Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apple Pie Cookies & Vegan Grilling

Resting
Last night I set out all my running gear and set the alarm for 5am for my typical Thursday morning run. When the alarm went off, I automatically got up and stumbled into the bathroom to change. My hips were sore (mostly left side and not sure what's going on there), my legs heavy, and my heart just not into this morning.

I went back to bed sort of feeling a bit guilty for not getting out there and getting it done. Also started thinking about how not running was going to throw off my schedule workouts for the rest of the week. I never really even fell back asleep, just dozed. But you know what, that's what I needed.

So no morning run for me. I'll either get a run in tomorrow morning or maybe do something crazy insane like speed work on the dreadmill. At least it's air conditioned at the gym...well, sort of. It gets pretty freaking hot since the treadmills are up in the windows basking in radiant heat.

Baking & Grilling
Looking at the upside, I had some free time at lunch (no 2-a-day) to work on some laundry. This evening I was able to get more food prepped for Saturday's pool party and some general cleaning accomplished.

For Saturday, I wanted to try the chickpea cookie balls in an apple pie flavor. I thought it was kind of a perfect theme for the 4th of July. I am pretty happy with how these turned out. I think just a few minor tweaks is all they might need, but overall, winner. --Edited---

Apple Pie Chickpea Cookie Balls
Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
*1/8 apple, large dice (I used Granny Smith, this was about 3 slices)
20-25 drops NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla
To taste: ground cinnamon, ground cloves
2 tbsp rice flour
1 - 1 1/2 tsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk (optional and only if dough is too dry)
1/3 cup apple finely diced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

After rinsing chickpeas, gentle rub them between your fingers to remove the outer skin. This sounds time-consuming, but it's kind of fun.

In food processor, blend all ingredients up to the finely diced apple. Process until forms a smooth ball of dough. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix in apples.

Form into small balls and place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

*I used the apple in the blender because I did not have any applesauce. Next time, I want to try 1-2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce.

For dinner, I decided to grill out. I really wasn't sure what I was going to do as my meal plan got upended yesterday. I ended up making grilled BBQ setian cutlets, grilled veggies (zucchini, squash, onion, tomatoes), and grilled sweet potatoes.

For the veggies, I grilled all but the tomatoes until done then added the tomatoes last minute just to warm through. I served with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

 
This felt like one of those ideal summer dinners. Now if only it weren't so hot out so we could enjoy dining on the patio.

And before I forget, I really want to thank you all for your encouraging words and support for my work project - Mother Hood. You guys are so awesome. Truly. Thank you.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run (nixed)
  • Rest day (unplanned but enjoyed)
  • Dinner at the table

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

All Good: Workouts, Work, Dinner - Balsamic Basil Tofu

Good Workout - Biceps & Spin
So I'm a big fat liar. Just putting that out there. Today I decided to do biceps before spin. Yes, there's the lie. Yesterday I said no spin for today. Of course, I was being slightly irrational because my legs felt like lead weights. Never listen to someone when they make declarations in moments of weakness - just sayin'.

I knew that I would have time to get there before class and hit at least one muscle group. I've been wanting to add drop sets back into my workouts for a week or so. It makes for a quick workout, but an effective one.

I warmed up on the elliptical for 5 minutes just to get the blood pumping, then hit the weights.

Hammer curls - 3x10
Dumbbell curls - 6,8,10 (decreasing weight with each increase in rep and with no rest between)
Cross-body curls - 2x8

It was great working only one muscle group to be honest. Totally focused on just the biceps and felt fairly strong even through the drop sets (which are always deceiving). I then did spin class, which was a much more fun class than on Monday. First off, no low-ceiling/hovers, lots more laughter, a great stress reliever.

Good Work Day
Today was a, dare I say, fun day at work. I don't really talk about my job and what I do often. I think my work is separate from my personal life. But, this is kind of exciting and may appeal to some of you (moms or perhaps aunts). I've been really working hard at trying to position myself more in a social media role in my department.

We've launched a Facebook page and Twitter profile for one initiative within the company. So I've been getting my feet wet for about a year and a half. They were finally convinced that we should move forward with another social media initiative. This one is for moms (totally up my alley right LOL) - it's basically meant to be an online network/community for moms to share with other moms as well as a resource base of informative health and wellness articles and information. Not selling anything, just acting as a resource.

Since I know many of you are moms, it would mean a great deal if you could check out our new Facebook page - Mother Hood. Of course, I'd be super happy if you "liked" us, but would also be interested in feedback as well. What are some of your interests, favorite sites, money saving tips, favorite healthy recipes...anything. We really want to focus on health and wellness, and this also includes workout tips for moms with busy schedules. Again, zero pressure, no sales, nada. Just a resource community.

Good Dinner
I had planned on making a Grilled Tofu & Veggie Salad for dinner tonight. However, we sort of blew through the lettuce so that kind of nixed that plan. I decided to move to plan B which involved strawberry salsa, but that started getting overly complicated (who me? complicated?). So I went to plan C - Balsamic Basil Tofu with Garlicky Tomato Barley. That's not complicated at all either is it?


Balsamic Basil Tofu with Garlicky Tomato Barley
Ingredients:
Tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed and drained
Fresh basil - maybe 1/4 cup
Balsamic vinegar - approximately 1/4 cup
Very small drizzle extra-virgin olive oil (maybe tsp)
To taste: salt, pepper, agave nectar (optional)


Barley:
1 cup barley*
3 cups water
1 container (12 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine (may need just a little more if sauce is too dry)
To taste: salt, black pepper, red chili pepper flakes, nutritional yeast flakes
Fresh spinach (however much you like)
Fresh basil - finely chopped (to taste)


Directions:
Blend together the balsamic vinegar, basil, salt, pepper, and agave until smooth. Marinate the tofu in balsamic mixture for at least 30 minutes. Then bake at 400 degrees until firm, flipping once.

Once tofu is done, cube and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the barley per package directions (this will take approximately 50 minutes).

In a large, non-stick skillet saute the tomatoes, garlic, and just a pinch of salt on low. Once the tomatoes begin to soften, light mash with a fork to release the juices (watch for splattering). Add in the pepper, chili flakes, prepared barley, and spinach. Cook until spinach begins to wilt then toss in the tofu. Re-season if needed.

*Note - you may not use all the barley depending on your preferences for more barley vs more sauce. This made about 3 cups and I only used 2. Barley does freeze well if you have leftovers.
 

This really turned out very well, especially for a plan C recipe. The barley would actually be a really good side as well.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Noon sweatfest
  • Movie with hubby

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No 2-a-Day Tuesday but BBQ Tempeh & Portobello Sandwiches

No Two on Tuesday
5 am came way too fast for me this morning. Jason and I were planning on what has become our typical Tuesday morning run. There was a slight chance of rain, and I was actually hoping to be woken by thunder perhaps so I could call off the run without guilt.

Alas, no rain. But thanks to the chance, the humidity was insane. It was already 85 degrees when we hit the pavement at 5:45. There was no breeze to help out with the humidity factor either. I absolutely could not stop sweating. I looked like I had just stepped out of the pool within the first 5 minutes of the run.

My legs were insanely heavy. At 2 miles in, I really thought I might cut it short for a 4-miler. But I kept on going and things seemed to click for a while. It wasn't easy peasy mind you, but I was bopping right along totally zoning out. Then my hips started to get tighter and tighter. The last half mile was fairly brutal as the wind decided to kick up. Oh now we get wind. It felt good on the skin, but not for the resistance factor.

I ended up hitting 6 miles though. I am very pleased with that. It feels good to have 6 as a base run. It gives me hope that I may be able to throw my hat into the ring for another half marathon soon (yes Jess & Jo, you know what I'm talking about). Tomorrow may end up having to be a rest day or a weights only day for me. Not sure I can manage anything that requires the use of my legs other than walking. Let's just say no 2 on Tuesday for me this week.

Happy Surprise
I love getting great mail. It just makes my day. Whether it's something I've ordered (hello new Old Navy outfit that arrived yesterday), new running shoes, a blog giveaway win, or just a nice card, I love getting personal mail.

So when I found this awesome package waiting for me on the porch at lunch, I was ecstatic. Totally made up for the fact that the day had turned dark and rainy. I won this fantastic box of goodies from the fabulous Amy at Healthy, Hungry, Happy.
It's filled with many gluten-free and vegan treats that I love:
  • 2 Apple Cinnamon Pure Organic bars-Gluten free, vegan, organic, raw
  • 2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bars-Gluten free, kosher
  • 2 Cranberry Almond Kind Bars- Vegan, gluten free
  • 2 Barney Butter Almond Butter packs- Gluten free, peanut free
  • 3 Raw Revolution 100 mini bars- Vegan, raw, organic
Oh and if you want to get your hands on this stash, check out her store. Thanks again Amy!

BBQ Dinner
On Sunday I did myself a big favor and really took stock of what we had on the fridge and pantry and tried to make out a meal plan for the week. On tonight's menu: BBQ Tempeh and Portobello Sandwiches with bake sweet potato fries (of course).

BBQ Tempeh and Portobello Sandwiches
Ingredients:
1 package tempeh
1 large portobello, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
To taste: salt, pepper, minced garlic (go light because you will use BBQ sauce too)
BBQ Sauce - your favorite brand and to desired amount
1/2 cup water (approximate)
Sandwich bread/buns/thins of your choice

Directions:
In large, non-stick skillet, crumble the tempeh into pan and saute along with the onions, peppers, and minced garlic for about 5 minutes. Add in the portobello mushrooms, spices, water and BBQ sauce. Cover and allow to cook until mushrooms begin to soften. Uncover to let thicken if needed.

I think I may becoming a bit addicted to BBQ sauce. And while BBQ sauce and portobellos might not sound like a winning combo, I assure you, it really is quite tasty. I will warn you, you will need extra napkins and a for for this dinner. And do you spell it portobello or portabella? Just curious, I see it both ways.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run with the hubby
  • Not having to think about dinner (planned out the meals on Sunday)
  • Watching a movie (still undecided) 
  • Extra time in the kitchen to get food started for Saturday pool party

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Salads and Crazy Spin

Sunday Grilling
We had a great time with our friends playing around in the pool yesterday afternoon. They brought their 13-year old son plus tons of pool toys like beach balls and a blow-up basketball hoop. There was a nice breeze so it really wasn't overwhelmingly hot, despite the fact that it was close to 100 degrees. That's what pools are made for though right?

I had made Strawberry Salsa and Seitan cutlets first thing in the mornings to use for dinner. It was too nice out not to grill. I have been wanting to try to recreate a salad that our friends (the ones we visited in Florida) have made for me several times. It has green beans, potatoes, artichokes, and romaine lettuce. I think the dressing is a combo of Dijon, olive oil, and lemon juice, perhaps garlic. I decided to try to make my own grilled version.

Grilled Green Bean, Potato & Artichoke Salad
Ingredients:
Salad:
5-6 red new potatoes (depending on size), cubed
Fresh green beans, just to desired amount
1/2 can artichoke hearts, rough chop
Lettuce (I only had red leaf, romaine is ideal), rough chop

Dressing:
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Minced garlic
Salt and pepper


Directions:
In large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for dressing. Basically just to your desired taste preferences. Add in the artichokes, then set aside.

Grill new potatoes and green beans in veggie basket until done and toss into the dressing. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before adding in the lettuce. Toss again then serve.
 

I'll admit, this salad probably called for a different seitan sauce other than the salsa. But I just couldn't resist the strawberries when I was at the store and had to have them for dinner.

Monday Spin Day
Today I decided to hit spin class. Spin is probably not the wisest choice the day after a leg workout, but I don't always make the best decisions of course. Or maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment.

I will say that doing some sort of cardio really does help work out the kinks despite how torturous it feels at the present moment. I promise. Really. It does help. Plus, I really enjoy the atmosphere of the day spin class vs the evening class. Maybe people just haven't gotten super pissy just yet, but they're more fun. Laughter mid-day on a Monday is a very good thing.

Though today, I was in for a rude awakening. The instructor for the evening classes was teaching today. He's a big fan of low-ceilings/hovers. Ouch, ouch, ouch. 

Super Pasta Salad
I did really good on Sunday and tried to make out a meal plan for the week. It really does make dinner much more pleasant when you have a plan of attack. We had some asparagus that was on it's last dying leg that we had cleaned up and steamed on Saturday. Since it didn't make it's way to Sunday's menu, I put it on Monday's menu.

I decided to go with a veggie heavy pasta salad for dinner. It's hot, pasta salad is cold (or that's how I served it) so that's a perfect summer dinner in my book. I'm not really a big pasta eater anymore, but load it up with veggies and I'm good.

We have tons of fresh basil so I thought a Creamy Vegan Pesto would be a good dressing for the salad. I just cooked up about 5 oz of whole-wheat penne and tossed in steamed asparagus, squash and zucchini, red bell peppers, peas, sundried tomatoes (rehydrated), chickpeas, and artichokes then tossed it with the pesto. Super simple, super protein packed, super summery. 

Do you like pasta salads? I'm sort of wishy washy about them. Sometimes I love to have them for dinner, mostly because they can be a super fast meal. But they can feel heavy too. Or is that just me?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Sweatfest (aka spin class) lunch break
  • Simple dinner eaten at the table (this is becoming a nice habit)
  • Having time to get dinner ready - not feeling rushed

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Baking Attempts, Weights & Pool Time

Baking Night
Yesterday was a nice, relaxing day. We enjoyed pizza for dinner since we didn't get to have our normal Pizza Friday. I think I may have a pizza addiction perhaps. Do they have groups for people like me?

Last night I ended up playing around with the base recipe from the fabulous Kristina (spabettie) for Garbonzo Cookie Balls. I have made a version using cranberries and another using vegan chocolate chips. She recently made a Mint Chocolate chip version that got us into a little chat about other awesome flavor combos.

So, last night I decided to play around a little bit. I think I kind of upset Jason because we were supposed to play pool. Instead I was wanting to bake. We had just finished watching What Happens in Vegas and I was a little antsy. The oven was still fairy warm from the pizza, and I thought I could make the cookies quickly. I know he gets annoyed with me sometimes for just not being able to stop going, doing, thinking.

But, back to the cookies. I had just a small bit of banana left over that I didn't finish from yesterday morning (pre run) so I wanted to try a Banana Nut version as well as an Oatmeal Raisin.
I am not 100% happy with the mixes so I'll wait to post the full recipes, but I'm really close. I think the banana may have needed just a tad more banana flavor (that one was the better of the two). The Oatmeal Raisin definitely needed more spices and a little more stevia. But what's awesome is how fast these are to whip up. They're totally vegan AND gluten free as well.

Gym, Kitchen, Relax
Today I woke up almost too early. I needed to hit up Target and Whole Foods, neither of which are open at 6:15 am. Why couldn't I have gotten up that early on the morning I wanted to run?

Today was also gym day for me. I really needed to get in there and hit legs and shoulders. My friend was planning on meeting up me up there as well before later coming over to the house with her hubby for some pool lounging fun. But, I was needing to go earlier than she was able to, so we at least passed each other as I was leaving and she was arriving.

I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical (in a completely empty gym with the lights off, just enjoying the daylight). I pretty much did 3x8 unless noted.

warmup set of squats - 10

SS#1
Squats
Stiff-legged deadlifts

SS#2
Shoulder press
Alternating front lunge

SS#3
Upright row
Plie squats

SS#4
Lateral raise
Step ups

SS#5
Side lunge with hip abduction 2x8
Calf raises 2x20

SS#6
Hamstring roll-ins on ball 2x8
Front raise open to side 2x6

Weighted plie hops - 2x12
Alternating scissor lunges - 2x16

I did some ab work then stretched for a while before heading out.

I hit up the grocery store then headed home to get a few things done in the kitchen before our friends showed up. Jason was working in the yard and while I should have been weeding, that sounded like far more work than the energy I had left in me. Instead, I made homemade Seitan and some Strawberry Salsa (pretty much same recipe as Pineapple Salsa only using strawberries).

Now I'm planning on enjoying the rest of the afternoon with good friends and some pool time. Happy Sunday!

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Kitchen time
  • Empty gym
  • Pool time
  • Afternoon with friends

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Date Night Recap & Sweatastic 7,5 Mile Saturday Run

Date Night Recap
While we didn't have Pizza Friday last night, we did have Date Night. Totally made up for the lack of pizza I promise. There was an Arts Center event that we wanted to go to - it was a big bash to close out the Impressionist exhibit. They went all out with local radio station DJs, champagne cocktails, and can-can dancers (well, they looked more like hookers, but we just won't go there).

Anyway, we decided to use the event as an excuse to do an official date night. It's been a long time since we've had one actually. We didn't go eat anywhere fancy or pricy though. We did get a little bit dressed up and hit one of our favorite hangouts, Dugan's Pub. We had a discount card there so that helped the decision a bit. Plus, it's fairly close to the Arts Center. We're really classy you see: pub before artsy fartsy event ;-)
 

After dinner, we headed over to the main event. It was beyond packed. It literally took 30 minutes to get a cocktail. Jason and I ended up taking refuge in the gift shop. They have some really great jewelry and I always love to check it out. I ended up with a pair of earrings and a new bracelet (score). After we FINALLY got the cocktails, we sat down in the restaurant area (not open for dinner last night unfortunately because they have great food).

It did finally start to clear out a little bit, as in you could walk around...period. Being able to move is a great feeling I assure you. We ran into a friend who works there. We hadn't seen him in ages so it was nice to see him and actually get a chance to catch up for a bit.
 
 

Sweatastic Saturday Run
This morning I got up with every intention of getting my run started by 7:30. I managed to start at 8, not too bad for a Saturday morning right? The only problem with not getting my butt out there earlier is the heat. The sun is out so it's beating down on you and it's hot. It was already 82 when I set out and 86 when I finished up - not including the heat index, whatever craziness that was.

But, at least the trail is mostly shaded at that time. Shade is an awesome thing. So is wind. I went out with the plan of hitting 7.5 miles and with the goal of taking slower and steadier. I knew it was hot, and knew I needed to pace myself.

At 2 miles in, I started thinking, "You know, 4 miles is perfectly fine. I think that's a great distance." Of course I kept going, then thought the same about 6 miles. It didn't help that 4 miles into the run I started feeling the edge of one toenail cutting the other toe. I knew that was going to be ugly. But I eventually forgot about it, or the toe went numb perhaps.

I took a GU at 40 minutes into the run and did myself a favor and walked for about 30 seconds while I got it down. That was smart, the dumb part was trying to take it going uphill where I had to be on a mix of gravel/grass. The GU definitely helped me get my energy reserves back. I stopped once more to try to get water with about half a mile left. And wouldn't you know it, the water was bath-water warm. Ick.

I did have gatorade and more water staying nice and cold in a cooler in my car though. So, I managed 7.5 miles, bloody toe and all. It was a little bit of a mental run for me today, not necessarily a bad run. Mostly I was just trying to talk myself into the fact that I really could do it. My brain kept wanting to go back home and go to bed.

Low-Key Day
After I got home and stretched and rolled, I decided to wash the car. Then I enjoyed a few hours in the pool with Jason. Just floating around, listening to music, and chatting. Very nice. Very relaxing. We had planned on going to a baseball game this evening, but quite honestly, I felt so zapped from the run (more than I think I should have) that we just decided to do pizza and pool (as in the pool table not swimming pool) this evening. So kind of a date night in.

It's been nice not having any set plans for a change to be honest. Very low-key, but in a good way. I managed to get some laundry done (even folded 2 baskets), cars washed, a little bit of de-cluttering of the study (mainly because we sold the desk and had to). I didn't put on any makeup and let my hair air dry. I did paint my toenails though ;-)

Daily To-Enjoy List
I hope you're remembering to enjoy something today. I know I am.
  • Pool time
  • Free evening at home
  • Pizza Saturday
  • Painting toenails

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - Quirks

We finally made it to Friday. Even better? It's a rest day for me too. Though, I was up before the sun because someone (ahem the hubby) decided randomly to finally go to swim....on a Friday morning...after we've gotten up and run in the dawn hours twice this week.

I'm just joking really. I'm glad he hit the swim class. It's something he always enjoyed - enough to get out of bed by 5 am three days a week! Neither of us are really morning people so it's gotta be something we REALLY want to do to get up and out before the sun is up.

This morning, on the short little drive to work, the DJs were having people call in with some of their most unusual quirks. I thought that would make for a fun Fun Facts Friday list. We ALL have those little oddities that make us who we are right? Oh, yes, no denying that one. So today we've got Fun Facts Fridays - Quirks:
  • Horrible habit of picking cuticles
  • Obsessed with license plate expiration dates - can spot an out-of-date tag like it was my job
  • Numbers - hate them really, but if I start counting I can't seem to stop and will pick up at any place along the way - example running and I might start counting down seconds and even if I stop counting, I'll pick back up randomly. Make sense? Please say yes.
  • Touching clothes/objects - I'm very tactile and walk through stores touching everything. 
  • I'm also texture oriented when it comes to food - like the flavor of mangoes but hate them because they're mushy (to me). I like Granny Smith apples because of their firmness.
  • I want to be a complete neat freak - but I'm too lazy to always follow through. My closet is color organized, but I never make my bed.
  • I pretty much always have to sleep on the side of a bed nearest a bathroom. 
  • I prefer to sit in classrooms in seats nearest the door - though I'd like to be up front, I need to be near a door.
  • Movie theater seats gross me out. 
  • I won't drink out of a glass if a bug got in it, but would drink wine if my dog drank out of it. Ewwww right ;-)
Ok - your turn. What are some quirks that make you...you?

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Date night - no Pizza Friday, going out for light apps/dinner then Arts Center event
  • Rest day - I'm all over this one

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2 on Thursday & Italian Tofu and Spaghetti Squash

Two on Thursday
Running 
This morning it was a little tougher peeling ourselves out of bed for a morning run. I think as the week progresses and workouts have added up, my body starts to talk to me a little more, protests a little more. But I really wanted to get in a run this morning since there is a chance of rain tomorrow morning.

It was about 10 degrees cooler this morning over Tuesday, but the humidity was still nice and high and almost no breeze. So somehow, by the end, it may as well have been 85 degrees. I couldn't stop sweating - nice visual right ;-)

Jason and I did the first mile together, then he made a stop while I continued on and later caught back up with him. This worked out just fine because while I'd love to run the whole time with him, I wanted to put in more miles and he's trying to build his miles back up. I don't want him to hurt himself going too far too soon (thought he's been doing 4-5 miles not trivial).

Normally when I'm solo I have my music going. When I run with someone else, I don't even bring my iPod. So when we split apart, I've got no conversation and no music. But you know what, that's not such a terrible thing. I think it's really good to practice running sans music. I think you can be more in tune with your body, your surroundings, yourself in general (for better or worse).

So, today I made it right at 6 miles. For the most part, it was a great run, but I did start feeling sluggish by the very end. My hips were feeling super tight. So I really need to work on rolling and stretching them more.

Lifting
At lunch I went ahead and hit the weights at home to do back, chest, and abs. I had really hoped to get to the gym for back so I could do pullups, but it was more convenient to do the workout at home today. I did a giant set for back then superset for chest.

GS - 2x8, 1x10
Double-arm row
Pullovers
Horizontal rows

SS - 1x8, 2x6
Chest flye into press
Alternating press

I finished up with abs on the stability ball. Overall, it was a pretty good workout. I did struggle with chest, hence the drop in reps on the 2nd & 3rd sets. Sometimes my left elbow starts to feel like it's going to just flat out give out. Tendon issue perhaps? It's not that it even hurts, just zero strength.

Squash for Summer
I've been really wanting spaghetti squash lately. Maybe because it just feels sort of light and summery. I had originally thought about pairing it with roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic, but Jason and I both decided a cold dish sounded better. So I made something very similar to my Italian Spiced Spaghetti Squash, which was more of a side dish and this is a one-pot-wonder (well, not so much pot, but you get the drift).

Italian Tofu and Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients:
Squash:
Spaghetti squash (halved and seeds removed)
1 container cherry (or grape) tomatoes, rinsed and halved
Fresh basil - rough chop and to desired taste
Fresh spinach - however much you prefer
Minced garlic - to your taste preference (approximately 1 tbsp)
To taste: salt, pepper, red chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Drizzle balsamic vinegar (to desired taste)

Tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, cubed
To taste: salt, pepper, dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano
Panko bread crumbs - approximately 1/4 cup or less (optional)
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar - just enough to help seasonings and panko to stick

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together the spices for the tofu coat with spices. Bake on a prepared baking sheet until firm and crisp, flipping once halfway through the cooking (usually takes about 45-50 minutes).

At the same time, place the spaghetti squash flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake until softens and you are able to easily shred the inside into "spaghetti."

In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. When the squash is done, add approximately half of the shreds to the bowl (depending on the size of your squash). This will help wilt the spinach. Add the spices for the spaghetti squash, nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar and toss well, then add in the tofu.

Either serve right away or set in fridge and allow flavors to meld.
 

You could easily use white beans or chickpeas in lieu of the tofu. I think you could spice up the chickpeas and toast them for a great texture addition.

Daily To-Enjoy List
Today's to-enjoy list is rather short, but it was something that made me really happy so that's what is most important. The weekend's to-enjoy list is expanding though.
  • Morning run with hubby
  • Dinner at the table

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Pineapple Salsa

More Spinning
Today was a spin day for me. I've really been enjoying alternating the spin and run days. The only downfall, is that I'm having a hard time fitting in my weights unless I do a two-a-day. While two-a-days are ok, I know I can't do them all the time. I'm already burning out on them.

And of course I don't have to run 3 days or do spin 2 days. It's just that I'm enjoying those things a lot right now so that makes me want to do them. On the flip side, I still love my weights. I know that there is always talk about lifting and cardio. I want the two to go together so badly, but can they?

More Pineapple Salsa
Since we made a larger than usual batch of the Pineapple Salsa, I have been trying to think of different ways to use it - going for creativity. I thought that the spicy/sweet combo of the salsa might go really well with a blackened seasoning. I've been craving my Blackened Seitan recently.

So, last night I made some Blackened Seitan with just a few tweaks to the recipe for the vegan mayo. I used water rather than almond milk and I used apple cider vinegar rather than lemon juice (mostly because I didn't look up my original recipe). I did, however, use the same Blackened Season Blend.

I went ahead and made it last night so it could marinate in the seasonings for a day, plus it'd make for super fast dinner for this evening. I simply served the Blackened Seitan topped with the Pineapple Salsa in whole-wheat wraps.
 

And this being a sandwich of sorts - wraps are sandwiches right? - I had to have baked sweet potato fries (again). Please tell me I'm not the only one who has sweet potato fries two days in a row.

Gardening Cardio
Since dinner was already made, this left me with plenty of time after I got back from getting my hair done (finally, it was a mess) to play in the yard. I got down and dirty yanking out weeds and deadheading the rose bushes. I'm at war with this one particular creeping grass that is taking over my flower beds. I'm not winning, but I'm bound and determined to not give up.

The problem is that I was given tons of builder bricks (the ones with the holes in them). They were free and I thought they'd make a nice border. They do, but they don't block weeds or creeping grass. We may very well end up having to dig everything up in the fall, digging out this grass, then put up appropriate border and replant the plants. Sounds like tons of work, but it may be the only solution.

Anyway, I worked up quite a sweat so I took advantage of the pool to cool myself off. Although, it's amazing how much the pool can cool down with two days of the temps only hitting the low- to mid-80's rather than the upper 90's.  

Daily To-Enjoy List
Am I the only one still doing the to-enjoy challenge? I hope you all are joining me!!

  • Getting hair done
  • Gardening
  • Pool cool down
  • More free time in the evening

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2 on Tuesday & Pineapple Salsa Veggie Burgers

Mopey Monday Apology 
I wanted to back up to yesterday's post just a minute. I think I may have come across as super negative. I know Monday's typically stink for most people - no one wants the weekend to end. Also, we all have "those" kinds of days when shit happens (over and over). I hope I conveyed that I tried to turn the day around though.

I probably should have put more emphasis on the fact that while all the crap was happening, I really, truly do try to remember to be thankful. So I sent out an email to the wrong person, in the end it was no big deal. Projects crumble all the time; I still have a job. I am super luck to work for a great company and boss.

I was a klutz, but I didn't break anything, unlike a friend who broke her toe this morning. I was able to go to spin class - I am physically capable and have the financial means that allow me to belong to a gym period.

Some of you lost loved ones yesterday or mourned the loss of a loved one (anniversary of passing). I didn't lose anyone yesterday. I got to email with my mom, dad, and sister. For that I am thankful.

I try to be honest in my blog, and sometimes that means spilling out about crappy days. But, I do need to remember to recognize that it really wasn't so bad in the grand scheme of things.

Running & Lifting (Two on Tuesday)
This morning started off nice and early. Jason said he wanted to get up and run with me so we got up a little after 5 am. I don't know how much of his motivation to run was because he didn't really want me heading out alone or that he's really wanting to get back to running himself. Either way, I'll take it.

We hit the river trail around 5:45 with the sun just barely starting to come up. It was already 82 degrees and extremely humid. It was another gusting wind run, but that can be a welcome thing when you're a hot, sweaty mess. I ended up doing about 5.2 miles then I did 4 x 20 second sprints before calling it quits.

It's funny that some days you see more wildlife than others. Today I saw 3 bunny rabbits, tons of squirrels as always, and a fox. There was a dead field mouse too (poor thing) that reminded me of the Little Bunny Foo Foo song, especially after seeing the bunnies - just a reminder of how the song starts.
Little Bunny Foo Foo,
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And boppin' 'em on the head
Anyway, I did my best to not start singing the song, but Jason said it was already in his head after I mentioned it. Are you singing it now? You are aren't you ;-)

During lunch I did a short weight workout for biceps and triceps with abs from Cathe's Power Hour DVD. I just went with my typical 3x8 supersets:

SS#1
Curls
Double-arm overhead triceps extension

SS#2
Preacher curls
Lying triceps extensions

SS#3
Hammer curls
Double-arm kickbacks

I gotta say, not my strongest workout. Just felt really weak from the start. I know it happens of course. Not going to beat myself up over it. I got it all done; I didn't drop down in weights; I cranked out every last rep. Just felt harder today.

Celebrating Summer
Summer here is starting off with a front that moved through today bringing slightly cooler temps (as in it's cooler this evening than it was at 5:30 am). No sunshine, pool lounging to celebrate. Of course, I've been celebrating summer for weeks now with pool time, grilling time, lots of patio time and summery meals too.

The other day we made up another batch of Pineapple Salsa, this time adding in a roasted poblano pepper that needed to be used. I also made some veggie burgers up (finally). Well, this salsa just screams summer, so it seemed appropriate to make a more summery burger to celebrate the official kickoff of my favorite season.
 

I almost always top our veggie burgers with spinach, roasted red bell peppers and a vegan cheese. It's good so why change it? Well, sometimes change can be good. This may have been a little (lot) messy, but so worth it.

What is your favorite season? I know summer is hot, humid, hot. But it also means lots of pool time, lake time with the family, grilling, general outdoor fun.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run with hubby (check)
  • Wildlife spottings (this wasn't on the list, but it made me smile)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spin & Summery Balsamic Dijon Quinoa Salad

Spinning Monday
Well, today was certainly a Monday all the way around. It's one of those days you could easily forget, with the exception of mishaps. I felt like the clumsiest person from the get go. Oh, and Note To Self moment: check the wind gusts before opting for a dress that may or may not billow out or fly up. Just sayin'.

I also got dumped by my running partner already. I swear I wasn't pushing to go too fast. Sigh. Actually, he's enjoying weights right now, which I can totally respect.

Things weren't going quite as planned at work either. You know fun stuff like sending emails to the wrong people, test sites not working, a project so close to production that is suddenly not as client wanted. So it was just all around one of "those" days.

What did help me today? Another sweaty noon spin class. Such a great way to refocus. It's hard to dwell on anything negative (other than your ass being kicked) when you're so focused on getting through the class, pushing yourself, and enjoying the music (one of the best parts).

My legs were killing me from yesterday's workout, but I figured it'd be better to go to the earlier class before the full-on DOMS set in by the evening. Plus, sometimes spinning it out really does help. Hurts so good...or that's what I tell myself.

Summery Salad Take Two
So, moving along to something better. I really wanted something on the lighter, cooler side for dinner. The pasta salad I made last week sounded good, only I put off the grocery store and don't have pasta. So, I ended up coming up with a new version: Summery Balsamic Dijon Quinoa Salad.

It's pretty much the same thing as my Summery Balsamic Dijon Pasta Salad only using quinoa in the place of the pasta. I also didn't have asparagus this time, so I added roasted red bell peppers and used extra artichoke hearts and peas. But it just shows that this is really a versatile recipe, the very best kind if you ask me.
 

This somehow seemed to make WAY more as a quinoa salad than the pasta salad. I have a tendency to underestimate how much quinoa I really need. So, we'll be eating on this a few times this week I'm thinking. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Dinner at the table
  • Sweatfest spin class
  • Time to do my fingernails (just clear coat but still)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday Recap & Pool Kind of Sunday

Saturday Recap
Well, I sort of failed on taking pictures of my friends Girls' Grilling Night. I will say it was a total blast though. Actually, all of yesterday was good. Jason, Sarah, and myself had lunch together at a fun artsy place called The Starving Artist Cafe. We had a gift certificate and thought it'd be fun to take Sarah someplace totally different.

They didn't really have any appetizers, and we were starving. So, Sarah and I split a bowl of vegetarian minestrone soup. While it was rich in fantastic veggies, not so much in flavor. Not horrible, just a little bland. She had a chicken salad and I had their signature Starving Salad that came with bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini peppers, and onions. Jason got their salmon dish.

After lunch, Sarah and I hit the mall. We both had some shopping luck (aka found some good deals). That's always fun of course. Totally made up for my shopping fail when I was on vacation. After the shopping, Jason dropped us off at my friends house. There was tons of food and even more laughs.
 

We got home around 9:45 and promptly hit the sack. It was a great Saturday.

Gym Day
This morning I got up around 7:30 then just relaxed until Sarah got up. We enjoyed breakfast before she had to get going. After she left, I hit the gym for legs, shoulders, and abs. I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical as my warmup.

Squats - warmup set of 10

SS#1 3x8
Squats
Stiff-legged deadlifts

SS#2 3x8
Arnold press
Alternating front lunge

SS#3 3x8
Lateral raise
Step ups

SS#4 3x10
Front raise
Plie squats

SS#4
Side lunge with outer hip lift - 2x8
Calf raises - 2x30

SS#5
Hamstring roll-ins on ball
Front raise open to side

I finished off with some ab work and a long stretch before calling it quits for the day.

Suntastic Sunday
When I got home, I decided to reward myself with some patio/pool lounging. I mean, everyone deserves that after a good workout session in my opinion. Even better, Jason joined me in the pool. He normally isn't one to just float around on a raft unless we have a pool full of friends or it's later in the day and cooler. We just had the music going and floated around aimlessly. Kind of nice to just relax like that actually.

We were super wishy washy about lunch. Instead of misbehaving and going out, we ended up making a Cheeseless Queso to snack on. I had some leftover Layered Black Bean & Pineapple Salsa Dip, so I used that in spinach lavish wraps to make some simple, toasted quesadillas.

I need to get some chores finished up around the house and possibly some time in the kitchen (need to make veggie burgers, cook off beans, and maybe make seitan). Of course, we'll see how much truly gets done. It's Sunday after all right? Day of rest.

Daily To-Enjoy List
Breakfast with sis
An empty gym
Pool lounging
Talking to my dad

Saturday, June 18, 2011

7-Miler & Girly Kind of Day

Because I know you're all just so curious (lotsa sarcasm), after work yesterday I was beyond productive for a single hour. I made my Layered Black Bean and Pineapple Salsa Dip and Kalamata Hummus for a Girls' Grilling Night today. I also made pizza and washed the maniacs (aka Maddie and Heath).

This morning I got up and out the door for my run. I really had hoped to get out closer to 7:30, but it's Saturday right? So, I hit the river trail at 8:15 for a super hot (it was already 82 degrees), super sweaty 7+ mile run. I am really happy with the mileage as it's the longest I've run in about 3 months.

Overall, it was really a good run despite the heat and humidity. I was actually really thankful for the gusting wind that helped cool me down a bit. I was even more excited when I saw sprinklers going at one section of the route. Oh yes, totally veered off course to run through them.

I did remember to take in a Gu at 40 minutes into the run and that really helped a great deal. Though, I was running low on water, and totally out at the end. I did, however have a 10 oz of Gatorade and another 20 oz bottle of water stashed in a cooler (smart thinking on the cooler huh???).

I got home and stretched and rolled for a long while on my Triggerpoint Kit. I actually went with a protein (with banana) shake for a change. I really wanted something cold.

The plan for the day was that my sis would come up for some pool time, shopping time (really looking forward to this part as I haven't been shopping in ages), then Girls' Grilling Time at a friends house this evening. Shaping up to be a really girly kind of day actually (poor Jason). So, I will be mostly disconnected from computer land today. I think I'll be making some more of the Peanut Butter Cranberry Cookie Balls for the party too, and may make some with chocolate chips as most people like chocolate chip cookies.

Sorry for the brief post today, I promise to share pictures from the party tomorrow to make up for today's lame post. I hope everyone has a great weekend, maybe disconnect a bit too? Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - The Non-Movie Buff

Fun Facts Friday - The Non-Movie Buff
Can I get a high five or a "hell yes" for Friday Rest Day?! Definitely ready for the rest day today. I don't think I could have cranked out one more mile, lifted one more weight, or done one more standing climb (spin class). Heck, abs seem like too much work ;-)

We don't really have anything special going on today. Just a typical Friday for us really. We're so exciting I know you're all jealous. Chances are we'll have Pizza Friday and maybe (but not likely) watch a movie. We did actually watch Phoebe in Wonderland last night. I really enjoyed that one.

...And this of course is my segue into Fun Facts Friday.

"...it's Friday; you ain't got no job... and you ain't got shit to do." Ok, so that's not totally true at all, but it's one of the few movie quotes I know (from Friday).

I am not really a movie buff at all. I almost never remember the names of movies, let alone quotes - unless it's from the 80's or 90's as Jason would interject. I almost envy people who can rattle off movie quotes. I sort of feel left out to be honest. How is it that I can't remember any movie lines?

Jason, however, really enjoys watching movies - though he's not a movie quoter either thankfully. I just have a hard time sitting still for that long. It really has to grab my attention or it just seems like such a waste of time. And maybe that's it, my mind is elsewhere so I miss out on fun lines and quips.

So, for Fun Facts Friday, I thought I'd list out the movies that I actually have seen more than once, that I can quote lines from even. They may not be the best movies, definitely not all classics either, but for whatever reason, I latched onto them. Which is really kind of funny considering how I typically feel about movies.
  • Pretty Woman - Slippery little suckers (snail scene at restaurant) or I've got a runner in my pantyhose...I'm not wearing any pantyhose.
  • Friday - see quote above of course.
  • Heathers - I'll forever know the word "myriad" because of this movie.
  • Funny Farm - seriously love the scene where she eats the last apple that she said didn't exist.
  • Reality Bites - Don't boggart the can...man...
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (1-3, love me some Johnny) - RUM
So, are you a repeat movie watcher? Are you a movie quoting guru? Or, what's some cheesy movie you'll admit to rewatching???

Daily To-Enjoy List
Friday is just one big "to-enjoy" isn't it?
  • Movie with hubby (watched Phoebe in Wonderland last night)
  • Rest day (definitely enjoying this)
  • Pizza Friday
  • Pool lounging time

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summery Balsamic Dijon Pasta Salad for Hot Summer Night

Two on Thursday
This morning started off checking off a to-enjoy list entry: morning run with hubby. Jason was not nearly as excited about the early morning run as I was. I think he fell asleep in the car on the way back home ;-)

I got in just under 6 miles (5.9 to be exact; yes I like to be exact). It really was a great run again today, though the humidity was definitely up there and not a bit of a breeze to help out in the cooling department. But, everything just clicked. Then again, maybe I wasn't awake enough to know any better.

During lunch, I was able to get my back workout done and some abs. I went with giant sets today of 2x8 and 1x10

Double-arm dumbbell row
Pullover
Rear flye

Band work - lat pull downs - 2x12

I did abs from Cathe's Power Hour DVD. It was a pretty good workout, but I really wish I had a barbell at the house for barbell rows. I feel like I have better form and can lift heavier weights for underhand position. Oh, while I'm "wishing," I'd like a pullup bar too thank you.

Pasta Salad Night
When I got home from work I decided to throw together an easy pasta salad to try to use some fresh veggies that were on their last leg. I can't really call this a recipe, but I'll list out the ingredients and what I did for my Summery Balsamic Dijon Pasta Salad.

Summary Balsamic Dijon Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
6-7 oz whole-wheat penne or rotini (cooked per package)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small squash, diced
Asparagus, chopped (I was only able to salvage about 6 stalks or I would have used more)
1/2 can whole artichoke hearts, chopped
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 frozen peas (more or less to your liking)
6-7 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted and chopped
To taste: lemon pepper spice blend, sea salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes 

5-6 tbsp Dijon mustard
Balsamic vinaigrette (or just balsamic vinegar) to desired consistency


Directions:
Drain the pasta well and transfer to large mixing bowl. Add the frozen peas on top of your hot pasta along with chickpeas, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes.

Meanwhile, steam the zucchini, squash, and asparagus for just a couple of minutes then transfer to mixing bowl along with spices and nutritional yeast flakes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinaigrette and mustard then pour over pasta and veggies, mixing well.

Refrigerate at least an hour.
 

While I let the pasta salad refrigerate, I enjoyed some pool lounging time. The water felt perfect on this hot, summer evening. The only way to top that off is with a nice, cool summery salad of course. I was really happy with this. I think the Dijon was a nice touch that added a little bit of thickness/creaminess to the dressing.

To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run with hubby (check)
  • Watching the sun rise (check)
  • Pool lounging (check)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hectic Hump Day & BBQ Tempeh & Portobello Sandwiches

Hectic Hump Day
Holy hump day. This day turned out to be a crazy busy day for me at work and then lots of Plan B's taking place. I had anticipated hitting spin after work with my friend (it was on my to-enjoy list). I had also anticipated getting my hair done (also on to-enjoy list).

What really happened was I had to reschedule my appointment and ended up hitting spin at lunch. Of course, the noon spin really helped me sort of regroup after a hectic, busy work morning. I am sure my boss was worried I might just go AWOL.

So, it really did kind of work out for the best that I was able to get my sweat on earlier rather than later. The only downfall is that I had planned on having time before spin class to get in back today. That'll just have to be moved to tomorrow or Friday though. I can be flexible...sometimes.


Hump Day Happy Hour (and Hubby cooking)
I typically don't go out on a school night ever. But today was the exception. I worked until 5 then ended up meeting my friend after work for a drink. She really wanted someone to talk to, and I needed to unwind in a big way. We met up at an Irish pub that we really enjoy. There was another group coming along at 6, but we met up a little after 5 and I just stayed for one drink.

Jason was nice enough to get dinner started for us. I had suggested maybe a tempeh BBQ with sweet potato fries. He put together sauteed onions, bell peppers, portobellos and tempeh with BBQ sauce for a BBQ Tempeh and Portobello Sandwich. Turned out so yummy. It was nice to come home after a hard day and have dinner going already too.

Oh, even better, we ate at the kitchen table again.

Daily To-Enjoy List
Well, last night Jason and I did eat at the kitchen table so I knocked that one off the list finally. But, we never got around to the movie. That's ok though. I'll just keep that one there for future to-enjoy moments. Today's additions were a little scattered, but they mostly got checked off.

Just like a to-do list, I can't expect every to-enjoy item to happen right? But, I am determined to make sure that I at least enjoy one of the things from my list. I'll also be happy to enjoy any unplanned to-enjoy moments as well ;-)
  • Movie with hubby (this will just be on-going)
  • Getting hair done (rescheduled)
  • Spin with friend (hit spin at different time, sans friend)
  • Happy hour with my friend (unplanned treat)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2 on Tuesday & Tomato Basil Seitan Spagetti Squash

Two on Tuesday
This morning I manage to get in an early morning run. Even better? It was with Jason. I really have missed running with him. Even if we don't talk much, I enjoy just running together. The humidity was much lower this morning, so it actually felt quite nice out.

I got just under 6 miles and it felt great. If I hadn't needed to get myself home and cleaned up for work, I think I would have gone on for another mile (thought Jason may have objected to that one).

During lunch, I was able to get in a quick workout for biceps, triceps and abs. I went with supersets (as they're great for time crunched workouts):

SS#1 - 3x6
Dumbbell curls
Double-arm overhead triceps extension

SS#2 3x8
Incline curls
Lying triceps extensions

SS#3 - 2x8, 1xTF
Hammer curls
Kickbacks

I finished off with abs from Cathe's High Reps DVD. It was actually a pretty good workout; I felt fairly strong today. Love it when that happens.

Summer Flavors
I had thought about making Grilled Veggie Quesadillas for dinner tonight, but Jason has been eating up the leftover Colorful Black Beans and Rice and the Black Beans and Corn Salsa for lunch. So, he requested no black beans and no Mexican tonight.

Veggie burgers would have been my second choice if I had any on hand, but I'm out. Guess that needs to go on a to-do list this weekend. I did have a spaghetti squash that I recently picked up, so I thought I'd use that as a starting point. We also had some fresh tomatoes and a ton of fresh basil. So, I ended up coming up with Tomato Basil Seitan Spaghetti Squash.

Tomato Basil Seitan Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients:
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic (more or less depending on preference)
White wine or vegetable broth (approximately 3/4 cup)
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 tbsp capers (depending on taste preference)
Homemade seitan (or your favorite brand), diced
To taste: salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
Spaghetti squash, baked and shredded
2 tomatoes, diced
1 10z package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or fresh)
Fresh basil and oregano to taste 
Nutritional yeast flakes (optional, or you can use Parmesan)


Directions:
In large, non-stick skillet, saute onion and garlic until onion begins to soften (approximately 3-4 minutes). Add in white wine or vegetable broth and tomato paste, stirring until paste is dissolved into the liquid. 

Add in remaining ingredients up to the herbs and allow to simmer until sauce begins to thicken and squash is heated through. Add additional liquid if needed. Stir in the herbs and remove from heat. Top with nutritional yeast flakes or Parmesan.
 
I served with some of my homemade French bread that I keep made and frozen. I think it's really hard to go wrong with the flavor combination of tomatoes and basil. Such a summery, light flavor combination in my opinion.

I'll admit that the spinach was a last minute addition. I thought it looked too red, just missing color. I loved using the spaghetti squash with this one, it just felt lighter. It'd be great cold as well. I also think chickpeas or cannellini beans would work really well in this dish as a replacement for seitan.

Daily To-Enjoy List
Yesterday I wasn't able to knock off everything from my to-enjoy list as I had hoped. However, I was still able to enjoy spin, grilling, and some gardening. Jason ended up working late, so I ate alone, which meant we didn't get to eat at the table sans TV nor did we get to watch a movie. So, those items remain on today's list:
  • Morning run
  • Eating at the kitchen table (aka no tv)
  • Watching a movie with Jason (after dinner)
Are you still making a to-enjoy list? Do you find it helpful?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spinning, Grilling, Enjoying

Spinning Back to Normal
I totally forgot to take pictures from last nights dinner night with our friends. She made enchiladas (including a vegetarian version for me). Everyone loved the Layered Black Bean and Pineapple Salsa Dip I brought. I will most definitely make this again for gatherings.

Today I opted for the noon spin class and worked until 5. I really wanted to go with my friend (she was doing the 5:30 class), but I just didn't want a late evening on a Monday. I'll be honest, I was having kind of a blue day. Not sure why, just was a bit down.

I was determined not to let it get the best of me and thought getting to spin mid-day may help me out a bit, kind of take my mind off of things and break up the day. And of course it did. It was a good class, and I was smiling at the end (with the exception of almost being hit in the crosswalk going back to my car).

Grilling
I can really close to doing another dish with pineapple, but decided to go with the corn on the cob we picked up at the grocery store yesterday. Jason and I both love grilled corn and have been wanting some lately.

So, tonight I thawed out some homemade Seitan Cutlets and basted them with a BBQ sauce and tossed those on the grill along with corn on the cob and broccoli. For the corn, I carefully pull back the husks and remove the silks then fold the husks back up and soak in water for about 15 minutes. This way you can just put them directly onto the grill and they won't burn.

You really can't go wrong with grilled corn for starters. This was an ideal summer evening meal.

Daily To-Enjoy List
I definitely had to think longer and harder about my To-Enjoy List for the day. But, I am determined to find at least one thing to really enjoy, to really look forward to each day. It really made such a difference for me last week. I am hoping that it just becomes habit for me.

After spin class, I was feeling much more like myself and was able to focus on the things I intended to enjoy today (already having checked off spin of course).
  • Spin class
  • Grilling out
  • A little bit of yard work
  • Eating at the kitchen table (aka no tv)
  • Watching a movie with Jason (after dinner)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pool Time Recap & Layered Black Bean & Pineapple Salsa Dip

Pool Time Recap
Yesterday we had a fabulous afternoon with some of our friends. We mostly just lounged in the pool all afternoon.



Then we decided we were water logged so we snacked on some of this.





It's hard to beat lots of fresh fruit on a hot summer day. The Black Bean & Corn Salsa and Kalamata Hummus were a big hit too, along with the Peanut Butter Cranberry Cookie Balls.

Gym Time
This morning I really had to fight off the urge to run rather than hit the gym. We had a front move through so it was only about 71 degrees at 7:30. But, I knew I really needed to hit the gym instead of trying another run. So, I procrastinated for a bit before making my way to the gym for shoulders, legs, and abs.

I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical then did shoulders and legs as supersets of 3x8 unless noted.

SS#1
Shoulder press
Alternating rear lunges

SS#2
Upright rows
Plie with low-end pulse

SS#3
Lateral raise
Squats

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

I did some ab work then another 10 on the elliptical before stretching out and heading home for a post-workout snack.

Sunday Errands & Enjoying
After my snack, we headed to Home Depot for some plants and to look at patio tables. Then it was off to the grocery store. I rewarded my hard work with some patio lounging/reading and pool time. I mean, I deserved it right? Of course I did. We got the plants planted and then I set out to make a dip to take to our friends' Mexican Themed Dinner party tonight.

She asked if I could either do a 7-layer dip or some sort of "Mexican-ish dip." I thought I had stuff to do a layered dip, but didn't. And I should say this request came post-grocery store trip. I had bought another pineapple and decided to play off of mix I used for my Black Bean & Pineapple Quesadillas and the Pineapple Salsa. I came up with a Layered Black Bean & Pineapple Salsa Dip.

Layred Black Bean & Pineapple Salsa Dip
Ingredients:
1 recipe for Pineapple Salsa
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro, red pepper, chili powder, splash of OJ

Directions:
Make the Pineapple Salsa and set aside. In large bowl, slightly mash the black beans then add in the seasonings.

In a glass baking dish (I used loaf pan) add in half the black bean mixture and evenly spread out and mash down. Then add a layer of half the salsa and repeat.
 

Tomorrow I'll report back on flavor as I couldn't exactly dig in to try without it messing up the layered dip effect.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Reading
  • Pool time
  • Time with friends

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cranberry Cookie Balls & Runner's High

Happy Hour on the Deck
After work, we met my cousin and his family at a place called Cajun's Wharf to listen to a band that he used to jam with. Cajun's is notorious for their awesome deck overlooking the Arkansas River. Even though it was incredibly hot out, there was a nice breeze that kept us cool.

We had such a nice time catching up with my cousin and his wife (and 2 kiddos). My cousin and I are only 7 months apart in age and are really more like brother and sister. We actually lived together for a while in the early college years. I am really rallying for them to move here ;-)
 
 
 
 
 
Pizza Friday & Pool Party Prep
We got home around 7:30 and got to work on pizza for Pizza Friday. In other words, a pretty typical Friday evening for the most part. However, we did spend some extra time in the kitchen prepping for today (friends over for pool time). We put together my Black Bean & Corn Salsa for starters.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
Ingredients:
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted (or canned rinsed and drained)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (or fresh cooked)
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2-3 jalapenos, finely diced
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (or fresh, we didn't have enough), well drained
To taste: sea salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper, chili powder, lime juice, cilantro


Directions
Mix all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Then I knew I wanted to make a dessert treat. I saw a post from Kristina at Spabettie for Garbonzo Cookie Balls and knew I wanted to try them. Since we were having friends over today, I thought a nice little treat would be good to have on hand (aka perfect excuse to make these). Rather than using chocolate, I went with cranberries for a Peanut Butter & Cranberry Cookie Ball. These are both gluten-free and vegan.

This has to be one of the easiest and most versatile cookie recipes. Honestly, you could add other dried fruit, white chocolate, dark chocolate, or even just chopped nuts. I will most definitely be making these again (and again).

Hot Runner's High Run
This morning I knew I had to get out as early as I could for a run because of the heat. But, it is the weekend and I wasn't going to go for a 5:30 am run. Sorry, just not happening. I got up a little after 7 and ate half of a banana. I hit the river trail at 8 am and it was already upper 70's. Thankfully, the trail was mostly shaded at that time though.

I made myself slow down more than I would normally have done. Because I am not really used to the heat just yet, I thought it was best to play it smart. I also had a chat with myself about it being ok to walk if I needed to. I have it in my head that if I am going to run x miles, that means "run" not walk x miles. I know that's so stupid, there's nothing wrong with walking breaks.

Anyway, I also told myself to listen to my body and not push myself farther than I should go. My mileage has been dropping lately and I'm starting to get worried I can't run farther than 6 miles. Over the past few weeks, my long runs have only been 5 miles, they used to be 9 and 10.

I ended up having a really great run, despite the heat. I made it 6.2 miles, and on the drive home was actually wishing I had gone farther because I felt so good. Runner's high much?

So, the rest of the morning was spent trying to finish straightening up the house and the yard for our friends coming over this afternoon to enjoy the pool. It's just a few people, not a big bash by any means. I also made some Kalamata Hummus to snack on. I believe my friends are going to be bringing fruit and other summery type snacks. Should be a good time. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and recap tomorrow.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • A run, no matter what distance or what speed. 
  • Pool time with friends.
  • A little disconnecting from computer land.
  • A relaxing evening with Jason and our 2 furbabies.