Wednesday, December 29, 2010

T-Minus 2 Days

I haven't been blogging because I haven't been exercising much lately. Oops. My brother is in town, and I almost never see him, so I've been spending as much time as possible with him, eating out frequently:
Little India...nom nom nom!

and drinking copiously 

Note my husband trying to wrench the drink from my grasp. 

My routines are thrown off so it's easy to slack on running and stuff. I'm not worried, because I'll just pick back up after he leaves and be a good healthy person once again.
Today I went for a practice run with my friend Simone, who I will be running First Night with in two days. I was really nervous because I haven't run in over a week, but I'm so glad we went out. I did much better than I expected, and I did have to take two walking breaks but overall we finished in 35 minutes. Not bad. I was considering not doing the race because I've been slacking so much--I've been looking for excuses: I'm NOT running if it's this cold! I'm NOT running if it's raining! But now that we did the course and I realized that I can do it, I feel better. I'm going to try not to take a walking break, but won't beat myself up if I need to. The weather is supposed to be nice, so I think the experience will be good.

Wish me luck!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas

My plan for dinner last Saturday was to have Portobello Cheese "Steaks," a recipe from eating well that is a staple in our home. I forgot to pick up rolls to have the sandwiches on (duh!) but we did have some leftover wheat tortillas that we needed to use up, so I decided to make the sandwiches into quesadillas!

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
1 portobello mushroom
1/2 green pepper
1/2 white or yellow onion
1/2 cup veggie broth
dash or oregano
dash of black pepper
1 clove of garlic
Tbsp oil 
6 fajita sized tortillas (or 4 larger tortillas)
6 thin slices provolone 

Slice the mushroom, pepper, and onion thinly. In a large skillet, heat the oil and garlic over medium high heat until it sizzles, add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, until browned. Add the mushrooms, green pepper, broth, oregano, and black pepper. Cover the pan and allow to cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5-10 minutes. Take the lid off and allow most of the remaining liquid to cook off. 

To assemble the quesadillas, lay a tortilla down, put a piece of provolone on top, and then spoon the vegetable mixture on top with a slotted spoon (to drain any remaining liquid). Add another piece of cheese on top, then another tortilla, and cook either on a hot, dry skillet, or throw it on a george foreman grill like I did, until both sides are brown. When it's done let it sit for a minute to set, and then cut it like a pizza. 

I made three since the tortillas were small, and Dan and I each had one and a half. It was plenty of food, would have been to much had I made any side dishes. 

In other news, I am exhausted. I was up until almost 4am today. I just couldn't sleep. Perhaps doing 30 day shred at 10pm had something to do with it? I did level 3 again, which is just insane. The good news is that I'm not very sore today, thankfully. 
Anyway, I woke up at like 9:30, but didn't feel too bad all morning. Then I had to take my last math test before the final today, and halfway through the exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, the test is timed, and once you open the file you have 4 hours to finish, so I just had to power through. I left 3 problems blank, because I just couldn't fathom what I was supposed to do. I also was completely unprepared, because I didn't realize that there would be trig on the test, which we learned briefly over a month ago and haven't touched since, therefore I have forgotten how to do it. So I don't have a very good feeling about this test. Once I take a nap, I'm going to spend a couple of hours studying for the final so that I can still grasp some hope of getting a B in the class. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Netflix FTW

Now that we actually have some snow, running has become this huge challenge. There aren't sidewalks in my neighborhood, mostly just heavy traffic roads with shoulders that seem kind of dangerous in the summer, and are now covered in snow and therefore unusable. Dan and I planned to go on a run in town when he got home from work yesterday, but he wasn't in the mood and we had a bunch of errands to run, so the run was quickly forgotten. Today I am stranded at home with no car as usual, and have to leave for class as soon as Dan gets home, so I sucked it up and went for a run on my original running route from when we first moved here, the one I grew to hate because I ran it for weeks on end and became so bored.
Aside from Thanksgiving when I went on just a short run because I was sick, I haven't run that route in months, as I've ventured out onto the scary busy roads. I really didn't have a choice today. I noticed the snow on the roads is melting, so hopefully the shoulders will clear up soon and I'll have my freedom back.
The route is only 1.5 miles, and I briefly considered running it twice in a row to get just under the 3K distance, but immediately realized that I would not have the mental capacity to push past the boredom. I figured that 1.5 miles was better than nothing, and besides, I just discovered that you can get some workout DVDs on Netflix instant watch and took advantage of that (more on that later). Since the cold weather settled in, I've been having trouble even running a mile without a walking break to catch my breath, even with the use of my inhaler, so today's goal was to run the entire old route without stopping. And I did it! It got a little hard around the mile, mostly because I was running too fast again. Even though I realized in between the 3/4 and 1 mile marks and slowed down, I still hit the mile at 9:30. I finished the route in just over 13 minutes, which is a sub-9 minute mile pace.
That might explain some of why I'm having trouble running. On my old route, I know where each 1/4 mile is, so I can gauge my pace that way. On my new route, I don't really know where the miles are (just approximations) so I have no way of keeping my pace slow enough for my capabilities. I need to figure out how to get my watch to accurately gauge my speed.
So anyway, Netflix never fails to amaze me! I searched for "exercise" on instant watch, and with a little digging, discovered TONS of DVDs you can stream. Most of them are "The Crunch" something or other, so if you search for that you will find them easily. I did a 40 minute workout called "Crunch: Cardio Salsa" which was pretty awesome.

Giselle wanted to know if I was "looking to get into a latin-flavored fat burning zone," and indeed I was. The workout was fun, and went by really fast. The only problem was that it seemed only good for getting your heart rate up and burning calories, and maybe toning your legs a little, but wasn't something that would strengthen you in any remarkable way. The Richard Simmons workout I have has you moving your entire body a lot, and by the end my arms and legs are sore so I know my muscles were used. Anyway, I put a bunch of workouts in my queue and I'm excited to try them.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I am about to hop in the shower and get ready for class, but before I do, I have an important announcement:

Have you ever heard of them? I heard about them from my wise friends Simone and Maddie (who also told me to use my inhaler when I couldn't figure out how to breathe) a long time ago and have  just now gotten around to making them. To be honest, I was a little skeptical about the possibility of kale becoming crispy. But it does!
Look, I know this just looks like a big pile of kale. But if you were to take a bite it would sound like this: "CRUNCH!" 

It's so simple, too. Here's all there is to it:

Go get:
1 bunch kale
1 tsp olive oil
sprinkle of salt

Preheat oven to 350˚. Trim the stem off the kale (all the way up the middle, each leaf will now be cut in half). Wash and pat dry. Tear into chip sized pieces (I didn't do this but I wish I had). Put it in a bowl, drizzle the oil and salt on, and mix it up with your hands until evenly coated. Lay it out on some baking sheets in a single layer, then bake for like 6 minutes. Keep your eye on it, I got mine out at the very last second before they would have burnt. Some pieces were brown, but they still taste okay.
And that's it! They are seriously crispy. Like a chip! I'm going to try this with spinach next and see what happens.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Efficiency Rules!

Sundays are usually the worst day ever because I have to go to work at 6am. I can't sleep on the nights that I don't have to get up until 9, so you can imagine the lack of sleep I get on Saturday nights. Today was the weirdest day...I got a good night's sleep and was totally productive after work! My efficiency level was at 110%.
I attribute this awesomeness to the fact that I had the brilliant idea of dosing myself with benadryl last night. I never take allergy meds, not even non-drowsy, because they make me sleepy. I don't have allergies, but it occurred to me that I could harness this power and use it for good. I took it at 8:30, was asleep by 9:30, and woke up at 5:12, 33 minutes before my alarm went off. I laid in bed for a bit and then realized I was awake, so I got up. I felt so much less miserable at work all day because I wasn't exhausted!
When I got out of work, I didn't need my usual nap, so here's what I accomplished:
-I went grocery shopping and bought stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner through next Sunday
-I cleaned out the fridge before putting the new groceries away
-I made myself dinner
-I finished my final paper for Minority Voices (just have to proof-read it tomorrow)
-I finished the 2nd to last chapter in my online math class and took the quiz
-I threw together a quick vegetarian chili in the crock-pot and set it on low so that it's ready for me to bring to school tomorrow (perhaps I'll post the recipe tomorrow if I have time).

Now I am in bed, getting ready to read until I fall asleep. It's incredible that a work day went so smoothly!

Oh, and remember how I mentioned that I get hooked on foods, my most recent one being dijon mustard? My newest obsession is clementines! Believe it or not, I have never had one before today. They were on sale at the store so I bought a box, and I had to pry myself out of the kitchen because I kept reaching back in for more. I would wager that I will consume at least 3 boxes before my obsession dies down.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chickpea Soup

At least once a week, I scavenge around my kitchen to see what I could make a soup out of for lunch. I started calling it "scrap soup" to try to make Dan feel guilty for spending all our money on take out every day for lunch because he's lazy. Generally I use a mix of frozen and fresh veggies, depending on what I have around. Today I had the most amazing ingredients and made a soup that I will actually make a big pot of for dinner, because it was so delicious and filling.

Here is what I put into the pot for 1 serving of soup:

1 vegetable bullion cube (look for low-sodium bullion. You could also use chicken stock)
1 carrot, peeled and cut julienne
1 handful baby spinach
1/4 cup baby bella mushrooms
1 leek, white and light green part, chopped
3 soup spoon fulls of chickpeas
1/8 cup cooked bulgar
Clove  of garlic
Dash of onion powder
Dash of Pepper

I put everything in a pot, covered the veggies with water, brought it to a boil, and then simmered until the carrots were tender and the bullion was dissolved (about 5 minutes). Could this be any easier? Oh, and yeah, I know it's shocking that I didn't put any dijon in there :).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dijon Mustard!

First of all, I'd like to mention that I decided to do 30 Day Shred level 3 tonight for some reason (math work is making me crazy, obviously) and it was crazy. It was so freeking hard. But awesome. I was honestly grunting and yelling throughout most of the workout. I am now shaking from head to toe, I assume because my muscles are afraid of what just happened to them. I have a feeling I won't be going for a run tomorrow.

So, anyway, I wonder if you thought I was joking when I said I was going to post a blog about dijon mustard later. NOPE! Let me preface by mentioning that I get on food kicks where I just want a particular food more than any human should. Thankfully, this is almost always something harmless (i.e., not chocolate). Most recently, it was pomegranates, in the past it's been broccoli, grapes, oranges...the list goes on and on. Right now it's dijon. So here are the ways I've been eating it:

1. Blackberry Dijon--the obsession begins

Excuse the weird photo--I stole it from eating well because I couldn't find my camera when I made it. I made their recipe for cornmeal crusted chicken with blackberry dijon sauce. The chicken wasn't good, but it was worth it to discover this amazing sauce. Here's their recipe:

1 Cup blackberries (you can also use raspberries, I'll be trying this soon)
1.5 Tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
2 tsp honey

Mash up the blackberries in a bowl. Add the mustard and honey and mix it up. This is amazing on chicken, turkey sandwiches, and as a salad dressing. And probably countless other ways--that's just all I've tried so far. I know it sounds like a weird combo, but it is incredible. 

2. Dijon on popcorn--I realize I have an obsession

I like air popped popcorn plain, but I thought it might be a good vehicle for getting my dijon kicks. Boy was I right. The cool thing is that you can make air popped popcorn without an air popper. Here's how:

What you'll need:
 3 Tbsp popcorn kernels
 Brown paper bag
 approx. 1 Tbsp dijon

Put the popcorn into the bag, fold it over a bunch of times so it stays shut. Pop for however long you would pop microwave popcorn, mine takes just under 2:30. Jut like microwave popcorn, just wait until the popping slows way down. While that's popping, put your dijon into a big bowl. I wouldn't use more than 1 Tbsp because you don't want your popcorn to be soggy. When the popcorn is ready, dump it in the bowl, put a lid or plate over it, and shake it up for awhile. Then mix it up with your hands to get the dijon totally evenly spread out. This part gets kind of messy, but once the popcorn is coated it's not messy any more. 

3. Dijon chicken- justifies using mustard on everything

I got this recipe from eating well, also. It was so delicious. You cook the chicken in a little tin-foil pouch, put dijon on top and carrots and leeks in with it, and it is soooo moist. I think it was the most moist chicken I've ever had. Here is the recipe. It's definitely worth a try, the taste of mustard is subtle. 

To be honest, I think I'm going to give dijon a rest for now. I wonder what my next food obsession will be?? 

I'm Not Crying

I'm not crying
It's just been raining...on my face
                             --Flight of the Conchords 
It is COLD today. Holy crap. I was wearing a million layers and gloves and a headband thingy to keep my ears warm, but my lungs were piiiiiiised at me. They were like, "hey...HEY! What are you doing! Go back inside!" I had tears streaming down my face from the cold, so I was singing the Flight of the Conchords song "I'm not crying" in my head, which amused me enough to keep me from being too crabby.
I went on a shorter run today because with the cold, I've been taking walking breaks to catch my breath and it sucks when you've been running and worked up a sweat and don't even notice how cold it is anymore, but then you start walking and all the sweat turns to ice. Instead of my 5k route, I tried out a new route which was about 2.25 miles. It took me through America's tackiest neighborhood. Three of the roads I ran on? Nonchalant Drive, Meditation Way, and Ho Hum Lane. Grooooooooan. Also, an enormous, unrestrained Cujo-esque dog barked at me, and an insane old man's dog barked at me, resulting in menacing cackling from the old man. I would say that that neighborhood is really falling short of their projected image.
I did have to take several walking breaks today, but I actually didn't feel bad about it. Now that I know the cold is making my little lungs hurt, I realize there is nothing I can really do about it besides use my inhaler and do what I can. I run until my breathing causes sharp pain in my lungs, then I walk just until it feels better, then I start again. I'm hoping that I will become acclimated to the cold and will be able to run a respectable distance without stopping for a break. Once I took this attitude and stopped beating myself up, I just relaxed and appreciated my exercise break (from math! yuck!) on this sunny day. I also think it really helps that I'm running some different routes, it keeps me from getting totally bored.
Stay tuned for a post about my latest food obsession: dijon mustard. Also, here is the video of "I'm not crying" for your enjoyment:

"I'm making a lasagna....for one...." !!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back In The Game!

After many whiny blogs about how I've suddenly and inexplicably become a sucky runner, my very wise friend Maddie (hi, Maddie!!) suggested that perhaps the cold weather is triggering my asthma and that using my inhaler might help. On Saturday morning, I went on a run but forgot to use the inhaler, and the run was the worst. I did my 5K route around my apartment, and had to walk so much of it because my chest was so tight that every breath I took caused a sharp pain and I got a cramp and my legs felt like lead. It took me 44 minutes to finish. I seriously wanted to throw in the towel on running entirely.

Today I was really eager to exercise after a 3-day celebration of Hanukkah (matzo and latkes and brisket, oh my!) and Dan's birthday (homemade pizza). Since about 90% of the food I've been eating for the past 3 months has been healthy, 3 days of fried food, red meat, cookies, and cheese left me feeling seriously gross. I am gladly back on the healthy eating saddle today and a run was necessary.

I checked the weather and it was 25 degrees (!) outside. I got really nervous about running, even with the inhaler, because I just don't want to have a crappy run again and 25 degrees is cold. But I sucked it up, did my inhaler, and got my butt out there. And it was pretty awesome! I could tell right away that the problem has been my asthma. My lungs felt so much better, my muscles didn't feel tired, and I had no cramps. The first time I felt my chest tighten a bit was when a truck chugging out gas-smelling black exhaust drove past me. I just slowed my pace down until the tightness went away and then I felt a bit better. I had to take a couple of walking breaks because it's been a long time since I've actually run any distance, but this run was definitely a million times better. Throw in the fact that it was snowing and windy (my hat blew off at one point!), and I declare myself pretty proud. I finished in 35:45, which is 3 minutes faster than the first time I ran the route (1 minute/mile!), and I see myself shaving it down to 30 minutes in no time.

My plan for First Night training is to keep running this route, and each time I go out run farther without taking a walking break, so that before long I won't need any walking breaks. That's my main goal for First Night, to run the whole thing. As I cut walking breaks out, my time will get better, and I think that the adrenaline on the night of the race will help me maintain around a 10 minute/mile pace.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New 5K Route

Today I ran a new route. I mapped it out when I signed up for First Night because I wanted a 5K in my neighborhood for practice. I haven't run it yet because I'm kind of a chicken about running new routes. I run the same route until I feel like I'm going to die from boredom and am forced to try out something new. That's where I was today, so I set out on said new route.

I finished that 5K alright, but that's because I took a bunch of walking breaks. What the flip is going on? It took me 39 minutes to finish (3.17 miles). I had to keep walking because my chest felt really tight. As this is the second time in a row this has happened, I will definitely use my inhaler next time I head out for a run.  I felt pretty cocky about not needing that thing anymore, but for some reason I think my asthma is acting up again. Oh, well.

The loop is a triangle, so I run three long stretches. I had to take my first walking break at 8 minutes, which was just before the first turn. When I got home, I mapped the run to see where the miles were because I couldn't remember, and I found out that the one mile was just past where I stopped to walk. Well, there's your problem! Um, yeah, I definitely shouldn't be running a sub-9 minute mile. Der. That's one problem with running a new route. I have no sense of where the miles fall, so I have no idea how fast I am going. And my good-for-nothing new watch certainly doesn't help. It turns out that each stretch is close to one mile, the longest stretch being the last one. That'll be good to know next time. While I don't think it was the entire problem, once again being an idiot at pacing screwed me up!

Other than the breathing trouble I was having, and a person driving halfway on the shoulder for no reason and almost hitting me (I literally jumped straight up in the air because the car scared the crap out of me), I really, really like my new route. There are a lot of trees, a (dingy) little lake, and a mile of it is on a non-trafficy road so I don't have to fear for my life the entire time. I even saw some deer prints and a couple of horses! Also, there are a good number of hills, something my previous routes were lacking, so that was good. I made a point to run each hill for practice, even if I was feeling winded. Even though I'm kind of anxious about my performance today with First Night flying towards me at warp speed, I truly enjoyed this run because it was such a nice day out there and the route is so nice. Yay!

Now I'm off to catch my next leg of this exercise train and do 30 Day Shred before doing some homework and cleaning in my first phase of preparation for the Hanukkah party we're having on Saturday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Couple That Exercises Together...

Since it was too crappy and rainy out for a run today, I finally convinced Dan to do 30 Day Shred with me! I've been trying to talk him into it for months! So he suited up in his Christmas exercise outfit:

And did his customary "eyes closed" pose. I'm telling you, it seems statistically impossible for my husband to have his eyes closed in so. many. pictures. But he manages it. He the proceeded to get his ass kicked by Jillian Michaels! Now he knows I wasn't kidding when I told him it was freekin' hard! We did level 2 and both nearly died. I am kind of terrified of level 3. I am so bad at level 2 that I won't have to face level 3 for awhile.
After we finished, I was feeling cocky so I announced I would be doing some Richard Simmons. Dan was completely defeated and headed off to the shower.
I proceeded to do 20 minutes of Richard Simmons, which also kicked my ass. I was really tired from 30DS, so it was hard. Also, I've done my Richard Simmons DVD enough that I know most of the moves so I'm just moving the entire time instead of standing there, staring at the TV like an idiot going, WHAT IS HE DOING?? I've mastered showgirl, angel, ballerina, rainbow, bow & arrow...the list goes on and on! Don't the names of the moves intrigue you? I bet anyone who reads this will immediately go to and get a copy of "Boogie Down the Pounds." 

Once I was done with that, I felt lazy but decided to do some yoga because I knew I would be glad I did. And I am! I am not very good at yoga because I'm not super flexible (the lady on the video freekin' folds in half! What is wrong with her?!) but by the end of it I feel so extremely relaxed and melty...I should do it every day. My relaxation was interrupted today by Dan shouting "ARE YOU SLEEPING?" as I soaked up a few extra minutes in savasana. 

It feels good to be exercising again! On top of that, I got so much work done over break, and then I got all the work I needed to do today done so I just feel more in control of my life than I have since the beginning of the semester. It's a beautiful feeling! I somehow only have 2 weeks of classes left before finals. Wa-hoo!!  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back On The Saddle (+ Awesome Watch Letdown)

As I mentioned before, I've been seriously slacking off on exercise. There wasn't much I could do about it, especially last week when I was sick, but I still feel guilty. I finally feel better from that dumb bug I had last week (wow, I guess resting IS a good thing!) so I went out for a run today. I've only run twice in the past 2 weeks, and both times were really weak. I was looking forward to a solid run today-I planned on doing the shorter version of my regular route. It's only about 20 minutes long or so, but I thought I should ease back in after so much time lying in bed. 
Sadly, the run was pretty sucky. I was feeling wheezy and tired really soon into it. I pushed through and ran past the mile marker before stopping for a little speed-walking break. I started running again and then took one more of these little speed-walking breaks before running the rest of the way home. When I got home, I was seriously wheezing--I had to use an inhaler for the first time in forever. Also, I was sneezing like crazy, so some of the wheeziness might have been caused by allergies I guess. The run was 23 minutes long total, including my walking breaks. 
Perhaps part of the reason for my struggle during the run was low morale--I got this awesome new watch but I don't think it works! It's supposed to track speed/distance/heart rate/etc. and I don't think it does so accurately. My first suspicion came when I was setting my resting heart rate. I sometimes check my RHR by checking my pulse for a minute, and in the past couple of days it's been hovering around 68. When I checked my RHR with the watch, first it said 81, then when I checked it immediately again, 71. 
Also, I used map my run to figure out how far my current route is, and then drove the route with the trip odometer on to see if it matched. According to both of those, my route is just over 2 miles. According to my watch, the route was less than a mile and a half. What! So you can imagine my mood when I looked at the distance I had run at about the 1.25 mile mark and the watch said .7. I was like WHAT?? and immediately stopped for my first walking break. I think that it measures via pedometer without taking into account that a running stride is bigger than a walking stride. I'll try to mess with it and see if I can get it to be more accurate, otherwise it's going back to the store. 
Thankfully, I have a 5K coming up (quickly!) to motivate me to continue running. I'm sure it will get easier pretty quickly if I stick with it. My body just has to get used to being active again! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

How is tomorrow Thanksgiving? It's unbelievable how fast time is flying by. This break is a working one for me--time to catch up on my homework. I am happy to report that I am speeding through the work at an impressive pace. I knocked out my Spanish and anthropology work, am nearly finished with all my stupid math work, and have a start on my work for Minority Voices. Which is reading the second half of Angels in America and writing a paper about it, so it's not even torturous. By the time class rolls around on Monday, I will definitely be ready to tackle the final stretch of the semester.

I am still sick (my plans to drink copiously last night were thwarted by this mystery illness!) so I'm crossing my fingers that I will feel better tomorrow when I get up so that I can go on a run as planned and then enjoy a feast! We are going to the in-law's house for dinner and then my family's house for desert tomorrow. I just finished making pumpkin cookies to bring!

As much as I love cooking, I don't really like baking, and I don't do it often (except that time I made my own wedding cake. That was crazy!). My sister sent me this recipe last year, though, and I loved it so much that I decided to make them an annual tradition. They're quick and easy!
The recipe comes from here. Below is the recipe with my variations:

Pumpkin Cookies
(makes about 20 cookies)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin pie mix*
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

For the icing**:

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
milk, as needed (approx. 2 Tbsp)


Preheat oven to 350˚

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl, preferably with a hand mixer, until smooth. Combine wet and dry ingredients. The batter will be more doughy than regular cookies, almost like bread dough.

Roll dough into little 1.5 Tbsp balls and flatten on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bottoms are nice and brown. Cool completely.

You'll want to wait until the cookies are cool to make the icing, because it hardens if you let it sit. Mix the sugar, vanilla, and butter in a bowl. Add milk a little bit at a time until it's drizzly consistency. If you'd like, add a shake of cinnamon to make it yummier (a little goes a long way!). Cram the cookies onto a baking sheet and drizzle the icing on with a spoon. Let it sit until the icing sets, probably 30 minutes or so.

They are so good. They're a little different than a regular cookie, but hard to describe. The cookies themselves aren't too sweet, so if you don't have a huge sweet tooth, leave the icing off.

*This makes life much easier. If you are dumb and want to use plain canned pumpkin, you will need to add sugar and spices. Refer to original recipe.
**I used this much icing for a double batch of cookies and had some left over. The original recipe calls for double this icing recipe for one batch of cookies. Ridiculous.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Is Wrong With Me?

I haven't posted in awhile because I haven't exercised much in the past week OR made any amazing meals. Sigh. I had a mini-run last Monday, did level 2 of 30 Day Shred on Tuesday night, and then went on another short run Saturday. And that's it! There wasn't much I could do about it this week because we were out of town for a funeral Thursday and half of Friday, and then I was so exhausted when I got home Friday that I slept and slept. The rest of the week was spent frantically doing homework so that I wouldn't fall too far behind. I am so, so glad this week is Thanksgiving break. It won't be a break for me, as I'll be in homework hell the whole time, but I am (hopefully) finally going to be able to get back on top of my work.

I am a regular weigher, and I was not looking forward to stepping on the scale after my sedentary week, but I'm glad I did because I discovered that I have officially lost 10 lbs since I started running again, about 10 weeks ago. Woo-hoo! I don't really write about weight loss because it isn't my main goal. I find it much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle if I'm doing it in order to feel better (more energy, happier, etc.) and if I focus on the progress I'm making with my running (better endurance, my heart and lungs getting stronger), but it's cool to see my weight creeping down without being on a diet or anything. Besides all the exercise, I'm eating much more healthfully, but I eat naughty stuff occasionally, like the yummy chocolate milkshake I made myself Friday night. Friday night = desert night in my house. I think that I've found a good balance.

I am not happy to report that I may or may not be (getting?) sick. I mean, there is something wrong with me but I don't know what it is. I'm really tired and kind of nauseous and have had a headache off and on since Friday. I know what you're thinking, but I'm as sure as I can be that I'm not preggers. I spent all of today doing work in bed until it was time to leave for class and I guess I will rest tomorrow if I need to, but I'm getting antsy. I just want to run!

I'm hoping for a speedy recovery because I have the BEST plan for Thanksgiving! I'm going to go on a big long run Thursday morning! Yep, that's it. Dan and I always go on a long walk after Thanksgiving dinner, but this is the first year that I'm really actively exercising, and it just occurred to me that it would be awesomely smart (if not painfully obvious) to do a bunch of exercise before dinner. I fear that my mystery illness will ruin my plan, but I am not giving up hope yet!

Monday, November 15, 2010

You Think You're So Clever

That's me talking to myself. I had a little lightbulb go on over my head last night: since my dentist is so close to my apartment and I had to walk there anyway (damn sharing a car!) for my cleaning this morning, I put on my running clothes so that I could run home from the appointment! Wow, I'm a genius! Even though I don't have much time today because I'm about to revise a paper that's due tonight and then get crackin' on my insane amount of Anthro reading, I had to get home, didn't I?

Here was the flaw in my plan: I forgot that they load you up with stuff when you go to the dentist. I brought one check with me because I obviously didn't have a bag, and if all went according to plan, I would have nothing to bring back with me. But on my way out of the office, I was holding a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, an appointment card, and a receipt. Um. I tried jamming everything into my sweatshirt pockets, but they aren't deep so it wouldn't stay. I tried putting some stuff inside my sweatshirt, but it just fell out the bottom. So I just ended up putting the stuff in my pockets, holding it down with my hands, and speed walked home. THIS IS WHY FANNY PACKS ARE PRACTICAL. Hmmph.

Some good did come out of my preparation, because I just threw all the crap in our stairway and went for a short run. I ran faster than usual (I don't know how fast because I don't have the fancy heart rate monitor I'm lusting after that monitors your speed!) because I knew I didn't have as much time so I wanted to get my heart rate up like a good exerciser. I am actually looking forward to tomorrow when I can go for a real run and perhaps meet my goal of 30 minutes. We'll see!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's Talk About Pomegranates

Shall we? Have you ever tried a pomegranate? I had my first one about 4 years ago, and I didn't like it. It wasn't the flavor, but the seeds that turned me off. I impulsively bought another one this year because I tend to get impulsive in the produce section (seriously, I'm always like, "Oh, I want brussel sprouts! Hey! Look at these tiny peppers! What is THIS fruit? Should we buy a plantain?" and Dan is like "STICK TO THE LIST, WOMAN!") and I'm glad I did, because I am in love. I have eaten no less than 6 pomegranates in the past week. Well, that's a slight exaggeration because Dan is here to help. But you get the idea.
So the party that's been going on in my mouth for the past couple of days is this fruit salad:

Which contains:
1/2 honeydew melon
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1.5 cups frozen mixed berries

Simple enough. I just put everything in a bowl and let the frozen berries thaw in the fridge so that the juice from them is absorbed into the melon. The first time I made this, I used watermelon instead of honeydew (because I had one on hand that I had impulsively bought during one of my produce section frenzies) and that was really good too. 

In other news, I started out on a run last night but it got derailed when Dan was MEAN TO ME. Since I have to go to the dumb dentist tomorrow and then finish up some work that's due for tomorrow's classes, my next run won't be until Tuesday. From my apartment, there are three directions I can head. I have already tried and become bored of two of them, so Tuesday I shall try the third. I think it's iffy, though, because it's a road with pretty heavy traffic and possibly narrow shoulders, but I'll try it. Hopefully the change of scenery will help me meet my next goal of running for 30 minutes!!! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Results of 30 Day Shred, Level 2

As I mentioned before, I did level 2 of 30DS yesterday for the first time and it was insane. I was really nervous about how my muscles would feel today, and with good cause. I am not as sore as the first time I did 30DS (hey, I could put my shirt on this time!) but I am definitely feeling it. I was limping around all day. It's different muscles that hurt this time: mostly my abs (from doing variations of planks almost constantly) and my ass!

I wanted to get some exercise but running or more punishment level 2 weren't really an option giving my disabled state, so Dan and I went for a walk. A walk that quickly spun out of control due to my compulsive need to exercise. Dan kept trying to aim us back towards the car, and I kept aiming us farther away. Then I declared that we should walk to the Price Chopper that's not downtown, which is only a 15 minute walk each way, because we needed groceries anyway. We had already been going for nearly an hour at that point, but we went for it. I was pretty tired when we eventually got back to the car, but it was good to get out of the house and get moving for awhile, as I had been doing homework in bed all morning. That is what I've become: a person who does homework in bed in her pajamas all day long. Do you see why exercise is absolutely necessary to keep me from going insane?

I am excited to try level 2 again. If my muscles are not killing me I'll do it tomorrow, otherwise it will have to wait.

Baked Tilapia, Brussel Sprouts, and Coconut Milk Sweet Potatoes

I wasn't up for much of a culinary adventure tonight because I'm GRUMPY, but that doesn't mean I didn't whip up a healthy and delicious little dinner. It was super easy and only took 45 minutes from start to finish. Let's see what's going on:

First, preheat the oven to 375˚.

The first thing I did for efficiency was prep my:

Brussel Sprouts (serves about 4)

 because they came like this:

I mean, seriously, what is that? 

So I pulled them off the stalk(?), trimmed them up so they were all a uniform size, and rinsed 'em off. I probably had about 3 cups of sprouts here. Then you'll want to put them in a bowl and add:

1 Tbsp balsamic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pepper to taste  

a little bit of seasoning goes a long way with these guys. Toss to coat evenly and spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Pop them in the oven (top rack) for 15 minutes, flip them over, and bake them for about 15 minutes more until they start to brown.

Once you have those in the oven, prepare your fish:

Baked Tilapia (serves 2)

2 tilapia filets
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp garlic
pepper to taste

Combine the lemon juice, oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Using a spoon, spread half the mixture onto each filet (your fish should be on a baking sheet). Sprinkle with pepper.

Pop this into the oven. If you're also cooking the brussel sprouts, these can go on the bottom rack. The fish will take about 25 minutes to bake, check for the edges to brown and the fish to flake easily.

Once you have those baking, it's time to make your:

Coconut Milk Sweet Potatoes (serves about 4)

1 large sweet potato
3 tsp fresh ginger root
1/2 C coconut milk

Poke holes in the sweet potato and put it in the microwave for 10 minutes, flipping over halfway through. Check to see that it's super soft throughout. If not, put it back in for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, grate the ginger into a bowl. When the potato is ready, let it sit until you can handle it, then pull the peel off. Throw it in the bowl and add your coconut milk. Mash it or use a hand mixer for super creamy potatoes. You could also throw everything in the food processor. Add more milk if necessary for creaminess.

And that's all there is to it. Once you do that, you will have a beautiful, delicious plate of food that looks like this:

And you will be very happy that you made the effort. 

By the way, I'm totally obsessed with brussel sprouts now. Hated them when I was a kid, but decided to give them another go because I really love vegetables and would hate to miss out on something delicious. They are so good this way, not mushy like I remember from childhood (how the hell were my parents cooking them, anyway?).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Series of Unsuccessful Runs

I don't know what is going on with me (seasonal depression?) but my running has taken a serious backslide in the past week. It all started when I went for a run in the cold rain last Thursday and quickly threw in the towel. Then I couldn't finish Saturday's run without a walking break. Today I went out after taking 3 days off (2 to rest my legs and one to mope around the house), and it suuuuucked. My legs felt really tired again and I was having trouble breathing from the start. WHAT THE WHAT? I had to take a walking break at 18 minutes, and tried to start up again after 1 minute but really couldn't. I mostly walked for about 10 minutes, running for about a minute several times before giving up. Once I hit the final stretch of my run, I ran the rest of the way home (probably 3 minutes of running) and felt fine. I suspect my winter blues that are setting in are the cause of my sudden suckiness, since running is so mental. I've got to push past it!! At least I was out in the sun and nice weather for 30 minutes. That might help keep the grumpies away tonight. I'm trying to take it easier on myself overall, because according to a quiz in a young-adult book Dan has, I'm a perfectionist, so I'm never satisfied unless I do perfectly. That's a recipe for disaster.

Once I got home, I decided to do 30 day shred to round out my workout and make it COUNT FOR SOMETHING. I tried level 2 for the first time, not because I've mastered level 1 yet (I'm still doing girl pushups!) but because I'm getting bored of level 1. That level 2...jesus christ. It was insane. I'm fairly certain that tomorrow I'm not going to be able to move a muscle, I'll be so sore. It was hard. I like trying out new things, though, so I appreciated that all the moves were ones I'd never done before. But at some points I was like "CAN'T I JUST DO JUMPING JACKS?"

Okay, enough tom foolery. I've got a big test tonight, I had better study!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grumpy! Plus Some Recipes I'm in Love With!

As expected, daylight savings time has put me in a funk. Watching complete darkness settle while I was in my afternoon Spanish class yesterday made me seriously grumpy. It's going to take some serious mental strength to motivate myself to exercise today. Sigh.
On Saturday morning, Dan and I headed into town to go on a run. Now that we live outside of town, running in Saratoga is luxurious because there are sidewalks there. Heh. We went to my original running route for nostalgia. I was all: HEY! There's the alley where I used to stop for a walking break! Hey! Remember when I ran this far for the first time?! Hey! I could never run this far before we moved! I'm sure Dan was like, "Shut up!" But I think it's good to remember where you started :)
My plan was to run for 30 minutes to reach my new goal, but I noticed right away that my legs were seriously tired. I was like, what the what? I figured as I went they'd warm up and I'd get over it, but they felt heavier and heavier. Usually my main obstacle with running is shortness of breath, so I wasn't sure what was going on. I finally threw in the towel after about 18 minutes and took a walking break because my legs were like two blocks of cement. Then I thought back over my week and realized that I hadn't taken a single rest day from exercise. Whoops. I walked for a few minutes, then ran the rest of the way back to the car. When we got home, I made a very grumpy Dan do 20 minutes of Richard Simmons with me (which, I am shocked to report, did NOT cheer up Mr. Grumpy Pants!) and then promised to rest the next day after work.
My legs felt tired at work on Sunday, but I kept forgetting that I had vowed to rest. I kept thinking of different things I could do after work, like a walk or a run or Richard Simmons, but then my little bubble was burst when I remembered I had to sit on the dumb couch. I did, although I felt a little compulsive desire to exercise. Yesterday I had a 5 page paper to write that was due that very day (which I managed to complete in one hour...holla!) and some other homework, so I did not have time to exercise before class. Then once it got pitch dark during my aforementioned Spanish class, I found myself in such a funk that I did not exercise as planned after my classes finished.
So today I must do something. I'm thinking about doing my Richard Simmons DVD later after I do some studying for this big, dumb Anthropology test I have tomorrow, and then perhaps going on a run in Saratoga once Dan gets home from work. These goals are pretty lofty for someone as grumpy as me, though.

On a more optimistic note, I've been making some fabulous recipes the past few nights! Most were found on the interwebs, so here's a little link roundup:
Thursday night I was feeling ambitious and made some mango chicken curry using this recipe. Dan and I went out for Indian on our anniversary a couple weeks ago and he ordered this dish, and when I tasted it I almost weeped with jealousy. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I accidentally bought coconut paste (or something) instead of coconut milk, and it was really sweet and gross, so I mixed a tiny bit of the paste with some almond milk and water. Served with some basmati rice and (store bought) naan, it was to die for.

Friday I made some Spicy Shrimp Skewers on my George Foreman grill, some coco bread, and mixed some lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and lime zest into some leftover basmati rice. Next time I make coco bread, I will add some more sugar because I once had it in a Jamaican restaurant and it was a bit sweeter and more delicious. Also, the shrimp wasn't spicy enough! And I realized when I looked at my plate that I had no vegetables at all. Whoops!

On Saturday, I used the Spicy Shrimp recipe to make Spicy Chicken, but I added an extra tablespoon of Jerk Spice and a bunch more hot sauce, and it was really good. I will even add a bit more spice next time though. Served with leftover cilantro-lime rice, coco bread, and acorn squash it was really good!

Saturday night, I made "Philly Cheese Steaks" with Portabella mushrooms instead of beef, a recipe from Eating Well that has become a staple in our apartment. I always use green peppers, this time I used a mix of green and red. I leave out the flour and soy sauce and add a bunch of garlic. Along with these, I made roasted brussel sprouts (cut in half, ends trimmed off, tossed with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, cooked in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, flipped over, then cooked for about 10 more minutes) and crunchy sweet potato fries, which I found on the Iowa Girl Eats blog, omitting the cinnamon. They were really good, super crispy (hard to do when baking in my experience). Next time I will add garlic!!

Sunday I used the last of the cilantro-lime rice to make burritos with beans, spinach, cheese, and salsa.

Okay, now I'm hungry after remember all of these delicious meals. Lunch time!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I am experiencing burnout number 2 from homework today. MATH homework. Yuck. When I hit burnout number 1, I decided to go for a run even though it was raining. I'm eager to get to my next goal of running for 30 minutes and I was planning on today being the day. Also, I was super grumpy and thought some fresh air would do me good.
I looked outside and realized it was really raining. Not exactly cats and dogs, and turtles (See how loopy I am???)? I went out anyway, and it wasn't so bad for about 4 minutes. Then I started to feel really soggy despite the fact that I had stolen Dan's running jacket that looked waterproof. And it was cold! I guess I should have worn a hat that covered my ears. I got even more grumpy than I was to start with and aborted the run pretty quickly. I ran much too fast once I decided to give up because I wanted to get out of the gross rain and started to feel winded, but I made it home. My sad little run was only 12 minutes long today. I popped in 30 Day Shred when I got home to make up for it, but I just wasn't feeling it once it got started. Looks like there will be more rain tomorrow, but the weather channel says "showers" so perhaps there will be 30 minutes of dryness that I can sneak into.
I wish it had been nicer out, because I could have used the exercise today. Maybe I'll go Boogie Down the Pounds with Richard Simmons right now! I know I already mentioned it, but that DVD is so funny. There's like....a story line. It starts with people milling outside a gate holding invitations, and Richard Simmons comes up and asks what they're all doing there. They respond, "We were invited to a disco party." and he replies "So was I, but this doesn't look like..." at which point the gates open and they go inside. Cut to a darkened discotheque, where the exercisers act creeped out until someone hits the lights and instant awesomeness ensues. Ah. Maze. Ing. Maybe I'm a little biased, seeing as how I'm a subconscious Richard Simmons fan.

**UPDATE** I did the Richard Simmons DVD and I am not grumpy anymore! I mean, how could I be? You try having that man scream "I love you" while leading you through cheesy dance moves and see if you can stay grumpy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

27 Minute Run

I was actually looking forward to my run today, if you can believe that. I got exactly 0 minutes of exercise yesterday because we drove down to NJ to visit Dan's grandma who is in the hospital, and today I have a ton of reading to do for my anthropology class so I'm feeling extra antsy.
I went out at noon and forgot to wear my hat, so the sun was glaring in my little eyes. Also, it was much colder than I thought, so I had tears streaming down my cheeks from the cold and my hands felt like blocks of ice. Before long I warmed up thankfully, and the run was good today. I added some distance to my route which ended up tacking on about 4 minutes to my run, making it just over 27 minutes. I was hoping that it would bump my run up to 30 minutes, so I'll have to add more next time.
I think this says a lot about how psychological the ability to run is: if I decide I want to run for 30 minutes but get back to the apartment at 27, I feel like I physically must stop. If I sneak the extra distance into the middle of the run, I won't stop until I get home, even if I get really tired, unless I really can't breathe (which rarely happens).
I'm glad that I'm firmly able to run 27 minutes at this point--I did 27:30 once, 28 once, and then today, so it was definitely no fluke. I actually felt really good until about 22 minutes, when my chest started feeling a bit tight, but I didn't take a walking break and I finished really strong--I was flying on that home stretch! I wouldn't say I liked my run today, but if every day felt like today I'd be happier. Usually I feel tired and grumpy. I have a crap ton of homework tomorrow, but I'm hoping to run again tomorrow. If so, I am going to run 30 minutes, damn it! That's my next goal, and it's kind of dumb that I haven't met it yet--it's only 3 more minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Steamed Eggplant with Whole Wheat Pasta

You may remember me mentioning my pasta mania from a couple of weekends ago. It didn't end with homemade ravioli, my friends. The next day I declared myself a pasta making expert and decided to try my hand at some simple whole wheat pasta. Then I added some steamed eggplant, pasta sauce, and a slice of provolone and I had a little bowl of heaven. If you make the pasta ahead of time or use store bought, this meal comes together in under 20 minutes. If I liked pasta more, I would make it all the time.

Here's how to make it:

(Serves 4)

For the pasta:

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
Tbsp olive oil
Garlic powder to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Several Tbsp water

For the rest:

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick circles
Pasta sauce (I use the jarred stuff...I know, I know)
4 Slices Provolone

Put all of the pasta ingredients except the water into a bowl and mix it up. Now add the water, a tablespoon full at a time, until the dough starts to come together but isn't too wet--it will look kind of crumbly. I added probably 6 or 7 tablespoons to this recipe. Dump it out on a clean surface, shmoosh it into a ball, and start kneading. Get ready to be bored, because you have to knead that sucker for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic. Once it looks nice and smooth, form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it sit for at least an hour so that it looses some elasticity and you will be able to roll it out.

When it's ready, cut the ball in half so it's easier to work with, and roll it out as thinly as possible on a floured surface. When you think it can't get any thinner, keep rolling; that's how thin I'm talking. When you're satisfied with the thinness, flour each side of the sheet of dough and then roll it up into a tube. Then cut the tube into 1/4 inch pieces, unroll, and voila, pasta! Repeat with the other half of your dough. 

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta in 3-4 batches, depending on the size of your pot. I crowded the pot out of hunger and laziness and some of my pastas weren't entirely cooked. Cook those guys for about 5 minutes. Here's what they will look like when they're done:

While the pasta is cooking, put your eggplant in a microwave safe dish with a bit of water and cook for 5 minutes. This will make it nice and soft. Meanwhile, heat some pasta sauce in a pan. 

When all of your ingredients are ready, put a serving of pasta in a bowl, lay a piece of provolone on top, then 3-4 slices of eggplant, and top it all off with the sauce. Here is what you will have: 

What I've Been Up To

Just as I decided that because of my lack of motivation/abundance of homework, my main source of exercise today would be walking to the mailbox and back, my new Richard Simmons DVD was delivered to me. It's like fate brought us together. The whole routine is 50 minutes long, and since I have class this afternoon, I didn't have time to do the entire thing, but I did about 20 minutes and it was hysterical. I don't like the lack of direction, but I think that after I do it a few more times I'll have all the moves down and won't feel so uncoordinated and confused. I did work up a decent sweat (not like running or 30 day shred, but decent) so once I know the moves and can actually do each of them I think it will be a great workout.

On Saturday I practiced the First Night route to see how much work I have to do to be able to finish the race. It is not easy because there are hills and I have literally never run on hills before. Thankfully, the uphills are relatively gradual and the downhills are steep enough that gravity does most of the work and you can catch your breath. I did much better than I expected, though, and actually nearly finished without stopping. I got to 28 minutes (new personal record!) and had to take a minute or minute and a half long walking break, and then I finished. I even sprinted at the end to finish strong! My total time, including my dumb walking break, was 33 minutes, so I was keeping a good 10-ish minute pace going.
This was the first time Dan has run with me in a very long time. Last time we ran together, I was barely able to do 5 minutes at a time. When I was getting really tired on Saturday, I started thinking about how far I've come with my running and that was really motivating.
My training plan is to keep building up to running for 30 minutes (will happen soon) on my regular route, to run the First Night route every other week to practice and gauge my progress, and I mapped out a 5k run in my neighborhood that I will run once a week. Ideally, by race time, I will be comfortable running 35 minutes without taking a break, although I expect to finish it in 30 minutes. Of course I'll be adding some 30 Day Shred and Richard Simmons into the exercise rotation to keep things interesting!

Now I'm off to class for the next 5.5 hours. Yikes!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Exercise Champion

Yesterday I was kind of overwhelmed with school work. I sensed that my growing stress would be helped by exercise of some sort, but I felt like I didn't have time before class to get all my work done and exercise, so I had a mental breakdown instead and still didn't get all of my work done. I had more work ahead of me after my class got out at 9:30pm, so I did 30 Day Shred to get some energy to get me through.

Thursdays are all-day homework fests for me, and I vowed not to make the same mistake again. I did some work in the morning, had lunch, and got out there for a run. I almost didn't go because it was super windy, but I figured I'd try it.

It was indeed difficult because of the wind gusts. I almost lost my awesome Jaegermeister hat a bunch of times! I was running at an excellent pace, though, so that was good. At one point, and old man who was on a walk, walking towards me, began applauding and said "Good job! Keep it up!" I'm not sure if I liked it or not. I ran the entire route this time, thankfully, but I did feel pretty tired towards the end, probably because of the wind. I was out there or 23 minutes even. I really didn't feel up to going farther.

Since I didn't try for a longer time, as soon as I got home I decided to pop in 30 Day Shred. My new thing is to do it barefoot, partially because my running shoes badly need to be replaced, and partially because I've read a bunch of stuff about this barefoot running movement. Some believe it's better for the muscles in your feet/ankles/legs to not wear shoes. I noticed that the cardio moves on the DVD feel different, especially in my calves, when I'm barefoot. Anyway, that workout was really tough after finishing a tiring run, but I made it through. I'm going to move on to level 2 pretty soon. When I finished, I decided to round out my experience and queued up some yoga. I wasn't kidding when I said I wasn't going to make the same mistake as yesterday.

On Saturday I'm going to run the First Night route with seasoned First Night expert Dan to see where i'm at and how much work I need to do to be ready for this bitch.

Fact: I am currently shopping Richard Simmons DVDs to add more variety into my workouts. I'M NOT JOKING.

UPDATE! I just ordered this:

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


There's nothing I love more than a good stir-fry. It's a great way to use up a bunch of vegetables that are in the winter of their lives. Although it's kind of time consuming to chop all the veggies up, it's so fast once you've done that that it's worth it. Also, the cool thing about stir fry is that amounts aren't important for the vegetables, just throw in whatever you have in your fridge. Here's the stir-fry I made for dinner Sunday after work: 

tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
dash of sesame oil
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of chili powder
black pepper
1 block extra-firm tofu, cubed

Yellow pepper
Red pepper
Shitake mushrooms
White mushrooms
Snap Peas

Chop up all of the vegetables so they are relatively uniform in size. If you're married like me, you are lucky enough to have a wok which you received as a wedding gift, so get that out. Otherwise, find a big pan. Crank up the heat to medium-high, and throw your oil and garlic into that bad boy. I probably used about 4 cloves worth, but if you're not constantly in a garlic frenzy like I am, 2 would suffice. Sauté for a couple of minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add your broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, and spices, and cook until the broth gets hot and begins to reduce. Add your tofu (any protein would work, especially chicken or shrimp. I would think that you might use different spices for beef, but I don't really do red meat so I wouldn't know) and cook for a couple of minutes until it absorbs some of the sauce and begins to color. Then add your veggies and cook, stirring often, until they are tender. And you're done! Making some brown rice to go along with the stir-fry is clearly a good idea, but I forgot until it was too late and it was totally delicious on its own.

In the Words of Liz Lemon: Blarg

I always have post-awesome-run anxiety. When I reach or surpass a goal, I feel elated for a little while and then the dread sets in: what if I suck on my next run? What if it was a fluke? Then I think, I can probably run farther next time! But what if I can't?

As I mentioned before, I haven't run since my awesome victory, and I had to take a rest day yesterday because I was really sore from hiking. I woke up this morning and my soreness was almost gone, thankfully. I started to feel a tiny bit hungry for lunch, but didn't want to wait for my food to digest before running, so I headed out. My plan was to try for 30 minutes this time, which was only 2.5 minutes longer than I ran last time. Seemed doable. Although I noticed a little pain in my lower back and shins when I started, it wasn't unbearable, so I kept going. Before I even got to the first mile, though, I noticed that my body was feeling pretty tired. As I hit the point in my run that loops back towards home, I got a little burst of renewed energy and felt pretty good; I knew I wouldn't be running 30 minutes today, but I figured I'd bring it home, which would be about 23 minutes. But soon, I started to drag again, and I was having trouble breathing. What the flip? Then a little lightbulb went on in my head: it was noon, and I hadn't had a single sip of water all day. Whoops. That combined with being a little bit of soreness was messing up my run. Hmmph!

I pushed myself to get to the final turn in my route, and then I allowed myself a walking break. I was kind of dizzy when I stopped, so the water thing was definitely part of the issue. I walked for 2 or 3 minutes, and then ran the rest of the way home. When I got home, another piece of the mistake puzzle fell into place: despite my walking break, I still made it home in 23 minutes. I was running too fast. Again. I need some sort of gizmo that can clock my speed so I stop with this running too fast nonsense! I'd rather run longer at a slower pace than get tired out so quickly.

Oh, well. Despite the fact that my post-awesome-run anxiety was RIGHT, I'm not going to beat myself up. I pushed myself during this run, I didn't give up the minute it got uncomfortable, and I think that's what's really important. Tomorrow is another day, and I will be smarter about my next run.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Instead of Running...

I haven't had a chance to run since my super victory on Wednesday. Thursday was spent at the hospital with a family emergency, and Friday was spent cleaning. I planned on running, but got kind of carried away and it didn't happen.

I was feeling pretty restless at that point, so we decided to hike Prospect Mountain on Saturday. It was hard to figure out how challenging it was going to be, as internet reviews ranged from "easy" to "difficult" but we decided to try it out because it's nearby and not too long a hike (a little less than 2 miles up). We made it to the top, but it was not easy. I think it was a little bit easier than Hadley, but not by much. It was really steep almost the entire way, wet and slippery at parts, and there were tons of loose rocks just waiting to sprain my ankle. I got pretty grumpy towards the top. It was definitely worth it, though, because the summit boasts 100 mile views. It was gorgeous!

I wasn't feeling up for the super steep hike down, because I don't have very good balance or hiking boots and have sprained my ankle twice on the way down mountains, so we took the paved road that you can drive up part of the way down, avoiding the steepest wet and slippery parts. That added about a mile to our trip, but we were able to zoom down that road so fast that it didn't make much difference time wise.

Needless to say, I woke up pretty sore yesterday, and working all day didn't help. I got home and was determined to get back to my regularly scheduled exercise, though, so I popped in 30 day shred and did that. Then for good measure I did some yoga, hoping that would stretch out my muscles and make me less sore. This morning I woke up really sore, unfortunately, so I will be taking today as a rest day. I will try out a run again tomorrow even if I'm still sore and see what happens!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage

I went a little pasta crazy last weekend, which is unusual for me because I don't really like pasta that much. But the idea of making butternut squash ravioli got in my head and wouldn't leave, so I decided to give it a go. I wasn't sure if it would work because I don't have a pasta machine, but I'm glad I made it, as it was delicious! I went really simple with my recipe and resisted the urge to add garlic, although if I ever make it again I think I will put some garlic in there.

I looked around a various pasta recipes, and looked at what I had in my cabinet, and here's what I came up with:

Makes 8 large ravioli (serves about 3)

For the filling:

1/2 large butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil

For the Pasta

2 eggs
2 cups flour (I used all purpose because that's what I had)
1 tsp salt
olive oil (I just did a glug into the bowl, it was probably around a tablespoon)

For the Sage Fun

4-5 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the innards (you can save the seeds for roasting, just like pumpkin seeds!) and brush the cut sides with the olive oil and sprinkle on a bit of pepper. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until it's really soft.

Right after you put that sucker in the oven, you should make your dough. Combine everything except for the water in a bowl (or you can put the flour on your counter and make a well in the middle for your wet ingredients. I didn't do this but I'm intrigued by the idea) and mix it up. Now add the water, a tablespoon full at a time, until the dough starts to come together but isn't too wet--it will look kind of crumbly. I added only 3 tablespoons to this recipe. Dump it out on a clean surface, shmoosh it into a ball, and start kneading. Get ready to be bored, because you have to knead that sucker for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic. Once it looks nice and smooth, form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it sit for at least an hour so that it looses some elasticity and you will be able to roll it out.

When the squash is nice and soft, let it cool for a little bit and then remove the skin. It should come right off. Put it in a bowl and mash it with a potato masher (or you could use a food processor, but I was too lazy to get it out, and really, it's not worth it because it's not hard to get the squash smooth) until smooth, which will take just a minute or two. Season it with the cinnamon and nutmeg to taste--I just used a tiny bit of each.

Now it's time to roll out your dough. You can tell if it's been sitting long enough by poking it. If an indentation stays, it's ready. If it springs back, it's not. Once it's ready, cut the ball in half, form each half into a rectangle, and roll them out suuuuper flat, and to approximately the same size. Rumor has it pasta dough dries out quickly, so keep the dough you're not working with covered. The rolling portion of the night will take a bit of time and patience (when using a rolling pin), because it turns out pasta dough is springy, even after sitting.

Once you have your two pieces rolled out, put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Then find what you are going to cut your ravioli with--I used a glass. You could use anything that's the appropriate size, a round or square cookie cutter would work also. I made little marks with the glass on the dough so I could see how many ravioli I could fit on the sheet, and then put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each mark. Lay the other sheet on top, carefully pressing around the edges of the filling. Cut it out with your glass, and pinch the edges shut.

Once the water is boiling, put the ravioli in (I did 4 at a time, don't crowd 'em!) and cook it for about 4-5 minutes. Fresh pasta cooks fast! When they're done, scoop them out of the pot and set aside.

In a large skillet (or wok if your skillet is dirty and you're too lazy to wash it), heat the butter or oil and the sage until the sage gets all wilty. Throw the ravioli in (again, I did 4 at a time) and toss to coat, cooking for just a minute or two. When you're done, this is what you'll have:

Yum! They were really good, and the simple recipe definitely leaves room for experimentation.   


Last night I signed up for my first 5K. I will be running Saratoga's annual First Night race on new year's eve. To demonstrate how amazing this actually is, let me paint a picture of me last new year's eve:

Dan was running First Night, so I trudged to the starting line with our friend (and reverend!) to support him. I brought my flask. I made fun of all the runners, and vowed that the only way I'd ever run is if a bear was chasing me, and even then I'd give up pretty quickly. After the race, I teased Dan for doing a cool-down jog. I was all "OOOOH, I'm Dan and I just LOOOVE running! I just ran a race and I can't stop!" 

What a difference a year makes, huh? 

I'm really excited and kind of nervous. I think the hardest thing will be keeping a good pace when surrounded by other runners. I'll just start way at the back. I'll be running with my friend, Simone, so I think it's going to be really fun!  

I was up really late last night, and then woke up really early this morning, getting only about 4 hours of sleep. I couldn't fall back asleep so I just got up and decided to go for a run. I was famished, though, so I had a tiny bit of oatmeal. I was worried about feeling sick so I wanted to eat just enough to not feel hungry. My bananas aren't ripe, I think that would have been better than oatmeal. I chugged a big glass of water (lesson learned from my last morning run) and headed out the door. 
The run was going well, I found a really good pace right away and stuck with it so I had good stamina. I hit 10 minutes, and decided to keep going to the next block before turning around because now that I'm going to be in a race, I'm training. I figured that worst case scenario, I stopped running at 20 minutes and walk the rest of the way home, and best case scenario I would run about 22 minutes this time. 
I ran and ran and got to 20 minutes without really noticing, when I looked down it was 20:40. I was like, "Oh hellz yeah!" I kept going, and when I got back to the apartment I was at 23:30. I figured, I've got this, and decided to run to 25 like a champ. I blew past my apartment, and set my sights on a white mailbox about a block away. I decided to run to that little guy. When I got there, I just turned around and ran home. And guess how long I ran????
Check THIS out!


It's so awesome. That totally blows my pre-summer record out of the water. And it's 12 and a half minutes more than I was running a week ago! Nothing like signing up for a race to motivate you, I guess! 
Today, I love running. Tomorrow? We'll see. 

Monday, October 18, 2010


Guess who's awesome? ME!!

I woke up a little bit early this morning, and the thought of this paper that I have to write which is due tonight was looming over my head. I was thinking that I hoped I had time for a run, and then decided to just go on one right then. First thing in the morning runs aren't my thing, because I'm usually really hungry and grumpy in the a.m., but today I wasn't hungry so I decided to go for it.

I went out on a new route and planned on running 10 minutes out and back in order to try to accomplish my next goal (running 20 minutes without stopping). I figured I'd need a walking break at around minute 15, because that's how long I've been running since I started up again.

I got to minute pretty easily, turned around, and as I anticipated, started feeling short of breath at minute 15. I didn't want to stop, though, because I was curious about whether or not I would be able to do it, so I kept going. The rational adult in me said, "YOU'RE ALMOST THERE ANYWAY!" and the lazy child responded, "NO I'M NOT!!"

At minute 17, I was really feeling out of breath (it doesn't help that I was running on a busy-ish road. All that exhaust can't be good for my little lungs!) but I could see my apartment in the distance, so I was not going to stop. And I didn't! I MADE IT!! I was sweaty and wheezing and a little dizzy (note to self: drink water before a morning run. duh), but I'm so glad I did it!

I don't love this route because it forces me to run on said busy-ish road, but I guess it will be my new route because I will be able to work my way up to 30 minutes of running on it, and it allows for some variety.

This is the 6th day out of 7 that I've exercised, and while I'm grumpier than I would expect, I notice that my motivation to exercise is increasing. I'm glad I got the 30 Day Shred (which I did again last night--holy crap was I sore! But today I feel a lot less sore, so I guess my muscles are getting used to it.) because it allows me to exercise when it's raining out, or on days like yesterday when I work all day and then take a nap, and it's already getting dark when I wake up so I can't run in my neighborhood unless I want to risk being run over.

I guess I have to go write my dumb paper now. The good thing is that I brainstormed while I was running and had to manically scribble notes for my paper so that I wouldn't forget them as soon as I got home! I was trying to write last night but was having wicked writer's block, so I count my run as part of the paper-writing process!