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 amazon.com 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, but...um...hamsters 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!