Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Running, Legs & Easy Indian Dinner Courtesy of Patak's

Running & Legs
Well today we finally have sunshine and no gusting winds. I was beginning to think that would never happen. But, I decided to hit the treadmill and get in legs today rather than head outside for a run.

I must admit something first. I don't know why, but treadmill running makes me feel like less of a runner. I know that probably sounds silly. I mean, I'm on the darn thing running. I'm usually doing intervals trying to increase my speed. But, I don't enjoy it at all. I've never ever had that runner's high, awesome, love the world feeling from a treadmill run.

It just doesn't feel the same as the wind on your face, the sun on your skin, the feel of the pavement under your feet. There's just something so crucial to the enjoyment factor I usually equate to running that is just flat out missing.

But, I really need to work on speed, and the treadmill is a great way to get that done. I also really wanted to work quads today and then major focus on hamstrings on Sunday. So, this worked out best for the workout I was going for.

I started with 1 mile at a 9:13 min/mile pace then did 1 mile at what I had wanted my half race pace to be: 8:34 min/mile. I recovered for about 30 seconds then jumped into 2 min intervals that I repeated 3 times: 8:34 min/mile with recovery at a 9:22 min/mile. I finished off the last 1/2 mile (to round out to 4 miles) at 9:06. Not fun, but it did fly by thank goodness.

After the run, I hit the legs. I know that lifters are cringing right now. I almost lifted first (which is always what I recommend), but actually am happy with the way it played out. My legs/muscles were quite obviously warmed up nicely. I actually felt like I could have lifted heavier than I did surprisingly enough. Maybe because I was sooooo warmed up? Anyway, here's how it went down:

Barbell squats - warmup set of 10

SS#1 - 3x8
Barbell squats
Plie squats

SS#2
3 point lunge (w/ single weight held in both hands) - 3x6
Calf raises - 3x15

1 set of alternating squats with front kick using dumbbells - 16 total (ouch)

I did some ab work on the stability ball and using weights before stretching and heading out.

Way Easy Wednesday
As I mentioned yesterday, Jason had gone to Target recently. He made the mistake of going hungry, however, so that meant coming home with various new sauces. He thought he was picking up a curry paste, but it ended up being Patak's Tikka Masala Curry sauce instead (unfortunately not vegan though).

I went ahead and made some brown rice last night while making the chili because I knew it would make for an incredibly easy dinner tonight using the sauce along with homemade seitan I had on hand.

I simply sauteed red onions, bell peppers, and carrots until soft. I stirred in the seitan and allowed that to cook for about 3-4 minutes before stirring in the sauce and adding in some frozen peas. I just let that simmer until the sauce was warm. I reheated the rice and served.
 

I think the sauce had good flavor. It was fairly mild for my tastes, but not bad. I certainly made for an easy dinner. I'd love to try my hand at making a vegan version of this sauce now.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Running (though indoors)
  • Easy dinner
  • Sunshine (and no gusting winds)
  • Extra time to re-paint my nails
  • Watching movie on couch

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Women & Weights, Spin & Butternut Squash Chili

Spin Over a Run
Today I had high hopes for running. It started off really cold this morning, but the sun came out in full force. The forecast was for low 50's. Sounded pretty good to me. But the wind was not cooperating. Maybe I'm just a big old whimp, but running in 24+mph winds just doesn't sound like fun.

Luckily, I had a backup plan. I did pack clothes for spin class as well. So, it was spin with triceps before class. I did triceps as a triset of 3x8:

Double-arm overhead triceps extensions
Lying triceps extensions
Dips

Then it was off to spin my little legs off. I think leg day (Saturday) and the interval runs from Sunday were catching up with me a bit today though. My legs felt so heavy. In my mind I was moving faster, but in reality, not so much. But, it was a good class. Definitely gave me a much-needed energy boost for the day.

So, for you runners, what's your limitation on the weather? I've run in sleet, rain, storms, 17 degree temps, 95+ degree temps, even in the dark. But wind is my enemy.

Women & Weights
I guess while I'm on the subject of working out, I found it interesting that yesterday many of you said avoid the weight area out of intimidation. Not wanting to look like you don't know what you're doing or be around the grunting, sweaty men.

I used to be that way. I stuck to weights at home. But knew that if I wanted to continue to increase my strength, I'd have to buy a new house to accommodate a bigger gym or suck it up and go to the gym I paid for. I was definitely intimidated. In fact, I still avoid the machines and stick to what I know: free weights and barbells.

I always write out my workouts, plug in my music, carve out my space, and just zone out. Basically, I ignore all the men around me and pretend I know exactly what I'm doing. The way I see it (because I've watched) they don't always know what they're doing either. But for whatever reason, they don't mind, or they don't realize they're doing something all wrong.

So what can be done to make weights less intimidating for women? Not everyone can afford a personal trainer, and not everyone has space for a home gym either. In other words, maybe not even the luxury of doing home DVDs just to learn like I did.

What are your thoughts on this? For those who do hit the weights, how did you overcome any intimidation? For those who stay away, what would make it less intimidating?

Making Dinner Easier
As I mentioned yesterday, I had some leftover butternut squash already roasted. I decided to use it to make my Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili, only this time I added in crumbled tempeh to the mix.

Since the squash was already cooked, I added it at the very to simply heat it through. I didn't want it to become mush.
 

I actually did myself a favor and multi-tasked (usually not a good idea when I'm cooking). I went ahead and made up some brown rice for a Thai dish for tomorrow. Jason went to Target hungry yesterday and came home with some pre-made Thai sauces. I have homemade seitan on hand. Now I have the rice as well. So, this should make for a super fast, super simple mid-week dinner tomorrow. If only I could be this efficient all the time....

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Sunshine 
  • Warm chili for dinner

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weights & Simple Dinner

Weight Day
Apparently we skipped fall and jumped straight into winter, well, for a day or so anyway. Today was low 30's and gusting winds walking into the office. You can bet I pulled out my warm scarf and gloves for the trek in.

The highs were barely 40 degrees, maybe not even 40 thanks to the fun wind chill. This meant no desire to run today. I would have hit spin, but I had a webinar from 12:30-2. I decided to hit the gym early and get in the weights I had intended on doing yesterday.

I got there at 10 and it was lovely...in other words, I had the weights all to myself. Near the end of my workout one other man showed up then two girls. But as is typical, the females headed directly to the cardio equipment. I find it kind of sad to pretty much always be the only female in the weights area. Is this typical at your gym as well? Just curious.

Anyway, I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical as a warm up. Then I went with back, chest (done as supersets of 3x8), and some abs at the end.

SS#1
Underhand barbell rows
Hammer curls

SS#2
Pullovers
EZ bar barbell curls*

SS#3
Double-arm rows
Incline curls

*I have really been needing to branch out and use a barbell for curls. I always go with dumbbells, but am at a stand still with increasing weights. This was my first time using the EZ bar as we don't have a shorter barbell, just Olympic size.

Overall, it was a pretty good workout. I did have to go lighter than expected with the BB curls though. So, using the bar will be a good change up for me. I have a feeling that I am using more momentum than I think using the dumbbells. I couldn't do that with the bar.

Simple Dinner
We didn't make it to the grocery store this weekend, so the veggie selection is getting low. I did have some kale that was wilting away and some butternut squash that's really been screaming to be used (I swear it has).

So, shocker, we had kale and butternut squash tonight. There were several options I could have gone with of course. But I took the easier route and simply cubed and roasted the squash. I sauteed the kale with some onions, vegetable broth, and splash of orange juice, salt, pepper. I had two Gardein Chick'n Scallopini left in the freezer and some leftover vegan gravy.
 
So dinner ended up being both tasty and easy to assemble. I've been craving kale the past few days, so this definitely hit the spot. And even better? I have some squash leftover to use in a chili this week.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Weight workout
  • Easy dinner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sleep Over, Silence and Lazy Sunday

Friday Night Sleep Over
I feel like this weekend has just been so packed that I almost don't even know where to begin. And how is it almost over for that matter? Friday, my sister ended up staying the night with her two kiddos. This was their first over-night stay at our house, and to say they were excited is a massive understatement.

So after a day with a full house that ended up included: sister, her 2 kids, my mom and her husband, plus my cousin and his daughter, we ended up having house guests. Originally it was just going to be Sarah staying and the kids were going to ride back home and stay with my mom. But, plans ended up changing last minute, so A and C got to stay as well. I now have several new pieces of artwork including a birthday card and necklace A made for me.
Uncle Jason did an amazing job entertaining them I must say. Though at one point he came downstairs thinking he had been playing with them for about 2 hours and thinking was close to their bed time...only to discover it wasn't even 6pm yet. I swear he shed a tear.

When you're not used to having high-energy kids around (to go with our dogs plus my sister's dog), it can really throw you for a loop. They are non-stop questions, non-stop activity, just non-stop. I wish I could bottle that energy up! And I say this not saying that my niece and nephew are bad kids either. They were so well behaved, honestly. So happy to be staying.

Jason blew up a blow-up bed just for them. Not that they slept on it mind you. But they thought that was loads of fun. Kind of like camping out. And it made me remember staying with my grandmother or my aunts and having them make pallets in the floor for us. Why do kids like sleeping in the floor so much?

Saturday Silence, Gym, Errands
Anyway, Friday was a long long day. Saturday we all got up around 8. Jason made the kids some pancakes and watch some cartoons with them. He would have been watching the cartoons anyway, but them being here made for a valid excuse of course.

Sarah had planned on going to the gym with me. But she found out last minute that the kiddos were supposed to be going with their dad to another family Thanksgiving. So she had to rush out by 9:30 and get back home. Jason left right at the same time to go to a master's swim class. As soon as the doors shut, all I heard was silence. And it was the best sound ever. The dogs looked at me and slowly ambled into the living room and crashed out. We were all exhausted to say the least.

But, I managed to tear myself away from the silence and hit the gym for legs, shoulders, abs. After a 15-minute elliptical warm up, I went with trisets then did abs at the end.

Barbell squats - warmup set of 10
TS#1 - 3x8
Barbell squats
Plie squats
Overhead shoulder press

TS#2 - 3x8
Alternating front lunges
Stiff-legged deadlifts
Lateral raise

TS#3
Step ups - 6
Calf raises - 15
Front raises - 8

I also did some hamstring rolls ins on the stability ball, 2x10, and 2x6 3-point lunges (lunge front, then side, then rear for 1 rep).

Jason and I ended up running a few errands, Maddie was out of dog food, I wanted to hit up the local running store to take advantage of Small Business Saturday - perfect timing as I needed new shoes - and took in a late lunch. We were fairly lazy after lunch, just watching movies for the most part. Nothing terribly exciting. But we were trying to decompress.

The late lunch meant that dinner was really late as well. But, it was so good. The weather has been really crummy, rain, rain, gray skies, more rain. So dinner was a vegan creamy tomato soup with grilled (daiya) cheese sandwiches. Bad blogger - no pictures. I was still recovering from Friday ;-) We will definitely need to make this soup again, it's really simple, and I promise to post the recipe with pictures then.

Relaxing Sunday
This morning it was low 30's, windy, and gloomy out. I was itching to take my new shoes for a spin though. I usually wear Brooks Ghost 3, but now they have the Ghost 4 out. While I normally hate treadmill runs, the new shoes were my catalyst for running today despite having to take it indoors.

Jason went to the gym with me to do weights. I thought I was going to just do 2-3 miles and then do chest and back. I started with 1 mile as a warm up then did 2 minute intervals (I think I did 5). The treadmill really sucked today - definitely all mental. I was in love with the shoes though. They are what kept me going honestly, oh and the fact that I'm oddly competitive with myself. I couldn't stop at 3.25 miles, so I went to 3.5. But then I couldn't just stop there. Not a chance. So, I ended up with 4.25 miles after all was said and done.

Jason and I got home and showered. Well, I did my whole stretch and roll routine, then showered. I think we were about *thisclose* to being bad and going out to eat. But I made myself stay in PJs, didn't do my hair or makeup, and pulled out leftovers for lunch.

It was the right choice, but man I am SO sick of doing dishes right about now. I swear we have washed every dish at least 3 times by now. Not even an exaggeration. We hand washed the China to get ready for the Thanksgiving meal, then had to hand wash all of it after the meal. I also had cleaned all the pots, pans, dishes used for cooking, every single piece of silverware was used, washed, used and washed. In fact, as I type, the dishwasher is going yet again.

So, Sunday afternoon is a lazy one for us. I really want to get the tree up, but we'll see how that goes. I already mentioned it once and Jason said he was "too shaky" from his weight workout and didn't want to risk falling down the attic stairs. Humph...great excuse right? I've been working my way through laundry, so I don't feel completely non-productive sitting around in PJs.

Have you recovered from Thanksgiving festivities? 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Relaxing Sunday
  • Quiet day
  • New running shoes

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Three - My House

Finally, as promised, here is my vegan Thanksgiving menu (well, vegan minus the turkey mom brought of course).
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Wild Mushroom Green Bean Casserole
Pumpkin Risotto
Apricot Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Homemade rolls (wheat and gluten-free)
Turkey with dressing (brought by my mom)
Faux chicken with chipotle cranberry relish for myself
Vegan Gravy (courtesy of Angela at Oh She Glows)
Gluten-free Pumpkin Roulade (from local bakery)

I started off Friday morning around 8 am prepping some of the food to make it easier to put together when it came time to eat. Onion rings smell really odd at 8 am I might add.

I steamed the sweet potatoes and sat those aside. I knew I could reheat them in the microwave and smash them at the last minute. I reconstituted the mushrooms and put together the green bean casserole ahead of time, leaving the onion rings off of course.

I also made the gravy as well so that I could put away all small kitchen appliances. I really was trying my best to have the kitchen as neat as possible when everyone arrived. It makes me nervous when the kitchen is a disaster and people are milling around in there with me.

I did have a snack platter with fruits, olives, cheeses, and crackers for everyone to nibble on - thought that would also keep people busy and out of the kitchen ;-)

It ended up being a gorgeous day finally; I even managed to get in a great 8 mile run before the chaos...I mean fun...began. Because it was so nice, mom was actually able to take the kids to the park down the street to play for a bit and we were also able to open up the windows for fresh air.

I set up the tables Thursday night. Not exactly the most beautiful setting as I had to use my kitchen table with a folding table. I sort of forgot about a table cloth and ended up having to us some muslin I thankfully had on hand (but could not get the wrinkles out of).
 

I think it all ended up looking pretty nice over all though. Not too fancy, but still special. I set out the food on the pool table. This made it easy to get our food and sit down to eat, plus far more space than using the kitchen counters.
 
 
 
I think it was a success. The food turned out great and the company, of course, made it that much better. Another great day with family.

Wild Mushroom Green Bean Casserole
Ingredients:
green beans
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
mix of dried wild mushrooms (I used one 1 oz. package)
1 portobello mushroom, small dice
1 - 1 1/2 cups no-salt vegetable broth
1 package silken tofu (firm)
To taste: salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, red pepper, nutritional yeast flakes
Gluten-free seasoned coating mix
Almond milk
1/2 white onion, cut into medium sized rounds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Dredge the onion rings into the almond milk then into coating mix. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden - approximately 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Steam green beans until just tender then immediately transfer to ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. Once cooled, cut into smaller pieces.

In sauce pan, saute onions on low heat for approximately 10 minutes then add in the portobello mushrooms allowing them to begin to caramelize. Once softened, add in broth and mushrooms and allow to simmer until mushrooms are reconstituted and soft. Remove from heat and remove the mushrooms from broth and chop. Don't toss the broth.

In food processor, puree the tofu with the mushroom broth (start with about 1/2 a cup) and seasonings until smooth. You do want it to be a little thin so that during baking it doesn't get too dry.

In large bowl, mix together the green beans, mushrooms, and tofu mixture. Transfer to large baking dish. Bake approximately 20 minutes then add the onion rings and bake an additional 10-15 minutes being careful not to burn the onions.

Apricot Glazed Brussells Sprouts
Ingredients:
Brussels sprouts - outer leaves removed and halved
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar-free apricot preserves
Balsamic vinegar - enough to thin out preserves
1-2 tbsp olive oil
To taste: salt, pepper, thyme

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.

In small bowl, whisk together preserves, balsamic vinegar, oil and seasonings.

Toss with sprouts and place in glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake approximately 20 minutes. Toss sprouts then bake an additional 25-30 minutes until softened.

Curried Pumpkin Risotto
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion finely diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups arborio rice
6 1/2 cups no-salt vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine (or more stock)
1 can pumpkin puree
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes 
To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, curry powder, garam masala, nutmeg

Directions:
Put stock in large pot and keep simmering.

In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in small amount of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the rice and stir to coat, approximately 1 minute.

Add in 1 cup stock plus 1/2 cup white wine. Stir continuously until liquid is absorbed. Stir in another 2 cups. Stir continuously until liquid is absorbed. Repeat until all liquid is used and rice is cream and al dente. Be careful not to over cook as it will continue to set up as it cools.

Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, nutritional yeast, and spices.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgivings One and Two

Today I decided to take as a rest day. I didn't want to feel rushed trying to get in a workout before we had to head out of town (our hometown an hour away). At least that made the morning relaxing. Jason finished cutting up the green beans, onions, and red bell peppers for a dish for my dad's house. Then we packed up the rolls I had also made and headed out.

First stop was Jason's parents' house for their family meal. We got there a little early so we could visit before having to eat then rush out. I didn't eat there, but Jason had a plate. He played a little baseball with the younger kids for a short bit before we had to hit the road to head to my dad's house.

They used to live within 5 minutes of one another. Now dad lives across town so it was a 30 minute drive. We got there a little bit early - actually beat my sister there for a change. Jason was a trooper and played with my niece and nephew for a short bit. The weather sucked - supposed to have been in the 60's and sunny. Not only was it another terribly gray day, it was barely 50 degrees out.

Anyway, the kids tried their hand at badminton. C never quite got the hang of it, but he sure tried his little heart out. A was much better, but got frustrated quickly and gave up.
 

Even my sis tried her hand at it. Apparently her years on the tennis team did not carry over post-high school.

The kids ended up roping Jason into helping them build a special tower. They were so proud because it was taller than them (that's not all that all mind you).

Even managed to get my dad to smile in a picture with my sister and me (I look like I'm waiting for something bad to happen, not sure what's going on there).
 And got a good picture of my sis with A (who was actually smiling).

Dinner was the traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Dad really does good. He made one pot of sauce without meatballs for me, one pot with GF meatballs for my sister, then one regular pot for everyone else. I call that love!

For me, the day was not so much about the food as it was about time with family. Thanksgiving festivities will continue tomorrow as my mom, her husband, sister and her kids all come over to my house. I am so excited to be cooking the meal for a change (meaning what I want).

Mom will be bringing turkey, I won't begrudge that too much. But the rest is up to me. I look forward to sharing the recipes with you along with more pictures. I'm definitely looking forward to another day with family.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Day as well whether it was with family or friends or just you and your significant other. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
Time with family

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Running, Visiting & Dinner Debating

Great Run on Gloomy Day
It might be Wednesday, but it sure feels like a Friday since I am off work the next two days. I know not everyone is so lucky though. I remember my dad having to work most Thanksgiving evenings as a manager for Walmart. Gotta get ready for Black Friday right? And when I worked retail, I was at work by 6 am on Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Do we really have to shop that day? Can't everyone get a little time off with family? And yes, I've been guilty of hitting up Black Friday too.

Guess that means that those of us who are lucky enough to be off should remember to enjoy the time that much more. Crazy families and all.

Enough semi-ranting...Today I was able to head out for a run with no rain, no gusting winds, no extreme temperatures. Kind of wasn't even sure how to dress myself for a "normal" day. It was supposed to have been 60 degrees and sunny.

In reality, it was 52 degrees with heavy cloud. It felt incredibly damp and cool out. Thankfully the winds were very mild or it would have been a no-go for a run I do believe. I know I'll have to suck it up and run in crummy weather soon enough, but not so sure I'm ready for all that just yet.

Despite the gloomy looking skies, the run was anything but gloomy. It really turned out to be a nice 6-mile run. Time really flew by as I completely zoned out and lost myself in the run. There were a few random thoughts that I remember though:
  • I love suiting up - as in putting on my running clothes
  • Wow, 2 years ago my max distance was 10 miles, since then I've hit 14.4
  • In a year I've run 2 half marathons
  • Man I'm glad it's not windy
  • I can't believe people are out playing golf right now, do they not work? Oh wait, I'm out running.
I definitely warmed up during my run, but the minute I stopped and the sweat started cooling, I was frozen. I got home and the heat wasn't on so it was a brisk 59 degrees in the house. Hello blue lips - really and truly. I did force myself to stretch and roll out on  my Triggerpoint kit before taking the hottest shower I could.

Errands & Happy Hour
After cleaning up, Jason showed up and we headed out to get gas in the car for tomorrow's driving and to hit up the liquor store...along with half the city. Apparently everyone needs their booze for a family holiday ;-)

We also met a friend for a quick drink after the errands. I had made some extra gluten-free rolls and shared them with her as her mom has to be GF. I can't share the recipe, but I can share the results right? Plus, isn't that part of Thanksgiving? Helping others?

We had a fantastic visit actually. It's just been too long since we've had time to visit. She actually helped take pictures at our wedding so we go WAY back. And she used to work with Jason way back in his restaurant days. So it was fun talking food with her as she's a big time foodie and can appreciate good food for what it is: vegan, vegetarian, GF, whatever. Just good. Hopefully we can get together soon cooking in, which I love to do. It's always nice to bond over food in my opinion.

Speaking of food, Jason and I are in a big quandary over dinner. He wants something that will not even remotely resemble any of the food we will be having over the next couple of days. He's calling out Thai, Stir-Fry, Tex-Mex. However, we had burritos Monday, chili last night, out of curry paste for Thai and not enough veggies for a decent stir-fry. Gonna be a long evening....

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Short day at work
  • Running
  • Visiting with good friend

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biceps, Spin & Chipotle Tempeh Chili for Tuesday

Relaxing Monday Evening
Last night Jason made some burritos for us for dinner. Nothing fancy, but they were quite tasty. I don't know exactly what all he added, but I know they had yellow bell peppers, onions, black beans, some leftover enchilada sauce. He toasted them up just the way I prefer too. I made sure to top with lots of jalapeno, but opted not to take photos.

We sat back and relaxed and watched Horrible Bosses. I know pretty much everyone gave it a thumbs up. And, for the most part, I thought it was pretty good. But sometimes movies when every single thing goes wrong and keeps piling up get to me a bit. So, by the end I was ready for it to be over. I'm really a terrible movie watcher is what it comes down to. But it was still a nice, relaxing evening.

Spin & Biceps
Today I hit up spin class again today. I started with biceps before the class:

SS - 3 x
Hammer curls - 10, 10, 8
Incline curls - 8, 8, 8

Dropset: Dumbbell curls - 6, 8, 10

Jason surprised me by showing up and riding next to me. I had mentioned I was going just in case he wanted to join me. I didn't really expect him to though. So it was a nice treat getting to exercise next to him today. Kind of a late birthday gift in a way.

Chili Kind of Night
A really great friend was home for a few days - she lives outside of Atlanta now. We had planned on her driving up to visit last night, but there was major flooding and interstate closures and such. Just not safe. The plan was for her to come up this evening instead. Unfortunately, one of her brothers decided to go home for the holidays a few days early, so she ended up having to stay at her mom's to visit. Definitely disappointed.

I guess the upside is that I had time after work to get to the grocery store for Thanksgiving dishes. I thought I was going to just do that tomorrow, and almost put it off, but thought the stores would probably be really crowded with last-minute shoppers and the shelves fairly bare. So, better to brave the store today rather than tomorrow.

And man am I glad I went ahead and got that madness over with. It was insane. I was ready to just ram other cars just to get out of the parking lot (which is entirely too small in nuts on a normal day). Sigh.

Since I was home a little later because of grocery trip, I went with something fairly easy to throw together for dinner - Chipotle Tempeh Chili. I was frazzled, annoyed, and didn't feel like thinking too hard about dinner. So, this worked nicely.


Have you finished your grocery shopping for Thanksgiving?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class (with surprise appearance from hubby)
  • Finally some sunshine this afternoon
  • Comforting dinner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just Another (Birth) Day

Last night was a bumpy one here with severe thunderstorms all night long. It looked like a never-ending strobe light with thunder that rattled the house. Poor Heath man looked like he was about to come unglued when I went down to feed them this morning. He just can't handle storms.

Luckily it had stopped with the thunder around that time so he actually ate his breakfast. If it's storming, he won't even eat. However, it was not an easy task getting out the door. He wedged himself up against it and wouldn't budge. Thirty pounds of dead weight is really darn heavy I might add.

I had my gym bag and lunch bag in hand along with umbrella so I had to try to scootch his rear into the kitchen. Kind of funny, kind of sad. Poor little guy.

Anyway, It was pretty much rain all day here, lots of flooding going on. So happy I have rainboots and that I don't have a far commute. It was definitely not a run day for me to say the least. As has been fairly typical of Mondays, though, I hit up spin class.

It was a good class. Our instructor was sick, but was a trooper and stuck it out with us. I have no idea how because it's not easy to take when you're feeling bad let alone teach. But you think, if she can do it, I had better be putting my heart into it. So, butt kicked. And what better way to celebrate one's birthday than hitting the gym for an awesome workout right? Some people want cake, I want a good sweatfest.

Oh, yes, today happens to be my birthday...I don't really make a big deal about it because it's typically just another day. It falls close to a holiday when everyone is busy and it almost always is celebrated with family on Thanksgiving. So, not terribly exciting stuff going down.

Originally I had planned to make myself a birthday dinner Saturday or Sunday night, but that never happened. I thought I might make that dish tonight, but I ended up using up the tofu I was going to use in last night's dinner (roasted veggie & tofu salad). I also didn't make the polenta I was planning to use. Oh, and I am out of spinach as I used that up in the salad last night.

So, dinner is TBD at this moment. And, I realize this is a short, random, wandering post really. But, as a gift to myself, I'm going to log off for the evening and at least enjoy a movie with Jason. We rented Horrible Bosses since I got a RedBox freebie for my birthday. We thought something silly and funny would be ideal on this stormy Monday.

Hopefully I'll have a great new recipe to post tomorrow. And is Thanksgiving really in 3 days????


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Movie with Jason
  • Relaxing on the couch

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spin, Weights, Errands & Gluten-Free Baking

Spin & Weights 
Today Jason and I hit the gym together. The plan was to do weights and then try out a new Cathe Friedrich DVD - Cycle Max (Thanks Jo!!). Of course, this was the plan in my mind. Jason thought the plan was to just do the spin workout.

I had jumped on the elliptical to get in a 10 minute warm up before weights, thinking we'd try some of the spin after weights. Jason, in the meantime, was apparently setting up the laptop and DVD in the spin area. He came around the corner looking really confused, and I looked confused right back of course.

So, today's workout started with spin. I only did about 30 minutes of the workout (Jason did the whole disc) before moving on to weights. I will say, that if you are in the market for a spin workout you can take to the gym on a day when there are no classes or to do at home, this is a good one. Of course. I don't think I've done one of Cathe's workouts that aren't awesome.

I went with chest, shoulders and triceps today. I did chest separate from shoulders and triceps since both chest and triceps work bothers my left elbow. I did 3x8 unless noted.

SS#1
Chest flye into press
Pushups with toes on bench

SS#2
Shoulder press
Double-arm overhead triceps extension

SS#3
Front raise open to T, return to front
Double-arm kickbacks - 10

SS#4
Lateral raise
Dips - 10

It was a pretty good workout. I did start off feeling a lot weaker (probably because of cardio first). But I was able to increase the weights for lateral raises, so that's always a plus.

Lunch, Errands & Messes
After the workout, Jason and I got cleaned up then debated about lunch. We ended up being bad and going out. It was a dreary looking day out, so being outside of the house seemed more appealing.

I had a recipe to try out for some gluten-free rolls for my sister for Thanksgiving. Once I started reading through the recipe, however, I realized I was lacking one thing - a stand mixer. Jason was suddenly gung-ho about hitting up Bed Bath & Beyond to get me a stand mixer.

In the meantime, I had emailed my pal Sarena asking if I really needed a stand mixer. She said to use my arms; Jason was on a mission though. I could have walked away with a stand mixer for my birthday. However, I just couldn't stomach dropping the dough on a machine for...well...dough. Not today anyway. How crazy am I right?

So, we headed home empty handed. I got into my comfy PJs then headed straight to the kitchen to try my hand at gluten-free baking. The things I do for my sister! The kitchen looked like a flour explosion. Gluten-free baking is a major science experiment that I am not used to at all. Kind of makes my head spin. I have even more respect for those who bake their own goods and totally understand paying the money at a gluten-free bakery.

But, I really do enjoy being in the kitchen, so it was a nice evening. And I also love doing something special for my family. So making these rolls was a labor of love with no complaints. And who doesn't love the smell of bread baking in the oven?

And not only did these smell amazing, they tasted amazing as well. I am so excited that these turned out so well, and I know my sister is going to be ecstatic to have rolls this Thanksgiving! As a caveat, this is not my recipe to share, so I will apologize if this seems teasing. You'll have to look for this recipe in a cookbook one day soon ;-)

The rest of the evening is going to look a lot like this for us now and I hope yours does too!


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Gym with hubby
  • Relaxing lunch
  • Kitchen time

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tablescapes, Running & Old Navy Deals

Friday Finds
I must recap my Hobby Lobby purchase yesterday for my Thanksgiving tablescape. As I mentioned, I love tablescapes. Since I found out I family was actually coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, not only have I been going over recipe ideas, but also table decoration ideas.

After a 40-minute bumper-to-bumper, 5 mile drive to Hobby Lobby, I did actually score this awesome wreath for 80% off (originally $70, got for $14). I don't really want the wreath so much as the accessories on the wreath, which easily would have been more than $15 on their own.

Is it terrible to take the wreath apart? Please say no, because that's the plan. I have the napkins, place mats, and candle holders. So I'm thinking it all goes well together. Now to implement ;-)

And I'm still not set on the menu yet, but here are some ideas as some of you guys sounded interested:
  • Smashed sweet potatoes topped with roasted walnuts (maybe spiced)
  • Pumpkin risotto topped with wild mushrooms
  • Apricot glazed Brussels sprouts (these are for certain)
  • Wild mushroom green bean casserole (using a cashew cream to make it vegan)

Saturday Run
Today was one of those oddly warm November days. It was right at 60 degrees when I headed out for my run. Once again, it was insanely windy. I went a different route so my out was tailwinds and return the dreaded head winds. At one point the winds were hitting me sideways and literally pushing me across the path.

I really only went out with 6 miles in mind. But I actually felt really good today. For the first time in who even knows how long, my sciatic pain wasn't the forefront of the run. It came and went, but nothing excruciating and not even like yesterday. In other words, in comparison, it felt pain-free.

Well, it wasn't entirely a cake walk. The wind was brutal and the last half a mile was when the pain set in and set in hard. But, I will call it an incredibly successful 8 mile run all things considered.

I got home and did my typical routine of stretching and rolling out on my TriggerPoint Therapy Kit before getting cleaned up.

Errands & Non-Excitement
Since we're having family over for a Thanksgiving meal next week, we need to figure out better seating. Our kitchen table will fit 6 as a tight squeeze, but it'll be 5 adults and 2 kids. We have a pool table that we bought a huge piece of wood to go over the top in hopes of using that as a dining table one day. The problem is we've never found chairs that will work.

So, today Jason was on a mission. He spent a good 30 minutes or more online looking at chairs and benches. Then he decided we needed to hit up a furniture store. I swear the guy helping us almost high-fived Jason over having a pool table instead of a formal dining table.

We ended up at Kirkland's because I knew they had parson-style chairs. Low and behold, they seem to be the ideal height. Problem, none left in stock. Go figure right? Lucky for me, my sister texted me that Old Navy had coats on sale for 75% off from noon-5. Oh and conveniently Old Navy is right next to Kirkland's.
I scored this sweet coat for a mere 25 bucks. Not bad considering it was originally 99 bucks. I firmly believe a girl can never have too many coats, especially when said girl finds 70 degrees chilly.

After Old Navy, it was way past time to eat. Since the Razorback game was about to start, we headed over to Razorback Pizza (mostly because it was close not because of the name) to grab lunch and let Jason watch part of the game.

I really could care less about the game, so after we finished eating, we headed home quickly so he wouldn't miss anything exciting. I had nothing better to do, so I did some non-exciting (to most) things like make some rolls for Thanksgiving.

I have a French bread recipe that I converted into a whole grain recipe and can make them into rolls. The family really enjoys them for the holidays (so much better than store bought of course). But, my niece especially likes them and request mini-sized rolls that she can take home and keep in the freezer. Who am I to deny that sweet angel homemade rolls from her Auntie Heather? I simply can't.

So, not an exciting evening, but not a bad one either. I consider this to be a good day. It wasn't as originally planned, but worked out nicely in the end. I did get a coat after all right? ;-)


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Running
  • Relaxing
  • Warmer temps
  • Lunch with hubby

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - Fives

Fun Friday
Today I ended up leaving work at 11 (half day) so that I could get my driver's license renewed, go for a run, and run some errands. I get to host Thanksgiving at my house for my mom, her husband, my sis and her kids. This is the first time I'm hosting Thanksgiving (it'll actually be Friday), so I'm very excited about this.

My mom will be bringing turkey, obviously I wouldn't cook it. But, I get to do all the sides. Oh the wheels have been turning! I'm actually almost overwhelmed at all the possibilities. I mean, I, for the first time, can have a Thanksgiving meal with dishes I can eat, I can really enjoy, I can get creative with.

I have sort of been torn with taking traditional items like green bean casserole and making them more my style (like with a wild mushroom cashew cream) or smashed sweet potatoes in lieu of smashed potatoes. Or do I go crazy and try something new? Decisions decisions.

Anyway, with this new freedom comes the opportunity to decorate the table. I am obsessed with tablescapes, though if you came over you'd never know this because my table is bare other than my camera, a bowl of fruit and my netbook. Very inviting.

I guess this long ramble was essentially me saying that I'm running errands in search of table decorating ideas - just an excuse to shop really. I'm sure Jason is just cringing reading this.
Source

I don't have a large table though, so I will have to keep it fairly simple. I am thinking of something similar to this, but downsized.

Oh, and back the run today. Thankfully the DMV trip went super quickly (like 20 mins). I headed out for my run just before 12:30. It was gorgeous out, but super windy. The temps were hovering in the low 50's but with head winds, it really felt colder. Thank goodness for my arm sleeves.

On my turn around, I got hot immediately because it was suddenly a tail wind. So I could just roll down the sleeves. My sciatica was bothering me from the get go. But, it wasn't debilitating like it has been. Of course, I did stop at 6 miles rather than push on. It was one of those days when I wanted to run forever though. However, I forgot my normal water bottle that has hand strap where I stash GU packets. Since I didn't have that water or my GU, it forced me to stop sooner. So, probably a good mistake. So 6 sunny miles done.


Fun Facts Friday - Fives
I am absolutely ripping off my Fun Facts Friday from my pal Jess. She listed 5 things for 3 different categories. I really wasn't sure what I was going to do for Fun Facts Friday, so this worked out perfectly ;-)

5 Things You Don't Know About Me
  1. I used to have my belly button pierced 
  2. I can wiggle my ears
  3. I am the girl you want to be behind in a long bathroom line because I can get in and out faster than a man
  4. I've peed in a urinal and behind a cop car (when ya gotta go....)
  5. I slapped a guy in a bar (total stranger, long story, I was actually sober)

5 Things I'm Good At
  1. Being a cheerleader - need to learn to cheer for myself more though
  2. Making messes - even trying to clean I make a mess somehow
  3. Procrastinating
  4. Being a friend - I try my best to always be there for my friends and am fiercely loyal
  5. Cooking - don't know how that happened, but I think I'm pretty good at it

5 Things I Believe In
  1. Honesty
  2. Friendship
  3. Loyalty
  4. Helping others
  5. The power of sunshine
So tell me something from one of the categories about you.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Short day
  • Sunshine
  • Happy hour

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spicy Curry Pumpkin Soup on Rest Day

Rest Day = Time for Errands
While my legs weren't too bad off after yesterday's workout, I was feeling fatigued over all. Normally I'd prefer my rest day to be Friday, but I just wasn't feeling it for any workout at all today. Plus, I am taking half a day tomorrow to do fun stuff like get my driver's license renewed, so I figured I'd have plenty of time to get out for an afternoon run. It's supposed to be sunny and close to 60 degrees.

Since I had extra time today, I was able to get groceries at lunch then make another errand stop after work. We have a place called the Drug Emporium that carries many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items tons cheaper than Whole Foods or the regular grocery story. They also carry my weakness - PB2, which I've been out of for weeks now.

The store just isn't convenient at all for me to get to. Feels so out of the way. But, there were some gluten-free flours I needed to pick up for a special surprise for my sister for Thanksgiving and I knew this place would have the items at a minimum $1 cheaper than Whole Foods (typically 2-3 dollars less actually). Plus, I could stock up on my PB2.

Do you have any stores that you really like, but that are sort of out of the way from your normal routes? Is it worth making the special trip to save a few bucks?

Honestly, mileage it's no different than most of the other stores. It just happens to be located next to nothing else I would ever stop at. So definitely not on the way - and that's how I approach my errands, mapped out, right hand turns, bam bam bam.

Pandora & Pumpkin Soup
My little errand ended up going much faster than expected even with rush hour traffic. I had plenty of time to just relax a little while listening to music - loving the Norah Jones station/channel (whatever it's called) on Pandora. I have a nice little mix going with anything from Norah Jones and Mazzy Star to Jack Johnson and John Mayer.

As soon as the sun started going down, so did the temps. We're in for a cold, crisp night (32 degrees). That called for soup in my mind. I went with a Spicy Curry Pumpkin Soup. I just picked up some pumpkin today and it was already calling my name. I also made up some Roasted Curried Chickpeas to add to the soup. I love adding a little bit of crunch and texture to a creamy soup.

Spicy Curry Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups no-salt vegetable broth
1 package firm silken tofu
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can lite coconut milk
Red curry paste - to taste (I like spice so I went with more vs less)
To taste: salt, curry powder, garam masala


Directions:
In medium pot, saute onions and carrots in broth with just a sprinkle of salt. Allow to simmer until carrots soften, approximately 20 minutes.

Stir in pumpkin and half the can of coconut milk. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add in the tofu and puree until creamy.

Return to pot and stir in remaining coconut milk, curry paste, and spices. If too thick, add additional broth. Allow to simmer until flavors begin to come together, approximately 10 minutes.

Roasted Curried Chickpeas
Ingredients:
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp olive oil
To taste: curry powder, red pepper
Agave nectar - just a drizzle


Directions:
Preheat oven to 300.
 
On a small baking sheet, combine all ingredients so that the chickpeas are well coated.

Bake until chickpeas are toasted and crunchy tossing at least once, approximately 30-35 minutes.
 

I love having something to dip into my soups so I went with some lavash bread that I seasoned with some curry powder and garam masala then toasted up quickly. I love how light and crisp lavash gets when toasted.

This turned out so good. It was rich, creamy with just enough heat but not enough to blow your lid off. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Rest day
  • Extra time to run errands
  • Sunshine

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PurpleStride, Weights & Gardein for Dinner

Support for a Friend
Before I dive into today's normal post, I wanted to take a minute to ask for your support. Some of you may remember this request from last year, for those not familiar, I have a dear friend, Lindsey, who's husband, Tommy, passed away after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

There is a 5k walk/run event this weekend that raises money for the pancreatic cancer research - PurpleStride Atlanta. If you are in the Atlanta area and are free this Saturday, I highly encourage you to particpate in the race. It's an event for a really good cause.

I know not many of you live in that area so another way to support Lindsey in memory of Tommy and to potentially help others is to make a donation. It is tax deductible. And if you are unable to donate yourself, I would appreciate it if you could please forward this to others. 


Legs & Back
Today I ended up going with legs and back at the gym over a run. It was finally sunny, but really windy (again, it won't stop). I figured it wouldn't hurt to lay off running another day in hopes that my sciatic situation will improve.

I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical to warm up. Funny, I really don't like the elliptical, but 15-20 minutes is very doable and it allows me time to read my latest Oxygen or Muscle & Fitness Hers magazines.

I went with trisets of 3x8 unless noted:

Warmup set of squats - 10

TS#1
Squats
Plie squats
Double-arm row

TS#2
Swing lunges - 6
Calf raises - 15
Underhand barbell row

TS#3
Step ups - 6
Single-leg deadlifts
Pullovers - 10

I did some ab exercises as well. It was a pretty good workout. I am definitely starting to see some change in my legs, and am feeling stronger. Next week it's time to increase the weights.

Easy Dinner
When I went to the grocery store last, I had a coupon for Gardein. So, I picked up a package of Gardein's Herb Dijon Breasts.

I don't normally use pre-made foods as my go-to for dinner. I know homemade, whole foods are much more ideal. But sometimes they're nice to have on hand (especially when you get them on sale). And Gardein ingredients aren't terrible, much much better than many pre-made vegan and vegetarian foods. So I feel less bad about using them.

Tonight seemed like the perfect evening to take advantage of a quick, easy to make meal. I had some asparagus to use up along with some baby gold and sweet potatoes. I simply roasted all the veggies then prepared the cutlets per package direction.
 

Voila! This would be my version of semi-homade ;-)

Daily to Enjoy List:
  • Leg day (starting to like working legs again)
  • No rain
  • Easy dinner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spin & Spicy White Chili with Tempeh

Biceps & Spin
Today was wet, gray, flat out dreary. I joked that I was going to have to swim across the street to the gym to hit up spin. Thank goodness for rainboots. Though, Jason didn't seem to think that rainboots paired well with running shorts and my long-sleeved t-shirt that I wore out of the gym. Men.... ;-)

Before class, I was able to get in biceps. I did a giant set of 3 x (6, 8, 8)

Dumbbell curls
Hammer curls
Incline curls

Spin class was a goody today. Definitely put me in a better mood despite the gray skies I was staring out at. I have a feeling that tomorrow my legs will be feeling today. I am hoping to maybe get out for a run tomorrow depending on what happens with the weather. Otherwise, maybe leg day. I am seriously missing running though.

Chili & Nail Polish
I really wasn't sure what I wanted to make or even felt like eating for dinner. It was just so nasty out. Soup sort of sounded good. Jason was wanting the Spicy White Chili.

I really just wanted to sit on my butt and paint my ratty fingernails. I ordered myself early birthday gifts from Sephora the other day. Really it was anti-aging stuff and some new nail polish - appropriately named "Never Enough Shoes." It was made just for me I'm certain.

Anyway, lucky for us, no one really delivers to our house (lucky in that forces us to cook in, which is both cheaper and healthier). Unlucky for us, it means we must get into the kitchen and actually make something.

I ended up starting the Spicy White Chili. I was out of seitan so I used tempeh instead this time. Then I sat and painted my nails while the chili simmered. So it was sort of the best of both worlds: cooking and pampering myself at the same time.
 
I topped with Daiya Vegan Cheese and served with whole-wheat crackers. Love to crumble them into the chili for added texture. This turned out excellent. I think I might like the tempeh better. But it's a toss up. Both are great in my mind.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin 
  • Painting my nails
  • Movie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday Recap and 2 Recipes

Saturday Recap
Not only did I have an absolutely perfect Saturday, I did myself a huge favor and pretty much logged off the computer the entire weekend. It was quite liberating actually.

Saturday, my sis made it to my house around 9:30 and we got ourselves ready for a run. Unfortunately, the sun decided to stay hidden (though it was supposed to have been sunny all day). Sarah is more of a run/walker, and so is a friend of ours.

Sarah and I started at the Big Dam Bridge and headed towards the newer bridge (Two Rivers) where our friend C was going to meet up with her so they could explore the new trails. Sarah has gone down to the river trails with me before, but this was before the new bridge to the other trail system.

I got in a solid 8 miles. I had the strange sense of guilt (irrational of course) for not getting double-digit miles done. Thankfully, I listened to my rational side and made my loop back sooner than later. The last mile was quite painful, so I really am glad I didn't push and go farther.

After we got home and cleaned up, we headed out for a few errands and late lunch. First stop was a new gluten-free bakery in town called Dempsey's. Incredible. Every sample I had was simple delicious. I wish I could have bottled up Sarah's happiness. I know exactly how exciting it can feel to walk into a place and be able to eat anything they have.

This is the first time she's been able to go somewhere and eat freely without looking at a menu and studying ingredients. She loaded up on loaves of bread, pizza crust (that looked divine), and a few sweet treats. We also ended up ordering a pumpkin roulade for Thanksgiving. It was incredible.

After the bakery, Sarah needed to return some shoes to DSW - and I will never pass up an opportunity to hit up that store. I found a super cute pair of red heels (like I needed another pair mind you). Then it was off to lunch at Canon Grill. We started with their salsa. It's so fresh and so good then enjoyed salads.

We chose Canon Grill because it's right next to the grocery store, and I still had a few things I needed to pick up for the party. Then it was back to the house, and straight into our PJs. It was really nice spending the day with Sarah. It was also fun having her help me in the kitchen for the party.

She is pretty handy in the kitchen and loves to cook as well. I didn't want to do anything that required a ton of time to make. It was supposed to be a relaxed evening. So, I did simple chips dips as starters then I made Black Bean and Tempeh Enchiladas.

Since my sis has to eat gluten-free, I thought Mexican foods would be ideal. I went with corn tortillas for the enchiladas rather than using flour tortillas. And I could use corn chips for the chips and dips.

Black Bean and Tempeh Enchiladas
Ingredients:
Enchiladas
black beans
1 package tempeh, crumbled
1/2 white onion, diced
1-2 tbps minced garlic
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
Small can green chiles
To taste: salt, pepper, red pepper, chili powder, paprika, chipotle powder (optional), lemon juice
For garnish: cherry tomatoes halved and green onions
Daiya Vegan Cheese (or any cheese you prefer)
Corn tortillas

Enchilada Sauce
16 oz tomato sauce
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
1/4 cup minced onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
To taste: salt, pepper, red pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, agave nectar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To make the sauce: in a medium saucepan, saute onions and garlic until onions are soft then stir in remaining ingredients. If you wish, you can use an immersion blender to break down the tomatoes. Allow to simmer and thicken, approximately 30 minutes.

For the filling: in a large skillet, saute the onions, bell peppers, and tempeh until veggies begin to soften. Add in the black beans, green chiles, and seasonings. Cook for about 8-10 minutes then remove from heat.

Note: I made these as a layered dish rather than individual enchiladas just for sake of ease. But for individual, follow this method: Prepare a large glass baking dish. In a large skillet, bring a small amount of water to boil. Dip the corn tortilla quickly in the hot water to make more pliable. Fill with enchilada filling and small amount of "cheese." Roll tightly and place seam-side down.

Pour the sauce over the top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted.
Garnish with tomatoes and green onions (optional) and serve with lots of jalapenos of course.

I didn't take many pictures. Too busy gabbing to be honest. But, that's the sign of a great evening right?

Sunday Was Rough
I'll admit to having a wee bit more wine than I should have. So Sunday was a rough start. I easily slept until after 8 am. We had some coffee and breakfast before she headed out. I loafed around (aka sat on the couch) for a bit before forcing my rear to the gym for shoulders and triceps:

GS#
Shoulder press
Lateral raise
Front raise
Incline rear flye

TS#
Double-arm overhead triceps extension
Double-arm kickbacks
Triceps dips

I did some abs as well before heading out. I needed to make a trip to Whole Foods, so I went directly there.

Sunday at 12:30 is not the ideal time to hit up Whole Foods I quickly discovered. It was packed, people just seemed all in my way. I forgot several items and came home with others I shouldn't have picked up - like a to-go container of their brussels sprouts and golden beets. AWFUL.

Anyway, after I got home, I cleaned up and put my PJs right back on and spent the rest of the day glued to the couch watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reruns until Jason got home and then the channel changed of course.

Question: When was the last time you turned off your computer for the weekend? I must say, you should give it a try. Unplug and enjoy each moment of the day.


Monday (Came Way too Fast)
Today it was sunny and 80 degrees. Had it not been gusting 20+ mph winds (freaking again) I would have headed out for a run. But the winds were those strong blasting types that make you have to walk almost bent all the way over head first. Very hot looking, goes right along with hair standing on end.

So, I went with spin today. It was a good class, as usual. I was actually feeling a little icky at first - sinus drainage. But once I got going with the class, I forgot all about that issue and it was down to business.

When I was at WFs yesterday, I did pick up some locally grown Japanese eggplant. We had some homemade spaghetti sauce in the freezer, which Jason had pulled out and thawed so it needed to be use. I decided I wanted to make my Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna.

The recipe calls for Italian Tofu Ricotta. I took my recipe and tweaked it a little bit (mostly out of laziness). In the original recipe, I used cashew cream, this time, however, I opted to just use a splash of almond milk instead.

Italian Tofu Ricotta
Ingredients:
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely minced white onion
To taste: sea salt, cracked black pepper, parsley, basil, oregano
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Splash apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Splash of unsweetened almond milk

Directions:
Crumble tofu in large bowl. Add in all ingredients up to almond milk. Mix well then stir in the almond milk. Re-season if needed.

Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna
Ingredients:
3 Japanese eggplants, thinly sliced strips
Spaghetti sauce of your choice
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 rehydrated sundried tomatoes, finely diced
4 Canned artichoke hearts, chopped (optional)
1 recipe for Italian Tofu Ricotta (or recipe of your choice)
To taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley
Daiya Vegan Mozzarella

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In medium bowl, slightly smash the cannellini beans then add in the spinach, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and spices to taste.

Place thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add one layer of eggplant, top with "ricotta," bean and spinach mixture, sauce and sprinkle of Daiya. Repeat at least once more. But not topping with Daiya.

Bake for 25 minutes then top with Daiya and bake an additional 20 minutes or until Daiya is melted.
 

This looks terribly messy and I didn't get the eggplant completely cooked. The next time I might try baking the eggplant strips first, maybe 10 minutes before layering. But the flavors were excellent.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Warm temps (despite the wind)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sister Saturday & Girls' Night In

Last night I met some friends for a short happy hour before heading home. Jason went camping with his dad and brother, so I was flying solo. That didn't mean no pizza for Pizza Friday. I ended up making myself a mini socca pizza for dinner.

I enjoyed that with a glass of wine snuggled on the couch with the pups watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I have no idea why, but I just love that show. Maybe it's just Guy's personality. It's usually not the food as it's rarely meatless. Anyway, a guilty pleasure I suppose.

As I mentioned yesterday, today I am hosting a Girls' Night In. Not a big shindig, just a few friends over - PJs are the required attire (similar to last year's PJs n' Pizza Party). I don't know about you, but sometimes my excuse for not going to a party or event is because I'd rather be in my PJs. So this works out quite nicely.

My sister is coming up this morning and we're planning on running. So, I've just been piddling around doing chores. Very exciting I know - mopping, dusting, wiping down counters. Don't be jealous please ;-) Basically, I've just been wasting time until she gets here.

Since we're planning on running, there is no point in getting ready for the day. I must say, it's kind of nice spending the morning in my PJs not rushing around. And I get to put them back on again this evening. I'm kind of liking this routine.

I really don't know what all we are going to end up doing today. Might do some window shopping, or just sit around the house visiting. It really doesn't matter too much, anytime we get together is good time to me.

In order to make the party more fun and relaxed, I'm going with an easy menu plan. Just doing some chips and dips to snack on then making Black Bean and Tempeh Enchiladas for dinner. It might sound complicated, but they are going to be pretty easy to throw together - especially with the help of my sister.

Oh, and can't forget dessert. Last night while I was making my socca pizza, I also made some Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookie Balls. I figured they would be enjoyed for my girls' night gathering. They are so incredibly simple to make, but oh so tasty.

I imagine I'll be mostly MIA from the computer today. I promise to take lots of pictures today and share the enchilada recipe tomorrow. Happy Saturday!

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Running
  • Sister time
  • Time with good friends
  • Relaxing

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - I'm Weird

Rest Day 
As is fairly typical, today is my rest day. Definitely looking forward to a workout-free day after leg day yesterday (and all the spin classes this week). Although, I wonder if I shouldn't actually do a low intensity workout after a leg workout to loosen the legs up.

I might try to arrange workouts that way next week to see if it helps with the Day-2 DOMS that might be worse from not moving the day after - if that makes any kind of sense.

What are your thoughts? Do you rest after a leg day? How do you determine which day(s) is going to be your rest day?

Either way, I was really glad to have a little extra time in my day today. I needed to get to Target and a few other errands for a Girls' Night In get together tomorrow. Really looking forward to that - and my sis is coming up. Should be a great weekend ahead.

Fun Facts Friday - I'm Weird
Last night while making dinner, I was reminded of one of my many quirks. It got me to thinking about how I am really weird about certain things, but then of course other things that would drive someone else bonkers don't bother me at all. Like half open drawers or cabinets. Bad habit of mine that drives Jason nuts.

Things I'm really weird about:
  • Washing my hands - can't stand my hands to feel dirty so when I am cooking, I will cut onions and put in pan, rinse hands; cut bell peppers, put in pan, rinse hands; etc.
  • Unpainted toenails - don't know why, but this grosses me out a bit. So even in winter, I have my toes painted.
  • Ear wax - can't even stand the slight thought of it so I clean my ears almost daily.
  • Feet - just. don't. touch. me. with. them. Ick
  • Socks out of place - my socks must feel perfect when I have my shoes on. I will take my shoes off multiple times to get it right.
  • Workout tops - if I could, I'd only workout in short bras all the time. I cannot stand to get sweaty and feel the tops sticking to me, even worse with sleeved-shirts during the winter. I get super claustrophobic and want to rip them off (same with running gloves). 
  • Noises - I can't stand when people talk really loudly for no reason (seriously hurts my ears) and little ticks, squeaks, knocks, bumps drive me bonkers. God forbid the fan start to rattle - and no one else seems to notice it. But I swear it's there and it's loud. 
Ok, this is just a short list. I can't let you all know how crazy I really am right? Now it's your turn. What are you weird about?

    Daily To-Enjoy List:
    • It's Friday!
    • Rest day
    • Happy hour with friends
    • Relaxing evening (maybe with movies)

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Legs, Back & Wild Mushroom Sauce

    Legs & Back
    Today was another gorgeous, but fairly windy day out. It started off in the 30's, but thankfully it did warm up into the low 60's at least. It's definitely starting to feel like true fall. No going back to summer now.

    I dedicated today as my leg day (leg and back actually). I must set aside one day before a rest day for legs each week regardless of what I'd rather do. Though, I had no desire to do spin today, I'll say that much. Oddly, I was kind of looking forward to working legs.

    While it's not my favorite muscle group, doing things like barbell squats can sort of make you feel like a badass. Of course, right now my weights aren't nearly where they used to be, but it gives me something to work towards.

    Since I needed to get in back work, I went with trisets of 3x8 unless noted after a 15-minute warm up session on the elliptical:

    Squats - warmup set of 10

    TS#1
    Squats
    Plie Squats
    Pullovers - 10 reps

    TS#2
    Swing lunges (I started front then rear) - 6
    Single-leg deadlifts
    Underhand barbell row

    TS#3
    Side lunges with leg abduction with single weight held in both hands
    Calf raises - 20 reps
    Double-arm rows

    I finished with hamstring roll-ins on the stability ball then I did some ab exercises.

    Two words about the swing lunges: Holy Hell. Those are no joke. I had originally planned to do 8 each side with 12# dumbbells. After the squats, I opted for 10's and after 3 reps, opted for 6 reps over the 8. Yowzers.

    And a new "note to self" do legs after work not during lunch. Sitting the rest of the day makes already shaky legs a sad situation.

    Comfort Dinner
    We had a bit of a fiasco getting out the door this morning. Once again, my battery was dead. Jason's car was parked in front of mine, so he couldn't exactly turn it around to jump my car. Thankfully, my neighbor was up and able to help us out.

    So, I was late to work, Jason had to take my car to drop the maniacs (aka dogs) off at the groomer (late of course) and then take my car back to the dealership. Just a few weeks ago they assured us the battery was fine. Today, we are proud new owners of a new battery because the other one was anything but fine. Grrrr.

    Since Jason would be picking the dogs up after work, that put him home a little later. I wanted something easy to make. He wanted something sort of comforting (think meat and potatoes). So I went with vegan version of meat, potatoes and gravy.

    I roasted up baby gold potatoes with just a sprinkle of salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Since the oven was already on, I went ahead and roasted the broccoli rather than steam or saute. I made a simple Wild Mushroom Sauce while everything was roasting in the oven.

    Wild Mushroom Sauce
    Ingredients:
    Dried cremini & shiitake mushrooms
    2/3 cup water (this will depend on how many dried mushrooms you use)
    1/2 portobello, fine chop
    1/4 white onion, finely diced
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth
    To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, rosemary, curry powder (powder not the paste)
    Almond milk (start with approximately 1/3 cup)


    Directions:
    In a small pot, re-hydrate the dried mushrooms in water. Once they are re-hydrated, remove the mushrooms and finely chop, reserving the liquid in a small boil.

    In the same pot, saute onions, garlic, and portobello until onions become translucent. Add in the reserved liquid from the dried mushrooms. Add in the re-hydrated mushrooms, broth, and seasonings. Allow to simmer and reduce on medium-low heat for approximately 25 minutes. Add in the almond milk and allow to continue to simmer and thicken.
     

    I was a little worried about the mushroom sauce, but it turned out to be fantastic. I think it'd be a great recipe for the up-coming holidays. And there is something so comforting about gold potatoes roasted. They're slightly crunchy on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside. 

    Daily To-Enjoy List:
    • Weight workout
    • Sunshine
    • Comforting dinner
    • Cute, clean pups

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    More Spin & Leftovers Turned into Soup

    More Spinning
    While today was sunny, and perfect running temps in the upper 50's (perfect in my book anyway), we had gusting winds of 20+ mph. Um, not only is that a bad hair day, it's a bad running day. I wasn't in the mood for wind resistance training thankyouverymuch.

    So, I hit spin once again. Man my legs are hating me after three spin days in a row. I know it's not the same as a true weight workout, but it's pretty harsh on the legs if you really work hard. And I'm a "go big or go home" girl so that means work hard, crank that resistance and sweat like a man.

    I will admit to feeling a bit down this morning. I think it's that we've had gloomy weather, and I haven't been able to be outside and enjoy the fresh air - in other words, no running. I feel like a kid who's been grounded from my Atari (ok, so it's like PlayStation or XBox now).

    If we weren't having gale force winds today, I would have run in a heartbeat. It's really tough sitting inside working out and looking out at beautiful clear skies, seeing all the fall colors at their best. But I will say, the group environment and instructor really helped boost my mood. While class is tough, sweat dripping everywhere, we still manage to laugh. Laughter always makes you feel better right?

    Do you ever start to feel like you're mourning a workout when you're not able to do that particular workout for a few days or longer?

    Leftovers Turned into Stew
    Since I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen with last night's dinner AND we had lots leftover, I decided to repurpose it for tonight. I took the leftover Roasted Kabocha and Beets Kale and Wheatberry Salad and turned it into a soup.

    Since everything was already cooked, this made dinner super fast, and obviously easy. It was a cold evening, so the soup was an ideal choice, especially served with homemade bread.

    I didn't want the veggies to cook much more, so I brought no-salt vegetable broth to a boil first then added in the leftovers. I re-seasoned and dinner was served.
     

    I was actually really pleased with how this turned out as a soup. In fact, I think I enjoyed it better as a soup.

    Daily To-Enjoy List:
    • Fun spin class 
    • Easy dinner
    • Time to paint nails
    • Relaxing on couch