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!