Friday, April 30, 2010

Fun Facts Friday

Feeling the Love
I want to start off by thanking everyone for being so supportive and for all of your kind, generous comments about my blog yesterday. 

Friday Morning Workout
This morning I actually got in a workout. My legs are so sore from yesterday's running drills and weight workout. I really just wanted something easy to get them moving and loosened up. There was no way I was going to be doing any step, HIIT or plyo. I chose a kickboxing DVD that I haven't done in ages: Cathe's Kick Max. I also did abs and stretched. It was a fun workout actually (or as fun as anything can be at 5:30 am). This one consists of 4 kickboxing combos (about 20 mins) plus 10 short drills (about 20 mins).

Doing the Friday Happy Dance
Today signified the end of a week of sunshine. The clouds are hanging in thick and heavy and we're in for some stormy weather for the next few days. I'm really hoping that the forecasters have it wrong and we'll have a few spells of no rain. I would really like to get out and run. It's no fun being cooped up inside. We have errands that need to get done, but those are no fun in rain either. Maybe I'll be able to spend some time in the kitchen trying a few new recipes. That sounds better than doing chores ;-)

I made sort of a happy mistake this week. The dogs were scheduled to be groomed today. I was going to go pick them up, which meant leaving work early. So, Wednesday I worked an extra hour to make up for the time. However, that was totally unnecessary because I was going to be working through lunch. I just wasn't thinking clearly on Wednesday (remember drained, in dire need of rest day). Anyway, it worked out in the end because I got to leave work at 2 pm, a nice way to end the work week if you ask me.

Fun Facts Friday

Since I typically don't post Friday dinner or a recipe, I thought it might be fun to do something that's just fun and silly. I'm steeling the idea from on fabulous lady Tina @ Tina Bit of Faith Fitness and Fun  because I have so very much enjoyed reading the tidbits she's been posting about herself. Thanks Tina!!!

So, I thought I might start doing Fun Facts Friday where I share a few fun facts about myself. Feel free to share some fun facts about yourself as well. I guess it can be a "get to know each other" session.
  1. I hate hate hate needles but didn't hesitate to get a tattoo 
  2. When I was a kid, I was embarrassed of my last name because I thought people would think that I was lying when I told them it was "Iacobacci" (now I cherish it).
  3. I have indeed danced on a table (or 2). There is an inner wild child in me.
There, 3 fun facts about me. Your turn!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Running, Lifting, Grilling & Anniversary

My How You've Grown
It's so true that time flies when you're having fun. And time has flown by with my blogging. Exactly 6 months ago I published my first official blog post: Let Me Introduce the Blog.

I don't want to make a whole post of my 6 month anniversary, but I thought it might be fun to reintroduce myself and do just a brief recap:

"About Me"
So what's up with the title? My husband jokes with me about my biceps since I started working out. I protest saying you can't see them unless I flex. His response: Where's the Beach [flex] The Beach is This Way. So my blog is about getting fit, staying fit, and hitting the beach! My goal is to inspire others to workout and get into shape. I am also passionate about food. I am vegetarian, but I love to cook and try out new recipes. One goal is to show that just because a recipe is vegetarian or vegan, doesn't mean that a meat-eater won't enjoy it. It's far more than lettuce and sprouts.

I seriously had no idea what to expect when I started blogging. I was using my blog as a journal basically. I had intentions of trying to inspire others somehow, to show people that vegetarian and vegan foods can be tasty whether you're a meat-eater or not. My original posts were rather random as I look back now. I had made up a list of topics and ideas I thought I wanted to "cover" and would work from that list. The thought of that is rather funny now. The list got tossed after about 2 weeks actually. When I first started, I was afraid that 2-3 posts per week would be too much. Boy did that change! I started searching around for blogs that inspired me and slowly began to come into my own as a blogger. I found a natural style that seemed to work. But how did others like it? I wasn't even sure people were reading my blog. I was giddy over my first comment...posted by my sister. Four posts later I did finally get 2 comments, then another 5 comments and I met Jessica @ EatDrinkBreatheSweat. It was so nice getting a comment that was really meaningful to my post.

In 6 short months, I have "met" some amazing and inspiring friends. I have learned more and been inspired more than I ever thought possible. While my intentions were to inspire, I have been the one to be inspired by fellow bloggers. I truly appreciate everyone's comments and everyone who takes the time to read my posts (even if they don't comment). It's so well worth the work!!!

Running and Lifting
Today I felt much more energized after my rest day. I was really ready to get back into action. At lunch Jason and I did some running drills rather than just run the typical 3+ miles. Sometimes that can get very mundane - running the same route over and over....and over again. Plus, it's fun to shake up the workouts from time-to-time. We warmed up with a 1.5 mile run heading over to a park where we did 7 sets of Stride Drills then ran back home. Those drills made me realize just how weak my hamstrings are. No matter how many deadlifts I do, I apparently need to do more (and more drills).

After work I hit the weights. I was feeling so much stronger after take the much-needed day off. The workout didn't have the dread factor that it had previously. Not to say I was exactly excited to do 3 sets of 15 reps. But, I did it. The exercises were done as supersets with the goal of increasing my weights 1.25-2% over last week.

Chest - Incline DB press
Back - Underhand rows
Quads - Squats
Calves - Calf raises (supposed to have been deadlifts but ham having hamstring problems)
Triceps - Kickbacks
Biceps - DB biceps curls
Legs - Static lunges/Split lunges
Shoulders - Upright rows

Overall, it was a great workout. I felt strong and was able to go up with all of my weights. Gotta love those strong days! After the weights, I pampered myself a bit by taking a soak in an Epsom salt bath.

I decided to make things easy on myself for dinner by going with leftovers plus. I decided to cook the Barley Black Bean and Lentil Loaf just a little bit longer to see if it would firm up more. Since the weather was so nice, and we have rain on the way, I decided to grill everything. I know, sounds funny grilling lentil loaf. But I cut it into "slabs" and put it on the same baking sheet as fingerling potatoes, which I seasoned with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. I also grilled asparagus and seasoned with a lemon pepper spice blend.
Sometimes leftovers can seem like so much more. This turned out great and didn't feel at all like just a re-heated meal.

So what's the oddest thing you've put on the grill?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rest Day, Thai Day

Resting on Hump Day
I don't know what is up with me this week. I am feeling totally drained. I've been getting in my workouts, but they are getting more difficult as the days go by. Today should have been weights - 3 sets of 15 reps supersetted and going up in weight. In all honesty, the thought of doing weights today made me want to run away. Only my legs were too tired for that. While I have lowered the intensity levels of my indoor workouts (doing easier step or kickboxing rather than HIIT, Plyo, and Intervals) I have increased my running a great deal over the past 2 weeks. I think the increased mileage and speed coupled with additional leg work is finally catching up with me. Or that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I did start feeling that itch to lift upper body towards the afternoon though. But in reality, I knew I was truly fatigued and the workout would have suffered. And yes, I had to remind myself of that truth over and over. I also kept thinking about the fact that it's supposed to rain Fri-Mon. That means no run and indoor workouts. So in my mind, it would have been more ideal to do a workout today, run tomorrow, and take Friday off. Think, think, thinking....sometimes I over think.

Anyway, enough of that drama as I'm sure it get old to hear. I'm just venting or "blogging it out" as my pal Jessica would say. I do appreciate you all for sticking with me and "hearing" me out.

Thai Day
Since it was my rest day from weights and exercise, I decided to make it a rest day from kitchen duties as well. Jason offered to make dinner. I did, of course, have my hands in at least the cutting of the veggies. I just can't help myself sometimes. He made us a nice Thai dinner. The recipe originally came off the jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste and has been slowly adapted to our tastes. This time we used a different red paste that had a little more heat, more to our liking. Anyway, here's our Thai Veggies with Rice recipe:

Thai Veggies with Rice
1 can lite coconut milk
2-3 tbsp red curry paste (depending on heat level)
1 tsp agave nectar
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 package Quorn Chik'n Tenders (optional can sub your protein source)
Basil (Thai basil if you have)
Red chili flakes (optional depending on desired heat level)
1 cup cooked brown rice (barley or rice noodles would work well too)

In large non-stick skillet, saute carrots, onion, bell peppers until soft, add in coconut milk, curry paste, agave nectar, and basil. Let reduce then stir in Quorn and peas and let cook until heated through.

Serve over rice, barley, or rice noodles.

This is really an uncomplicated sauce and meal. It's also easy to adjust the flavors to your liking.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2 Workouts & Vegan Take on Meat & Potatoes Dinner

2 on Tuesday 
I had every intention of getting up this morning for a "get myself moving" kickboxing workout with abs. However, that did not happen. I just felt so worn out, so I slept another hour. I seriously think that I am just not destined to morning workouts. You'd think I was going to bed really late. But, that's not the case. I'm typically in bed reading by 8:30 and lights out by 9:30. Sigh. Anyway, I was feeling super fatigued most of the morning to be honest. I did take a Zyrtec for the sinus drainage so that might be part of the cause. Sinuses are still drippy though so it's obviously not doing the job.

Anyway, Jason and I did get in a lunchtime run. I really almost backed out. But, I think it was the energy boost I desperately needed. It got me moving for starters. I spend my entire day sitting at a desk in front of a computer, most certainly not an energy boost (actually quite the opposite). It was super windy, and not quite 60 degrees when we started the run. I have no clue what happened to our warm weather, but it sure doesn't feel like the end of April now.

I got in my kickboxing and abs after work. I didn't want anything long or super intense, just something to keep the legs loosened up and work the abs. I picked Kick, Punch and Crunch. I actually don't have too many kickboxing DVDs to choose from.

If anyone has suggestions for advanced kickboxing DVDs, please share. I will say that I am not exactly an Amy Bento fan though.

Tuesday Eats
Over the weekend, I picked up some kale and Pink Lady apples. How I have missed out on those my entire life is beyond me. They are sooo good. Anyway, I decided to make the Sauteed Citrus Kale and Apples again to go along with Smashed Cauliflower and Barley Black Bean and Lentil Loaf. I have been wanting to try a lentil loaf for ages. I have no real reason for putting it off. Since it's cool again, I thought a warmer dinner would work. I had some leftover Spicy Black Bean Barley and thought I could easily incorporate that into a lentil loaf.

Barley Black Bean and Lentil Loaf
2 cups lentils
8 cups water
1 cup leftover Spicy Black Bean Barely (or just use 1 cup barley and 1/2 can black beans with 1/2 can drained diced tomatoes)
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp warm water (replaces 1 egg)
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, thyme, parsley, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, liquid smoke
1/2 cup rolled oats
Spelt flour (this was adding in until reached desired consistency)

1 6oz can tomato paste
1-2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder

In large pot, cook lentils until soft and liquid absorbed (do not add salt while cooking).

Meanwhile, saute onions, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic until soft.

In large bowl, mash the lentils and black bean barley then stir in remaining ingredients adding in spelt flour in small amounts until desired consistency.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To make the tomato topping, simply whisk ingredients together in small bowl.

Pour into a prepared loaf pan and bake approximately 30 minutes. Remove and add topping and bake another 20 minutes.

Smashed Cauliflower
1/2 head cauliflower, rough chop
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, nutritional yeast flake, parsley
To consistency almond, soy, or rice milk

Steam cauliflower until soft. Transfer to food processor and add all ingredients and pulse until desired consistency.
I must say, this really turned out better than I had expected. There are some tweaks that need to happen to the lentil loaf. Perhaps a little more oatmeal and a little longer in the oven. Overall, it was really good though. I will definitely give this another shot. As for the Smashed Cauliflower? YUM. I can't believe I waited so long to try that one out. Definitely another keeper of a recipe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Happened to My Motivation on Mexican Monday?

Unmotivated on Monday
I had the hardest time peeling myself out of bed this morning. Jason got up to go swim at 5 am and there was just no way I was getting up. I fell back to sleep almost immediately in fact. I feel like I'm getting a cold or allergy crud so maybe that's the reason for the sluggishness.

Today was supposed to be Upper + Plyo. The upper body exercises were done as supersets of 4 sets of 8 reps.

Chest - Flat bench flyes (supposed to have been incline but I goofed)
Back - Dumbbell pullover

Shoulder - Arnold press
Shoulder - Lateral raises

Biceps - Incline curls
Triceps - Overhead extension

Split squats (added this in lieu of plyo, see reason below)
Donkey kicks (with 8# DB)

Early on in the day, I knew that I wasn't feeling just super energized. I wanted to go ahead and get the weights done before I somehow actually talked myself out of them entirely. Yes, I was seriously feeling that unmotivated. I sort of made a deal with myself, do the weights at lunch, add on a leg exercise, and forgo plyo. Rather than plyo, I opted for a fun-factor type of cardio instead (done after work). I just wasn't feeling up to a high-intensity workout to be quite honest. So I decided to listen to my body and do something that I knew I'd enjoy rather than force myself to do something I was going to grumble through. So, I chose a shorter premix from Cathe's Step Blast.

Mexican Monday
To take a lot of guess work out of dinner tonight, I opted for the Mexican Monday theme. While there are still a ton of options to choose from (quesadillas vs burritos vs taco salad), it certainly narrowed down the overall "what to make" list to something more manageable. The next factor was the "ease of making" factor. Very important when you're less than motivated on a Monday evening. I had thought about doing "Chorizo" Stuffed Poblano Peppers as I found some monster-sized poblanos the other day. 

However, Jason was seriously wanting to try these tamales he picked up at Whole Foods. Ok, they're frozen, and pretty much ready to go other than making sides. The ease factor totally won today.The tamales were by White Mountain (they have 3 flavors, we just got the one marked "Vegetarian") and were completely vegan but not gluten free.

I made a Spicy Black Bean Barley to be used as the bed for the tamales. On the side, we had zucchini, red and green bell peppers and onions that we sauteed with lemon juice, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, red pepper, salt and pepper.

Spicy Black Bean Barley
dried barley
water or vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes, well drained
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2-3 green onions
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper, chili powder, cilantro, lime juice

Cook barley according to package directions. Once cooked, stir in remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

In all honesty, I can't recall that I ever tried a tamale as a meat eater. So I really don't have much to go on for comparison. I will say that these were really quite good. I may try my hand at making my own tamales now. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grilling, Running, Grilling

Grilled Salad Saturday
Last night we ended up eating around 8:30, which I consider to be super late. We made a grilled salad with squash, zucchini, asparagus, portobellos, red bell peppers, tempeh over leaf lettuce and fresh spinach with balsamic vinaigrette. We also grilled up some homemade ciabatta for some crunchy goodness.

Running Into the Wind (not like the wind)
I started the day off with a bowl of Peanut Butter and Jelly and Banana Oatmeal. I just love the flavor combos. It's a hearty breakfast that tides me over for a long time. 

 I did the Kroger grocery trip while Jason did weights. After I got back, I made some Edamame Hummus to use for wraps for a post-run picnic lunch. I forgot to take pictures of the wraps, but I used tomato basil tortillas and filled them with the hummus, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and fresh spinach. I also packed a tasty Pink Lady apple. I have never tried one before and thought something sweet and juicy after a run would be great. And it was. YUM. I can't believe I have never had a Pink Lady.

The sun was out and the wind was crazy! I checked the weather when I got home and it was 29 mph. Anyone who runs knows that running in super windy conditions can be a major pain, literally. When we got started, the wind was apparently behind us making the first 2.5 miles feel great. I had that "I could run all day long" feeling. I was totally in the zone, hitting my stride, everything falling into place. Then we made the turn around. It felt like we were suddenly running up hill in mud. While the wind felt great in terms of cooling me off, it totally sucked running head long into it. That run all day feeling totally ceased immediately. But, we pushed through and got 5 miles done in 44 minutes. Let's hear it for strong legs!

Jason brought his bike and met up with a friend to go biking after our lunch. I went home and did abs from Cathe's Cardio & Weights workout then stretched a bit. My hamstrings feel shredded after the past 2 weight workouts then today's run.

Dinner tonight was something new, and pretty much just made up. I did a Grilled Tempeh Reubens with Sweet Potato rounds. In all honesty, I guess I'm only calling it a reuben because it has saurkraut. I also grilled the tofu since I was grilling the potatoes. It was another one of those too nice to not grill afternoons. So, here's my take on a reuben:
Grilled Tempeh Reuben
1 package tempeh, cut in half width and again length wise to give 4 "steaks"
Provolone (or Swiss)
Whole-wheat sandwich rounds
Mustard (spicy and/or Dijon)
Marinade - soy sauce, liquid smoke, Worcestershire (make sure it's vegetarian), splash apple cider vinegar

Mix ingredients for marinade and place tempeh in sandwich baggy and pour in the marinade. Allow to marinate approximately 1 hour. 

You can either grill the tempeh or sear in non-stick skillet.

I used a combo of spicy and Dijon mustards spread on the sandwich rounds, added the tempeh, topped with sauerkraut then provolone (optional).

This actually turned out really well. Even Jason said we should make this again. Now, is it like a reuben at all? I couldn't tell you, but it was tasty either way.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lifting, Kicking, Shopping

No Surprise - Pizza Friday
Well, it should come as no surprise that Friday's dinner was indeed pizza. It's just so easy to get the dough started while we play a few rounds of pool and relax a bit. In other words, it really is an easy dinner. As per the norm, I stuck with the Greek-style toppings for my half. Jason's half was sauteed green and red bell peppers, yellow onion, and soyrizzo with a Mexican blend 2% cheese. Sorry, I totally failed at taking pictures. But, if you're really needing a pizza picture fix, you can go back to previous Saturday posts ;-)

Supersets and Kickboxing
This morning I let myself be lazy. I actually slept in until 9am! That may as well be noon in my book. Of course, it was dark and rainy, so that helped...helped with the laziness I should say. I made steel cut oats with ground flax seed, cinnamon apples and peanut butter for Jason and myself. It's such a filling breakfast that I, of course, had to let it settle before I could start my workouts.

Today was Day 1 of Week 4 of my 8-week rotation. I can't believe this is the start of the fourth wee already! Today's workout was 4 sets of 5 reps done as supersets and increasing the weight:

Back - Double arm rows
Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
Legs - Squats
Hamstrings - Deadlifts
Biceps - Alternating curls
Triceps - Close grip dumbbell press
Legs - Step ups
Shoulders - Shoulder press (was supposed to have been lat raises but I goofed)

I also added in 4 sets of 10 plie squats.
After weights, I did Shock Cardio MMA Kickboxing. This workout really has a certain fun factor to it. There's just something fun about punching and kicking.
After the workout, I devoured a yogurt mess. Since I failed on pizza pics, I thought I'd make up for it with a picture of this yummy bowl of goodness: Greek yogurt, strawberries, and Kashi GoLean Crunch Honey Almond Flax. MMMMMM

Super Saturday
Thankfully, the storms ended up moving out by noon. It turned out to be a super sunny, gorgeous day, though extremely windy. We had errands to run, pretty typical Saturday. We did check out new local grocery store - The Argenta Market. We are so excited to have this store in the area. They stock locally grown, organic goods as well as typical grocery store items just on a smaller scale of course. What's great, for me especially, is they do carry many vegetarian items. They also have a deli area with fresh salads, sandwiches, cheeses, meats, etc. The prices were surprisingly good to be quite honest. In fact, some things were several dollars cheaper than Whole Foods or even Kroger. I think one of the best things though is that they do carry locally grown and made goods. I think it's so important to support local farmers and entrepreneurs selling their sauces, salsas, etc.

We managed to make 2 out of 3 of the scheduled errand stops today. I call that a success. We hit up Whole Foods and Target, but opted for picking up enough for dinner from the local market rather than going to Kroger. I was getting so hungry that I was getting a severe headache and sick to my stomach. Not good. I am usually very good about not letting myself ever get that hungry. We ended up having a very late lunch at a restaurant that we basically go to for the patio dining. I had a large garden salad with zucchini, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers. 

Because we ate lunch so incredibly late, I won't be posting dinner. I am not sure what time we'll end up eating to be quite honest. However, I do know what's on the menu: Grilled Salad with homemade cibatta bread on the side. I bought some fingerling potatoes at the local market along with locally grown spinach. The salad will also have squash, zucchini, red bell peppers, and portobello mushrooms. I promise to take pictures and share with you all tomorrow.

I hope that everyone is having a great weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Staying Light, Running and Finding Motivation

Let's All Lighten Up
I must say that I am happy to hear that some of you took my "lighten up" challenge. It's one that I am going to continue to take each day. Just pick something that might be stressing me out unnecessarily and finding a way to lighten up about it. For example, normally had I forgotten to make my oatmeal, that would have sent me over the edge the next morning when I discovered my MUST HAVE breakfast was MIA. Instead, I opted for an alternative: low-sugar instant oatmeal with the addition of bananas and peanut butter.

And now a confession, I actually took the easy option again this morning and added in peanut butter and apples with cinnamon. The world seriously didn't stop because I did not have my steel cut oats with protein powder, cinnamon and blueberries. In fact, it was sort of nice having a little change up. Hmmm, who'd have thunk it?

Running on Friday
Speaking of this morning, I set the alarm again for a morning run. When I stood up, however, I knew that really wasn't going to happen. Can someone say DOMS? Holy deadlifts. My hamstrings are officially fried, along with my chest, and triceps. My arms don't want to bend the right direction in order to wash or fix my hair. Those high reps totally got me I do believe.

Anyway, Jason and I had really planned on doing 4 miles today. So, I went ahead and went into work extra early (6:30 am - ouch early) so that we could try for a longer run at lunch. We managed 4.2 miles at an easy pace so it felt good, almost enjoyable, almost. My legs could not have moved too much faster to be honest. The run did help loosen them up, but they tightened up again fairly quickly after we were done. I finished out the day smelling of "eau d'athlete" (aka Tiger Balm).

Finding Motivation (In Lieu of Dinner/Recipe)
On Fridays I almost always get my post out early, long before dinner. Today, nothing new. So dinner will be recapped tomorrow. It'll likely be pizza. I mean, it is Pizza Friday and all. Why fix what ain't broke right? But who knows, maybe I'll shock everyone and post that we made something else. Guess you'll just have to check back huh? ;-)

Since I won't be posting about dinner or a new fantastic recipe, I thought I'd address a question I get a lot. How do you stay so motivated? I can imagine, from reading my blog, that I am the most motivated person in the world. In all honesty, I have no idea what keeps me going other than the fact that working out is purely part of what I do. It's just as routine as waking up and going to work. Seriously, it's just what I do. I don't typically have to give myself pep talks or focus on inspirational quotes, songs, stories, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Do what you must is what I say. 

Now, with that being said, there are days when I just flat out don't feel like working out just as one might flat out not want to go to work. But I suck it up, and do it knowing that 9 times out of 10 I'll feel sooo much better just getting started on the workout. I do try to listen to my body now and recognize the difference between "must take a break" and "just stop whining and do it." 

While I wish I could say that I just get uber excited about working out every single time, I'm not going to lie. I don't just get school girl giddy about it. There are definitely days that I look forward to workouts and days I don't. But when I don't really want to do it, I think about how ticked I'm going to be with myself for being lazy (unless of course it's a must take a break kind of day). 

I always feel so much stronger and empowered after I get it done. I'm constantly amazed at what the body is capable of to be honest. Maybe part of my motivation is the internal drive I have to always do better too. So perhaps it's a motivator I just don't recognize out loud. 

How do you feel about exercise? Do you have to constantly find a source of motivation or is it just what you do?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Did You Lighten Up? And of Course Weights, Run, Grill

Wednesday Follow Up
I wanted to thank everyone for their comments and insights regarding yesterday's posts. I don't think you have to be a Type A personality to feel the pressure to always be perfect, to always do better than you did before, etc. I hope that you took my lighten up challenge and would love to hear what you did and how it worked for you.

I will say that posting early sans dinner photos and choosing to do a simple, easy dinner made for a very relaxed evening. I did get a little crazy and cut the sweet potatoes into rounds rather than fry-shaped. LOL. A simple dinner was made much more special by dining outside without any distractions. It made for pleasant conversation and somehow dinner seemed much more than just veggie burgers and sweet potatoes.

Now, I hope you all don't get the wrong impression about posting and including recipes, photos, and recaps. I LOVE writing my blog posts, taking photos, choosing the ones to include, etc. Anyone who blogs knows, however, that it is a labor of love and takes time. I've read many many posts from bloggers discussing how to fit it all in without getting overwhelmed. I think the key is to remember why we are blogging in the first place. If it becomes laborious and no longer enjoyable, then what's the point?

So, sometimes taking a night off from recipe mania and photo shoot central, can be beneficial on so many levels. I don't think we should ever feel guilty for being a tad bit selfish from time-to-time whether it's in regards to blogging, to opting out of a workout to enjoy a drink with a friend, indulging in a mani/pedi, or just crawling into bed early with a good book and saying good night to the world.

Oh, funny thing, I got so caught up in lightening up that I forgot to make my overnight steel cut oatmeal for today and tomorrow. Oops. Thankfully I had some packets of low-sugar instant oatmeal in my desk drawer. I brought a banana and some peanut butter to add to it and make it tasty. It actually hit the spot and was a nice change from my M-F cinnamon and blueberries oatmeal.

Now, back to regular programming...

2 on Thursday
Today I had the alarm set for 6 am so that Jason and I could get in a longer, morning run. I assumed we'd get started running around 6:15 just as it was starting to get light, so no running in the dark and fearing a trip and fall situation. Jason, however, was apparently snug in the bed. So, I went ahead and tackled my weight workout instead. Today was 3 sets of 15 reps (ick).

Chest - Incline DB press
Back - Underhand rows
Quads - Squats
Hamstrings - Deadlifts
Triceps - Kickbacks
Biceps - DB biceps curls
Legs - Static lunges/Split lunges
Calves - Calf raises
Shoulders - Upright rows
(will need another exercise here as next week supersets)

I always feel like I'm starting off too light when I do high rep lifting, until I get about halfway through the second set that is. Funny how they can sneak up on you.

Since we didn't run in the morning, we had to do a shorter (3.1 mile) run at lunch. Honestly, I was a little worried it would end up being a bad run thinking my legs would feel like lead after weights. However, I think the run actually helped loosen my legs up. It turned out to be a pretty good run. I will admit to a bit more gabbing than necessary so by the end I was starting to get a bit of side stitch. I really am not normally one to chat it up while exercising either. I guess I just got caught up in trying relay my day, thoughts, ideas to Jason. Note to self: More running, less gabbing.

Thursday Grilling
I really was close to taking another night off from cooking to be honest. I couldn't think of anything that sounded appetizing at all. We're getting low on groceries as "grocery day" is coming up this weekend. I ended up making the Apple Cranberry Wheat Berry Salad I made a week or so ago. It sounded light enough for a warm evening. I paired it with grilled broccoli and cauliflower that I seasoned with a lemon pepper season blend and grilled tofu that was simply marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette.
It was a nice evening again and storms are on the way tomorrow into Saturday, so we took advantage of the weather and ate outside again. 

Do you enjoy dining outside?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why All the Pressure?

Required Rest Day
Today I had every intention of getting up and doing a low-impact step workout to start the day then get my weight workout done at lunch. At about 4:30 am, I decided that wasn't going to happen. I'm still rather sore from weights on Monday, and my legs are actually feeling a tad heavy from yesterday's run. So, as hard as it was for me to do, I took today as my rest day (thought I was planning on taking the rest day tomorrow). I knew my workouts would suffer. My sinuses are also draining and causing me to have a nice little sinus headache. As much has I don't want it to rain, we desperately need the rain to wash away this pollen. People who never have allergy issues are even sick right now.

Lighten Up
For some reason, today's rest day was much harder for me to take, even though I absolutely knew I needed it. I seriously could have put my head down at any given point during the day and been asleep in minutes. Important thing to know about me: I am not a nap taker, I am not a good sleeper period. Anyway, for some reason I was having one of those days of stressing out over not being able to be perfect is pretty much the only way to sum it up. I push myself very hard all the time to be what I think everyone wants me to be, to be how they expect me to be, as well as what I want and expect out of myself. I try my darndest to be the one who can work full time, get in all my workouts, keep my house spotless, keep the dogs brushed and clean, always cook a great meal, be a good wife, sister, daughter, and friend, and the list goes on. I want to be perfect at everything, and end up perfect at nothing. I get so caught up in all of this that I often forget to just live and enjoy the little things in life.

Where does all of this pressure come from? Partly from within of course. I'm a super Type A personality obviously. I'm a perfectionist and I am a pleaser. I want to please everyone; I want to help everyone, and sometimes I forget to please and help myself. As an overachiever, I have set unachievable standards for myself. Where do these standards come from even? I find that I compare myself to others a lot. How well they are able to keep house, cook fantastic meals, how fast and far they run, how much weight they lift, how happy they seem in their jobs, in their marriages, in their lives in general. I want to be the one who just LOVES waking up in the morning. I want to LOVE every run, every weight session. I want to LOVE my job so much that I can't wait to get there. Actually, I just want to be happy happy happy period.

How many of you feel the same pressures? Do you often think the grass is greener...? My sister just happened to send me this great article today that I wanted to share: The Key to a Well-Lived Life: Lighten Up! by By Elizabeth Gilbert

Will it change everything immediately? Of course not. But maybe it'll help me keep things in perspective just a wee bit more. What do you do to keep yourself in check? Or do you feel out of control trying to stay on top of it all?

Sorry for the serious post today. I just feel like it may be something that more and more of us experience and never let on to others that this is how we are all feeling. We're all walking around trying to be perfect rather than leaning on one another for support and reassurance.

Making it Easier on Myself
Now on to dinner. After reading the article and writing this post, I decided to take some pressure off of myself today and not stress out about dinner. So, no new recipes here tonight. Just a good old veggie bean burger (homemade stashed in freezer of course) reheated on the grill, topped with spinach and roasted red bell peppers with grilled sweet potato "fries." And to make it even easier, no pictures tonight (written with a twinge of guilt I must add).

My challenge for you is to do yourself a favor either today or tomorrow and lighten up. Do something to take a little pressure off of yourself. I'd love to hear what you did by the way!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Personal Record Run and More Grilling

2 on Tuesday
Last night I set the alarm for 5:22 am (I have an issue with setting it at odd times like 2 mins extra sleep makes a difference) so that I could get up and do 30 minutes of kickboxing and abs. For once, I only woke up one time during the night and was snoozing hard when the alarm started going off. I thought I could quickly reset it and go right back to sleep. The stupid thing would shut off though. At first I thought I was hitting the wrong buttons, but I wasn't. I simply would not turn off. It does really quirky things from time-to-time when I try to set it (it was a cheapo purchase). But it's never not turned off. So, needless to say, I did indeed get up after all. I ended up doing 35 minutes of Kick, Punch, and Crunch plus stability balls abs.

Jason and I had planned on a lunchtime run today as the weather was supposed to be nice. He was complaining about a bad crick in his neck though, so I wasn't sure the run was going to happen. But, he said he'd give it a shot. I assumed we'd end up doing a slower, easy run. Instead we rocked out 3.1 miles in 23:45. That's more than 30 seconds off my PR of 24:18 at a race in May last year. I know for some that's not anything to write home about, but for me, that's huge. As an asthmatic, there was a time when I couldn't even run 1/2 a mile let alone 3 miles period. Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to shave off just a wee bit more time at the race in a few weeks. We'll see. I have a bad habit of starting off way too fast then freaking out and overcompensating and slowing down too much by the 3rd mile.

Are you good at pacing yourself or do you get caught up in the race hype?

More Grilling
Tonight was a perfect night for grilling. Jason bought some gigantic portobello mushrooms and they were calling to be used. Dinner had sort of a Greek flair in terms of flavors: Grilled Stuffed Portobellos with Sundried Tomato Chickpea Quinoa.

There really isn't much of a recipe for the mushrooms. I marinated them in balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and rosemary. Grill them inside down first then flipped them over and filled them with fresh spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and goat cheese.

Sundried Tomato Chickpea Quinoa
1 cup dried quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tbsp dried shallots (or fresh)
Sundried tomatoes, however much you like (reconstituted)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice

Cook quinoa according to package seasoning with salt, pepper, shallots during cooking. Once cooked, stir in remaining ingredients re-seasoning as needed.
 The Sundried Tomato Chickpea Quinoa turned out really great. It would be a great, light salad if you added in spinach as well, artichokes would be great too. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leftover Remix, Mexican Monday & Upper + Plyo

Sunday Dinner = Leftover Remix
Last night's dinner ended up being a leftover remix - Thai Peanut Quinoa. I had extra Thai Peanut Sauce leftover from the Grilled Thai Tofu Pizza. I made some quinoa, heated up a mix of frozen veggies in a large skillet adding in Quorn nuggets then the sauce. I did have to thin the sauce with water just a bit. Once everything was heated through, I stirred in the quinoa. It turned out great. This is one I'll be making again for certain.

Monday Upper + Plyo
Today when Jason got up to go swim at 5 am, I went right back to sleep. There was no way I was getting out of that bed for today's scheduled workout: Upper + Plyo. So I did my weights during lunch and plyo after work. Weights today were 4 sets of 8 reps. I must say, I much prefer doing lower reps and higher weights and am not exactly looking forward to the next workout which will be 3 sets of 12 reps. But I digress. Here were today's exercises done as straight sets:

Shoulder - Arnold press
Shoulder - Lateral raises
Biceps - Incline curls
Triceps - Overhead extension
Chest - Incline flyes
Back - Dumbbell pullover

The first part of the workout felt great. However, I made a huge note to start with chest and back next week. I had a really hard time getting the weights into place for flyes by the end of the workout. I felt like I was taking it all in the shoulder. For plyo, I opted for Shock Cardio HIIT 40/20 done after work.

Mexican Monday
Tonight definitely felt like a Mexican Monday kind of night as far as dinner went. I wasn't really in the mood for fajitas and didn't have the ingredients for enchiladas. So I opted for and easy Mexican go-to: Grilled Chipotle Sweet Potato Quesadillas with a Chipotle Tofu "Sour Cream". Quesadillas are pretty much dummy proof. You can put just about any filling you like in them, making them super versatile. I actually really love grilling them as it adds a different crunch factor as well. Oh, I'll just admit it, just another excuse to grill really! The filling tonight may not really be very authentic Mexican fare, but it's a quesadilla and it also has chipotles, so I'm still going to say it meets the needs for Mexican Monday.

Grilled Chipotle Sweet Potato Quesadillas
2 small sweet potatoes, cubed
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro, chili powder, lemon juice
1 package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
Whole-grain tortilla wraps

Steam sweet potatoes until soft. Transfer to bowl along with beans and mash. Stir in the chipotles, salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro, chili powder.

In sauce pan, saute peppers and onions until soft. Add in spinach and cook until heated. Stir in the sweet potato and bean mixture. Re-season if needed.

On a grill, grill pan, or non-stick skillet, lightly brown one side of the tortilla then flip over spread filling on one half then fold the other half over. Cook both sides until golden brown.

Chipotle Tofu "Sour Cream"
1 package soft, silken tofu
1 - 2 chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 tsp adobo sauce
lemon juice
apple cider vinegar
To taste: salt, pepper

Puree all ingredients in food processor or blender.
Serve with your favorite salsa, fresh pico de gallo, and/or sour cream. While it may sound like this has a lot of heat, the sweetness from the sweet potatoes really helps to offset the heat from the chipotle peppers. It's a great flavor combination.

So, after several days of being very remiss with recipes, I hope today makes up for it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday Dinner Follow Up & Lazy Sunday

Saturday Night Off
Last night I took the night off from cooking. I let Jason do the work while I sat back with a glass of wine. He made a healthier take on chicken piccata using a Quorn cutlet for a Quorn Picatta with roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus with lemon. The sauce was made by sauteing minced red onions, garlic, capers, and white wine. Just at the end you stir in butter. However, I took my sauce portion for the pictures before the butter was added, hence the chunkier sauce in the picture of my plate. If you like capers, then this is the sauce for you!

We ended watching House Bunny after dinner with a bowl of popcorn dressed up with raisins, cranberries and peanut butter chips. Thankfully the movies wasn't as bad as it could have been. It was a silly movie, but sometimes that's just what you want.

Lazy Sunday
The temps today are only in the mid-60's. A drastic change over last weekend's 80 degree temps. I was so hoping to be done with longer sleeves. Sigh. Anyway, Jason was scheduled to do weights today and we were planning on a run. I started off my day with a bowl of PB&J&B Oatmeal. I figured that would sustain me through the run.

After eating, I proceeded to sit my lazy butt on the couch and watch The Food Network. I became lazier and lazier the longer I sat. The thought of running was like pure craziness. However, I had committed to the run in my mind. It was super windy out, so of course that never makes a run feel particularly easy. My sinuses were all clogged up so I was having a really hard time controlling my breathing. All in all, it was a sucky run. But, I didn't slow down or stop, I pushed through and got it done. We only did 3.5 miles today. I felt a little disappointed with myself. But, each day is a new day and each run is different. I also did abs today and stretched. My hamstrings were killing me from yesterday's workout.

We had a super late lunch at Vino's today. Not the healthiest food at all. But we were just wanting to get out of the house, sit back and totally relax. Vino's is most definitely the ideal place to accomplish such goals. Since we ate so late, dinner is still undecided. It will be something very light I'm sure. Perhaps a salad or snacky plate. The plan is to relax and catch up on some DVR'ed shows this evening before heading into the work week tomorrow.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fun Friday, Super Saturday, and a Super Woman

Friday Follow Up
I'm very happy to report that the Travs won the game last night. It was a good game, and we had a great time. I did spend most of the time catching up with my friend Kelli. I got to meet up with another friend prior to the game at an Irish pub called Cregeen's. Gwynne wasn't able to make it to the game, but still wanted to try to get together for a bit at least. I'm really glad we met up. We've never had a chance to just visit one-on-one so it was really nice getting to know her better.

I had a chance to go home before the evening got started. I needed to change into something more relaxed for the game as well as grab a bite to eat. I wish I would have made more of a real dinner for myself as I ended up going on a major snack attack throughout my kitchen. So I may not have indulged at the game (except for a couple of Jason's nachos) but I most certainly indulged at home. I don't know what that was all about either. I guess at least it was healthier indulging??? I woke up a little mad at myself, but I have decided to not beat myself up one bit (thank you Tina of the reminder).

Kelli and George 

Saturday Workouts
Today was Day 1 of Week 3 of my 8-week rotation. The sets go up now. So today was 4 sets of 5 reps:

Back - Double arm rows
Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
Legs - Squats
Hamstrings - Deadlifts
Biceps - Alternating curls
Triceps - Close grip dumbbell press
Legs - Step ups
Shoulders - Lateral raises

I also added in 3 sets of 10 plie squats.

After weights, I did Shock Cardio MMA - Kickboxing. I was really in the mood for kickboxing today. It was a fun workout that went by quickly. I feel like a got a good ab workout too.

My dad and sister came up today so that we could have lunch together. It was also to celebrate his birthday, which was last Saturday. There was a slight chance of rain today, but luckily it held off. It was partly sunny, a bit on the cool side, but a pretty day worthy of outdoor dining, We had lunch at a nice place by the river with a great outdoor dining area - Bosco's, My sister and I both had the Portobello Caesar Salad (vegetarian friendly). It's soooo good. Grilled portobellos, sundried tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. I actually brought along black beans to top mine adding in protein. Dad ordered vegetarian too actually. He tried the Black Bean & Goat Cheese Tamales. They were actually really good and I normally don't care much for tamales. They had just a little bit of a kick, just the right amount of heat.

Do you ever bring along something extra to add to a meal?

As of this post, dinner was completely undecided. I was feeling a bit lazy about cooking to be quite honest. So, sorry for the lack of recipes and food photos. Maybe I'll be more inspired tomorrow perhaps.

Introducing a Super Woman
I want to introduce everyone to a super woman and super friend of mine named Denise Whitaker. Currently, Denise is a news anchor for KOMO 4 in Seattle (check out her bio). Denise is one of those people that has an infectious love for life. She's a definite doer when it comes to living, that's all there is to it. One thing she does each year is climb a mountain. I don't mean like a little hike like I do up Pinnacle Mountain either. No, when Denise does something, she does it in a big way. Denise actually has a very special reason for mountain climbing. She climbs to raise money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. This year she will be taking on Mt. Shasta in May. I am asking for a favor from all of my blog readers: Please visit Denise's Climb to Fight Breast Cancer page and donate if you can.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

TGIF Workouts
This morning Jason got up at 5 am to go swim. I was awake, not chance of going back to sleep really, so I got up and did just the first 3 combos from Low Impact Circuit Cardio Only Premix plus abs. It was a good workout that got me moving and energized for the day.

Jason and I had planned a lunchtime run again. They've sort of become addicting to be honest. It's just so nice to get outside for 30 minutes, especially after being stuck inside with no windows and the AC on sub-zero. Just a refreshing change and great way to spend some time with the hubs.

No Pizza Friday
If you read my post yesterday, you read that there will not be a Pizza Friday. What??? Of course, I made up for that by making the the Grilled Thai Tofu Pizza for Thai Thursday. I must have my weekly pizza fix of course.

I'm not really sure what I'll be doing for dinner as we're going to a baseball game - The Arkansas Travelers - with another couple. I obviously won't be ordering hot dogs and, while they do have pizza, it's just plain cheese (or meat of course) and super greasy. If I'm going to have pizza, it needs to at least be good. I am meeting a friend before the game, so I will try to find a salad at the very least. I'm really trying not to let myself get unnecessarily stressed about dinner. I just don't want to settle for a crummy salad then be starving and binge on nachos or soft pretzels at the game. Of course, there was a time when I thought jalapenos with a side of nachos (I say this b/c I cover nachos with jalapenos like I may never get another one in my life) was the only way to enjoy the game. However, I really do need to keep in mind that if I do have a few bites of a pretzel, it's not the end of the world. Anyway...

I'm not typically a baseball (or sports) fan to be honest. However, there is something about going to the minor league game, spending the evening outside that I just love. Of course, the cold beer doesn't hurt now does it? 

Lots of questions because I'm feeling nosy:
Are you a big sports fan? 
Do you enjoy baseball games for the sport, for the food, or the atmosphere? 
Do you let yourself indulge at sporting events?

Sorry for the short, pictureless post! Hope it wasn't TOOOO boring. ;-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thai Thursday - Grilled Thai Tofu Pizza

Taking the Rest Day is Sometimes Tough
Today ended up being my rest day. However, I was really itching to run during lunch. I typically allow myself to enjoy a rest day with no thoughts of exercising. Today was really different though. I so was not in the mood for a rest day for a change. So I kept arguing with myself about whether or not I should figure out how to squeeze in a workout.

Anyway, I think a big part of that was wanting/needing to warm up. They keep our building frigid. All I want to do during the summer is just go stand outside in the direct sunshine or, better yet, go sit in a sizzling car. It just strikes me as such an enormous waste of energy and money when buildings are kept so incredibly cool. Yes, I'll admit, I am typically colder than most people. However, when even the men are walking around in coats, Houston, We Have A Problem.

Too Much to Do
I had a ton of errands that had to be run after work today. I worked through lunch so I could leave early and try to avoid as much rush hour traffic as possible. I had items to return and items to purchase, which made for one long errands to run list. I totally have to plan it all out in my head before heading out for multiple errands. Which stop first for the easiest exit to get to the next stop, down the line. Oh and then I have to factor in whether or not there may be perishable items as well.

Do you plan and plot out your errands or just take off?

Thai Thursday
After talking about Pizza Friday and Mexican Monday (which I missed the boat on this week), my friend Alicia and I were joking the other day about a Thai Thursday. I was thinking that Jason would likely want to grill out and eat outside as the weather is still nice. I really wasn't much in the cooking mood earlier in the day, really uninspired. I guess I was dreading the errands and was resolving myself to veggie burgers with sweet potatoes (not that I don't mind that of course). Also, there were so many things that I wanted to make. Can't make it all for one meal though right? Oh wrong! First off, there won't be a Pizza Friday tomorrow as we'll be going to see a baseball game and won't be home for dinner. So, how does one fit in the must-have pizza fix for the week, grilling, and Thai Thursday? How about a Grilled Thai Tofu Pizza.

You can either use a pre-made crust, dough, or make your own. I used my Wheat Pizza Dough recipe (subbing all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour).

Grilled Thai Tofu Pizza
1 can lite coconut milk
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2-6 tbsp red curry paste (completely depends on how much heat you like)
1tbsp hoisin sauce
1 package extra-firm tofu, cubed (frozen, thawed, squeezed)
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 green onions, chopped
broccoli and cauliflower, bite-sized pieces
Shredded mozzarella (vegan or regular)

Prepare sauce by combining coconut milk, peanut butter, curry paste and agave in sauce pan. Let simmer until begins to thicken.

Take some of the sauce and toss with cubed tofu until just coated. Using a vegetable basket for the grill, grill the tofu until it begins to crisp on the outside or bake in the oven.

Spray grill with non-stick spray for grills and place pizza crust on grill for just a few minutes until it begins to lightly brown then flip.

Once very lightly brown on both sides, spread out the peanut curry sauce and add on the toppings.

Return to grill until bottom is golden and cheese has melted.
 I must say that this turned out so well. Rather than using our typical chipotle chili flakes, we drizzled with Sriracha hot sauce for a bit of a kick. I had meant to use oyster mushrooms, but completely forgot. I think mushrooms would be a great addition. Grilling the pizza makes it much crisper than baking. this is definitely a thin crust type of pizza option rather than thick crust. Also, the sauce recipe may far more than needed for marinating the tofu and as the pizza sauce. You could probably half the recipe. Or, save like I did and it'll be used for a quick lunch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weights, Wraps, and Words

Weight Day Wednesday
This morning I had the alarm set for 5:26 am as Jason had agreed to another morning run. However, when the alarm went off, Jason pretty much said, "NO." I am not one to fall back asleep easily, so I went ahead and got up and opted for a fun step workout. I chose one of the shorter premixes from Cathe's Step Blast. While I hadn't really wanted to do a step workout (had my mind set on a run), it was a fun, sweaty workout in the end.

During lunch I went home to do weights. I almost put it off. I was feeling totally unenthusiastic. I was pretty certain, however, that if I just got off my lazy butt and got the workout started, I'd be very happy that I did. And I was. The set up was 2 sets of 15 reps supersetting the exercises and increasing the weights:

Triceps - Weighted triceps dips
Biceps - Dumbbell curls

Legs - Rear leg elevated lunges
Shoulders - Lateral raises

Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
Back - Underhand rows

Legs - Squats
Inner Thighs - Plie squats

I really felt better after the workout. I had a nice boost of energy that got me through the rest of the day. It was also nice to just get out of the office for a bit.

Wrap it Up Wednesday
It was another gorgeous day here. Getting very spoiled by this fantastic weather. While I really did want to grill (had a few ideas), tonight wasn't the best night for a grilled dinner. Jason went for a bike ride with a friend after work. So I was solo for dinner (except for the company of the maniacs of course). I decided to do something easier tonight and something that would be easy enough to reheat for Jason.

After reading 2 different recipes using the kale and apple combination (Anna @ Newlywed, Newly "Veg Salty + Sweet = Good"  and Alicia @ Vegan Epicurean "Asian Inspired Raw Kale Salad with Lime Juice" ) I decided it was something I wanted to try myself. I sort of combined the 2 recipes opting to saute my kale rather than use the massaged method. But, I used the flavor combinations from the massaged recipe for a Sauteed Citrus Kale and Apples to go along with a Tempeh "Steak" Pineapple and Pepper Wraps.

Sauteed Citrus Kale and Apples
1 bunch kale, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 red apple, diced
1 lemon (juice and zest)
Orange juice
1 tsp white miso
agave nectar (to taste)
rice wine vinegar (to taste)
Salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste

Whisk together a few tbsp orange juice and miso paste in small bowl. In large skillet, saute kale in olive oil for just a few minutes, then add in the remaining ingredients (this includes the OJ/Miso mix) and saute until kale is just wilted, adding in orange juice as needed.

Tempeh "Steak" Pineapple and Pepper Wraps
1 package tempeh, cut into strips
1/2 package frozen bell pepper mix (or fresh)
1/2 white onion, sliced
minced garlic
pineapple, finely diced
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin
Whole-wheat flour tortilla wraps

Orange juice
Soy sauce
Olive oil
red pepper flakes
minced garlic

Make the marinade first by whisking together all ingredients in shallow dish and allowing the tempeh to marinate at least 1 hour.

Once tempeh has marinated, heat a large skillet and spray with non-stick spray. Quickly sear the tempeh on both side then set aside.

In large skillet, saute onions, bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeno until soft. Stir in the pineapple, tempeh, and season.

Serve in tortilla wrap with lettuce. Other options would be to serve one a sandwich roll or over rice, barley, or pasta.
The Sauteed Citrus Kale and Apples turned out even better than I had imagined. This was such a great play on textures and flavors. I think another great addition would be cranberries. The wraps were also quite tasty. I didn't get in enough of the heat that I had hoped to get from the jalapeno to play off the sweet from the pineapple. But, overall, it was a great dish.

Food for Thought
I read a post by Eunice (aka rainbwsnkittns) today that had a great reminder to remember to tell the women around us that they are gorgeous. It's so easy to dwell on the tiny nuances, the extra laugh lines, the not so perfect nose, the perceived belly bump or love handles, etc. So, on that note, I thought this list was very appropriate. It comes from Shape Magazine, July 2009 issue:

8 Reasons to Start Loving Your Body
  1. because it’s unique; no one else has the same one.
  2. because it’s capable of extraordinary feats, enabling you to run, climb, jump, lift, squat, snuggle, and spoon
  3. because no matter how badly you treat it, it’s willing to give you another chance.
  4. because it’s expressive, telling you how it feels and broadcasting to others how you feel about it
  5. because, let’s face it, confidence is pretty sexy
  6. because your daughter must learn to love hers
  7. because somebody out there admires, covets, and adores it
  8. because you’ll regret not loving it more later