Monthly Archives: February 2011

JUSTIN BIEBER DRINKS GREEN MONSTERS!!!!

My big brother Dave with Justin Bieber (well, a cardboard cut-out of him)

I just saw Justin Bieber‘s movie Never Say Never with my little sister Sam, and Usher makes him drink a greens-packed smoothie when he has a sore throat.  He didn’t care for it much.  Called it “dinosaur pee“.  I guess Usher needs a new recipe!  Maybe I will concoct an extra-tasty recipe in his honor….

I think it’ll just be a mint chocolate chip smoothie with spinach, milk, and chocolate protein powder.  I shall call it “Dinosaur Pee to Tame Your Bieber Fever.”

We all LOVED the movie.  But the best part….the snacks!  (Ok, it wasn’t the best part.  Bieber was definitely the best part.)  I absolutely cannot survive a trip to the movies with candy AND popcorn AND soda.  So, I made my famous air-popped popcorn and I added Old Bay! I was Sam’s idea 🙂 She’s so smart.

Yummmmmmmm.  I also packed some of those dark chocolate chips to tame my candy craving.

I looked in two stores for my favorite soda substitute, Polar Vanilla Seltzer, with no luck.  I was so disappointed because it’s only 99 cents for a liter and super tasty!!!!  My friend Trisha turned me on to it.  I made fun of her at first (I thought it sounded gross), but it tastes like a light cream soda!! Plus it’s 0 calories and made with natural flavors.  I sure wish I’d had some!

So this morning it was 10 degrees outside when I went to the gym.  Brrrr. I was all ready to warm up on the treadmill, and get back into running, but my legs still protested!! They weren’t sore so much as tired.  I mostly walked with a few running intervals, but then I just decided to bag it. The body wasn’t into it this morning.

I still wanted some activity, though, and luckily there was a yoga class scheduled to start in 15 minutes.  A nice restorative yoga class would be perfect!!  I got a nice, sunny spot by the mirror and enjoyed the gentle yet empowering class.

The best part of the class was the stuff for the soul, though.  Our instructor, Sandy, tells us at the beginning of each class, “remember that this is YOUR practice.  Listen to YOUR body and do what’s right for YOU.” I always have such big plans for my health about what I think I need, that I sometimes forget to think about the signals my body is sending me.  I need to remember to honor my body: a big part of maintaining fitness is nurturing your body. Similarly, at the end of class, Sandy told us to “say something nice” to ourselves.  Instinctively, I thought a simple, “I love you.” I was like, oh yeah! I forgot about that…. 🙂

We have to live in your bodies every day!  So we need to make sure we do what we can to ensure that it’s in perfect working order.  And I’m constantly discovering what that means for me.  But as long as I have self-love, I know I’ll do the right thing.

…..I LOVE JUSTIN BIEBER!!!!

❤    ❤   ❤

Namaste.

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5-Minute Carrot Hummus

I am SUPER excited about my snack today =D I made carrot hummus and it only took 5 minutes!!!  So simple, so delicious!  Do you remember that can of garbanzo beans I bought for the chili on Sunday, but never used since the chili was too crowded? I didn’t either!!!  But I saw it in the cupboard today, and I convinced myself I could easily make some hummus!  I was wondering how I would make it special, and upon discovering carrots in our veggie drawer, I knew they would make a perfect secret ingredient!

Note: I only used 2 and 1/2 of those carrots.  Also, I only used one of the cloves of garlic pictured.

Into the food processor it went!

2.5 Carrots + 1 can Garbanzo Beans + 1 Garlic Clove + some Olive Oil =

Yummy yummy yummy!  Easy easy easy! Plus, making your own hummus costs about $2–half as much as buying a container of it straight from the market.  All you need is a food processor!!

Funny story: I am sort of lying when I say that this hummus took me 5 minutes to make.  It sort of took me 20 minutes, because for 10 minutes my grandma and I were trying to work my mom’s fancy food processor.  Then, we spent another 5 minutes trying to assemble hers!  lol! But it was really very simple once we got it assembled properly.  Plus, she was so excited about the entire hummus-making ordeal, she said I could keep her food processor! Thanks, Gram L!  Then my roommate Melissa told me that she has one AND a mini one!!!  I predict lots of food-processing in our kitchen’s future……I dream of homemade hummus, nut butter, soup……

I also had a ridiculously fun time on the elliptical today.  I give full credit for that to my playlist!

  • “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” Regina Spektor WARMUP!
  • “Bass Down Low” Dev CLIMB!
  • “Cameras” Matt & Kim RECOVERY! 
  • “Ants Marching” Dave Matthews Band INCREASE! 
  • “Mr. Brightside” The Killers SPEEDY! 
  • “Lost!”  Coldplay CLIMB!
  • “Dog Days are Over” Florence and the Machine SPRINTS!
  • “Peacock” Katy Perry RECOVERY! 
  • “Crazy Beautiful Life” Ke$ha SPEEDY! 
  • “Keep Holding On” Glee Cast CLIMB! 
  • “Firework” Katy Perry SPRINTS! 
  • “King of Anything” Sara Bareillas COOL DOWN!

I was rocking. Out.  It also felt soooo nice and smooth on my legs.  Tomorrow, I’ll try running some more, but maybe just a mile.  I may even do a really exciting cardio circuit or something!!! Stay tuned….

Namaste.

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Forget Regret

My number-one trick for eating healthy at work is to pack a lunch.  If I don’t, it’s a heck of a lot easier to give myself a bowlfull of the mac ‘n’ cheese that I make for the kids instead of awkwardly rummaging through my boss’s fridge to find something wholesome…and then prepare it and scarf it down before the boys can cause too much destruction.

But today, I didn’t pack a lunch.  I woke up with my left hamstring howling in soreness from my speedy 3-mile run yesterday.  Being sort of gimpy, I decided to take an extra 5 minutes sitting on the couch, stretching, and enjoying my cup of coffee instead of packing my lunch for work.  Bad idea! But I won’t dwell on the cornucopia of unhealthy things I consumed today.  Or the lack of healthy food I ate.  I also won’t dwell on the fact that I skipped spinning in order to give my hamstrings some rest….

There is just no use beating yourself up about the mistakes you have made in the past.  You can only learn from them.  After all, a problem is merely an opportunity for a solution! Today I learned that I need to stretch A LOT more than I have been.  Since I do so much yoga, I am not usually concerned with stretching very much before and after running, but clearly, it’s not enough for how hard I’ve been going lately.   So tomorrow, I will do my cardio on the elliptical since it is a lower-impact way to exercise than running.  I’ll also stretch twice as long as I feel like I need to, before AND after. I also learned that I absolutely need to pack my lunch every day for work.  But, the good news is that today was my last day of work!  Won’t have to worry about that for a while!  And I vow to remember it for next time 🙂

I tend to put myself down a lot when I make unhealthy choices, but today, I’m saying to myself “So what? Who cares?” (in my Joy Behar voice, of course).  I can’t do anything about what’s already been done, so I’m going to forget about wasting energy on regretting those mistakes.  Instead, I am putting that energy into making better choices tomorrow.

Namaste.

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Bunny Chow! (Healthified Puppy Chow)

[DISCLAIMER: The first recipe in this blog post is NOT HEALTHY in any way, shape, or form. But it’s so freaking fun, I had to share it.]

I babysit for a family with 4 boys (ages 2, 6, 8, and 9) every day from 9-5, but tomorrow is my last day before I ship myself off to New Zealand on Sunday(!!!!!). To make my last day something special, I have devised an elaborate scavenger hunt with a hidden treasure that will make up for those healthy after-school snacks that I force them to eat every day.

I happen to have a weakness for S’mores.  I also happen to have a weakness for Rice Krispie Treats.  In the past, I only imagined this recipe in my wildest dreams, but I decided that, for my last day with the boys, I would make it a reality.

S’Murrays: S’Mores-Inspired Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Start by measuring out 4 cups of mini marshmallows (generic brand ones at the store were only 99-cents!)

Then, measure 6 cups of Golden Graham cereal (this will replace the Rice Crispies and act as the graham crackers)

Before you do anything more, lightly grease the pan you will put these in.  I used a 9 by 13 inch brownie pan.  Then, get 3 tablespoons of butter melting in a pot over medium/medium-high heat on the stove.

Go ahead and add in the marshmallows.

Stir around constantly as they melt completely….

Then you can go ahead and add in the Golden Grahams.  This is by far the most stressful portion of the recipe because you have to use your guns to stir it up and get it combined properly.

But it’ll be well worth the work.  Pour it into the pan.

I wanted them to be pretty thick, so I only put them in one half of the pan.   It was no big deal.  Use a spatula to shape it in there nice and neat.   Then, I put some chocolate icing in the microwave and heated it up until it was all melty and liquidy, and I drizzled it over the top.

The drizzling turned into more of a smothering, but I don’t think the kids will care…

I am so excited for them to enjoy them tomorrow!  I hope they know they have the best babysitter on this planet. And I hope they know I will miss them somethin’ AWFUL.

As for my thoughts on these treats, they were a bit too sweet for me.  I blame that on the sugar-coated Golden Grahams.  Maybe I can find healthier graham cereal that is not coated in corn syrup.  Or, I could just straightup crush some graham crackers into small pieces!  Also, the icing isn’t quite chocolately enough for me, so I might try mixing in some pure chocolate chips.  We’ll see how it goes.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really excited about this recipe since it is just as quick (less than 10 minutes!) and easy as the original rice crispies, but it totally takes them to the next level.  So much more special.  The ingredients were also totally inexpensive!  Marshmallows = $0.99, Cereal = $3.47, Icing = $1.27

So after making these, I was pretty jealous and wanted something indulgent, yet healthy-ish for myself.  Plus, my friend Tara asked me to concoct some kind of healthified version of Puppy Chow.  I was excited for the challenge!

After some brainstorming, I think I figured it out…

Bunny Chow: A Healthified Version of Puppy Chow

I started with choosing an alternative to the traditional Chex cereal:

Kashi Go Lean original cereal has tons of fiber and protein, plus it is pretty low in fat.  Also, as a loving friend of mine kindly put…

…it sort of looks like rabbit food.  I say, YUM!  Hence the name, Bunny Chow.  Adorable!!! You’ll need about 9 cups.  This was basically the entire box.  Then, as an alternative to regular chocolate chips:

dark chocolate chips!  We all know that doctors declared dark chocolate a health food anyway, right?  I always choose Ghirardelli because, well, it’s the best–but also my dog Ghia’s full name is Ghirardelli!  The darkest they had was 60%, but at larger grocery stores with more of a selection, you might be able to find a higher cacao content.  We will use much less than the traditional recipe calls for.

A heaping quarter cup will do.  Next, the peanut butter!  We will use more than the original recipe since peanut butter is very nutritious 🙂

I used I combo of all natural Smucker’s smooth peanut butter and Trader Joe’s almond butter.  A combined heaping 3/4 cup.   (I would recommend putting it in a microwave safe bowl, warming it up, and mixing it all together first because it kind of gave me some clumpage problems later on.)  Next, I got my heaping up of powdered sugar ready, still MUCH less than the original recipe calls for.

Mess = optional (but remember, a messy cook is a good cook!)

Begin to melt 2 tablespoons of margarine in a large pot over medium/medium-high heat.

Then go for it.

Add in the chocolate and peanut butter.  Stir constantly until it is completely smooth and combined.  See the clumpy problems I had to deal with?

Oh well, still delicious.  Then I poured in the rabbit foo–I mean!–the cereal.  Mix it around like crazy.  It doesn’t look like it will ever happen, but keep at it and all the cereal will get a nice coating.  I was able to do it by scooping down into the corner of the pot and turning the mixture over to bring the melted mixture to the top.  I did this around and around and around the pot until I was satisfied.

I did it!  You could always stop here, it tastes divine!  But, for the full effect, pour the powdered sugar into a gallon baggie, followed by the coated cereal.

Then shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Shake it.  Shake shake it.  Shake it.  Shake shake it.  Shake it.

And then, snack away!  It is quite tasty!!

This recipe can also be done dorm-room style by heating up the chocolate and nut butters in the microwave!  So easy a bunny could do it!

Namaste.

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Vegans like the Superbowl, too!

The best part of the Superbowl? The food, obviously.  But they do tend to be a bit meaty, creamy, cheesy, and, well, fatty.  But you can easily make healthy, even vegan Superbowl munchies, without spending a fortune.  Today, I made two of my favorite football foods:  Chili …and…. Guacamole

Here’s all the good stuff I put in my Chili today….

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small can of mushrooms
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • chili powder
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 large can of chunky crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 can of corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans

I admit, I sort of went crazy.  Maybe I should call this the Kitchen Sink Chili.  I also bought garbanzo beans, but upon making it, I realized it already had too much going on and I needed to calm down!  But, hey, that’s the beauty of chili!  Start with one large can of crushed (or better yet, CHUNKY crushed!) tomatoes as “broth” and then decide what veggies and beans you are in the mood for/whatever is cheapest at the market.  I would just make sure to choose at least one bean and at least two veggies, for optimal nutritional value.

Now here are the magic ingredients that go into my Guacamole…

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 1/2 can of corn

I would say that the lemon juice is optional, but we had some in the fridge, so why not!  The red onion is also optional, and I secretly hate raw onions anyway, so I regret putting them in, lol.  The black beans and corn were also a surprise because I was planning on putting the entire cans into the chili! But then I thought that they would be perfect add-ins to the guac.  And, again, there was enough going on in my chili.

So here’s what I did.  First, I got the Chili going, since you’ll want it to cook for a while on the stove so all the flavor flaves can marry.  Start by prepping the veggies to be sauteed.  For the sake of time, I shredded the carrot instead of chopping it.  Then, I gave the celery and onion a good choppin (I love chunky vegetables).  For the pepper, I sliced it off the core first and THEN rinsed it.  This saves a few seconds since you will rinse off all the sketchy residue and the seeds at the same time.

Pretty colors!  I got them going in the pot with some olive oil.

Then I squashed in the cloves are garlic, using my best friend: the garlic press!  It’s so much easier and faster than trying to mince up those itty bitty cloves.  Plus, I have a theory that it releases the flavors more intensely(?).  Then, I added in the can of mushrooms and the tofu.  I am a big fan of Nasoya, because it’s organic and, oh yeah, soooo tasty. Though I’ll admit it’s not the cheapest option.

But I mainly chose this one since it’s already cubed and “Super Firm” (yeah, baby ;)).  You could always just buy a regular package of firm tofu and chop or crumble it yourself.  But this was a perfect time saver!  You really don’t need the tofu, anyway (the beans provide protein-a-plenty!).  I would tell you that a more affordable option would be to get some kind of ground meat, but we are being vegan-friendly today!!!

While the veggies and tofu are sauteing in the olive oil, don’t forget to add my secret ingredient

For those of you who have never tried Old Bay, I am very, very sorry for the void you may not know exists in your life.  It’s a blend of celery salt, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, and paprika–basically anything you could ever want in your chili.  The only seasonings I added to this chili were copious dashes of Old Bay and a few dashes of chili powder.  It’s all you need to do for a very complex and scrumptious array of flavors.

After you have sauteed everything for about 10 minutes, you can add the rest of the ingredients.  In goes 1 can of chunky crushed tomatoes (this is a double-threat since it adds some “tomato broth” and some nice chunks of tomatoes).

Lookin’ good! Then add a can of kidney beans.  Chili wouldn’t be chili without them, after all!

Then add half a can each of corn and black beans (set the rest aside for the guac!)

Bring it to a boil, and then bring down the heat and let it simmer…

As you get the GUACAMOLE going!

It’s my belief that a party isn’t a party without some guac.  My dad thought he could be really cool and get the pit out with one swift twist of a knife….

As if!  Lol, nice try, Dad.  He did get them out for me, though!  I then spooned all the avocado goodness into a bowl and smoothed out the chunks with a whisk.

I like it nice and smooth.  Then I added lemon and lime juices (to taste), plus a dash of olive oil.  I would add salt here, but since we bought some salty chips, I decided we didn’t need it.  I did add the garlic of course!  And some cilantro.

LOTS of cilantro.  Then I chopped up a small tomato and half the red onion…

Why do I do this to myself?  Lol.  I think I was too excited about the black beans and corn to remember my opinion of raw onions.

How could you not be distracted by those beauties?!  Mix it all together, and what have you got?

Pure vegan heaven…

and I think the chili is about done, too!

I like to eat my chili out of a mug. There’s something so comforting about it.

But I mostly just like it in my belly.

GO STEELERS!

Namaste.

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Free Yoga! and 59-Cent Meals!

I think Mother Earth is personally offended by my morning workouts or something.  Because this morning, icy roads kept me at home YET AGAIN.  But it turned out to be for the best because my sister joined me in my yoga practice! We did an online class from Yoga Today.  It’s a really fantastic website that offers a weekly free yoga class!  And it’s not just a 5-minute clip.  They are legit, full-length, and challenging classes! This week’s was called Build Consonance with Power and Grace.  After a grounding warmup, there was a killer strengthening sequence, followed by a grace sequence that was quite fun!  The instructors on this site are so likable, real, and educated, and they are always joined by another yogi and a beginner to demonstrate both advanced and modified versions of the postures.  Plus, they are filmed outside in Sedona, California!  You will feel transported from your chilly Philadelphia basement to the serene, beautiful, natural setting. And all that fo’ free!  Every week!

Hungry?…..

One of the cheapest, healthiest things you can pick up at any grocery store is canned beans!  And there are so many delicious varieties: Black, Kidney, Navy, Garbanzo (just to name a few!) and the recipe possibilities are ENDLESS!! I got a can of Wegmans Black Beans for 59cents!

Don’t they look so joyous in the bright yellow colander?  I decided to make something seasonal and warming with them for dinner last night.  I found great recipe for Warm Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad from Oh She Glows!!!!  Hot dinner? Check!  Seasonal sweet potatoes? Check! Cheapo Black Beans? Check!

I would love to tell you that I put it all together in a jiffy, but that wouldn’t be the exact truth.  The most time-consuming (and laborious!) part of the recipe was chopping the sweet potatoes.  I would suggest buying the skinniest sweet potatoes you can find because the more narrow they are, the easier it is to cut through the center.  You could certainly chop them up beforehand to save time, though! They would keep in the fridge for a few days, for sure.

But the rest of the recipe is very simple!  All you have to do is toss the chopped sweet potato and onion in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them for 30 minutes (twirling them around a bit halfway through to make sure they cook evenly).

Hard part is over!  While the veggies are roasting, you can very speedily (honestly!) whisk up the dressing.  Just combine olive oil, lime juice, cumin, garlic and cilantro.

Then toss in the rinsed and drained black beans.  It smells soooooo good.

Plus you’ll start smelling those scrumptious veggies roasting!! They would be divine as is….

But the combination of flavors is to die for!!  (Let us all laugh at how orange the sweet potatoes look with the flash–they way they look in real life, by the way!–and how yellow they look without the flash.  Bahahahaha!  Must figure out how to work my camera….)

I served it to my family as a side dish to my mom’s famous pasta with homemade sauce.  Two very different flavors, but both so mouth-watering that it didn’t matter!

5 of us had some last night, but there were still plenty of leftovers!  You know what that means! Quick and easy and healthy lunch for the next few days!  I could hardly wait to have more….    It was fabulous on its own, but I decided to sprinkle it with a bit of cheese and zap it in the microwave.

Then I put it on a warm tortilla with some salsa on top.

Do I even have to tell you how yummy it was?

I have so many ideas for the rest of the leftovers!  On top of salad greens, on a whole wheat naan, with chips, mixed with brown rice, straight out of the Rubbermaid….mmm mmmm mmmmm MMMMM!

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Trapped at the Gym!

I have been doing my workouts in the evenings lately, due to the inclement weather and all the delays.  But I miss those early morning workouts!  So last night, I set my alarm extra early, hoping to get back on track.  When it jolted me awake at 6:15, I jumped out of bed, ready to face the day! As I was on my way out, my dad informed my that it was really cold outside.  My thought was well, duh, it’s 6:30am in the beginning of February.  Besides, I’m just going to be sweating in the gym or driving in my warm car. [foreshadowing!]  I got an excellent parking spot, greeted the early AM Y staff, and set up camp on a treadmill.

Before I run, I usually set a time goal, but this morning (since I had PLENTY of time before work) I decided to set a distance goal: 3 miles.  I took a walking/water break before each mile, and I finished in less than 35 minutes.   I was pleased because I finished (and you always come in first place when you run on your own, lol) but I am going to try and get speedier.  You know what that means? Sprints. (Gross.)

I headed to my car feeling tired and hungry, but super glad that it was only 7:15am and I’d already run 3 miles!  But then things got really exciting….my car wouldn’t start!  OH MY!  It’s a long story, but basically I had to wait in the (newly renovated!) lobby of the Y, then wait outside by my car as the guy tried to figure out why it wouldn’t start (the battery was fine!), and then wait for the tow truck to come bring my baby into the ER for Cars (thanks for coming my my rescue, Dad!).  Turns out the starter broke, and I was very late for work, but luckily Ingrid (that’s my car) was good as new by the end of the day.

We have the choice to address the unexpected as stressful or exciting.  This morning definitely tested me, but I chose exciting, simply because I knew that 1) no one was hurt, and 2) it was out of my control.  That’s just life! You never know what will happen during your day (even before 9am) and THAT is exciting. I’d like to share with you one of my favorite mantras, which definitely helped me remain calm through my exciting morning.

May I be filled with loving kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease.  May I be happy.

May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease.  May you be happy.

May we be filled with loving kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease.  May we be happy.

Namaste.

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