Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Weekend Wrap Up

Fireworks Recap
I'll try to keep the recap of last night short. I feel like this is a long enough post as it is. We had some VIP passes to watch the Riverfest Fireworks from an observation deck at the Peabody Hotel. The passes also meant free wine and beer and a dessert buffet. Plus, if it rained again, we could still watch the fireworks and stay dry. We got there at about 7:45. While I'm typically not a big dessert fan, I definitely oggled this buffet. Thankfully most of it was chocolate. Why thankfully? I don't care much for chocolate so that meant far less indulging!

The fireworks show lasted for a full 30 minutes. Jason was so excited. He seriously loves firework shows, and this is definitely a good one. Sorry the pics aren't very good. We just had the point and shoot with us.
 Lifting & Punching
This morning I got up and did my leg workout. It was Pyramid Lower Body. The pyramid legs was pretty much like yesterday's upper body, but without supersets except for squats into plie squats. So you do 12 sets at lightest weight, increase weight, at 10 reps, increase weight for 8 reps, then decrease weight for 10 reps, decrease weight for 12 reps.

Step Ups
Static Lunges
Squats into Plie Squats
Calf raises

After the leg workout, I decided to do Cathe's MMA Boxing. I have only done this one a few times and each time I remember how much fun it is. This one needs to make it's way into my workout rotation more often. It consists of a warm up, 3 boxing (punching) combos each followed by an upper body then lower body drill. If you like to punch things, this is the ideal workout LOL.

Lounging & Weeding
I decided to take advantage of my last day off and the sunshine for a bit more lounging and reading. I was also determined to enjoy a day at home finally. No makeup, no hair styling. Just some relaxing. However, I really needed to be productive too, so after the patio time indulgence, I did some major weeding, deadheading of the roses, and planted some more flowers. 

Thankfully, Jason got the pool ready for us because it was HOT. The pool has never felt so good! I only splashed around a little bit. It still needs to be vacuumed out again, plus I felt like I might be starting to burn. 50 spf only goes so far.

Since I felt that I had been out in the sun and heat too long, I decided it was time to get in the kitchen and get the veggie burgers made and in the freezer. I plan to take some with us on vacation next week. I had some leftover quinoa so I made a Black Bean & Quinoa Burger. While I was making the burgers, I also decided to make some Chikn' Seitan. I started with the basic recipe I made a few weeks ago, but changed the seasonings.

Black Bean & Quinoa Burger
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2-3/4 cups cooked quinoa
2 carrots, large chop
1/2 white onion, large chop
Flax egg replacer (or 1 egg)
Rolled oats
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, chili powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In food processor, pulse carrots and onion. Add in beans, quinoa (reserve about 1/4), spices and puree until mostly smooth. In large bowl combine bean mixture with remaining quinoa, oats, and flax egg replacer. Mix by hand until all ingredients combined.

Form into patties and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake approximately 30 minutes then flip and bake another 30 minutes.

Chikn' Seitan
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground thyme
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 vegetarian chicken flavored bouillon cube
Few dashes of liquid smoke

Simmering Broth
4 cups water 
2 vegetarian chicken flavored bouillon cube
Liquid smoke (sorry, just added and didn't measure)

Add garlic powder and thyme to flour and stir.

Mix liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times. (it forms a dough very quickly)

Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. It will be rubbery. Let it rest another 15 minutes then cut into chunks, strips, or patties.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and add in the bouillon cubes and liquid smoke. Drop in the seitan pieces, cover, and simmer 45 to 60 minutes. Let seitan cool in the broth.
This turned out so good. So much better than any store-bought "chicken" substitute. I will most defintely be making this more often. 
For dinner, I decided to use the Chikn' Seitan for Chikn' Quesadillas. It is technically Mexican Monday after all. The filling included the Chikn' Seitan, sauteed onions, red and green bell peppers, and spinach and ooey gooey Cheddar Daiya Vegan Cheese.
So, this was the finale meal for an absolutely fantastic Memorial Weekend. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rock-N-Weekend Continues

Riverfest Recap
Last night really seemed like a grilling type of night - a must for Memorial Weekend. I grilled up some sweet and baking potato "fries" along with green bell pepper and onions and Tofurky Kielbasa. I didn't have any hot dog buns, so I ended up having to cut them in half and putting them on sandwich thins. I topped with spicy mustard, sauerkraut and the grilled bell peppers and onions. It hit the spot.

We had a sudden rain storm and were a bit worried about that as we were supposed to be heading down to Riverfest to see the Black Crows. Thankfully, it didn't mess up the grilling and it blew over very quickly. Even better, it cooled things down a bit. Around here, afternoon showers either make it steamy and unbearable or cool it down. Thankfully we got the cool down. We got down to Riverfest around 7-ish and headed directly over to the stage where the Black Crows would be playing. Gotta get your spot saved. We got to see a local band called Lucero. We'd never seen them before and were pleasantly impressed.
Notice the 2 kids with the "devil" fingers. They did that almost all night.

It felt like we were standing there forever, well, 2 hours might as well be forever after a 5K and no seats. They did start promptly at 9:30 and rocked out until 11. It was an awesome concert. We had such a great time. What's sort of sad, however, is that as I looked around, I realized that many of the teens dancing around me were likely not even born the last time I saw the band play!

Pyramid and Kickboxing
Today we got up and ran a few errands: Home Depot and Whole Foods. I got in my workouts, of course. I decided to do Pyramid Upper Body today along with MMA Kickboxing then stability ball abs. My arm were shaking after the weights. Pyramid styles always sneak up on me. The concept is that you start at your lightest weight for 12 reps, increase weight for 10 reps, heaviest for 8, then back down the pyramid. Here are the exercises I did:

Chest - Chest flye into chest press
Back - Pullovers into double-arm rows
Shoulders - Rear delt flye into lateral raise into front raise
Biceps - Hammer curls into biceps curls
Triceps - Kickbacks into overhead extension

It was a good workout, and I'm sure I'll be feeling it tomorrow.

Funday Sunday
After the workouts, I did indulge a bit and sat out on the patio with my books and magazines. We felt that we should do some sort of traditional BBQ meal for Memorial Weekend at some point. So we decided that it should be today. I made a Vegan Potato Salad, Carrot & Cabbage Slaw (recipe here), Grilled Corn on the Cob, and Grilled BBQ Tempeh.

Vegan Potato Salad
1/2 box firm silken tofu
Spicy mustard (to taste)
2-3 tsp nutritional yeas flakes
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1 baking potato, cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley

Boil potatoes until just soft then drain and place back in pot to let remaining liquid cook off.

In food processor, blend tofu, mustard, nutritional yeast, and vinegar until smooth.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and refrigerate. If you like heat, add a dash (or two) of red pepper.
In all honesty, this potato salad would fool even the biggest mayo-lover!

Tonight we had some special VIP passes to watch the firework show (always done on the Sunday night of Riverfest) from the Peabody Hotel. I am not a big fireworks person, but Jason loves fireworks. The passes included free wine and dessert. I was most definitely going for the free wine - all about honesty. I'll be sure to post a recap of this event tomorrow.

Wow, this has been one super filled, super fun, rock-n-busy weekend so far. I honestly hope everyone is having a great weekend too!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rock-N-Busy Saturday

Rock-N-Friday Night
Jason and I had fun at the baseball game. It was warm, but not terrible. It cooled off nicely as the sun began to set. The park wasn't packed either as it was the opening night for Riverfest. I put the pizza dough in the bread machine and set the timer so that the dough would be ready for us when we got home. The Travs were losing terribly, so we left at the top of the 7th inning. It was just too sad to watch.

So, we still managed to have Pizza Friday. No surprise there though right? My half was the usual Greek style. Jason decided to use hot sauce and BBQ sauce mixed together for his "sauce" and topped with sauteed green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. We topped the whole pizza with the Daiya Mozzarella flavored vegan cheese. It looked like a cheesy, gooey mess. But it was soooo tasty.

We started watching Couples Retreat. We weren't able to finish it because it was getting late and we needed to get to sleep since we needed to get up somewhat early for the race. It's a pretty good movie. It's definitely one that I'm glad we didn't see at the theater but rather waited to Netflix.

Well, the race this morning started at 9 am. That meant that we didn't really have to get up super early for a Saturday. However, I was too nervous to sleep past 7 am. I pretty much woke up just before 6 and never went back to sleep. So I got up, had some Kashi cereal with 1/2 a banana and started drinking lots of water. The temps were already hovering at 70 degrees. I started to wish the race started at 8 instead.

We got there and did ran about 10 minutes to warm up. Of course I questioned my own sanity several time as we started to line up. Oh, I must do a quick caveat that costumes (especially rock costumes) were encouraged. So lined up with me was Slash, Axle Rose, and a Red Crayon. My mindset going into this race was not to set any personal records, but rather to try to pace myself better - something I am horrible about.

I hit mile 1 at 7:20 (same as the last race). I knew I needed to slow down just a bit, but not too much. I did well with that and hit mile 2 at 15:20 (better than the last race). I felt so much better throughout this entire race to be honest. I was pushing myself, but I didn't have the shredded lung sensation. It's not that it wasn't easy or that I wasn't going hard, I was, but something was clicking better. Better enough to set my own race PR with a time of 24:12, which was good enough for 2nd overall female.

I was very proud of myself and my time. However, I was annoyed to be passed by the Red Crayon. I mean seriously? He beat me wearing a full-length red felt crayon costume. Oh, and the girl who won first, well, she shouldn't count. Ok, she was wearing a cow costume, this was her 2nd (yes 2nd) race of the day, AND she is freaking training for the Olympics. Humph.
Post-race events were actually really nice. They had a band, food like pizza (no I didn't eat it), bananas, oranges (oh yum after a race), and a few freebies to snag up. Not a bad way to begin a Saturday.

Rock-N-Girls' Lunch
My mom and sister came up around noonish . I made lunch for us - a Squash & Chickpea Quinoa Salad. It was super easy to throw together. I mean, I did make it at 7:15 this morning before the race after all. It couldn't be anything terribly difficult!

Squash & Chickpea Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water or broth
2 small yellow squash, diced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
To taste: salt, pepper, dried fire roasted tomatoes, tomato basil splice blend
Mince shallots (dried or fresh)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Cook quinoa according to package directions. I added in the shallots while cooking. After it was cooked, I added salt, pepper, dried fire roasted tomato flakes, and the tomato basil spice blend.

Saute onion until tender then add in the squash and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until squash is just softening.

Combine quinoa, squash, and chickpeas in large bowl. Re-season as needed.
After lunch we headed over to the mall. What's a Girls' Day without a bit of shopping??? No serious damage was done, but we all did leave with a few new items. I'm wearing my new sandals as I type this (8 bucks thank you very much).

Rock-N-Patio Time
Jason was working diligently on getting our pool in order. I decided that a bit of patio lounging was a must-do for a Saturday on a long weekend. I sat out with a book and few magazines for a little over an hour. It was nice to sit and relax after a busy day. And as if the race, a girls' lunch, and patio time weren't enough for one day, we will also be going Riverfest to watch the Black Crows play. I'll be sure to do a recap of that tomorrow along with dinner. I have no idea what to make before we head out. I feel like I must do something on the grill. I think that's mandatory on Memorial Weekend.

I hope you all are having a fantastic Saturday!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's Talk Music for Fun Facts Friday

Rest Day
Well, today is an official rest day. I definitely need it after yesterday's weights. I am definitely feeling it in my legs and back (which is rare, but good). We had a storm blow through yesterday afternoon, and it really cooled things down. So, this morning would have been sooo nice for a really easy, waking up type of run. But, I behaved and didn't get up to run.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be doing a 5K (Rock 'n Stroll), and I am really hoping for another cool, pleasant morning. I know we're in for sunshine for the long weekend at least.

Speaking of, long weekends, mine already seems filled up. Of course, it's mostly fun stuff so I can't complain:
  • Tonight we're going to a baseball game at 6.
  • Tomorrow morning we have the race - it's the first year for this one.
  • My mom and sister will be coming up around noon for some girl time. I plan on making lunch then we'll do a bit of shopping.
  • Saturday night we will be attending Riverfest and seeing the Black Crows play. Really excited about this. This will be the first time in several years that we get to go to Riverfest. Typically we schedule our beach vacation over Memorial weekend and miss the festival.
  • Sunday we desperately need to attend to yard work and may had back down to Riverfest (it goes from Fri-Sun). I do plan on a little patio lounging time of course. That's a must for a long, holiday weekend.
Do you have any big plans? Do you prefer to be busy or just chill out and do nothing on extended weekends? 

Fun Facts Friday
So I hope you aren't getting bored with Fun Facts Friday yet. I think it's rather fun. I love to hear your fun facts (hint hint). Since we'll be attending a concert (maybe a couple since there will be many bands playing all weekend), I thought today I'd do some fun facts about concerts:
1.  Def Leppard with my first concert. It was December 1992; my senior year of high school. Can we say contact high? The place was nothing but a dense haze if you catch my drift.

2.  I watched the Black Crows perform in 1993 from the 2nd row of the orchestra pit. This is why I am so excited to get to see them again. Of course, I am certain I will be nowhere close to the front of the stage this time around. I will not be with 6 other females (which is how we ended up in the front mind you). I'll also not have been chugging beers in the parking deck minutes prior to the concert...

3.  Got to sit in 4th row to see Aerosmith in 1993. Apparently '93 was my year for awesome concerts and getting to sit up front. For this concert, we had seats really far away and high up. We got there early and someone "with the band" actually traded out our tickets for the 4th row seats. Those seats were all giveaways and could not have been purchased. Woohoo for having super cute girlfriends! 

So let me hear it. Got a good concert story? What was your first concert?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finished Weight Rotation!

Two on Thursday
I managed another morning workout today. I did one of the premixes from Cathe's Step Blast. It's always a fun, sweaty workout. I love it when cardio can be fun as well as intense - makes the time go so much faster.

I went home for a late lunch and did weights. It was my final day of the 8-week rotation. Can't believe I'm already finished with it! Today was 3 sets or 12 reps done as supersets with the goal of increasing the weights.

Biceps - Zottoman curls
Triceps - Weighted dips

Legs - Squats
Inner thighs - Plie squats

Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
Back - Underhand dumbbell rows

Legs - Alternating lunges with pulse
Calves - Calf raises

Shoulders - Upright (dumbbell) rows
Shoulders - Rear delt raises

So the rotation is officially done. Wow. Now I need to figure out my next lifting rotation. Suggestions?

Happy Hour on Thursday???
I'm very glad I was able to get my workouts done earlier as we were meeting some friends after work for a Thursday Happy Hour. I don't typically go out during the week to be honest. I need to try enjoy the weekdays more to be quite honest. Typically, I just work, workout, go home. I'm in PJ's by 5 at the latest. I don't know why I have it stuck in my head that hanging out and catching up with friends is somehow reserved for the weekends. Of course we had a good time. It was at a Mexican restaurant and I did good and only had a few chips with salsa. Normally I can't keep my hands out of the chips/dips!

Do you like to go out during the week?

Since we were home a little later (or a lot, 7pm) than normal, dinner was simple. I reheated the last of the Black Bean & Beet burgers (last of all of my frozen stash of veggie burgers actually) with Sweet Potato "Fries." Guess this weekend I'll be making more veggie burgers...

Now it's almost time for the 3-day weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wowzer Wednesday

Early Morning Kickboxing 
This morning Jason got up to go swim at 5 am. I was too much awake to fall back asleep for an hour, so I went ahead and got up to exercise. I did Cathe's Kick, Punch and Crunch plus the stability ball abs (awesome ab work). It was a nice workout that gave me the needed boost of energy to start my day.

What a Wednesday
Oh and I definitely needed the energy. It was a very hectic and stressful kind of morning. I have some work projects that are a bit problematic; I've also been having major email issues at work too so that complicates it all even more. Oh gotta love technology right?

To top it off, we paid the remaining balance on our condo rental yesterday. I got confirmation this morning, but the contract was for the wrong dates! We had both asked off from work   already, made doggy sitting arrangements, etc. to be gone June 5-12. The contract said June 12-19. So, I had a mild (ok more than mild) panic attack and near meltdown. Thankfully, the condo owner had not booked our week, which makes me think that he just entered the wrong dates in the contract. I sure hope we don't get there and are greeted by another couple staying too!

Sometimes there are just those weeks when things keep slipping up somehow. Nothing too major, but just enough to stress you out. Thankfully it's all either rectified or minor at least. Do you ever have those weeks? Not just days, but weeks...

I just keep reminding myself of all that I do have to be thankful for. I'm very glad to report that the good far outweighs the bad.

Grilling Time
Tonight we really wanted to grill out so we did Grilled Asparagus with a side of Smashed Cauliflower (in lieu of smashed potatoes) and Quorn Naked Chik'n Cutlets grilled in foil packs. 

For the smashed cauliflower, I just steamed until soft then pureed in the food processor with soy milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast flakes. 

For the Quorn patties, I put them in foil packets with white wine, parsley, a lemon pepper season blend, and sliced lemons. This kept them moist for grilling. 

This was a very nice, satisfying meal. It almost seemed a little decadent for a Wednesday evening. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Run, Lift, Reuse

Morning Run & Noon Lifting
Since it's gotten so hot and humid this week, Jason and I opted to go for a run this morning. We got up at about 5:40 then hit the pavement. It was muggy, but at least it wasn't sweltering. The temperature was already at 68 degrees though if that gives you an indication of how warm it is this week. We did a fairly easy run - it was still early and all. It was really nice to just be out moving.

I did go home and do my weights at lunch as it was Upper with Plyo. Since I had run, I only did 4 plyo moves. The weights were done in 3 sets of 8 rep as supersets:

Back - Double-arm rows
Biceps - Preacher curls

Shoulders - Dumbbell shoulder press
Triceps - Overhead extension

Chest - Chest flyes
Biceps - Hammer curls

Plyo moves:
Explosive running man
Wide jump ups on step
Plie jacks
Ski hops

It was a pretty good workout. I was able to increase the weights. I did hit failure with the hammer curls on 2 of the sets, but I maintained the heavier weight rather than dropping down.

Lazy = Leftovers
It was really nice not having anything to do in the way of workouts after work. I was able to go home and get some chores done, like laundry. Jason went and rode his bike after work, so he didn't get home until closer to 7. I just don't like eating dinner that late and was honestly being lazy. So I had some leftover "Creamy" Sundried Tomato & Veggie Pasta Salad over a bed of lettuce and spinach (just to change it up a little bit). I am typically not one to eat leftovers. But I seriously did not feel up to cooking. I decided to relax a little and do something girly like paint my nails (in between loads of laundry of course). 

Do you like leftovers?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hodge Podge Kind of Day

Hodge Podge Cardio
Well, it was back to the grind today. Monday really came way too fast. Guess that's what happens when you're having just a fun weekend. Jason got up at 5 am to go swim, but there was no way I was getting out of that comfy bed to workout. So I waited and did my cardio later.

I wish I could have run today, but it was far too hot to run during lunch. At 10 am the heat index was already at 90 with 67% humidity and a dew point of 72 (which means humid and muggy). I am not one to complain about warm weather mind you, but the humidity can really zap you. Anyway, I was less than enthusiastic about having to do my cardio indoors. I really didn't want to do a step workout. So I did a hodge podge workout that included the warm up and 3 cardio intervals from Cathe's Shock Cardio - Cardio Core Circuit then the 3 combos and drills from MMA Kickboxing. It was just shy of 50 minutes and a nice mix. I also did abs and stretched after work.

Perfect Hot Summer Meal
Last night the gas tank on the grill ran out. So no grilling tonight. I decided to make a pasta salad. It sounded like the perfect hot summer evening dish. Of course it was more than just pasta..."Creamy" Sundried Tomatoes & Veggies Pasta Salad.

"Creamy" Sundried Tomatoes & Veggies Pasta Salad
1 box firm silken tofu
4-5 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted
splash of balsamic vinegar
2-3 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
Ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
fresh veggies steamed or frozen veggies thawed (I used, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and peas)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
8 oz whole-wheat rotini, penne, or ziti

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and pour into large bowl.

Steam or defrost veggies. If steaming, steam only 1-2 minutes then put immediately into an ice bath to shock them.

In a blender or food processor, puree tofu, tomatoes, vinegar, nutritional yeast and seasonings. Combine all ingredients with the pasta (re-season if needed) and refrigerate.

This was a nice, creamy pasta salad. I love using the silken tofu to make a "cream" style sauce for pasta dishes and it worked very well for the pasta salad as well. It's so easy to flavor in many different ways. 

What is your favorite dish to make on a hot summer evening?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sister Saturday and Super Sunday

Sister Day Saturday
Well, I must say that my day with my sister was one of the best ever. We had an absolutely fantastic time together. It was much needed and long overdue. We got in some patio lounge time, Target and Whole Foods shopping, then it was on to the pizza. My half was the typical Greek style. Sarah's half was sauteed portobellos, onions, and red and green bell peppers. Both were mighty tasty I must say. We spent the evening just listing to music, chatting, laughing, laughing, and laughing some more.

Running and Lifting
This morning we got up and went for a run. Sarah is just getting into running, and this was the first time we ever really ran together. We did 2 miles then did 6 rounds of hill repeats. She still said she loved me after it was all said and done too.

Unfortunately she did have to get back home. She cleaned up after the run while I made myself some oatmeal. After she left I finally got to my weights (very reluctantly I might add). Today was 3 sets of 18 reps done as supersets:

Chest - Incline dumbbell press
Back - Pullovers

Quads - Squats
Calves - Calf raises

Biceps - Dumbbell curls
Triceps - Double arm kickbacks

Legs - Static lunges
Shoulders - Lateral raises

I also added 2 sets of 12 deadlifts

Jason got home just as I was finishing up my workout and stretching. I decided to sit outside and read for a bit while he mowed the yard. It was a gorgeous day, but hot hot hot (and humid). Let's just say he went out to try to find a new pump for the pool today so we could get the pool in working order.  

Simple Grilling
We decided to grill out for dinner. Honestly, we should have gone to the grocery store but did not. Luckily, I had some veggie burgers that I had made and frozen, a sweet potato, and some kale. I grilled the sweet potatoes and sauteed the kale to go on top of the veggie burgers (since I was out of spinach).  So, not a fancy dinner by any means, but it was tasty nonetheless. 

I hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Short & Sweet Post

Friday Quesadillas 
I'll admit, it was very difficult not making pizza on Friday night. We are so used to that routine that it took forever to decide what to make. We've gotten used to not having to think about it. In the end, we made quesadillas filled with sauteed onions, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, and a faux "chicken" substitute and Daiya Cheddar "Cheese."

I piled on the salsa and jalapenos and a dollop of soy yogurt. It wasn't pizza, but it was still pretty tasty.

Short and Sweet
(Heads up, this will be short today. Spending time with my sis and unplugging)

This morning I was scheduled to do weights, but we had to head about an hour away for my nephew's 4th birthday party. So, I chose to do about 35 minutes of Step Blast plus abs. I'll get back to the weights tomorrow. Honestly, it was easy to put them off because it's going to be the 3 sets of 18 reps done as supersets.

The birthday party was held at a place called Play-by-Play. Basically it was a giant play room for kids to go wild in with a 30-minute cake, ice cream, and present opening time frame. It was pure chaos! After the party, Jason stayed in town to go fishing with his dad. I rode back home with my sister for a sister day/night. 

We lounged on the patio for a while. Sweated to death is a more accurate description. It's definitely time to get the pool ready to use. It was in the mid 80's and high humidity. It was still nice to just sit out, soak up some rays, and chat. After the sweat fest, we headed out to hit up Target and Whole Foods. Sarah doesn't have either in her town, so it was a must do today. I won't complain of course. I can always find things I need at both locations.

Tonight we're making pizza and having some vino and pure girl time. I'll be sure to post pictures and more details tomorrow. 

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! I promise to be more exciting with posting tomorrow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Let's Talk Runner's High & Fun Facts Friday

Running High
Well, after the impromptu 5-mile run yesterday, today is most definitely a rest day. My sister is coming to stay the night with me tomorrow, so I do have some chores to get done and errands to run. So, the rest day works out quite nicely.

Now here's a question for you all: What is runner's high?

I have always assumed I've never experienced it because I thought it was this fantastic, euphoric feeling of pure endorphins. I've heard people say that it's like literally being high. I imagine dancing on clouds with a big cheesy grin, spinning in meadows with eyes closed, skipping through fields of sunlit daisies. This is NOT how I feel after a run, even a very good run like last night.

Last night was probably one of my best runs so far. I felt like I could have run forever. I truly felt like I hit my stride; everything just clicked. When I was done, I still felt strong and, of course, accomplished. Is that runner's high? Maybe that's MY runner's high.

I have heard people suggest many different definitions of this elusive phenomena. Perhaps that is why it seems just that, elusive, mysterious. Perhaps it is it different for each person?

What is your runner's high?

Fun Facts Friday
I know you probably won't believe me, but there really won't be Pizza Friday. My sister has requested homemade pizza tomorrow night, so my wish is her command. So, dinner will be a complete surprise tonight that I will share with you tomorrow. I have no idea what we'll end up making. We might get creative, we might not. That's the beauty of going with the flow on Friday.

Speaking of Friday, let's do Fun Facts Friday now. Today I thought it would be fun to share nicknames. We all have at least one right? How did we get it and who gave it to us? I thought I'd share 3 names I answer to, who gave them, and why.

1. Rosie - My mother calls me Rosie because my middle name is Rosa after her grandmother, who I called Mama Rosie. It also doesn't hurt that I have rosie red cheeks.
2. Red - My dad calls me Red as I have red hair (and often cheeks).
3. Stit - My sister calls me Stit because as a child she could not say "sister" correctly and would say "stitter" (insert pause between "stit" and "ter"). It eventually was shortened to Stit.
Now it's your turn! Share at least one nickname (more if you would like). If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear how you got the name and who gave it to you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hemming, Hawing, then a 5-mile Run

It sounds like everyone enjoyed my birthday story yesterday. It'll be fun to one day tell my nephew that story. I am so very blessed to have my sister. My mom always said that she had us for each other. It's a good thing we truly love each other!

Hemming and Hawing
Today was rainy, stormy, and downright dreary. I even worked through lunch to avoid having to get out in it. I was due for a rest day (either today or tomorrow). I decided that I would wait and see how I felt by the end of the day. I have gotten used to splitting up my workouts and was not really enjoying the idea of a long cardio session. Since I was leaving earlier because of working through lunch, I decided I would go ahead and do a 40-minute premix from Step Blast. That one is always fun and still gets my heart rate up there.

When I walked out of the office, the sun was shining. What? When did that happen. That's when the debate started in my head: Do I really want to workout inside? It's sunny, but I don't want to wait for Jason to get home to run. I could go run errands and enjoy a run outside tomorrow. But I wasn't sure what Jason's workout plans were. Oh decisions. I ended up running a very pleasant (yes, I said pleasant) 5-mile, solo run. Truth be told, I could have easily done 6 I was feeling so good. I won't go so far as to say runner's high, but I definitely felt much better after the run. I feel like I was able to clear my head a bit.

In the Kitchen (sort of)
I did have a few orders for some doggy treats to get done. The working through lunch thing today worked out great for me. I was able to get in a good run with plenty of time to do the treat baking finishing it all by 5:30. Love it when things fall into place like that.

I will say that after running then baking, my energy level finally took a nose dive. I had absolutely no desire to make dinner. I was starving, but so unmotivated. Jason suggest a "Chicken" salad. I wasn't sure if he meant "chicken" ON a salad or "chicken" salad as in the mayo type. He meant the mayo type sans the mayo. As a side I suggested an Apple Cranberry Quinoa to go with his Balsamic "Chicken" Salad Sandwiches. I do apologize for the lack of exact amounts. Jason did the cooking; I just logged the ingredients.

Balsamic "Chicken" Salad 
1 package vegetarian/vegan chicken substitute of your choice (e.g., Meal Starters, Quorn, seitan)
Dijjon mustard
To taste: Sea salt, ground black pepper, white pepper, red pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Nutritional yeast flakes 
Kalamata olives, finely diced
1-2 pepperoncini, diced
1/4 red onion, minced
1 Roma tomato, diced

In large bowl, whisk together Dijjon mustard, shallots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and spices.

Heat or cook the "chicken" substitute then add that along with nutritional yeast flakes, olives, pepperoncini, and onions to the vinaigrette and let set for at least 30 minutes.

You can serve this over a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich with lettuce or spinach and tomatoes.

Apple Cranberry Quinoa
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water or vegetable broth
1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Apple cider vinegar
Agave nectar (to taste)
Pinch of sea salt

Cook quinoa according to directions. We did add in dried shallots, garlic powder, and sea salt while cooking.

In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Allow to set if you have time as the flavors meld over time. 

I will admit that this was a messy sandwich. Jason put his in a wrap, which is what I'd suggest as well. I had meant to add toasted walnuts to the quinoa, so that's something to remember for the next time I make it. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Birthday Story and Wednesday Indulging

Step and Weights
Jason got up at 5 am to go swim. While it was tempting to just stay in bed, I got my lazy self up and did 3 step combos from Low Impact Circuit's cardio premix plus abs. It was a nice wake-up workout. Not too high in intensity, not too complex in choreography - ideal for 5:30 am.

I ended up doing my weights at lunch. I had planned on running some errands then doing weights after work, but changed my mind. Today is the last day of Week 7 from the 8-week rotation. It was 3 sets of 12:

Biceps - Zottoman curls
Triceps - Weighted dips
Quads - Squats
Inner thighs - Plie squats
Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
Back - Underhand rows
Legs - Alternating lunges with pulse
Calves - Calf raises (theses I did 3 sets of 20)
Shoulders - Upright row
Shoulders - Rear delt raise

Also added Deadlifts for hamstrings.

Next week I get to do it all again, only as a superset!

Wednesday Rewind
Today happens to be my nephew's birthday (my sister's son). He turns four. It's so hard to believe that much time has passed since we met the little man. It's really a fun story that I want to share (if you'll indulge me in some sappiness).

My sister knew she would have to have a C-section. She told me what date it "should" be so that we could go ahead and schedule our annual beach vacation. Well, I'm sure you know what happened - it ended up being scheduled for the Friday we were leaving for FL.

Talk about sinking heart. Crushed. Both of us. She kept saying it was fine, to go. We really couldn't change the condo reservation at that point. The only option was to go down a day late. She said not to do that of course. We paid for a week, take the week. So, the Thursday evening before the the C-section, I talked to her on the phone. We both cried of course. However, I was crying in part because it breaks my heart when she's sad and also because I was so happy about a secret I had managed to keep. I was actually heading to our hometown and staying the night with a friend rather than getting ready to head to FL. Rather than leave in the wee hours of the morning, we would leave directly from the hospital and just arrive late in the evening.

I called my sis from the cell phone when we arrived at the hospital telling her we were on the road and asking how she was (more crying). When in actuality, I was walking to her room. I rounded the corner and she just kept talking on the cell while staring at me. The heart rate monitor was going nuts, and I thought the baby was going to be born right then and there. I finally had to hang up and tell her to hang up. Of course there were more tears! I would never have missed meeting my nephew on his birthday. I would never have chosen the beach over my sister. Needless to say, this day brings back a lot of memories.

Wednesday Grilling
Since we have rain in the forecast for the next few days, I thought I'd take advantage of the weather and grill out. We had some giant portobellos that Jason had wanted to do portobello "burgers" with goat cheese, spinach, and bell pepper. Since they were so big, I decided to just grill one and sliced it up as a topping for a Grilled Tofu with Portobellos, Red Bell Peppers and Goat Cheese sandwiches along with grilled sweet potatoes. 

There really isn't much of a recipe. I marinated the tofu and portobello in a balsamic vinaigrette then grilled. I had roasted red bell peppers in a jar (was out of fresh) so I used those along with spinach and tomato basil goat cheese for a slightly indulgent Wednesday meal. We don't do much cheese anymore, so that's why I say indulgent, and goat cheese has a decadent quality. Maybe it's the creamy texture.

So it might like look too pretty, but it tasted good!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two on Thai Tuesday

Two on Tuesday
This morning Jason and I managed to get up around 5:45 am to get our run in. It was a very pleasant run actually. It was about 61 degrees, low humidity, light breeze, and clear skies as the sun started to come up. We did about 3.5 miles at a fairly good clip, but not pushing it too hard - it was early and all. It was definitely a nicer way to start the day rather than slamming head long into it grumbling all the while.

It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous today. I wish I could have gone for a second run just to be outside. Instead, I did 30 minutes of Kick, Punch and Crunch at lunch (to wake myself up more than anything). I won't lie, it was VERY difficult forcing myself to go back to the office. My lounge chair was just taunting me.

Thai Tuesday
We bought some sugar snap peas the other day that needed to be used. I had thought about a stir-fry using the rest of the Basic Seitan that I made. But Jason had stir fry for lunch. Oh, and we had some open coconut milk to use. So, I made Thai Seitan and Veggies with Rice.

Thai Seitan and Veggies with Rice
Basic seitan (or you can use your favorite brand or recipe)
1 can lite coconut milk
2-3 tbsp red curry paste (depending on heat level)
1 tsp agave nectar
2-3 carrots, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup sugar snap peas
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, and bell peppers until soft. Add in coconut milk, curry paste, agave nectar, and basil. Let reduce then stir in seitan and sugar snap peas and let cook until heated through.

I bought a new brand of curry paste (Patak's) and am much happier with it. Definitely has more heat to it, and that's what I like. What's great about this recipe is that you can easily change out the veggies and even protein source. Another great flavor option would be to add in natural peanut butter.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weights, Plyo, and Smoky Tempeh Fajitas

Weights and Plyo
Wow, Monday sure came fast. How'd that happen???? I went to bed pretty early last night (asleep by 9 pm), when my alarm went off at 6:18, I could have easily slept another 2 hours. And yes, I set my alarms at off times. No rhyme or reason.

Today I went home and did weights at lunch. It's supposed to be upper body focus with plyo legs. I didn't have time to do a full plyo workout, but did managed to do 5 exercises. Weights were 3 sets of 8 reps:

Back - Double-arm dumbbell rows
Biceps - Dumbbell preacher curls (these are the bane of my existence)
Chest - Flat bench flyes
Shoulders - Military press
Triceps - Overhead extension
Biceps - Hammer curls

I did add an extra back exercise - pullovers.

Plyo: Wide jumps on 12" step, explosive running man, crossovers with 8#, split jumps

After work I did 30 minutes of Cathe's Imax 3 for additional plyo work, then stretched.

Accidental Mexican Monday
Tonight's Mexican Monday Meal wasn't really planned as such. I was feeling very lazy about cooking to be honest. Jason requested fajitas, so it was by chance that we had Mexican-style fare tonight. I just did a simple Smoky Tempeh Fajita.

Smoky Tempeh Fajitas
1 package tempeh
Liquid smoke
Soy sauce
Lemon juice
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
To taste: sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, red pepper, garlic powder, lemon or lime juice.
Whole-wheat tortillas
Shredded cheese and/or sour cream (vegan or non-vegan, optional)

Slice tempeh in half and marinate in liquid smoke, soy sauce, and lemon juice. In non-stick pan or grill pan, sear the tempeh and set aside. In same pan saute onions and peppers until soft, then add in zucchini and spices until soft. At the last minute, add in the tempeh to reheat.

I used the Daiya Cheddar to top. We're loving this "cheese" option. Fajitas really are a nice, easy, quick dinner. You can change up the flavors as well from smoky to spicy, or both.

Now here is a giveaway I can't pass up the opportunity to post about! Kalli @ Fit and Forty Something is hosting a Clif Family Winery giveaway (yes, as in Clif Bars). You gotta checkout the Clif Family Winery & Farm site too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Seitan Sunday

Easy Sunday Run
Today was sort of a lazy day. The weather seemed to be undecided about rain or no rain. Thankfully the rain held out until the later afternoon. I let myself stay in bed until about 8:45. Then I made a nice bowl of PB&J&B Oatmeal. 
After that settled, Jason and I went for a very easy run. I am have severe pain in my extreme upper hamstring/low glute area. So we took it easy. It felt great to take it slow for a change. It would behoove me to do more slow, longer runs to be quite honest. After the run, I stretch for a really long time. I used to be so limber from ballet Not so anymore, even though I do stretch daily. It's just not the same.

Lounging and Recipe Testing
The sun actually popped out for a while. It was super humid, but the sun was out and I was going to be outside. I sat out on my lounge chair and read for about an hour. I really should have been doing chores mind you, but I was enjoying a very lazy Sunday instead. No guilt. I did end up making some dog treats and trying my hand at making seitan for the first time. It's something I have been wanting to make for ages, even bought the vital wheat gluten flour months ago. I just kept putting it off. Well, today I finally made it. It was either make seitan or do house cleaning.

I pulled the original recipe from Recipe Zaar as a starting point. It looked like an easy enough recipe that could be versatile, and it was. Here is my version as, I did make several changes to the spices and quantity of spices and seasonings used:

Basic Seitan
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 low-sodium soy sauce
Few dashes of liquid smoke

Simmering Broth
4 cups water or broth (I used about 2 1/2 cups broth and 1 1/2 water because I ran out of broth)
1/4 cup soy sauce
Liquid smoke (sorry, just added and didn't measure)
Parsley, garlic powder, thyme

Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and thyme to flour and stir.

Mix liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times. (it forms a dough very quickly)

Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. It will be rubbery. Let it rest another 15 minutes then cut into chunks, strips, or patties.

Meanwhile, combine broth ingredients and bring to a boil. Drop in the seitan pieces, cover, and simmer 45 to 60 minutes. Let seitan cool in the broth.

This was so easy, and I can't believe I had put it off for so long. I cut a variety of shape just to play around. I didn't realize that they would start to puff up as they cooked. I'll remember that the next time. I remembered Alicia @ Vegan Epicurean telling me that you must really be heavy-handed with seasonings as it can be potentially bland. I definitely added more seasonings than the original recipe, but I will add more the next time (both quantity and types of seasoning). I'm excited to play around with other flavors now and perhaps simmering broths as well. 

When I decided to make the seitan, I wasn't necessarily planning ahead as to how to use it. I ended up using it in a veggie pasta dish that's super easy to throw together and very versatile in terms of the veggies that you can use.

Seitan Veggie Pasta
7 oz whole-wheat rotini (or past of your choice)
1/2 zucchini, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 tbps tomato paste
2-3 green onions, diced
White wine (or use pasta water or vegetable broth)
To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, chili pepper flakes, nutritional yeast flakes

Cook pasta to al dente.

In large skillet, saute onions, peppers, garlic until soft. Add in tomatoes and spices and let simmer a few minutes. Add in seitan, zucchini and squash. Add wine (or liquid of choice) and tomato paste. Let simmer until begins to thicken. Add in the green onions and pasta. Turn off heat and toss until pasta is coated. 

This is a really easy dish to make. I works great with a variety of veggies. It is also good with beans like chickpeas.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Holy High Reps

I'm glad most of you all seemed to appreciate the post about why it's important to take a rest day. I know that my rest day certainly helped me get through today's super high rep weight day. The thought of the reps alone made me want to take another rest day to be quite honest. I happily procrastinated this morning. I started off making steel cut oats with cinnamon apples and peanut butter. Then we hit Target, Home Depot, and the new local food market I mentioned a few weeks ago. We just needed a few produce restocks like more spinach (locally grown), bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and blueberries. Also snagged some giant portobellos. Can't wait to eat those.

Out of Control Reps
I finally couldn't procrastinate any longer (well, I could have of course), so I got to it. Today was 3 sets of 18 reps of the following:

Chest - Incline dumbbell press
Back - Pullovers
Quads - Squats
Calves - Calf raises
Biceps - Dumbbell curls
Triceps - Double arm kickbacks
Legs - Static lunges
Shoulders - Lateral raises

After the weights, I did MMA Kickboxing plus the abs then stretch. When I first finished the weights, I didn't think I had hit my legs all that hard. They felt just fine until I started to walk down the stairs. Oh thank goodness for railing!

Playing in the Dirt
Rain and storms were in the forecast, but they luckily held off most of the day. We had a major storm roll through around 2am. Poor Heath Man is just terrified. I ended up sitting in the floor trying to console him while we waited for the calming medicine to work. It was gray and soupy feeling all day. Since it wasn't raining, I did take the opportunity to get some more plants planted in the front and in a few of the large flower pots I have. I also got some more veggies planted: red bell pepper (something ate my other one), white eggplant (never had this so why not try it), jalapenos, Anaheim peppers, some other pepper variety Jason picked up, and zucchini.

Since the rain was still holding out (gotta love forecasts that are so incredibly off), we did a grilled salad for dinner with: new potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, red and green bell peppers, portobellos, red onion and tempeh over spinach and leaf lettuce.
In my opinion, it's really hard to go wrong with a grilled veggie salad of any kind.