Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pilates versus Weight Training

I discovered Pilates Reformer classes in October and have been going twice a week over the past few months. I really enjoy Pilates Reformer class and I have SEEN the difference: I am more flexible and my core is significantly stronger. BUT... it costs a lot of money each month and I just haven't been able to do all the swimming, biking, running, AND Pilates. So... what do I do?

When I first started losing weight last year, I mainly attributed it to the spinning and weight lifting. I would spin at least twice to three times a week (or go bike riding) and weight lift at least twice. I'm leaning towards going back to this schedule to see if I can lose more weight with this again.

On the other hand, I feel that I have made so much more progress with my flexibility and core that I don't want to lose this! I know I'm going to go back to Pilates Reformer in the fall when the outside temps go down again. Until then, hopefully I can stretch daily and start doing the plank (AGH!) with weight training.

In other news, I have gone to a chiropractor! I return Wednesday to discuss THE PLAN. I'll be interested to hear what he thinks he can offer me and how to go about doing it. I remain skeptical but hopeful. I want pain relief in my hip, shoulder, and feet. It's go to help!!!

And in more "other news": I have booked more trips!! I am heading to Martha's Vineyard in October to watch my college roommate walk down the aisle (or sand) to get married. Then my fellow graduate student friend and travel buddy - who just happens to live in Hawai'i - is getting married on Maui. The hotels are booked, the transportation planned, and one flight (to Hawai'i - only $10 thanks to frequent flier miles) are complete. Now just the ticket to Boston and I'll be all set!

I'm currently waiting on zucchinis to soften up for my Zucchini Curry soup... sounds good, right? I have found two more sources of yummy recipes: VegEZ from Delicious TV (thank Janis) and The Eat-Clean Diet magazine. Both offer some great recipes that follow the same mentality: whole and unprocessed foods. On the list of recipes for today:

Curried Zucchini Soup (VegEZ): yummy! Just finished up!

Easy Chickpea Leek Soup (VegEZ): pretty easy but I'm not yet convinced about this one

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Cashews (class): this one is so delicious and I still had some goat cheese left over to use up.

Grandmother's Favorite Oatmeal Cookies (Eat-Clean): I'm adding chocolate chips instead of raisins...we'll see but I'm hopeful!

It's a Date! Date Squares (Eat-Clean): I'm so excited about this recipe!! I'll have pics soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A yummy new recipe and a sad story

A little over a week ago, one of my patients died. For those of you who don't know, I work mostly with combat veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It's an awesome job working with wonderful people (both coworkers and patients.) And to protect the patient's confidentiality, I'm not going to go into much detail. It wasn't a complete surprise, but that doesn't matter. When you work closely with someone for a while and that person leaves your life, it's sad. And this is the first close patient of mine who has passed away. Sadly, I know it won't be the last. 

But as a result, I've been down in the dumps a little. I haven't worked out all week and thrown myself lots of small pity parties. But in the true clueless manner in which I do it, I wasn't really aware of why I was throwing the pity parties until about a week into it! Yes, the psychologist is sometimes clueless about her own emotional issues. But when I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday with horrible stomach problems, I started to figure out that my emotional issues were becoming physical issues. It's my pattern.

I'm happy to say that I'm getting back into the swing of things. I went back to spinning this morning and scheduled to run and swim tomorrow morning. Oh, and Andrea - I hope you don't mind if I keep your awesome book of triathlon training book for one more week. I didn't get around to using it much this week :\

After the spin class, I hung around the YMCA for another hour speaking to a bunch of small vendors there offering there wares in somewhat a community outreach. As a result, I have learned about Moringa - supposedly the miracle plant (still skeptical but willing to learn) and I scheduled an initial appointment at a local chiropractor. I've been wanting to go the chiropractor for years and this ended up being timely and convenient! I'm headed there Wednesday afternoon so look for an update!

To give myself a little pat on the back: aside from the sweet potato soup that I made this afternoon, I also made some more quinoa with acorn squash and some brussel sprouts. How healthy am I?

For the recipe - this one comes from the lovely Janis who has been eating healthy for a while and is a wonderful guide. I had a bowl already and supposedly it tastes even better the next day. 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

Makes about 2 1/2 quarts, or 6 - 8 servings
Amazingly good!
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 6 1/4 cups)
4 cups chicken broth (homemade or low-salt)
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. thyme
2 medium-sized bay leaves
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (add more or less to taste)
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice (do not substitute concentrate)
2 cans black beans, drained
1 c. crushed tomatoes
1 c. evaporated milk
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Heat oil on medium high heat in large pot. Saute onions until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and spices. Cover and turn heat to high, bringing to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are becoming tender, about 5 minutes. With potatomasher, mash potatoes briefly, crushing into smaller pieces but not pureeing--there should still be distinctive pieces of sweet potato in the soup, but crushing them will distribute the flavor throughout the dish.

Add remaining ingredients except evaporated milk. Cover and cook until potatoes are very tender, 5 - 10 more minutes. (At this point, soup can be frozen. When ready to serve, thaw and finish according to instructions.) Add evaporated milk. Cover and continue to simmer until flavors are blended, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (The soup's flavor continues to improve the longer it sits and is better the next day.) Correct seasonings and garnish with cilantro if desired. Let cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A month in reflection

It's amazing that it's only been 4 weeks since I've started the Wholesome Chef classes. This is going to sound cheesy, but the last few weeks have really been life changing. My whole definition of what it means to eat healthy has completely changed. Four weeks ago, I thought eating healthy was low carb, high protein, and monitoring fats. My definition of health eating has completely changed. Some of the highlights:

  • changed from regular salt to sea salt
  • no refined sugar in the house - all healthier alternatives
  • no refined flour in the house - again, whole grain alternatives
  • reorganized the entire kitchen to make room for all the alternatives
  • bought enough tupperware to house all the yummy recipes to house all the food made with said alternatives
  • read and learned more about a whole-food diet
  • quit drinking coffee
  • make a green smoothie every morning
  • started this blog
  • cut my hair (a good 6 inches off) this week
  • created an organization of all my recipes so they are available on ipad and iphone for shopping
  • learned a whole lot more about Kroger and Whole Foods with multiple trips each weekend
  • ate kale, quinoa, swiss chard for the first time
  • voluntarily bought brussel sprouts (to make this week!)
  • ate 2 weeks of homemade food without almost any processed foods
Of course, I can't stop now! In order to keep and build upon all that I've learned, I have the following goals:
  • take one Wholesome Chef class a month
  • try one new recipe each week
  • buy a for Elmwood Farm share (fresh organic vegetables for 22 weeks)
  • keep learning
I imagine that I'll continue blogging about new recipes and new things that I have learned. But as with all things, I'll get a more balanced focus. So you'll start to hear more about my traithlon training, weight loss, as well as nutrition. 

A lot of people have told me that they have been trying the recipes on here which makes me super excited! I'm so glad that my journey has helped others find some good recipes. I know how difficult that can be.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wholesome Chef Class #4

Today was the last class in the series at the Wholesome Chef. The focus of the class was on a cleansing. I had no idea what the purpose of "cleaning" my body would be. But it's a simple enough of an idea: to "clean" the body of toxins and giving it a rest. Translated, this means eating no animal products and eating only simple foods which does not take the body much work to break down.

Paula provides a week's worth of recipes and gave us a whole packet of information about cleansing the body. All of these recipes and the plan are available on Paula's webpage as the Post-holiday detox. If you're dying for more healthy recipes and have liked the ones I've posted so far (and check out the asparagus soup below,) please go check out the detox. She's put a lot of work and effort into finding these recipes, so I don't feel comfortable sharing them for free. The soup is just a hint of what goodies there are in the holiday detox. Here are some of the other recipes:

Quinoa stuffed acorn squash (yum!)
Roasted Vegetable Soup
Southwestern Black Bean Salad
Green SuperBerry Smoothie
Butternut Squash Soup
Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

My goal is to make a new recipe each week so you can wait until I've made a few before decided. So far, Paula has offered only amazingly good recipes, so I'm not really worried that you will be disappointed. Since the class was January 18th, you'll get the recording of the class plus the eworkbook.

And now the Asparagus Soup (which I've already made!

Mmmm... just look at the color!
1.5 lbs asparagus
1 leek, white part, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups water with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved
 1.5 T EVOO or butter
salt and pepper to taste
a few drops of lemon juice

Slice asparagus. (Tip: break off the hard end of the asparagus by hand - it will break off at a "natural" place.)

Heat oil in soup pot. Add leek and onion and saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add 1 cups stock and stew for 10 to 12 minutes. Add remaining stock and asparagus ans simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.

Puree with immersion or regular blender (be careful of regular blender - follow blender's direction on how to do this with hot soup.)

Add salt plus lemon juice. Service with  brown rice for a heartier soup.

Nina's 11

There's this 11 things Random Things making it's way around the blogs. 

The rules:

  1. Post these rules.
  2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
  4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
  6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

You're supposed to tag 11 more people so they have to answer your questions. Sadly, I don't know 11 bloggers and the ones that I do know have all answered them. HOWEVER, in the spirit that it was meant, here are my answers:

Random things about me:

  1. I'm the only person in my family left in the USA. Everyone else lives in Germany.
  2. I played cello with Katherine Heigl in high school.
  3. I have a cat with one eye. Turtle the Pirate Queen is her full name.
  4. I spent a year in Freiburg, Germany during college which is still one of my most favorite periods of my life.
  5. I collect small turtles from different places I visit.
  6. I have a turtle tattoo (do you see a pattern?)
  7. I am both entertained and repulsed by loud people in public places.
  8. I knit everything but sweaters. They scare me.
  9. Babies scare me. I've held a baby once. For 10 seconds. They're cute and all but no thanks. I'll play with them once they're 2 years old.
  10. While I'm typically very laid back and tolerant, I have a tendency to become self-righteous at times. I find it one of my most annoying faults.
  11. I sometimes fudge the town I grew up in. People who know my town often judge me for growing up there when they first me me so I try to avoid the topic until they've gotten to know me better. My town was an awesome place to grow up though and I'm proud of being from New Canaan.

Questions from Bluegrass Tri Chick:

  1. Morning or Evening Workouts? Right now evenings but I want to bring back the morning workouts.
  2. Vanilla or Chocolate? Chocolate!
  3. Dogs or Cats? Dogs although I have a cat.
  4. Summer or Winter? Summer in a cooler climate :)
  5. Pool or Open Water Swim? Pool! I used to swim all the time in school and the pool is my friend.
  6. Drive or Fly? I have decided to fly anywhere more than 8 hours away. It safer for everyone!
  7. Magazines or Books? Books - I can't stop reading!
  8. Fiction or Non-Fiction? I read a ton of romance novels interspersed with books about nutrition or working out.
  9. Comedy or Drama? With my line of work, I have all the drama I need. I like comedies!
  10. Mountains or Beach? Both - although I have been more to the beach lately to visit my parents.
  11. Racer or Cheerleader? Racer - I never was that flexible.

For a week, I looked for people to tag and everyone in the blogging world that I know (which I can count on one hand) has been tagged - so no tagging of others for me. But enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

If there is no other recipe that you try, try this one! It looks like chocolate mousse but I argue that it is better than any chocolate mousse I have ever tried.

1/4 cup pitted dates (soak these for about an hour to soften)
1/4 cup agave (softer cookies) or maple syrup (crispy cookie!)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1.5 avocado
1/4 cup + 2 T unsweetened organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Chop the dates, agave/maples syrup, and vanilla in food processor. Add in avocados and coca and blend until smooth. Add water and blend briefly. Scrape the side of the processor as needed. Chill and serve.

I made this recipe this weekend and it didn't end up so good because the avocados that I bought were too hard and it wouldn't blend with all of the other things. BUT it still tasted REALLY good!

So far, this is my favorite recipe!