today I went to Tar-Jay at lunch and got a cheap coffee grinder.

Did I mention every week I make hubster some sort of food to keep him fed for an entire week? Poor thing, he has become a creature of habit. I keep thinking it might force him to learn to cook. Until then, he can just eat the same thing every day I suppose. This week is vegetable soup. This soup is so easy, hubster could probably make it himself. The great thing is you can add or subtract vegetables to make it to your liking. It reminds me of soup I would eat at my Grandmother's house. She lived on a farm and they didn't waste a scrap. You never were quite sure what got dumped into the soup pot.

Here is how it goes...

1 small onion chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
3 cloves garlic minced

Saute that in 2 T olive oil until translucent. Then add:

48 ounces of chicken or vegetable stock
48 ounces of tomato sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of corn (drained)
1.5 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 zuchinnis chopped
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 bag of spinach (I lightly chop mine for hubster, easier just to dump in as is)
1 potato (diced)
1/4 cup rice uncooked or maybe a cup of cooked rice

I love the spinach all mounded up there... quick stir it in before hubster sees it and realizes he is eating something healthy!

Get it all stirred up and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes. I usually either put the potato or the rice, not both. If I add ground beef, I usually do that in the beginning with the onions and cook until brown then add all the tomatoes, etc.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this soup. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how easy it is to make.

Gotta run, have some tilapia in the oven for dinner. YUM-O.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My charger has returned...

The Prodigal Charger has returned! I have a fully charged battery in my camera yet suddenly nothing seems NEARLY as photographically interesting as it did when I had no way to take a picture. Of course.

Tennis playoffs were a bust. We lost in the first round. On paper, that should have never happened. We were the number one seed. The girls drove 1.5 hours to our courts to play us. They should have been tired. Maybe the drive somehow energized them. I will have to remember that next time and take a long drive before my next match. Or not. Either way, they were a good team. We lost 3-2. I really hate losing in the first round but someone has to do it I suppose. We still won our division so I will have to be satisfied with that accomplishment...until next season. :)

My healthy eating continues. I have had minor diversions here and there but for the most part I have stayed on the green line much like that Fidelity Investments commercial.

Here is a sample of my dinner last night. I have been on a spinach based salad kick lately. Almost as odd as the healthy eating kick. I am pretty sure I have had at least 1 cup or more of raw spinach every day for a week. This was last night's sampling:

I also had some chicken and rice soup. I LOVE this recipe. It is so basic but really clean and tasty. The picture does not do it justice. It reminds of Sizzling Rice Soup only the rice doesn't sizzle and there are no shrimp or water chestnuts. I guess I don't know why it reminds of that soup... LOL

It is borrowed from the Eat Clean Diet book. I am a little obsessed with the concept right now. Normally I hear of these things and think it is way too complicated and not something that is realistic for me. As I was looking through this book, I realized that I eat pretty clean as a rule already. I am going to keep reading up on it and try to incorporate it more into my life. I am not all that interested in losing much weight but am interested in being a healthier eater. I think Hubster would benefit too. The title is really misleading as it really isn't a diet in my opinion so much as a way of eating for life but I guess all diets are supposed to be that way aren't they?

Spring Chicken Soup

64 ounces of chicken stock
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 leeks (stems discarded, wash and then coarsely chop the white and light green parts)
1 t sea salt
3 inner stalks of celery (chopped, leaves too)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (the recipe actually called for 1.5 cups of bean sprouts but I knew hubby would NEVER eat it so I subbed the peas and carrots)

Did I mention this was EASY? It totally is... Bring stock to a boil, add chicken and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so while you spend your time chopping the veggies. Add chopped celery and leeks to the pot. Add the peas and carrots (if you are going that route) and boil for 10 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot. Cool slightly and chop into bite sized pieces. Return to the pot with the cooked brown rice. Add bean sprouts (if you are into that sort of thing) and cook 3 minutes more. Add sea salt and serve hot.

YUMMY. That is all that needs to be said.

I spied some sprouted grain Ezekiel Bread at the store today. I have heard much about this bread and would love to try it. As soon as my stockpile of Chobani runs out I am going to have to get some and maybe work it into my breakfast rotation with some almond butter. They had sesame, regular and cinnamon. The cinnamon was calling my name so maybe next week...

Strength training WEEK TWO!
I am really enjoying the strength training. It is funny how some days you walk away thinking you didn't do all that much and then 2 days later your body tells you a different story. Monday was Shoulders/Chest/Triceps. I feel the triceps work big time. LOVE THAT.

The shoulder/chest/tricep workout (again stolen from Fitnessista)

Overhead press 3 sets of 15
Dips 3 sets of 15
Stability ball pushups 3 sets of 15
Planks 3 sets (60 seconds, 60 seconds, 30 seconds)
Lateral Raise 3 sets of 15
Cable Tricep Extension 3 sets of 15
Stability Ball Leg Lifts (those were a little tricky, I might need remedial training)

I am really proud of myself for sticking with it. It is like a bootcamp for 1 person. I guess it sounds kind of sad when I say it like that, doesn't it? Seriously though, I am enjoying the variety. New year, new things to try I suppose!

Guess that about sums it up for now. Have a great week!