Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crockpot Chipotle Chili - Perfect Rest Day Dinner

Rocky Start to Rest Day
This morning started off a little rocky. I slept terribly last night and managed to finally fall into a deep sleep right around the time the alarm went off. I'm almost always up before it goes off so when it does actually go off, it really startles me. I leave the lights off for Jason, so the room is really pretty dark. I typically don't have issues navigating in the dark, but this morning I was just a klutz.

I went to lean down to open Maddie's kennel, only I severely misjudged where I was and hit my cheek bone on the corner of the chest of drawers. Brilliant. I was all out of sorts after that. It ticked me off and stunned me at the same time. I'm really hoping it doesn't bruise up, but it's terribly sore.

Speaking of sore, I really thought my legs (quads and hams) would be more sore after yesterday's workout. I mean, I can tell I did a leg workout, but it's my rear end that is really sore. I went ahead with a rest day today. We had showers in the forecast so cardio would have to have been treadmill and/or elliptical. Not really all that appealing to be honest.

Crockpot Chipotle Chili 
Not working out after work meant I didn't have to rush either. We are members of the arts center and there was a member's reception for a new exhibit: Impressionists and Their Influence. We haven't been to as many openings this year as in the past, but I really did want to go to this one.

Since I knew dinner needed to be ready earlier tonight, I went home during my lunch break to get it prepped. It's still chilly out, so chili seemed appropriate. I put together a Chipotle Tempeh Chili in the crockpot. Rather than using the chipotle flakes, however, I chopped up a dried chipotle. I went ahead and sauteed the peppers, onions, and garlic so that I knew they'd be done, and I just put the crockpot on a low setting so everything wouldn't be mush.

I had some errands to run after work, so this worked perfectly: I had time to run errands then came home to dinner being done, big bonus!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lazy Vegetarian BBQ Sandwiches on Leg Day

Hot Dogs and Heart Health
Well here's a fun day for a vegetarian - a hot dog sale on the floor of your office to raise money for a heart walk. Yes - hot dogs and heart health. Really, I have no other words. I don't think they are even necessary.

But I certainly did NOT want to have to walk down the hall to go to the restroom or have to use the sink in the breakroom to wash a mug. It literally made me sick to my stomach.

Are there any smells that just put you over the edge? For me it'd definitely be hot dogs and the smells of a BBQ joint.

Crappy Weather = Leg Day
Anyway, the weather didn't help my mood again today. So I was probably even more sensitive to the wretched odors and absolute idiocracy of a hot dog sale for heart health...it was supposed to be sunny and 59. I was really excited about an afternoon run.

At noon, the wind chill was hovering at 40 and the clouds were low and thick. Hello Mr. Weatherman, where did you go to school? Bah freaking humbug attitude I know. And I also realize that I talk about the weather incessantly. I apologize. I blame it on my love of running outdoors in nice weather. Luckily, I also packed my bag so that I could hit the gym if I needed too. I typically wear different workout clothing for the gym - try to be less revealing by wearing full tanks rather than short tops.

I finally talked myself up for a good leg workout. I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical then got my thoughts collected for a solid leg workout. It's been a long time since I've done just strictly legs, or heavy legs really. For most exercises I went with 3 sets of 8 unless noted.

Squats
Stiff-legged deadlifts
Alternating plie squats
Alternating lunges
Single leg squats - 2x8
Calf raises - 3x15
Prone leg curls - 2x8

I finished off this sweat-fest with another 15 minutes on the elliptical. Let's just say two words: shaky legs.

Lazy Gals Dinner
I was really not in the mood to do too much cooking tonight. I had a bag of broccoli slaw so I threw together a slaw to go with Gardein BBQ Pulled Shreds. I also made some baked sweet potato "fries" to go on the side.

While the pulled shreds are pretty good, and they are great when I'm out of my own seitan, I only buy them with coupons because they're a bit pricy. I also find the sauce a bit bland so I add in some Frank's Hot Sauce to help up the flavor. So, this was a lazy gals meal tonight. What is your lazy meal?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crispy Italian Tofu & Kale Pasta & Upper Body Weights

Upper Body Weights 
Today went back to dreary, cool, and stormy. Ah spring, you are now my biggest foe (other than winter perhaps). I decided that I am not going to continue with the total body rotation right now. While I have loved that rotation in the past, I'm just not into it right now. There is no need to force the workouts either. If I don't enjoy it, then I won't look forward to my workouts.

I decided to try a different split doing 2 upper body workouts and 1 lower body workout. I've split up upper body into as many as 4 days before, but I think I'm going to try 2 full uppers and see how that goes, it's not something I've done before actually.

Today I went with supersets of 3x5 after a 10-minute warm up on the elliptical:

Assisted pullups (failed at 4 on the 3rd set)
Underhand barbell rows

Dumbbell curls
Hammer curls (failed at 4 on the 2nd set)

Flat bench chest flye
Flat bench chest press

Overhead press
Lateral raise

Double-arm triceps extension
Lying dumbbell extensions

I also did some ab exercises then finished out with another 10 minutes on the elliptical.

Tofu Tuesday
I guess I should have saved the chili for tonight with this nasty weather. Poor Heath can't take muc more of stormy weather. The poor guy just goes into major panic mode. Anyway, rather than make another soup, I went with another comfort food - pasta. I don't do many pasta dishes, but I figured this one would qualify as fairly healthy. I made Crispy Italian Tofu with Kale Pasta.


Crispy Italian Tofu with Kale Pasta
Ingredients:
Small bunch of kale, cleaned, de-stemmed, chopped
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
6 oz whole-wheat rotini cooked per package directions
Jar of homemade or favorite spaghetti sauce
1 package tofu, frozen then thawed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp agave nectar
To taste: salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, parsley, basil, oregano
Panko
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
White wine or vegetable broth (to thin out tomato marinade and/or steam kale)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Squeeze out any excess liquid from tofu, pat dry then cut to half forming 2 "steaks." In small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, vinegar, agave, and spices. If too thick, add splash of white wine or vegetable broth. Baste tomato mixture over tofu.

In shallow dish add some panko and the nutritional yeast. Dredge tofu into the mixture to form a crust. Place on a prepared baking sheet (I use a silpat to prevent sticking) and bake approximately 20 minutes then flip and continue to bake another 20-30 minutes depending on how crispy you want the tofu.

Meanwhile, saute onions in large non-stick skillet. Once onions are soft, add in the kale and splash of white wine, water, or vegetable broth along with same seasonings used for the tofu marinade. Cover and allow the steam to cook the kale down.

Once kale is cooked, add the pasta to the skillet along with spaghetti sauce (reserve some to top the tofu if desired) and toss until completely mixed. Re-season if needed.

Serve with the tofu "steak" on top adding on some vegan cheese and pasta sauce if desired.

This turned out so good. The texture of the kale worked so well with the pasta and then there was the crunch of the tofu. So many different levels of texture and flavor. This is a winner I'll definitely be making again. It would work really well with spaghetti squash if you don't want to use pasta.

What's your ultimate comfort food? I think for Jason it'd be mac n' cheese.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stew, Chili, and Running to Beat Monday Blues

Sunday Soup Night
Last night I ended up making soup for dinner. It was definitely a soup kind of night. We had storms roll through that included hail even. I had some veggies to use up along with some tempeh. So I came up with a Tempeh and Bean Veggie Stew.


Tempeh and Bean Veggie Stew
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion, diced
3-4 carrots, diced (depending on size)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cannellini beans
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 no-beef bouilon cube
1 package tempeh, crumbled
1/2 yellow squash, cubed
1/2 zucchini, cubed
Broccoli (small bunch)
2 cups water
1 cup no salt vegetable broth
To taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, chili powder, cumin

Directions:
In large pot, saute onions, peppers, carrots, garlic, and crumbled tempeh. Stir in remaining ingredients and allow to simmer until veggies are cooked through.
 

This was a very hearty stew and would also be really good with kale if you prefer that over broccoli.

Running from the Monday Blues
Today we finally got some much-needed sunshine. The temps hovered around 55 degrees, but at least it was sunny. I tried to convince Jason to hit up spin with me after work. That didn't work. So I took myself down to the river trails for an outdoor run.

I was sort of feeling lazy about doing anything. Ok, a lot lazy. But I knew the sunshine and fresh air would help me tremendously. Hello Monday Blues. I set out with the mentality that I'd just run at least 4 miles and see how I felt, even allowing myself to just stop and walk if that's what I felt more like doing.


My 2-mile mark snuck up on my fairly quickly. So rather than circling back, I kept on chugging along taking my normal 6.2 mile route. I must say that I am loving that lately, even if it's super windy, I am typically getting a tailwind on my return half. So much better than running headlong into wind gusts when you're getting tired.

The run was definitely what I needed today. Just being outside and enjoying the fresh air was refreshing. It also made me smile finally seeing so much color with everything starting to bloom. The rain helped wash away the film of pollen, so everything looked fresh and crisp. I wish I had brought my camera with me.

White Chili Night
At lunch we hit up the grocery store finally and picked up some poblano peppers. Jason had mentioned wanting a white chili yesterday, but we didn't have the ingredients. So, I figured I could make that tonight. It was definitely cool enough once the sun started going down.

When I got home from my run, I immediately started roasted up some poblano peppers, green bell peppers, white onions, and garlic for dinner. I let that go while I stretched and rolled out my legs. The recipe is based on my Spicy White Chili, but I've started roasting the veggies for a Roasted White Chili. The roasting adds such a different depth of flavor.


Roasted White Chili
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion, large dice
1 green bell pepper, cut in half, seeds and rib removed
2 poblano peppers, cut in half, seeds and rib removed
1 head of garlic, top trimmed off
32 oz low-sodium vegetable stock
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or 1.5 cups cooked off)
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro
Chikn' Seitan (homemade or store bought or other chicken sub)
*Slurry: cornstarch + cold water mixed well as a thickener if needed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the peppers skin side down on prepared baking sheet along with the onions and garlic bulb. Bake approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and put peppers in a container with lid and allow to cool. This will make it easier to remove the skins. Once cooled, peel off the skins. Dice peppers and onions into smaller pieces and peel and mince the garlic

In large sauce pot, add in all ingredients and allow to simmer until begins to thicken, approximately 30 minutes. If you want to make the chili thicker, add in the slurry mix.
 

Ok, so it's sort of a green and white chili ;-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another Gray Day but Good Weight Workout

PuPu Platter
Last night I ended up throwing together a pupu platter for dinner as I figured I likely would. I had thawed out some tofu and decided to toss that with BBQ and hot sauces then sprinkle with panko and bake for some crispy Buffalo Tofu Strips. I made up a sundried tomato and artichoke hummus (looks brown because I added balsamic vinegar), cut up some carrots, and also cut up some almond cheese to go with vegan pepperoni and almond crackers.
 

It was a fun dinner actually. It can be fun to have snacky style foods for dinner for a change. Oh and here are some pictures from last night that made me smile.
 
 


Gray Sunday
It sounds like spring has totally run away from almost all of us at this point. Today was gray and 41 degrees. I guess it wasn't raining at least. I did Day 3 of Week 3 of the total body rotation. It called for 3 sets of 15 (yes count 'em 15) reps. I did do some legs, but not 3x15.

Weighted triceps dips
Flat bench chest flyes
Double-arm rows
Pullovers
Preacher curls
Front raises
Rear leg slide back lunges - 3x8
Wide stance squats - 2x15
Side leg slide lunges 2x8
Firewalkers - 8
Weighted donkey kicks - 2x18
Rollins with hiplifts on ball - 8
Inner thigh squeeze with ball - 2x24

After the weights I did all of combo 1 and just the upper only from combo 2 from Cathe's MMA Boxing then abs from her High Reps workout. This took exactly 1 hour (love it when it rounds out perfectly). I followed it up with a long stretching session.

I'll admit that I was rather dreading the sets and reps for this workout. I mean, come on, that's a lot. But, I ended up having a really great workout. Talk about shaky muscles making for interesting makeup application ;-) 


Partial Errands
After the workout, I got cleaned up and we headed out to run some errands. We needed to go to Kroger, but we went to Bed Bath and Beyond instead. We had a gift card and some Christmas money left and were wanting some new curtains for the pool room. We found some curtains we both liked along with a new curtain rod (which Jason is currently hanging).

We proceeded to put of Kroger by hitting up Barnes and Noble. Jason had a gift card there as well. We both found some bargain books and I picked up a couple of magazines to enjoy while ellipticalling this week. So a second successful trip (and still successfully putting off Kroger).

Did we go directly to Kroger? Of course not. We were both getting hungry and decided to eat out instead. We did drop off the goods at the house first, so I grabbed some Quorn nuggets to take with me. We went to an Irish Pub fairly close to our house. This was the first time we'd eaten there actually. I knew they had a salad that I could get and add my protein to, so that's what I did. We love the atmosphere there. It's always just nice and cozy, very relaxing. Oh, and it helped us to continue to put off Kroger. There's always tomorrow right?

I am baking some wheat French bread right now while Jason takes care of hanging the curtains. I'm also doing odds and ends chores (in PJs of course). I think we're going to make some chili for dinner tonight. I guess that's one positive about the cool weather - we can keep on enjoying the cold-weather dinners like chili and soup.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crappy Weather Cramping Running Style

Indoor Run
What happened to spring? Today was 45, gray, and drizzly out. Not a motivating kind of Saturday I must say. I posted on Twitter and Facebook that this crappy weather is cramping my running style. I mean, doesn't the weather know I was planning to run 10 miles today?

Shockingly, I did manage to convince Jason to actually go up to the gym with me today. Funny thing, on Friday the gym had left a message for Jason saying they'd noticed it had been a while since he'd been and to call if there was anything they could do to help motivate him to come in ;-)

Anyway, today I had really hoped to get in a long run, but the weather was not cooperating one bit. I ended up hitting the treadmill instead. I did 2 miles, then I did 3 x (1:00, 1:30) athletic intervals. This put me at 3.8 miles so I did another 1.2 to round it out to 5 solid miles. I hopped on the elliptical for another 12 minutes for an hour of cardio. Jason spent some time on a spin bike then ran.

He decided to get cleaned up there, so I stretched and used one of the foam rollers there while waiting on him. I will say that it's nice having a 24/7 gym, but no staff on the weekends means no one is ther to fix the satellite radio situation when it's a cloudy, nasty day. It kept coming in and out and was SO annoying. Thank goodness I had my iPod.

And, I feel like I'm becoming a total gym rat these days. Now I'm even up there on the weekends. I have a feeling I'll be back there tomorrow for my weight day. I want to do a heavy leg day. I'll blame it on reading Oxygen Magazine while on the elliptical. Who am I???

Lunch with Friends

We got home and cleaned up and were about to head out for lunch when a friend texted about meeting up. Perfect timing. We met up at Buffalo Wild Wings. They had a gift card and also wanted to watch a game. I knew I could get a salad and bring my own protein, so I was game.

We had a really nice, long, relaxing lunch. It's nice to just sit back and relax with friends sometimes. No worries, no timelines, just sit back and visit. I had plenty on my to-do list, but sometimes to-do lists can just wait, Saturdays (weekends in general) should be more laid back in my opinion.

Speaking of laid back, I'm in my PJs already. I have a feeling dinner is going to be a hodge podge tonight (aka pupu platter). I'm not terribly concerned to be honest. I just want to relax and enjoy the evening. I hope you all do the same ;-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - The Trivial Things

Thank God for Makeup
Today I feel like I've been run over. I had a horrible night's sleep. I guess I sort of went overboard with water and was up more times than I can count to pee. If I wasn't up for that, it was because Maddie was banging around like a fool in her kennel, randomly letting out piercing barks too. And then there's this issue with my piriformis/sciatica.

Not sure if it's the piriformis hurting, the sciatic nerve, or the piriformis inflamed pinching the sciatic. Or hell, something entirely different. But whatever it is, it hurts like hell and that kept me up. I am a stomach sleeper. If I even roll over on my side I wake up. Last night the only position that didn't cause the piriformis/sciatic/whatever the hell pain was lying flat on my back with legs straight.

Let's just thank God for a moment for giving someone the wherewithal to come up with the whole idea of makeup. I'm a huge fan today.


Adjusting Weight Workout
The plan for me was to hit the gym for Day 2 of Week 3 of the total body rotation. This called for 4 sets of 8 reps of the exercises done as straight sets. There was no way I could do leg work today, so it ended up just being upper body, abs, and stretching. I did start with 10 minutes on the elliptical to warm up. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do that, but it sort of helped loosen my leg and hip up.

Overhead press
Rear delt flyes
Hammer curls
Lying dumbbell triceps extensions
Flat bench dumbbell press
Underhand barbell rows

Quite honestly, I was relieved to not have to do legs after this set up. While I really enjoyed this rotation twice before, I am not mentally in it this time around. I have no explanation other than it's just not fitting for me. So, I think I'm going to let this one go for now and go back to 2-day upper splits with one leg day and see how that works.

I think that now that I am using the gym more consistently rather than strictly doing weights at home, I have more exercise options like using the barbell, pullups/chinups, hamstring curls, etc.

Fun Facts Friday - The Trivial Things
So, enough Debbie Downer-ness, let's get on with Fun Facts Friday shall we? In an effort to move into a more positive place, let's go with the trivial things that can make us happy. Not getting deep, mushy, spiritual, or philosophical.
  • The right amount of apples, cranberries to oatmeal ratio so that the last bite still has all the elements.
  • The elevator not stopping - meaning from 1 straight up to 10.
  • Leaving early for a haircut.
  • Wearing a new shirt, even if the damn forecast was wrong and it's colder than they said (humph).
  • Makeup (I think you get that one huh?).
  • Open-toed shoes.
  • Winning a mahjong game.
Ok, not an extensive list, but please add away!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Perfect Run & Grilling Goof

    Perfect Running Day
    Today started off much cooler than yesterday - 45 instead of 65. And the high only hit 60 today. So much for the 80-degree temps. I debated with myself most of the day about hitting the gym for weights or heading out for a run. I decided to go with the run today and will hit the weights tomorrow.

    I am so glad I opted for the run. The weather was absolutely perfect. The wind had died down, it was just enough to keep you from over-heating, but not so much you felt like you were fighting to run.

    However, I ended up over-dressing wearing capris, sports bra, and a light long-sleeved shirt. I have, however, become very adept at undressing mid-run. No stopping, not faltering. It's quite impressive actually. After I took the long-sleeved top off and tied it around my waist, I felt golden. I had one of those "I can run forever" types of runs. I did reel myself in though and kept it at 6 miles with 6 pickups at the end.


    Grilling Goof
    Even if it was a little cooler, it was just gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky. Grilling was a must. I got the veggies prepped (zucchini, squash, sweet potato, red & green bell peppers) and marinated some tempeh in balsamic vinegar. I was going for a Grilled Tempeh & Veggie Salad. So happy about the thought of it in fact.

    Apparently the awesome running vibes did not carry over to awesome dinner. I burnt the tempeh. No salvaging...burnt to a freaking crisp. I was so pissed off. I didn't have another package and didn't have any tofu either pressed or thawed. I ended up using some Quorn patties instead. Not the direction planned, but it worked. I probably over-reacted a tad, but I was getting really hungry (aka cranky) and then just ticked at myself for messing it up and wasting a package of the tempeh. It isn't exactly cheap.
     

    I also grilled up some homemade wheat French bread to go on the side. It was the last mini-loaf. I have a lot of things I need to make and re-stock this weekend.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    "Sausage" & Peppers Spaghetti Squash for Windy Wednesday

    Rest Day
    Today I had every intention of getting out for a run after work. But as the day wore on, my legs got heavier and heavier from yesterday's workout. Actually, everything felt heavy! It was also about 81 degrees and, once again, super windy. Tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be back in the 60's though. As much as I wanted to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, I decided a rest day was the smarter choice.

    I won't lie, it was hard passing up the run today. I really needed some mental cleansing. But I knew that it would likely not be a great run for me. Hot, windy, windy, sore legs. Not good combos. There was still that nagging little part of my brain that was telling me it might actually make me feel better, loosen up those legs, clear that head. Then there is the part that was remembering how freaking hot it felt on Monday when I hit the pavement in 80 degree temps.

    Oh, and when I walked out the door to head to my car and was having to lean into the wind and being abraded by flying grit and dirt, I was ok with my decision to forgo a run.

    Passing up Grilling
    Taking the rest day, however, did give me a chance to make some seitan and plenty of time to bake some spaghetti squash. I've enjoyed making seitan cutlets lately. They'll be great on the grill too. They freeze perfectly, so that makes them really handy for quick dinners as well.

    I didn't use the seitan for dinner tonight, however. I was just making it to freeze for later use. Tonight My plan was to go with "Sausage" and Veggies Spaghetti Squash, based off my "Sausage" & Veggies Pasta. Just subbing spaghetti squash for the pasta basically. I thought it would make for a nice light summery meal.

    Well, I decided to add in some cannellini beans for an added creaminess, and in the process completely forgot about the squash and zucchini I had meant to include. So, this became "Sausage" and Peppers Spaghetti Squash instead.

    "Sausage" and Peppers Spaghetti Squash
    Ingredients
    1/2 spaghetti squash roasted and scraped
    2-3 Tofurky Kielbasa, cut into rounds
    1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    1-2 tbsp tomatoe paste
    Minced garlic (to taste, I like a lot)
    1/2 cup cannellini beans
    1 can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
    1/4 cup white wine (may need more or use vegetable broth)
    To taste: salt, pepper, red chili flakes, oregano, basil, parsley, nutritional yeast flakes.

    Directions:
    Cook pasta according to package directions.

    In large skillet, brown the "sausage" then set aside.

    Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in wine or small amount of olive oil until soft. Add in tomatoes, tomatoes paste, beans, and spices and combine well. Add in squash and "sausage" and allow to simmer and begin to thicken and veggies soften, re-season if needed and add more wine if gets too thick.
    So, not the intended dish, but tasty nonetheless! It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but sometimes the messiest dishes are the best.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Gym Day & Grilled Citrus Tahini Tofu

    Gym Day
    Today started Day 1 of Week 3 of my total body workout rotation. It called for 4 sets of 5 reps of the following exercises done as straight sets. I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical as a warm up.

    Wide grip pull ups
    Incline chest flye into press
    Squats
    Deadlifts
    Dumbbell curls
    Double-arm overhead triceps extension
    Lateral raises 
    Static lunges

    I did some ab work then finished with another 10 minutes on the elliptical before heading home. I must say that I'm starting to struggle with these workouts after work. I had gotten really used to breaking out the workouts doing weights at lunch then cardio later. I'm doing a lot less cardio now, but workouts are taking about the same amount of time. A lot has to do with getting set up at the gym properly. But I'm starting to just feel tired of it all.

    Is it possible to workout just 5 days a week and maintain or even possibly gain results? There was a time, many moons ago, when I didn't workout 6 days a week.The thing is, almost always, once I get going I really get into the workout until about the last 15 minutes then I start watching that clock. I start worrying about how late dinner is going to be, if I'll be able to get any chores done, etc.

    How many days a week do you workout? Do you ever just get tired of it?

    Windy Tofu Tuesday
    The weather was warm once again. But windy and mostly cloudy. It was the kind of wind that sort of pisses you off actually. Bad hair day is an understatement. Anyway, that didn't deter us from grilling out again. And I know I shouldn't complain too much as some of you actually had snow. For that, I am soooo sorry.

    During lunch I started pressing some tofu and made a Citrus Tahini Marinade to use with the tofu both to baste while grilling and use as a sauce for serving. I also grilled up some asparagus and dressed very simply with a lemon pepper spice blend along with some grilled sweet potatoes.

    Citrus Tahini Marinade/Sauce
    Ingredients:
    2 tbsp tahini
    2-3 tbsp lemon juice
    1/4-1/2 cup OJ (to consistency basically)
    Splash balsamic vinegar
    To taste: salt, dried dill, parsley
    1 tbsp Dijon mustard

    Directions:
    Whisk all ingredients together.

    I basted the tofu with the marinade and let it sit for about an hour before grilling the tofu. I made sure to save some of the marinade to use as a sauce. I simply heated it up before pouring it down over the grilled tofu.
     

    It's been great to get back to outdoor cooking this week. I hope to be more creative with grilling this year. I know there are so many options and fun ways to grill foods. What I love most about grilling veggies is that you get so much flavor from the grilling process and need very little (if any) seasoning for it.

    What are some of your favorite grilling recipes, marinades, or just things to grill? Growing up I thought grilling was either burgers, steaks, or chicken and sides would be corn, potato salad, or slaw of some sort. I pretty much hated grilling out as a kid!

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Running, Grilling and Lots of Hummus

    Hummus Quesadillas
    Last night I ended up using some of that Artichoke Hummus for quesadillas. I just spread it on some whole-wheat tortillas and topped with a small bit of Daiya Vegan Cheddar, spinach, and roasted red bell peppers. Yum.
     

    We enjoyed the quesadillas while watching The Social Network. I had heard really great things about the movie, but I had no expectations. It was really pretty good though. Nothing exactly earth-shattering, but it kept my attention for the most part.

    Spring? No It's Summer
    Today was another almost summer-like day. We've sort of skipped spring and jumped right on into the beginning of summer with low 80's. I knew I wanted to get out for a run. But it was super windy, and did I mention 80 degrees? But the sunshine was calling my name. I couldn't imagine doing a workout indoors.

    Note to self, running when it's 80 degrees, gusting winds after taking a Zyrtec D = tough. I felt dehydrated from the get go even though I had been chugging water all day. Of course this meant I needed to pee a lot. In fact, I needed to go when I got to the river trail. The port-a-potties were missing toilet paper. There is a real restroom about 3/4 mile into the trail, so I figured I could make a quick pit stop. DISGUSTING. How are people so freaking gross???? You can just imagine I'm sure without me going into detail.

    Anyway, after that little detour, I got back on the trail. I kept praying for shade. There are usually a few spots that are shaded, but apparently not at the time I was down there because of the time change. I ended up going for 55 minutes total. Another note to self: start packing sunblock. My face is a bit pinkish and you can see the start of some sports bra tan lines (not so cute).


    First Grilled Dinner of the Season
    Since the weather was so warm, we decided it was time to fire up the grill. Jason picked up some portobellos the other day (the biggest portobellos I've ever seen). So we did grilled portobellos topped with spinach, roasted red bell peppers and some goat cheese.

     
    This feels almost like a sin it's been so long since we've had goat cheese. Oh, I did use some of the Artichoke Hummus to spread on the buns. I also grilled up some sweet potato "fries" to go on the side. Perfect spring/summer meal!

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Housewarming Recap & Sunny Spring Sunday

    Housewarming Recap
    Well, to say the Artichoke Hummus was a hit is an understatement. But, I had to remake it unfortunately. The original batch got left at the house. We got to my sister's house and started unloading everything only to realize that container had not made it into the cooler. Oops.

    Thankfully Sarah had the ingredients on hand to whip up a new batch. Along with that, I made a Black Bean and Corn Salsa. She had some pico de gallo, Jason made a balsamic chicken salad. We had lots of dippers from corn chips to veggies. I didn't get pictures of all of the food, but did want to highlight some things.
     
     
     

    My sister is getting the house all set up the way she wants and it's looking so cute. We did help her rearrange a few pieces just before the party (nothing like last-minute furniture arranging). I really opened up the space more. Everyone seemed to have a great time. We got to hang out with a few long-time friends (as in known whole lives basically). Our mom stopped by too, which was fun. Can you spot her in the last picture?
     
     
     
     


    High Reps Supersets 
    I won't lie, it was a late night. But a great night. I went to bed around midnight. Maddie decided she wanted nothing to do with the kennel starting around 5 am. It's a good thing she's cute.... Anyway, we got home around 10:45. I got straight to my weight workout (Jason got straight to the couch with the pups).

    Today was Day 3 of Week 2 of my total body rotation It called for 2 sets of 15 reps done as supersets increasing the weights.

    SS#1
    Double-arm triceps kickbacks
    Lateral shoulder raise

    SS#2
    Single-arm rows (was supposed to be pullovers but goofed and did those Thursday)
    Incline chest press

    SS#3
    Incline biceps curls
    Pushups

    SS#4
    Squats
    Plie Squats

    Firewalkers - 8
    Weighted donkey kicks - 2x18
    Roll ins and hip lifts on ball for hamstrings


    After the weights, I did just 2 combos from MMA Kickboxing then the abs from High Reps.

    Sunny Spring Sunday
    Today was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect first day of spring. It was sunny, breezy, and 80 glorious degrees! This called for a patio lunch obviously. So, that's what we did. After lunch, we hit up Wal-Mart to get some new car washing items. Jason has been "researching" taking care of my new car and had to get all new car washing "stuff." We came home with a new bucket, special soap, interior cleaner, non-abrasive rags, and a special washing glove. Of course, the car did not get washed ;-)

    I did some laundry, swiffered the floors, and cooked off some white beans and enjoyed the windows being opened up finally. And while disconnecting from internet world is nice, it's also stressful (and time-consuming) trying to get caught back up.

    Do you find it more stressful to disconnect then try to get caught up or just stay connected and stay on top of it all?

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Artichoke Hummus & Long Saturday Run

    Early Morning Kitchen Time
    After talking with my sister, she decided she just wanted to have some dips and sandwiches. People could assemble their own sandwiches and snack on some hummus with pita and/or veggies. So, by 9 am, I had already made an Artichoke Hummus.

    This was my first time making hummus with artichokes. I typically go with roasted red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes. But I had an email conversation about artichokes with Erica from Itzy's Kitchen and mentioned how fantastic artichoke hummus might be. So Erica, here it is!

    Artichoke Hummus
    Ingredients:
    4 whole artichoke hearts (from canned in water or thaw frozen, not in oil)
    Liquid from artichoke hearts - use to desired consistency, maybe 1/8 - 1/4 cup
    2 cups chickpeas, heated up
    Drizzle of olive oil - I try to use as little as possible, maybe 1 1/2 tbsp
    To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice, red pepper
    2 tbsp Nutritional yeast flakes

    Directions:
    Put all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth adding in the artichoke liquid as needed.

    You can serve with pita chips, veggies, or use it as a spread in sandwiches.

    I am not sure yet what I'll make for myself for a sandwich or wrap. I'm sure I'll figure something out though. I'll be sure to take some pictures of the spread as well.

    Saturday Run
    Today I had wanted to get in a long run. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 80's. I'm not yet acclimated to the warmer temps for running yet, and knew we wouldn't get home early enough to beat the heat. So I needed to hit the pavement today. Only problem was that it was cloudy and looking almost like rain. Not terribly motivating to be honest.

    Bathing the dogs was a nice way to procrastinate a bit before heading out. It's amazing what you can come up with to do when you're avoiding something else. Granted, the dogs desperately needed bathing before heading to my sister's house. We tried to get them in for a grooming appointment, but they were booked until Monday.

    Anyway, I got in about 9 miles today. I need to map it to be sure. It ended up being a pretty good run for me. I must remember, however, that gels are much runnier when it's not 30 degrees out. I almost choked myself. But other than that...all good.

    Now I'm heading out of town for the evening. I won't have internet access so this is me disconnect. Have a good one!

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Fun Facts Friday - Things I Suck At

    Rest Day
    Today was a much-needed rest day from workouts. I really enjoy taking my rest day on a Friday. It's like an added treat to the end of the week. I'm done and done. Tomorrow I hope to get out for a longer run before heading to where my sis lives. She just moved last weekend and is having a housewarming tomorrow night.

    I must get the dogs bathed before we go over there, and I promised to help with the food and drinks. Still trying to figure out the menu. We had thought about doing some tapas, but then our ideas started getting out of hand. We need to scale back. It's a Iacobacci trait - more more more. If 5 is good, 10 is better (more like 20).

    We did settle on hummus (that I'll make). And...that's about it so far. My fridge and pantry are getting rather bare so I either have to get creative with what I do have or hit up the store if I can find the time. It may just be a hummus theme with a variety of hummus flavors! Hope everyone enjoys beans ;-)

    I'm definitely open to ideas if you've got them. Gluten-free would be fantastic. I made some chickpea flour and thought about making socca. But I've never made it so is now the time to try? Maybe we can do pizzas tomorrow.....can't go wrong with pizza right???

    Fun Facts Friday - Things I Suck At
    I was struggling with some sort of Fun Facts Friday theme for today. I don't want it to be annoying or boring. Last week it was sort of mushy in a way. I read Eden @ Eden Eats' post today, and decided to "borrow" her idea: Things I Suck At. Hope you don't mind Eden!

    Of course it sounds sort of negative, but come on, we all have things we stink at right? I think they can be funny (check out Eden's post if you don't believe me). So, here are just a few of the things I suck at:

    • Lying - I can't lie to save my life. My face is an open book of expression.
    • Moderation - as I mentioned previously, if 5 is good 10 is better. I can't have just 1 can of artichokes, I must have 3; no way can there only be 2 apples, gotta have 5 (or 6). If I'm making food, it should feed 6 not 2. 

    • Taking risks - I may want desperately to jump without looking, to wear rockstar heels, to get more tattoos, in reality I'm a straight and narrow girl typically taking the safest route. 
    • Accepting compliments - I often think someone is just saying something nice to be nice not because they mean it. Or, quite frankly, I just don't believe them because I don't believe in myself perhaps. 
    • Patience - I have none. Period.
    • Forgiveness - This is a biggy. I hold onto things and don't let go. When someone hurts me, I have a nearly impossible time being able to forgive and move on.
    • Reading directions - not driving directions, assembly directions. 
    • Being a nurse - While I am a giver, I am always wanting to please others, always wanting to do for others, don't ask me to care for you if you're sick. And don't worry, I don't expect to be taken care of either, maybe that's part of the problem.
    • Not being stubborn - To say that I'm a stubborn ass is a total understatement. I blame my father plain and simple, and he'd totally agree.
    So, what do you suck at?

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Vegan Thai Curry Veggies for Thursday & Weight Day

    Needles Suck
    Well today was one of those, I REALLY don't want to go to work days. This morning I had to do a fasted blood draw at 7:15. Friends, this chick HATES needles. Hate is even an understatement. Since the age of 18, this is the 3rd time I've had blood drawn (I'm 36). I have been known to pass out cold. Oh, and I'm not one who can get up and not eat breakfast. I almost always wake up hungry. A couple of problems with the whole morning fast thing: 1) not a morning person, 2) hungry, 3) really ugly when I'm hungry, 4) even uglier when I'm hungry and it's early in the morning.

    I don't know what it is, but there is a certain pain that a needle causes me that I just can't take. I can take on a lot of other pain, but needles are my downfall. I wanted to cry and throw a big fat childish fit even. I didn't though. I kept composure, warned the lady I might pass out, took it like a grown up, and thankfully stayed alert. I think that deserves a day off! ;-)

    Gym Day
    Despite soreness setting in from the blood draw, I really wanted to get in a workout today so I could take tomorrow off. Friday Free Day! So, today was Day 2 of Week 2 of the total body workout rotation. Same as last week's Day 2 only done as supersets with goal of increasing weight 1.25-2%. I started off with 10 minutes on the elliptical then got going on my weights.

    SS#1
    Arnold press
    Alternating dumbbell curls

    SS#2
    Flat bench dumbbell press
    Single-arm row

    SS#3
    Cross-body curls
    Lying dumbbell triceps extension

    SS#4
    Calf raises 3x15
    Rear-leg elevated lunges

    *SS#5
    Squats with standing squat machine
    Prone leg curls for hamstrings

    I got in some ab work then headed back to the elliptical for about 5 minutes.

    * SS#5 deviated from last week's workout. I decided I wanted to try the squats machine again, but remembered why I don't like it. Maybe I'm a complete dodo, but I didn't feel like my form was correct at all. The machine wouldn't allow for me to squat parallel. Maybe my height? Anyway, lesson learned, I'll be sticking to dumbbells and barbells.

    Thai Curry Thursday
    I got home and really had zero desire to do any cooking. I had made some rice earlier in the week thinking we'd do stir fry. It just had no appeal to me though. I really really wanted to cookout. It was a fantastic 77 degrees today. But, we really didn't have anything to grill.

    While I was getting cleaned up, Jason threw together a Thai Curry Veggies dish to server over the ready-made rice. It worked. But I feel like I've been losing creativity in the kitchen again. I guess it's time to come up with some new warmer weather dishes.
    Recycled photo as it almost always seems to look the same ;-)

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Where Has My Mojo Gone?

    Compliment
    I forgot to mention a compliment I received at the gym yesterday. Normally I try to not make any eye contact with any of the men. Half the time I feel like they're ogling. Which I think is kind of funny because I certainly do NOT feel like hot stuff - maybe a hot mess - but not hot stuff.

    Anyway, I had just finished warming up on the elliptical and was starting to set up for weights. There was a man over in the weight area and he had just pulled the plates from the barbell on one of the racks. I asked if he was done, and he was. He had the bar was set up high. So I started to pull the bar down so I could adjust the height and such. He started to walk over towards me and then stopped himself. He said, "I was going to ask if you needed help, but clearly you got it." It's nice being seen as strong and not some scrawny girl. This is why I love lifting weights.

    Missing My Mojo
    Today was finally, finally sunny. Even better, it was warm. A tad windy, but I'll take that since I got to see some sunshine. I was really dragging my feet about getting out for a run. I had packed up my bag to change at work then drive down to the river trail. I guess I've just been feeling in a bit of a rut. Same old think Mon-Fri. Day in and day out. Workouts are fairly planned out run, weights, run, weights, cross train, run, weights....you get the picture. Big old blah on the motivation front. I guess I'm sort of going through half training withdrawals. I was so incredibly focused on an end goal. Now I don't have that. I used to not think I was so goal driven, but maybe I am more than I realized.

    I knew that it wasn't an issue of a rest day that was causing this lack of motivation. I also knew that once I got my butt outside and started moving, I'd be so happy I did. I mean, I am solar powered right ;-) As predicted, once I got my running duds on, I already had a spring in my step. By the time I got to the river, I was ready to go. And go I did. I ended up running a very solid 6 miles then finished up with 6 pickups. It felt so good when all was said and done.

    I did realize, however, I'm going to have to re-acclimate myself back to running in warmer weather. It was 70 degrees, but man oh man it felt like dead of summer halfway into the run. I can hardly believe I used to run in 90 degree temps.

    Way Easy Dinner
    Tonight we're having baked sweet potato "fries" with some veggie burgers I had stashed in the freezer. It's the last of them, and I don't even know the flavor to be honest. Guess I need to add "make veggie burgers" to my to-do list this weekend. I figured that you have seen enough of my veggie burger/fry combos that I'll forgo the picture tonight. I'm kind of ready to just sit back and relax - and enjoy this late sunlight!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Taco Bowl Tuesday & Total Body Workout Week 2

    Gym Day
    Today's weight workout marks Day 1 of Week 2 of the total body rotation. This week is the same as last week, only you superset the exercises with the goal of increasing weights by 1.25-2%. The sets are done as 3x5. I started off with 10 minutes on the treadmill then hit the weights.

    Push ups - warm up set of 24

    SS#1
    Chest fly into chest press
    Underhand barbell row

    SS#2
    Squats
    Stiff legged deadlifts

    SS#3
    Hammer curls
    Double-arm overhead triceps extension

    SS#4
    Static lunges
    Upright rows

    I also did some ab work before finishing off with 10 minutes on the elliptical. I was going to do 15 minutes, but the man next to me smelled so bad, I really couldn't stomach another minute. Another reason why fans (ceiling at the very least) are ideal at the gym.

    Other than the unpleasant smell and lack of air movement, the workout was pretty good. I was able to go heavier for some exercises, but not for others. I guess I need to start taking my weighted gloves to the gym with me so I can micro load. My gym bag is already so heavy though. Even though I wasn't able to increase weights for all exercises, that's ok. I'm happy with the workout and that's what matters right?

    What are your thoughts on micro loading rather than trying to increase by larger increments (e.g., from 20 to 25 pounds)?


    Taco Tuesday 
    Tonight fajitas were on the menu. Though, the sun had finally come out and it was light later so grilling actually seemed more appealing had I had more things to grill.

    Anyway, I ended up turning my fajita filling into a Fajita Taco Salad Bowl...for Taco Tuesday of course. I just sauteed red and green bell peppers, white onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and homemade seitan with spices like cumin, cilantro, red pepper, chili powder, salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

    I served in a taco bowl (here's how I make them) with lettuce and spinach. I topped my taco bowl with vegan cheese and jalapenos (the more the better). Jason had traditional fajitas rather than the taco bowl. One filling, two ways to use. Do you prefer traditional fajitas or a salad bowl?

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Comfort Chowder and Vegan Mac n' Cheese

    Sunday Comfort Meal
    I did manage to get on two coats of paint for the TV stand. My only concern is that the paint will scratch off very easily. I guess it'll due for now at least. It definitely looks better than the black that it was.

    Jason, having been sick, was wanting something warm and comforting. It was fairly chilly and gray out, so soup sounded good. He originally mentioned a baked potato soup as we had two baking potatoes. I really didn't feel like that much potato for dinner. I ended up going with a made-up concoction for a chowder. I had used a recipe for a corn chowder ages ago, no idea where it is, so I figured I could wing it. Luckily, winging it worked nicely. 

    Corn and Cannellini Bean Chowder
    Ingredients:
    3 small/medium carrots, diced
    1/2 white onion, diced
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    2 tbps minced garlic
    1 russet potato, cubed
    1 can lite coconut milk
    1 1/2 cups cannellini or white beans
    10 oz frozen corn
    1 not-chikn bouillon cube
    3 cups water
    To taste: salt, pepper, old bay seasoning, parsley, liquid smoke
    For garnish: tempeh bacon

    Directions:
    In large soup pot, saute carrots, onions, peppers, and garlic for about 5 minutes, then add in the potatoes and seasonings. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes until carrots begin to soften. Add in remaining ingredients, minus the tempeh bacon.

    Allow to simmer and thicken for about 25-30 minutes. Then use an immersion blender or potato smasher to slightly mash/puree (but don't puree completely) the chowder. This will create a thicker, creamier chowder.

    This is such a keeper of a recipe. I wish I would have made it earlier during winter! It would likely be good as a cold soup as well though.

    Dreary Monday & No Energy
    This morning was really rough. Not only was it tough getting up because of the time change, but we had storms roll through as well. Heath is terrified of storms, so he was banging at his kennel and freaking out. This of course meant no sleep for us. It was dark and dreary, so that certainly didn't make it any easier to peel myself out of bed.

    By the end of the day, I felt like I just wanted to curl up and snooze. I came really close to forgoing the gym. But, I had my bag packed. I promised myself that all I had to do was 15 minutes and if I was still no feeling it, then I could pack it up early.

    I ended up doing 30 minutes on the treadmill then 20 on the elliptical for a solid, sweaty 50-minute cardio session. It definitely made me feel better. But today was one of those days when it was really hard to determine if I truly needed the rest day or if I just thought I needed it - if that makes sense.

    More Comfort on Monday
    Dinner was almost going to be fajitas for Mexican Monday. Instead, we had Macaroni Monday. I know, stop and think about that one for a minute ;-) As I mentioned, Jason has been pretty cruddy feeling lately. Yesterday he wanted comfort food and we ended up with the Corn and Cannellini Bean Chowder.

    He had originally wanted mac n' cheese. Mind you, I've never made mac n' cheese from scratch. I am really not a big fan of it to be honest. Jason, however, loves it but avoids it now because of his dairy allergies. So, this is something he's been wanting me to make for a while now - a vegan version to boot.


    Comforting Vegan Mac n' Cheese
    Ingredients
    6 oz whole-wheat pasta (I only had rotini and make sure it's not made with eggs)
    1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    1 tbsp (mabye 1.5) Earth Balance vegan "butter"
    1 1/2 tbsp spelt flour
    1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
    1 tsp ground flax seeds
    To taste: salt, pepper, parsley
    1/2 package Daiya Vegan Cheddar (plus a little more for topping)
    Optional - panko bread crumbs

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Cook pasta according to package directions and drained.

    In medium saucepan, melt the vegan butter and stir in the nutritional yeast flakes and flour until completely incorporated. Add in milk, spices, and flax. Allow to simmer and thicken being sure to whisk often (about 15 minutes). When thickens, add in the Daiya and turn off the heat whisking it in until fully incorporated.

    In a prepared baking dish, add in the pasta and pour the "cheese" over the top and combine (can also do this in a separate bowl). Top with a little more Daiya and panko bread crumbs.

    Bake until golden, approximately 25 minutes.

    I served this with roasted onions, squash, and zucchini seasoned with salt, pepper, minced garlic, drizzle of olive oil, and parsley and baked BBQ Seitan Patties. I took homemade seitan patties and simply basted them with a BBQ sauce (preferably no corn syrup). I baked for 15 minutes then flipped, basting again and baking another 10 minutes.
    The verdict? Jason was really happy with it. He said it was rich and creamy and better than anything out of a box. So, I guess my job here is done.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    High Reps Weights, Honesty, & Home Project

    High Rep Day
    I really hate the time change. Ok, so hate might be overkill. I love that it stays light later. That part is fantastic. But to lose an hour on the already short weekend? I felt like I was already behind when I got up the morning. Not the best way to start the day.

    It was sunny at least, for a bit I should say. I got out of bed at 8:30 (feeling late of course). I had my breakfast then piddled a bit before getting to my workout. Today is Day 3 of Week 1 of the total body rotation. It called for 2 sets of 15 reps done as straight sets.

    Double-arm triceps kickbacks
    Lateral shoulder raise
    Pullovers
    Incline chest press
    Incline biceps curls
    Squats
    Plie Squats

    Firewalkers - 2x6
    Weighted donkey kicks - 2x18
    Roll ins and hip lifts on ball for hamstrings
    Inner thigh squeezes with ball

    I did the high intensity HiiT segment from Cathe's Intensity workout to hit the legs more then did just 2 combos from MMA Kickboxing (love boxing/kickboxing after upper body weights) then the abs from High Reps. Sounds like a ton, but it took just over an hour all together.

    Honesty 
    We had thought we were going to go help my sister move today. But she didn't call back last night or this morning. She did finally call while I was working out, and by the time I got done and returned the call, she said everything was under control. They had gotten everything pretty much packed up and loaded yesterday, so today was just unpacking.

    I know this will sound ugly (but I'm honest), I was sort of happy not to have to drive down there today (an hour away). We're going to be there next Saturday for a housewarming party. And with gas prices, already one hour missing from the day, I just wanted to be home and get things done that needed getting done: laundry, grocery store, cooking off chickpeas, more weeding in the garden and flower beds.

    Does that just sound awful? Because I do sort of feel pretty awful for thinking that way. I feel so protective over my weekends sometimes. Do you ever do that or think that way? You know you should do one thing, but don't because you're selfish?

    Home Work
    I did manage to get quite a bit done today. We hit up Kroger, I got laundry washed, more weeding done in the yard and started on a new painting/decor project. We have to have a corner tv stand because we chose to use the dining room as the living room because the living room is the pool room. We found a black corner stand many many many years ago.

    It's not special. It was about 80 bucks from Wal-Mart. Definitely not real wood. The glass front door has long since vanished (meaning it was broken in a sad candle accident). But any other corner stands we like are costly. Since I painted the trim in the living room white, the black just really stands out in a bad way.

    I finally decided to try to paint it. Granted, not real wood...so may not work. But it was worth a shot at least. I did two coats of primer so far. As long as the outside surfaces take the paint, I'm far less concerned about the inside of the unit. Here is what it's looking like after two coats - some of the black is still showing through on the insides, but that will be hidden by doors at least. 

    Fingers crossed this works or we're going to have one ugly stand until we can save up for a nice one! Do you ever start a project that you're not sure is going to pan out? Or are you really careful about such projects?

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Speedy Run & Short Saturday Post

    This morning started off bright and sunny (and windy). I was so happy that the temps were finally on the up and up too. I knew I wanted to get out for a longer run today, and the weather was mostly perfect. The exception? That pesky 20+ mph gusting wind.

    Jason has been sick all week, and I knew he wouldn't be up for a run. But, while I ran, he could take the pups to the dog park that just happens to be right there where I like to run. Super convenient. Of course, the dog park meant a different starting point other than the actual bridge, so my mile marks were thrown off. I ended up doing 7.9 miles rather than a nicely rounded out 8. But, I was really happy with my speed (maintained an 8:28 average pace) and the fact that I didn't really have any major pain other than my darn calves. Oh, and a blister spot that just won't toughen up.

    It was definitely a much more pleasant run temperature wise compared to my half marathon day. It was hovering right at 70 degrees and sunny. Hello salty crusted self post-run!

    I definitely  hit the TriggerPoint Therapy Kit hard after the run. I know I can't get lazy about that just because I'm not training for a race. And, with adding leg weights back into my workout routine, my legs are definitely tighter again. 

    We managed to find a passport office that was open today. So, we finally got that done. It only took an hour including the wait time. Not too terrible. But I am amazed at the fact that people show up completely unprepared: no paperwork completed, no photos, and one family ahead of us apparently was missing ID.

    Now we are just hoping that the passports show up in time for our trip to Seattle at the end of April. Yes, I know, you don't need a passport to travel to Seattle ;-) But, while we're there, our friends wanted to take a train up to Canada. We didn't get to do that the last time we were there for a visit, so this time we're making it a point to do. I think it'll be fun. Any Canadian friends up for a meet up????

    We had a very very late lunch after all was said and done. Right now we're going to just enjoy the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we're supposed to head out of town to help my sister move, so I feel almost like the weekend is already over. I had really hoped to get outside and get some yard work done. It's really depressing looking at the yard and garden spot right now. Maybe we'll be able to get a little bit done tomorrow evening since we'll finally have longer daylight!

    I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Fun Facts Friday - Being Thankful in Midst of Tragedy

    Punching into Friday
    By some crazy miracle, I woke up on my own around 5:40 this morning with energy to get in my workout. I didn't bother setting my alarm early. I had pretty much resolved myself to a second rest day unless for some reason I woke up early enough on my own.

    Since I woke up, I took that as a sign to get it done. I went with Cathe's MMA Boxing as it's a relatively uncomplicated workout for a complicated hour.

    It did feel good to be up and moving, blood pumping rather than dragging myself into the bathroom to start getting ready in a total stupor. Of course, I was yawning by 10 am ;-)

    Fun Facts Friday - Being Thankful in Midst of Tragedy
    Of course today is Fun Facts Friday. I was really struggling with fun facts though in light of the terrible earthquake and tsunami tragedy that we've all seen unfold today. When so many people are suffering, so many lives lost and destroyed, it does make it hard to openly brag about gorgeous weather, sunny skies, and such.

    However, at the same time, when tragedy strikes, it does tend to make one appreciate all of those things and more. So today my fun facts are the simple joys of today, the things that have made me smile, made me thankful.

    • Sunshine
    • Trees beginning to bloom
    • Creeping phlox in full bloom (it came from my great grandmother's property)
    • The single purple iris about to bloom (also from great grandmother's property)
    • Warmer weather
    • Opening my sunroof 
    • Kind words from friends
    • Random smiles from strangers (totally offset lady running red light and almost hitting me in crosswalk) 
    • Getting errands done at lunch
    • Freshly painted fingernails 
    What are you thankful for today?

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Gym Day & Vegan Habanero Chili Kind of Night

    Gym Day
    Today is Day 2 of Week 1 of my 12-week total body rotation. I did a warm up of 10 minutes on the elliptical. The following exercises are done as 3 sets of 8 reps (straight sets).

    Arnold press
    Alternating dumbbell curls
    Flat bench dumbbell press
    Single-arm row
    Cross-body curls
    Lying dumbbell triceps extension
    Calf raises (skipped these today as calves still pretty tight)
    Rear-leg elevated lunges
    Squats
    Alternating plie squats

    I did some ab exercises then headed back to the elliptical for about 10 minutes. It was a pretty good workout overall. Though, I was really more than ready to be done with it about 45 minutes in. I honestly wasn't feeling just super motivated today to begin with.

    Spice Anyone?
    Speaking of not motivated, I wasn't really highly motivated to make anything special for dinner. I had a few ideas, but in the end, Jason is making a Habanero 2-Bean Tempeh Chili.

    Habanero 2-Bean Tempeh Chili
    Ingredients:
    1/2 yellow onion, diced (or whole if small)
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    2 tbsp minced garlic
    1 1/2 cups red kidney beans
    1 1/2 cups black beans
    1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
    1-2 tbsp tomato paste
    1 habanero, seeded, de-veined, minced (please wear gloves) or jalapeno peppers
    No-salt vegetable broth to consistency
    Spices to taste: sea salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, chili powder
    1 package tempeh, crumbled and browned

    Directions:
    In large pot, saute onions, bell peppers, and garlic until they begin to soften (approximately 5 minutes). Add in tomatoes, broth, beans, habanero, tempeh, and spices. Let simmer over low heat approximately 30 minutes. Stir paste, let chili continue to simmer and thicken approximately 30 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors will meld.
     
    If you like spice, you'll like this one ;-)

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Back to Running & Stir Fry for Wok Wednesday

    Windy Wednesday = Treadmill 
    So today I had these grandiose plans for a fabulous 6-mile run after work. It was supposed to be partly cloudy and around 59. Um, apparently the weather folks forgot to check outside today. It was more like no sun (at all), gusting 25 mph winds, 48 with wind chill of 41. So off the mark on that one guys.

    I really had no other back up workout plans I did weights yesterday. I really didn't want to wait around until 5:30 for spin, step was out of the question as calves are still too tight for that. So, I decided to hit the gym and split up cardio time between the treadmill and the elliptical.

    I started with the treadmill for 2 miles then did 6 1-minute athletic intervals then ran to round out to 4 miles before heading over to the elliptical to finish out another 10 minutes. I really would have preferred that my first run post half marathon be outside, but this worked. I was a sweaty mess once done.

    I got home and hit the yoga mat for stretching and rolling with TriggerPoint Therapy Kit .

    Wok Wednesday 
    Originally I had thought I might do fajitas for dinner. But when I asked Jason what he preferred - fajitas or stir fry - he opted for stir fry. I did have lots of fresh veggies to use and had some brown rice in the freezer. I made a quick Peanut Butter Miso Stir Fry Sauce. I apologize for not measuring the ingredients. I just eyeballed to the consistency that I wanted and the flavor profile that seemed right.

    Peanut Butter Miso Stir Fry Sauce 
    Ingredients:
    Soy sauce
    OJ
    Miso paste
    Sriracha
    Honey
    Fresh grated ginger
    Garlic
    PB2 (or creamy peanut butter)

    Directions:
    Whisk all ingredients together to desired consistency.

    It really turned out to be a pretty good sauce if I say so myself. For the stir fry itself, I used broccoli, carrots, red, green and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, edamame, purple cabbage, and Quorn nuggets. I topped with some raw cashews for crunch.

    It was nice having all fresh veggies rather than just pulling out the pre-chopped bag of mixed frozen veggies. What are your favorite veggies for stir fry dishes? I love the cute baby corn, but can't seem to find them at the grocery store we typically go to.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    New Total Body Workout Rotation & Sweet Potato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

    Trying Start
    Today was one of those days when things just seem to be going against you. It started off relatively ok. I even got to work early. I'll blame it all on the rain for what happened during lunch though. Jason and I need to get our passports ASAP. When we go to visit our friends in Seattle at the end of next month, they want to go up to Canada since we didn't get to do that during our last visit.

    So, it's raining and yuck. Jason thinks maybe the lines at the Post Office for passports will be short. I had all the paperwork ready. The photos and ID stuff was at the house though. I didn't know he was going to want to go at like 10:30, but he did. I had a last minute fire to put out on a project then I rushed out. I realized the new umbrella I spent 13 bucks on yesterday was a tiny POS! It was pouring down, my feet were wet, my pants wet all by the time I crossed the street to Jason's office. And the kicker...I had forgot the paperwork on my desk.

    So, back across the street, back up to the 10th floor then start all over again. When we got home, I ran upstairs to grab socks and new shoes then out the door. Oh, new shoes because not only were they soaked, but I stepped in mushy dog poop kindly left on the walkway. Nice. So, back to the Post Office just in time to be told that they were not going to take any more applications until after lunch (12:30). Speaking of lunch, I had intended on eating mine at around 11 at the office. So back at home, I had to just wait on Jason with a grumbling tummy and a super grumpy attitude.

    Total Body Rotation Take 3
    Anyway...I did grab my gym bag and set up a new weight rotation to start. It's based on the 8-week total body rotation I've done before. The first half is more building and the second half is more cutting/leaning. I am going to do the first half twice through before moving to the cutting phase. So this is going to give me a 12-week weight rotation.

    The idea is that weeks 1 and 2 are the same exercises and reps/sets, but week 1 is straight set and week 2 is done as supersets increasing the weights 1.25-2%. Then weeks 3 and 4 it's the same set up, only you use different exercises. It's really fun because it goes quickly, it doesn't get boring or repetitive, and it keeps you building up the weights.

    It's normally supposed to be done with 1-2 exercises per muscle group 3 x a week. But I am taking 2 days where I add extra legs and one day that is upper only. I have done it as originally prescribed before, but didn't have very good results with my legs. The last time I did this, I changed up how I did legs and saw much better results. If you want to see the original set up, check out this article total-body training method by Chad Waterbury

    Enough of that...Today started with the following straight sets done as 3x5:

    Push ups - warm up set of 24
    Chest fly into chest press
    Underhand barbell row
    Squats
    Stiff legged deadlifts
    Hammer curls
    Double-arm overhead triceps extension
    Static lunges
    Upright rows

    I also added on some abs exercises and some elliptical time (10 to warm up and 15 to end).

    Too Easy
    Dinner tonight was super simple as it was mostly already made for me. I used the rest of the Sweet Potato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce from my pre-race dinner to make a Sweet Potato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup. All I did was take the leftover sauce, add it into a sauce pan with no-salt vegetable broth (to desired consistency) and let it heat through.

    I also made some grilled "cheese" sandwiches with almond cheese, spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and artichoke hearts. This is a grown-up version of grilled cheese with tomato soup if you ask me. Most definitely something you could serve to guests and they'd feel special.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Resting Up & Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

    Race Night Ouchies 
    My calves were hating me yesterday after the race. My low back was getting tight, and I knew that was linked to my piriformis and sciatic nerve. Gradually, it just kept getting worse and my sciatica was hurting terribly.

    Standing actually felt better than sitting, but just standing in your living room gets a little ridiculous after a bit. Standing to make dinner was actually good for me, kept me moving. I made my Spicy White Chili - but this time I roasted the bell peppers, onions, poblano peppers, and garlic. It imparted such fantastic flavor and richness.

    I went to bed and crashed hard. I slept over 11 solid hours and it felt fantastic. I had taken the day off because I knew I'd want to relax and rest up. I will admit feeling just a hair guilty for not getting lots done on my day off.

    Rest Day Monday
    At one point I even flirted with the idea of doing at least biceps. Don't worry, I stood up from the couch and remembered why I had taken the day off. Thankfully my piriformis and sciatic area aren't hurting today. My calves are really tight and my hamstrings are slowly getting tighter. Again, I tried to just stand and move around as much as possible.

    I gladly made some more homemade seitan and some bread. I also ran an errand (The Limited for me) and a quick trip to Kroger to pick up some red bell peppers for dinner. I had just enough Baked Italian-Style Quinoa leftover to stuff some red bell peppers with. I figured this would be a good way to have a fairly quick and easy dinner and use up leftovers at the same time.

    For the peppers, all I did was take the tops off, remove the seeds and ribbing. I filled with the quinoa mixture, placed in baking dish, tented and baked at 400 degrees until the peppers were soft.I topped them with some grated almond cheese and baked until melted and served with some fresh bread I made today.