Here’s to a fabulous Friday; food, fitness and fun!

Warning: today’s post is full of “F” words. Food, fitness and fun!

TGIF! I don’t know about you, but this past week has been about the worst on (recent) record at my house. I had the flu and couldn’t get out of bed for nearly a week. Then two of my kids came down with a wicked, nasty stomach bug that kept me wiping bums and changing bed sheets into the wee hours of the night. The floors need washing, the fridge re-stocking. And when was the last time somebody changed the cat litter box?

But the end is finally in sight (knock on wood). Kids are up and bickering as usual (much preferable to the eery quiet of earlier in the week). I’m back to teaching (sort of) and training clients and trying to regain some of the strength I lost (why does it go away so quickly?).

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this weekend:

Food

My appetite is back and my body is craving veggies! Good thing my hubby planted our first crop of leafy greens last weekend. There’s spinach, and arugula and kale ready for harvesting.

They’ll make a fine, mixed green salad for Friday dinner. I’ll be serving them with poached fillet of salmon and roast asparagus. Dinner’s at 5, if you’d like to join us!

 

(And the recipe is super easy; herbed goat cheese, toasted almonds, sliced strawberries all on a bed of fresh greens. Drizzle with 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar)

Fitness

On Saturday, I’ll be leading a workshop entitled ‘Fitness for Fat Loss‘ at a friend’s newly opened fitness studio; Younique Fitness in Port Moody, B.C. They’ll be a 45 minute workout followed by a lecture, outlining ways to tweak your workout to up your rate of fat loss while maintaining and even increasing muscle mass. Win-win-win! There’s still time to register. Will I see you there?

 

Sunday marks the first class in the next Bosu Blast course that I’m teaching at the Port Moody Rec Centre. Adding some Bosu work to your exercise routine is a great way to improve balance, core strength, speed and agility. And, there’s NO CHOREOGRAPHY!

Fun

What’s more fun that a blog hop? Today, I’m participating in ‘The Get-Fit Blog Hop‘. It’ a great way to ‘meet’ new-to-you health and fitness bloggers and get some inspiration for your next workout or healthy meal. Click through on the link below then start hopping from one blog to another. Leave comments to let the authors know you’ve visited or leave a link up to your own ‘Get-Fit Blog Hop‘ post if you’d like! Come back and tell me who you’ve visited and what you’ve learned!

Get Fit Blog Hop

 EDITED TO ADD: The blog hop button now works. The original html code I was given had some sort of problem. So please, TRY AGAIN!

What’s you favourite “F” word? (Remembering that my dad and 13-year old son read my blog…)

Found a great new blogger via the blog hop? Tell me about them so I can make sure to visit too!

 

The day after; let’s talk turkey

Yesterday morning started much the same as any other day. My hubby brought my coffee to me in bed, as he has done nearly every single day of our marriage, thirteen and a half years ago (a habit he gleaned from his father, who brought his mother coffee in bed nearly every single day of their fifty-year marriage; a good omen, I think!). I took a sip and reached for my iPad to check my mail.

“Checking mail….. Checking mail….. Checking mail…..”

This went on for five or six minutes and just when I was about to get out of bed to restart the wireless router (we often have wireless problems in our house..), my Inbox icon flashed, showing over 100 messages. Well above my usual volume and suspiciously high given the Easter Monday holiday.

Closer inspection revealed that almost all of the messages were from WordPress. More specifically, notifications of comments and subscriptions and ‘likes’ on my recent blog post (All I need to know about exercise I learned from knitting).

Waiting for the caffeine to hit my brain, I started scrolling through your comments, trying to understand why so many readers had happened upon my blog, today of all days. Finally, I came to a comment congratulating me on being ‘Freshly Pressed’. Huh?

Now I’ve only been blogging for six months or so and while I read a lot of fitness and nutrition blogs, I had never searched WordPress for new ones to add to my blog roll. I quickly navigated to the WordPress main page and saw, to my surprise, a snapshot from my blog listed under the heading ‘Freshly Pressed’. Oh wow. I get it now! (For those of you who don’t, ‘Freshly Pressed’ is a WordPress feature that regularly highlights recent blog posts of general interest).

The remainder of my day was spent on the couch, alternating between knitting (I started something new!) and moderating and replying to your comments on my post. (I also confess to continuously updating the ‘Site statistics’ to see how many times the post had been viewed now; I couldn’t seem to stop myself).

Let me start by thanking you all for your congratulations, your insights, your enthusiasm and your humor! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your responses to my work and was amazed to find that my commentary resonated with so many. (Several of you wanted to know about the knitting patterns I featured and whether or not I gave up entirely on the blue-grey shawl. Check out my responses at the very bottom of this post!). Along the way, I clicked on your blog links. I read post after post after post and am humbled by the incredible talent out there in the blogging world.

Given the magnitude of the response to Sunday’s post, I found myself worrying about what I should write about next. Certainly not anything too fluffy (or ‘half squeezed’, as it were). Definitely not vacation pics. Or Easter egg hunt photos of the kids. What if my new readers don’t find my next post so interesting? The fear of a ‘sophomore slump’ was stressing me out.

As I was tucking my oldest child into bed, I voiced these concerns to him. He paused for a moment and then said (with the brilliant insight and wisdom only the young and innocent seem to possess),

Write what you always write, Mom. Just be yourself“. So I will and I am.

We had turkey for Easter dinner. A big turkey. And since there are only five of us, that means leftovers. Lots of them. Here’s what I’m doing with them, Clean Eating style, of course (if you don’t celebrate Easter or don’t eat turkey, you may be excused; see you again soon!).

Turkey and cranberry quesadillas (makes 1 serving);

  • 3 oz sliced turkey breast (skinless)
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
  • diced onion (have as much as you like)
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow peppers
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 8-inch whole grain tortilla
  • 1 tsp crumbled feta cheese
  1.  Warm olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and saute until translucent (5-7 min)
  3. Add cranberries and peppers, stirring constantly until vegetables start to carmelize
  4. Add spinach leaves, stirring until wilted.
  5. Place tortilla on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place turkey and carmelized vegetable mixture on one half of tortilla. Cover with feta. Fold the other half of the tortilla over, covering filling.
  6. Bake in a 350 F oven for 5-7 min, or until brown and cheese is melted.
(Calorie count will be in the 350-450 range, depending on whether you used unsweetened cranberries and whether your cheese was low fat).

Turkey, leek and rice soup (makes 4 servings);
Turkey soup is a tradition in our house. It looks a little different each time we make it (I usually improvise with whatever ingredients are in my fridge). This one is my very favorite.
  • turkey carcass, minus the skin and meat
  • as much turkey meat as you like
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, white stalks only
  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup thinly slice sundried tomatoes
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Place turkey carcass in a large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add fresh herbs (or not; I like thyme and parsley), simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain stock into a clean pot, removing bones and whatever’s left of the bird.
  4. In a clean stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add diced leeks and sundried tomatoes. Saute until leeks are soft.
  6. Add 6-8 cups of prepared stock and turkey.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Add rice, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat for an additional 5 minutes.
This soup is wonderful with a crusty, whole grain bread. 
Bon apetit!
**************************
1. The sock pattern is Monkey by Cookie A. It was knit in Soho sock yarn by Saffron Dyeworks.
2. I did finish the blue-grey shawl; I just didn’t work on it in the evening. The pattern is Little Leaves by Susanna IC. It was knit in Enya by Saffron Dyeworks.
3. The stranded colorwork sweater pattern is Camp Hoodie by Susan B. Anderson. I finished it yesterday and will post modeled pics tomorrow on Ravelry!

February already?

Wow! January sure flew by this year! Lots of new personal training clients. Classes full and over-full. Lots and lots and lots of new faces at the gym.

It’s great to see so many people committing to exercise and a healthier lifestyle!

Me? I’ve been steadily working away at Phase 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Abs. Today I finished my eighth of 12 workouts. I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in my core strength. Although the core exercises in this phase are all stationary (i.e., there is no movement), my entire midsection is shaking and tired by the end of each workout.

I’ve progressed my planks up to 90 s and my side planks to 60 s (both with at least one limb off the ground for about half of the total time).

My dead lifts, both standard and single leg have gotten better and I’m not noticing any strain in my lower back (I injured it a couple of years back and have tended to “baby” it ever since). I’m now doing full pushups with my toes on a stability ball and looking for ways to make this exercise harder. All in all, I’m quite pleased with where I’m at.

I’ve even snuck a peek at Phase 2 and am excited to get going on it!

Now if only I could get my nutrition nailed down we might finally see a six pack. While I’ve been great with my protein and veggies, and have worked hard to switch from “white” to whole grain, I’ve been having a really tough time with sugar.

I. Crave. It.

Mid afternoon, I find myself reaching for a cookie or some chocolate or a sugary granola bar (if I lived alone those things wouldn’t even be in the house, but my family is still a bit resistant to the whole “clean eating” thing). Not sure if it’s the time of year (low light levels and cold temperatures leave our bodies craving seratonin boosters) or the intensity of the workouts (I’m really hungry on workout days), but sugar is my siren song.

Starting tomorrow, I plan on using the Tap and Track ap on my iPhone to document my daily food intake. Usually seeing those numbers (I ate how many grams of sugar and saturated fat today?!?) is enough to set me back on the straight and narrow.

We all know that journaling helps to reduce caloric intake by making us more accountable to ourselves.

Why don’t you join me?

Fall-off-the-wagon-Friday

Pro-D Day.

Three little words that many moms of school-age children dread. I know, some of you really relish the extra time to spend doing something meaningful with your children. It’s not that I don’t, but rather, feel that I make a better mom when I have balance between being with them (i.e., cooking and cleaning and entertaining and refereeing and social directing etc.) and being on my own.

So instead of trotting off to the gym this morning for my 7th of 12 Phase 1 NROL workouts, I stayed home in my PJ’ and made peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies with my 8-year old daughter. She’s at the age where she no longer gets disgusted by the raw eggs. Ingredients stay on the counter, not the floor. She can use the beaters without spraying cookie dough on the kitchen ceiling. She remembers not to stick her fingers in the batter, lick them and stick them back in. She even offers to clean up! All in all, she’s the perfect age for mother-daughter baking dates.

Our cookie recipe? An old family favorite, that I’ve ‘cleaned up’ so that I can rationalize eating a few myself. White flour replaced by a combination of whole wheat flour, bran flakes and flax seed. Natural, no-sugar, no-salt peanut butter to replace the Skippy. Dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. A really fabulous treat; nutty, not too sweet and fewer calories than the original recipe (although still probably somewhere around 125 calories per cookie).

All in all, not a bad cheat snack, unless you eat three four FIVE of them. My brain is buzzing from the sugar. I’m wearing black to camouflage the tummy bulge. All my carbs for the day gone in 10 minutes. And the worst thing of all is that I’ve blown my Friday-night-glass-of-wine-with-my-hubby splurge.

At least I’m heading out to teach a Bosu class tonight. Maybe I’ll sneak in 20 minutes on the ARC trainer while I’m there…

Yummy, yummy in my tummy!

Just got the latest issues of Oxygen Magazine in the mail. Now while I love my monthly dose of Oxygen, I am sometimes annoyed at the frequency with which they recycle things; a treadmill interval program, a photograph of a model doing a particular exercise etc. Now I know that only long-time and faithful readers will pick up on these duplications, but still, I can’t help but feel that there are lots of ways to make each issue fresh and new.

For once, however, I was ecstatic to find that they had repeated a favourite recipe of mine. A recipe that I have been trying desperately to find in my four-year stack of back issues after promising it to a client. (Note to self, mark everything of interest with sticky notes during the first read-through; relying on memory is not a useful strategy here!).

It’s a recipe for home-made protein bars. A great alternative to those pre-made bars that are often full of sugar and a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce (hint, if you can’t pronounce it, odds are it’s not natural!). And talk about easy; no bake, no mess, no cleanup. I like to make a batch of these, wrap them individually in plastic and freeze them for a quick breakfast on the go or a protein-rich after-workout snack (even I get tired of shakes!). Why don’t you go make some right now?

  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (no salt, no sugar added)
  • 4 scoops whey protein powder (I prefer vanilla, but chocolate might be good too)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds (these are your healthy Omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Spread into a 9 inch square baking dish. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, cut into 8 bars, re-wrap individually and freeze until ready to use.

Nutrients per serving: Calories; 230, Total Fats; 10 g, Carbohydrates; 21 g, Sugar; 3g, Protein; 15g.

I have also modified this recipe by adding either 1/2 cup dried cranberries or 1/4 cup cocoa powder. The cranberry version has a slightly higher calorie count (due to the carbohydrates and sugars in the fruit), but is oh-so-yummy!