Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chilly Morning Memories

The weather today is icky. Cold and rainy that will chill you to the bone. I was planning a nice 5 mile run with my running buddy. Her toe is better and she can run now. I was excited to be going out and running by the river. We haven't been able to do this for weeks. When I checked the weather yesterday afternoon and the prediction was rain and snow I decided I'd have to run on the treadmill. I loath treadmill running. It is boring. The view is always of the same tree across the parking lot. On a rainy day the cloud formation is always the same, dark and heavy with varying degrees of dripping pouring forth. Today offered no different view.

While trying to distract myself from my constant speed and changeless view I let my mind wander. I thought about my trip to Nags Head this weekend. Of course the trip is on my mind because we are going for a race. Today I thought about all the trips to Hatteras Island with my parents when I was young. Every spring and fall we would go stay at the beach so my dad could go drum fishing. I have so many happy memories of those trips. There are a few not so happy ones, like the time I came down with chicken pox for example. Today though I was thinking about the drive from Central New York to the Outer Banks. I was thinking about how long the drive was and how my parents worked so hard to keep us happy while riding for 13 hours.

There was one trip that my brother (I only had one then) and I were curious about how long a mile was. Of course I was on the treadmill and watching the miles slowly add up. We must have asked Dad to tell us when we had been a mile over and over. It was magic how he knew when we had been a mile. We must have been guessing about how far it was and how he could tell. I think he even told us to count the phone poles and that would tell us when we had been a mile. Eventually he did reveal that he had a special thing on the dash, a speedometer, that kept track of how fast he was going and how far we had gone. I have to say that special speedometer is so much more accurate than phone pole counting. I was looking at how many poles I could see out the window while on the treadmill. There are at least 6 in view and that is not a half mile view.

For food today I purchased a turkey breast portion. Our local grocery sells fresh turkey and I often pick up a breast or a couple of thigh portions to cook in the afternoon. Today I'm cooking half a breast. I purchased a grinder with garlic and rosemary in it last weekend. Those spice combination grinders are a super fast way to get fresh tasting herbs and spices. All I did was rinse the meat, grind a healthy helping of the garlic and rosemary combination onto it, and pop it in the oven at 375 to cook for about an hour. Once it is done I'm all set, I will have fresh turkey breast to slice for afternoon snacking with my fresh broccoli!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Endurance Training

If anyone had ever told me that I would choose to train for endurance athletic events in my mid-40's I would have told them they were out of their mind. There is now way I would ever have predicted that I would be running let alone running distances. To run long distances or for hours at a time, you need to train. The body needs to build up to long unending cardio sessions. Today when I was cardio-knitting I was pondering the depths of endurance training as it relates to running half marathon races and as it relates to sweater knitting.

My goal of running 4 half marathon races during 2012 had me logging in quite a few miles. I ran three and four days every week. Yes, there were a couple of weeks since January 2012 that I did not run. The only reason I didn't run those weeks was because I was sick. I feel fortunate that those weeks were few this year. Now that the final half marathon race is only 5 days away I have my training eyes on a new goal. My first marathon race in March. To prepare for that longer endurance I'm increasing my running and my cross training. The goal is to have the body accustomed to exercising for hours. Not hours and hours and hours, just 4 hours.

As I posted last week I've begun cardio-knitting for and one-two hours on my non-running days. This past weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to experience the benefits of that cross training before my big race. I ran a 12K yesterday. I ran it as a coach with a client who had never run more than 5 miles. Instead of running at my normal pace or pushing myself to run a personal record, I ran at her pace. That slower pace was what could be called an "easy run," if you can imagine running 7.5 miles as an easy run. I was so proud of her for running 99% of the race! What did I gain? A huge wealth of knowledge! I learned that cross training has extended my cardiovascular capabilities without me needing to run more miles. I learned that with my current level of running fitness I could easily have run another 6-7 miles. I learned that I'm quite prepared to run my next race exactly the way I want to, as though it were "just another long run."

How does endurance training relate to knitting sweaters? As you can imagine knitting a sweater requires a good deal of time commitment. Before you embark on the adventure of knitting said sweater you need to assemble all the materials, tools, and pattern. Reading the pattern from start to finish is always recommended. A knitting pattern is just like any other set of instructions, it tells you where to begin, where to end, and what to do along the way. One item that all knitting patterns list is gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows knit per square inch. Master knitters, and knitters who want their item to actually fit, will knit a gauge swatch. This swatch is much like a practice run. You knit a piece of fabric that is four inches square. Just a mini practice sample of the garment itself.

I usually knit lots of socks and shawls. Gauge is not very important with shawls. It is not important for a rectangular or triangular piece of knitting intended to drape over the shoulders without a particular fit to be the exact same size as the pattern directions. With my sock knitting I'm not terribly concerned with my gauge either. I knit so many socks I'm familiar enough with my gauge that I can pick up my needles and yarn, match choose a pattern and go. Sweaters though are a completely different story. I need to swatch. I need to swatch using two or three different size needles to get the right number of stitches.

I've been wanting to knit the Gathered Pullover for 5 years. Yes, some patterns hang around and wait for me while others grab me by the throat and demand to be knit immediately. This sweater has been patient. It has even waited while I have the yarn in the house to knit it up with. I decided this would be a fun sweater to take to the beach this weekend. I'm hoping for some beautiful weather to sit outside and knit in. I'm OK with sitting outside in a sweater or sweatshirt while I knit. I just want to be able to knit on the beach. My yarn is a lovely hand dyed yarn. I have four skeins and each is slightly different than the other. I needed to swatch all four skeins of yarn to find the perfect blend of colors in order to come up with a pleasing sweater. My swatches are my practice runs that gear me up for the endurance event of knitting a full sweater.

I'm finding my endurance training is taking a toll on my cooking. I don't have as much time for cooking nor do I have the same interest in creating new foods in the kitchen. What I have been doing is going for basic protein and veggies. I purchased a large bag of broccoli florets, a pound box of baby spinach, one of baby kale, and one of spring mix. I picked up easy protein too, ground turkey, rotisserie chicken, and chicken thighs. My meals have been an odd mix of these. Example?? Sure!

Odd Spinach Salad

2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup chopped peppers
garlic powder and pepper to taste
1 serving guacamole

Saute the ground turkey and the chopped peppers with garlic powder and pepper. Layer the spinach, ground turkey, and the guacamole on one plate.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Biking Instead of Running

I've been biking instead of running for the last two days. I'm not giving up on running I'm cross training. In three hours of biking in two days time I learned a few important things about myself. I'm pretty fidgety with my cardio (biking or running) until I get past that 30 minute phase, I need lots of water, I have some knitting techniques to perfect, and I'm quite crafty when I'm in the thick of my cardio workout.

Those first 30 minutes are critical. When I'm running I find that comfort zone between mile 2 and 3 that is 20-30 minutes on a good run. When I'm biking I finally settle down and get into the groove at about that same time. For both of my morning rides it was dog interruptions and water needs that provided the interruptions. The dogs are adorable, cuddly, and entertaining. They are also quite busy in neighborhood politics and don't feel any of the other dogs should go past their house ever. They are not big dogs with loud barks that would scare away anyone. They are Yorkie mixes with determination. Their determination keeps me from my focus early into the ride.

Meeting my water needs are interesting on the bike. When I run outdoors I carry water in my Camel Bak. I don't want to wear that when I'm riding on the stationary bike. I have a few lovely stainless steel water bottles but they seem to be hanging out at the gym when I'm hanging out at home. My fix? A glass filled with water put on top of the book case. I have to slow down but I can still drink water. There is another down side to the water glass solution, I have to keep getting off the bike to refill it. I am going through four glasses of water in a two hour bike ride!

How is it that biking has me needing to learn new knitting techniques? Well, I'm using my warmups, easy flat run sequences, and cool downs for cardio-knitting. When I cardio-knit I try to knit small projects that will not get caught in my legs. I can even start a sweater on the bike and knit on it until it is fairly long. I found that I cannot hang my knitting bag with my ball of yarn off the handle bars. The yarn hangs so low that it got caught in the toe of my shoe and then wound into my peddle before I could hit the stop button. Fortunately I was only 3 rounds into the sock toes. I did have to break the yarn and start over. Evidently the peddles of a spin bike have grease on them to keep them moving smoothly. Yarn and grease don't mix. I'm now keeping my yarn higher up on the handle bars so it doesn't loop down past my leg. This is what the socks looked like after my first 2 hour ride:



My creative mind feels limitless when I'm in a long cardio session. I think of different writing projects I'd like to do and even start them in my mind. I also think about knitting and spinning projects. Amazingly when I'm running I can imagine myself knitting up big sweaters, large shawls, intricate socks, and even complicated fair isle projects. I usually only remember one or two of these ideas once I've cleaned up and found something to write with. I might need to change that. I might need to find a little notebook and keep it with my running gear so I can jot down notes when my run is complete. I could end up with an unending list of creative ideas.

With these longer cardio sessions I'm finding I need quick fuel and extra snacks. I am fairly strict with my 3 big meals and at least one snack a day. Adding in that extra snack is giving me so much more energy for my day. What have I added in? I'm making myself protein shakes. There are a large variety of protein shakes on the market. The TLS program that I coach uses this shake. I have many of my clients using this shake with excellent results. It is a great product that helps them feel satisfied both in their basic hunger needs and in that stubborn sweet tooth area. Unfortunately I cannot use it. I have a sensitivity to the whey based shakes. I'm using a rice protein powder to make my shake. I thought I'd share that today since there are many people who have dairy and soy sensitivities and may need a solution.It has been so long since I've eaten cinnamon rolls this combination tastes just like a cinnamon roll to me.

Basic Protein Shake

1 serving of vanilla protein powder of choice
8 oz unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp peanut butter

Blend all ingredients using a blender or an immersion hand blender.




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Internet and Storms

As everyone knows, the East Coast of the United States suffered a terrible storm this week. Western North Carolina was not spared the high winds, and we also experienced a mix of snow, sleet, and rain instead of the heavy rains that the coastline experienced. While I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and the tremendous damage to property, I am also grateful that the storm spared my town the heavy snow and ice that was predicted. Based on past experiences, I was prepared to loose power and not be able to drive for days due to icy roads.

What did happen? Not much except my internet at home is glitching off and on. It works for a minute and then it stops. Ironically, there were AT&T technicians on my street Monday and Tuesday. Both days when they were there the internet service was fine. I thought they had fixed some issue in the lines on the street. No such luck. I have thought though it might be fun to call and ask AT&T if they would please send out a repair truck and just leave it parked in front of my house. That would be a much better solution than me spending 45 minutes on the phone with a repair-techy person.

So how did I keep myself busy for 2 days while I was offline and not writing? I finished that $5 in Paris sweater. I ripped back the collar. That silly task took me over an hour. Who knew it would be so hard to unknit a sweater collar? I'm pleased with the results! The body of the sweater is a beautiful collage of color and the ribbed bands hold it all together.


I did an hour of cardio indoors at the gym and saw clients afterward. I attempted an hour on the treadmill. Oh did I ever try! I made it 35 minutes before I finally caved in to the soreness in my joints and the boredom! Then I switched to our Elliptical Edge by StarTrac (he he). I did that for another 25 minutes of burning quads. I think I might be spoiled with outdoor running. I'm not sure how to handle that. We are rapidly approaching winter and after the OBX half marathon race in 10 days I'll be training for my first marathon, the premier Asheville Marathon on the Builtmore Estate here in Asheville, North Carolina. This winter, I might be forced to run 2 or 3 hours on the treadmill. Looks like I'll need to search out some inspirational running music for those long treadmill runs.

Finally, I went grocery shopping. I learned that if the weather is already bad and you go to the grocery store it is empty of people! I went to the busiest health food store in town just before 5 pm and there were plenty of parking spaces and very few other last minute dinner shoppers in the store. I wish I'd bought more food when I was there. Somehow I only bought for one day. Silly. I bought enough fresh chicken to enjoy a tasty high protein entree Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs. (Thighs have a higher concentration of the amino-acid L-cartintine in particular ~ essential for metabolizing fat and other fun things! They are a little more fatty, so enjoy them about once a week.)

Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs

1 pound boneless chicken thighs
1/2 onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Put all in a 9x9 baking pan and toss together, coating the chicken. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve on a large green salad for a healthy lunch or with two hot veggie sides for dinner.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Accepting the Cold

I've been in denial. You know the drill, ignoring the cold hard facts put right in your face and looking the other way. What am I trying so hard not to face? The change of season. Oh, I've been enjoying the leaf color changes and crisp morning air made for perfect runs. What I've been ignoring is the harsh cold, brisk wind, and inevitable snow that will follow the more pleasant aspects of fall. Today that all changed. What finally opened my eyes is an approaching winter storm. Such a rude awakening before we have even left October! There is a chance of snow and ice or it could just be wind and very cold rain. Wind is a definite  We already have 15-20 mile per hour winds. That makes for a chilly night.

Cold nights make me want warm drinks. In years past I would have a sweetened hot drink. Perhaps a hot cocoa or hot spiced apple cider, I might even go so far as to have a special decaf coffee drink to warm myself up. Now I stick to the sugar free non-dairy indulgences. Tonight I'm making hot cocoa with almond milk, cocoa powder, and stevia for sweetener.

Almond Milk Hot Cocoa

16 ounces almond milk
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
stevia to taste

Heat the almond milk in a sauce pan. Stirring with a wire whisk add the cocoa powder when the milk has reached room temperature. Continue stirring and heating until the cocoa is mixed in and the milk has reached your desired drinking temperature. At this point you can add stevia to suit your sweet tooth desire.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday = FUN!

I went to SAFF today! What is SAFF? Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. Amazing fun, beautiful colors, incredible textures, soft wool, curly mohair, yarn, roving, fleeces, dyes, knitting needles, spindles, wheels, carders, you name it if it has to do with the preparation of fiber or use of fiber it was all there! Even the animals were there. Adorable alpacas, cute little Shetland sheep, curly angora goats, and this crazy fun ram! I think he was there last year, or perhaps it was his brother I'm not quite sure. I was so tempted to buy an animal today. If I didn't live in the city limits I would have for sure. I guess I'm lucky I haven't moved out into the country yet!


So what did I buy? Well I kept it minimal this year. I already have bins of yarn to knit, and boxes of roving and fleeces to spin. I only added one skein of sock yarn. I'll be knitting that up come November 1. The yarn is hand painted. It looks like tie dye when it is knit up into socks. I'm thrilled! After yesterday's adventure into the world of dyeing and my stroll down memory lane with tie dye I couldn't resist! I also picked up some Suri Alpaca locks and Angelina to add to an art batt I'm thinking of carding this week. (That is a whole new adventure. The Drum Carder Adventure shall commence in November as well.) Finally I purchased a small amount of silk hankies for spinning. I've seen them around and have been interested in spinning them. These are white. Tomorrow, if I have any energy after my long Sunday run, I'm going to play with my food coloring dyes again. I though it would be fun to drip dye these hankies and then spin them up. I must say the Muse was quite content to go to SAFF this weekend!



After my busy morning filled with fiber adventures I went off to the health food store for food inspiration. I was convinced the Muse would be equally as vocal given the opportunity to pick and choose from organic healthy foods as she was to pick and choose from all the wonders at SAFF. She didn't disappoint! I walked around gathering some staples, cold pressed olive oil, GF sriracha sauce, canned beans, canned diced fire roasted tomatoes, and fresh greens for salad. I don't usually use hot sauce on my foods but the others that live in my house love it so I felt it was important to purchase a fresh bottle so we don't run out.

When I returned home, I wanted to make a simple one pot meal so I could spend my afternoon spinning. After looking at all those beautiful hand spun yarns and new wheels I couldn't neglect my wheel and current spinning project! I finished my yarn and made a simple three bean chili.



Simple Three Bean Chili

3 cans (15-16 oz) beans of choice, rinsed and drained
1 can (28 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS chili powder

In a large pot saute the onion and peppers in the olive oil, just before the onion is clear add the garlic and continue to saute until the onion is clear. Add all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. Serve with sliced scallions on top and a green salad on the side.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Dyeing for Color

I've been thinking about color lately. Lots of color. The leaves are in full fall color. When I'm running through the forest I can see the entire rainbow in the fall foliage. I love looking for the rainbows in nature! Sunsets have every color of the rainbow in them. When I lived in Puerto Rico I thought it was only the ocean sunset that was so ablaze with rich color. Now that I'm in the mountains and watching the big flaming ball sink below the mountain tops in fiery displays of majestic glory I know there are beautiful sunsets around the world. We now have trees full of red, yellow, and orange reflecting the glorious sunsets.

Years ago I was an avid quilt artist. I designed and sold art quilts. My favorite fabrics to use were the ones I dyed myself. I would dye unbleached and bleached cottons in varying lengths using cold water fiber reactive dyes. One of my favorite ways to do this was a graduated rainbow in 24 mason jars. I ended up with yards of deep rich color in varying intensities. It was perfect for my particular style of quilting. I took peoples memories, dreams, and experiences and portrayed them in fiber. Some were pictures, some were geometric interpretations of one aspect of the memory. 

This week I've been thinking about yarn dyeing and how I could apply my experiences dyeing cotton fabrics and tie-dye t-shirts to wool dyeing. I've come up with a few ideas I want to play with. The first is mason jar dyeing and a graduated rainbow using 20-30 yard lengths of cream sock weight yarn. I measured off the yarn using my niddy noddy.



Then I soaked it in warm water while preparing the jars for dyeing.



The dye I used is food coloring. I know I could use powdered acid dye and have some very rich color combinations. I was after a simple rainbow and wanted to keep my supplies food safe. I used 6 jars and spread out my food dye in a manner that blended color from one jar to the next. Each jar had vinegar and food coloring in it before I added the boiling water to it. After I added the water I put yarn into each jar and waited for the color to be absorbed into the yarn. I had to repeat this process to dye 12 colors.




It only took minutes and then I was able to rinse each yarn under hot water. About the same temperature as the yarn was. I usually try to keep my temperature very close so I don't end up felting the wool. This wool is a superwash wool so there is no danger of it felting. That makes the process much easier. 

What I ended up with was about 400 yards of yarn in varying degrees of a rainbow. I'm planning to knit this up into a wide scarf, it will be so wide you might even call it a shawl. The colors are bright and happy. I'll wear it this winter to bring a fresh splash of color into my dark winter world.



With all this talk of color what am I fixing up for my dinner meal? Color of course! Butternut squash, red potatoes, red kale, and some purple eggplant. Not a super fancy meal. Just a meal filled with beautiful food, rich colors, both soluble and insoluble fiber, and flavor!





Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 mile run on a weekday!

This morning's run was a 10 miler. It was splendid! We started out in a chilly 45 degree mist. The first mile climbed 600 feet. Not a running first mile for sure! We hiked and jogged our way to the top. The reward? Close to three miles of gentle downhill through the fall colors! At the bottom we ran single track trail up and downhill for another four miles before heading back to the car along gravel forest roads.

Because it was so chilly I was able to wear my first pair of hand knit gloves! I knit these gloves for myself last winter when I started running distances in the cold weather. My long runs then were 7 to 8 miles. They are merino wool and fit me perfectly. I loved wearing the hot pink with my purple thermal running top today. Color is so important to me. Bright colors make me happy, and wearing bright colors when I run makes me happier!



Between clients today I'm knitting on  my $5 in Paris. It is creeping along. I keep thinking I have to be close to the end of this ball of yarn. I have to be close to the ribbing for the waist. I have to be close! But I'm not, yet. Phew! It is a simple knit but I seem to be dragging, because, I must admit, I've not been able to do as much knitting this week as I'd like. It is hard to have length growing when you can't pick up the project and knit. Here is a progress shot for those of you who remember the project from an earlier post. The lighting in the gym is a bit odd today and makes the sweater look greener than it really is.


In between clients and knitting, I'm reminded of how hungry running makes me! Because strenuous exercise increases appetite and a desire for denser calories, sometimes it makes me crave foods that I know are not in my best interest.  For me, cheese is one of those foods, and it makes me check in to the amount of healthy fat in my diet. When I start craving cheese, I add more avocado. Avocado is a healthy source of mono-saturated fat and has a creamy texture much like some cheeses do. Usually, avocado sliced with a little salt and pepper or guacamole with fresh carrot slices leaves me quite satisfied.

Feeling satisfied and enjoying rich flavors is part of being able to maintain a healthy lean lifestyle. The TLS Weight Loss Solution we teach at my personal training studio, and online, includes a variety of healthy fats in its "Rapid Results" and "Sure and Steady" menus. I love the tastes of raw nuts and seeds as snacks and as flavorful additions to salads and steamed vegetables. Tree nuts, like almonds and walnuts, are best used raw, and a total of 1 oz is all for the day. Nuts are easy to overeat, so be sure you measure the amount. I don't recommend roasted tree nuts, because though they taste wonderful the fragile healthy oils are denatured by the roasting process. Raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut and the superfood chia seed are also helpful tasty additions (though chia doesn't have much taste!). In addition to 1 oz of nuts or seeds, 2 TBS of organic cold-pressed olive oil, or organic coconut oil are useful additions to cook with and create variety in your healthy eating lifestyle. Remember, when you use an oil to cook with getting it so hot it smokes changes the good fat to bad! So cook with steam, broth, or broil with a little oil. Use the raw unheated oil as a nutritious addition.

So, last but not least is PEANUT BUTTER! The best source of peanut butter in my opinion is the grinder in your grocery, especially if you have an organic choice. Fresh ground peanut butter is rich and "fluffy" and tastes completely different then a brand that has sat on the shelve for who knows how long. And the ingriedients are one: peanuts! Peanuts are actually more healthy roasted because they are a legume not a nut ~ however, they count as nuts and as I stated above, you can only have 1 ozs total of any type of nut. One other healthy fat is the yolk of a fresh free range egg. There are many nutrients in this type of yolk including vitamin D. There is some dispute on whether butter is healthy or not. In my opinion a little salt-free grass-fed butter on your veggies or  to fry a "power egg" isn't going to make or break your health goals. However, if you are a person that prefers a little bread with your butter or eats it spread on crackers, or straight out of the paper, avoid it!

After an hour or two of early morning cardio-knitting or a long run just after sunrise, there is nothing better than a hot healthy breakfast with the healthy fat that satisfies!

The Power Egg Breakfast

One whole egg
One egg white
2 strips of all natural or organic nitrate free Turkey Bacon (look at ingredients: do you recognize them?)
1/4 pound of fresh asparagus spears
salt and pepper (optional)
hot sauce (optional)

Rinse asparagus and remove tough ends (don't cut delicate pointed end) Set aside.
Prepare Turkey bacon in a hot pan adding just 1/2 to 1 tsp of olive oil to prevent sticking (or use a "safe" non-stick pan).
When Turkey Bacon is cooked to preference, set aside and use turkey bacon dripping as seasoning for asparagus: add two TBS of water to pan and lightly steam asparagus spears until tender. (In a hurry? Steam spears night before.)

At the same time, pre-heat a skillet with a little butter: Break one free range egg on the skillet followed immediately by just the white of the next egg. (Discard yolk or cook it up for your pooch!) This is a power egg: 2 whites, one yolk! (one yolk vs two keeps the saturated fat and cholesterol in this meal to a minimum, and your pooch will love you for the treat!) Flip it or cook it sunny side up.

On a plate, layer the asparagus with the bacon and  the hot power egg on top! Spice it up with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper or hot sauce; grab your fork and a sharp knife and enjoy! Yum!

Need a bigger breakfast than this? Add a honeycrisp apple and 2 TBS of peanut butter or a fist-sized baked sweet potato seasoned with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Go ahead, eat up! High quality whole foods fire up your metabolism! And feeling satisfied creates a love for life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Convenience Foods?

Let's face it there are days, even weeks, that are so busy you don't have time to cook everything from scratch. What are you going to do? How are you going to continue to eat whole foods and have food quickly?

One of my go-to quick meals is rotisserie chicken. I love that it is already cooked and a whole food. I'm fortunate enough to have two major health food stores in easy driving distance. Both of these stores sell rotisserie chicken. Both of them use free range, hormone free chicken. I can feel good about purchasing this. I am also thrilled they are about the same price, and often less than, purchasing a raw chicken that I must cook up. Many of the local grocery stores have them too.

What can you do with one of these chickens? There is the obvious. Cut it up and eat it with veggies. What if you don't want to cook veggies? Salad bar! Fresh veggies only though; don't go for any of the prepared salads whose ingredients may be questionable. Those salads will add hidden sugars and fats you likely don't want. Stick with the fresh raw veggies and a small amount of dressing on the side. I've been known to purchase frozen veggies to go with the chicken. They heat up fast. They are not fresh but they are better than nothing on a day when you are really not interested in the kitchen.

For a two-adult household  a whole chicken provides at least three meals. The breasts are one meal, and then the leg/thigh portions another. Then pull the remaining meat off the bones and make a chicken salad. It might only be enough for one depending on the size of the appetite. I see the chicken salad as a "bonus meal". Now, don't throw the bones away. Freeze them in a zipper plastic bag! When I have collected 2 or 3 of these I'll make a rich flavorful broth.The way I prepare this delicious chicken broth pulls the nutrients out of the chicken bones and puts them into the broth, and it makes my home smell like love is cookin' in the kitchen. My "Bone Soup" is a healthy tonic, and I can use it for a variety of recipes. Sometimes I have a cup of this basic stock to warm my belly; sometimes I just freeze it into small containers for future use. Other times I use it as the base for a hearty veggie soup. I love knowing I'm adding in extra nutrition, and I also love that I'm able to be so thrifty with all these meals from one affordable purchase!

Bone Soup 

bones left from 2-3 chickens
1 bunch parsley
1 onion coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

Put all ingredients in a large soup stock pot and cover with water. Simmer for 10-12 hours. As the bones soften, they release their calcium. Strain the broth (keeping any bits of meat is optional, after 10 to 12 hours the small amount of meat is flavorless). Use this rich broth as you would any other stock.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time Lapse

Looks like I missed a day. I woke this morning and realized that I had not written my post yesterday. Bummer. To make up for that I'm offering up a couple of recipes today.

Cardio? Why, yes! Yesterday I managed 1 3/4 hours on the spin bike. A bit of that was mellow cardio-knitting and a bit of it was classic spin bike sweaty strenuous hill climbing. I'm feeling the muscle building effects from the standing "hills". It felt good to push myself that hard. It also felt good to know I can ride for that long. The cardio-knitting was great. My $5 in Paris has gotten so long that I had to tuck it under my elbow to knit without it interfering with my leg movements.

While the sweater is long enough to worry about functional biking it is not long enough to be complete. The quantity of yarn left to knit is rapidly dwindling. I'm using a yarn that I dyed myself. It is not a 'spectacular hand painted high end lovely yarn' from one of my indie dyer friends. It is simply a Patons Classic Worsted wool in cream that I dyed with Wilton's Cake Dyes. I only had 2 balls of yarn. I thought I could stretch it and make it work. I'm growing ever doubtful. Rather than make myself crazy I chose to go purchase a matching yarn. My fix will be to do the ribbing with the new green yarn. I thought was very lucky to find a slightly heathered green that matches perfectly. I'll be switching to green for the ribbing at the waist and arm bands. Then I'll rip back the neck and re-knit using the green. With luck it will look intentional.



For cardio today we went for a trail run. We did 5 miles out at the Arboretum. The trees are so beautiful. The weather was perfect. By the time we were running the temperature was about 50 degrees and the sky was clear blue. Just perfect for a morning run. The trails run along a beautiful clear creek. On our summer runs I have thought about doing some creek walking. Today I just admired the beautiful clear water. 



About those promised recipes? I thought I'd share with you some slightly sweet snack ideas. One of my go to snack foods is soaked almonds. I love how soaking them increases the nutrient value and I love how they taste like fresh coconut. Sometimes I really miss cookies so I'm also sharing with you a cookie alternative. You will notice I have cinnamon in these recipes. Cinnamon is helpful in balancing blood sugar. The goal of the TLS diet is to balance the blood sugar. It is nice to get it in whenever we can. I know the temptation is there to increase the amount of honey called for. Please don't. You will be adding unnecessary sugar to your diet. Trust me when I say these items are plenty sweet as they are.

Soaked Almonds

2 cups raw almonds
filtered water to cover

Place the almonds in a large bowl and cover with plain filtered water. Allow to sit on the counter for 10-12 hours. Drain and rinse. Store in the refrigerator, drain and rinse them twice a day. The soaking process encourages the nut to begin growing. This changes the fat to protein ratio and increases the enzymes. How is that? The nut becomes a sprout. Sprouts are full of enzymes. Once the nut is sprouting it is using the fat for fuel to grow into a plant. I think it is genius! You can eat them as is fresh from the fridge at any point you like.  OR you can do this...

Cinnamon Honey Toasted Almonds

Soaked almonds (above)
1 tsp honey
1tsp cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Toss drained and lightly dried soaked almonds with the honey and cinnamon. Dehydrate in a food dehydrator if you have one. Or spread on a baking sheet and dry in oven set at 100 degrees for about 8 hours. Toss occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

Banana "Cookies"

2 green tipped bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (more if necessary)

Cut the banana into 1/2 inch segments. Mix the walnuts and cinnamon together. Coat the bananas with the nut mix. Spread on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled so they don't stick. The oil may not be necessary if the baking sheet is non-stick. Bake in 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until the bananas are slightly crisp. They dry a bit and that is OK. Remember this is 2-3 servings. So share with a friend!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Afternoon Run



Three weeks from today I'm running my fourth half marathon of the year. Weekends are for long runs. Usually I run in the morning. This weekend we had company. Yesterday was about hiking and this morning was about cooking a healthy brunch and saying goodbye to family. Then we went out for errands.

Running gels were top on the list. I'm wanting something new. New flavors, new styles, new something. Anything that will add interest to fueling while running. We went over to REI where they have just about every flavor and style of running fuel you can imagine. I chose chocolate raspberry, mint chocolate, and plain chocolate gel packs. I also picked up some chews. The chews are like gummy bears only they are running fuel. Though I like the new textures of the chews, I'm not sure on the flavors yet. They feel an awful lot like eating candy.

Since we were busy for most of the morning and into the afternoon, I was tired, and wanted to skip out on my run. I wanted to just hang out, knit, and relax. That is not what I did! Despite my lethargic feelings, my partner and I talked ourselves into a 7 mile run. It was amazing! We ran on the sidewalk next to a busy four-lane road, then on two-lane road without any sidewalk, and then we picked up the Mountains to Sea trail for a couple of miles near the Asheville Folk Art Center. We finished up on neighborhood roads for a total of 7 miles of flat, hills, and mildly technical trail running.

I feel content. I feel like I did the most important things I could have done all weekend long. I spent some lovely time with family and friends. I ran with my partner on one of the last warm afternoons that we could possibly have together this fall. I laughed and enjoyed life. I packed 4 days worth of adventure into 2 days of weekend time.

Running gives me creative space. My mind wanders and I think of all my creative projects. Today was no different. I day dreamed of my knitting projects as always, and of course I thought about food. What food I would cook and share today. The glorious fall foliage inspired me. I decided on spicy sweet potato wedges!

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

2-3 med-large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 TBS olive oil
1-2 tsp hot pepper seasoning mix

Cut the sweet potatoes into steak fry wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Pour oil over and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Stir to coat. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 475 for 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the edges are crispy.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reviewing the past

We went for a hike today. It was a simple hike. Not too far. It was one of the first hikes we took the kids on when we moved to Asheville. WOW! That was so long ago. We would pack up and go to Craggy Gardens to get away from the heat in the city and cool off for a summer afternoon. We took them up there to see the Fall leaves for their first experience of the Fall season after living in the tropics for their entire lives.


Today when we hiked to the pinnacle and looked at the 360 degree view it was like I was there with my young teen boys 12 years ago. I loved being up there sharing a wonderful day with my nephew and his girlfriend who are visiting from Virginia Beach. The leaves were just past peak. Last weekend we were close to peak, this weekend we were just past. The mountains never stop giving me breath taking moments and unforgettable memories.


Tonight we are reviewing yet another of our past favorites...peanut butter sauce. We used to use this peanut butter sauce for dinner every other week. It is from the Moosewood Cookbook but slightly altered. I go for a bit more vinegar and cilantro. I also use more water so it is more of a fluid sauce.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter
3/4-1 cup boiling water
2 TBS soy sauce OR 1 TBS wheat free tamari
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
cayenne, to taste

Put all ingredients except the water into a small bowl. Gently stir the water in to make a smooth sauce. Serve over stir fried veggies, roasted veggies, or a nice fresh salad. I have used this sauce with a rice noodle stir fry and been more than satisfied. I think I could eat this sauce by the spoonful and be happy!



Friday, October 19, 2012

Spinning

I felt a bit like I was spinning through my day today. My client schedule was different than normal and filled with short breaks. I usually have clients grouped together and large chunks of time either before or after them. I tried to get cooking, cleaning, and crafting done in those breaks. I think I was fairly successful in completing these tasks.


Knitting time today was in limited quantity. I could have chosen to spend my entire evening knitting. What I chose to do instead is spin. Spinning is relaxing. Once a rhythm is established the yarn seems to spin itself. That rhythm is dependent on a few factors. One is how freely your hands let the wool flow and another is how evenly you treadle the wheel. Treadling is when you push the foot peddles to make the wheel go. Tonight my treadling wasn't perfectly smooth. I thought I was not sore or tired from running the last two days in a row. Fifteen minutes of spinning told me otherwise. Who knew? The wool I'm using is beautiful. It is a super soft Targhee dyed by Younger Yarns. I love the wool. Rather than push tired shins and risk having an unevenly spun yarn I decided to wait until my body has had a chance to recover.

What did I have fun creating in the kitchen today? Blue cheese vinaigrette! Blue cheese is quite a unique flavor. I've liked it for as long as I can remember. Since I'm trying to avoid using many of the bottled commercial dressings I thought I'd try making a vinaigrette that is filled with the rich blue cheese flavor.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, chopped small or pulverized with a mortar and pestle
1 green onion chopped fine
1.5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and let sit until flavors meld and enjoy on a big green salad.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Progress



Progress can be measured in large chunks or small bits. Sometimes our biggest goals, those ones we would like to take chunks out of, come to us in small bits. When those successes seem to slow and come at a snail's pace it is important to take a moment and look at the bigger picture. How long have you been working toward the goal? No really. How long?

I know I've set some goals recently that are inching their way along. If I take an honest look at them and assess where they originated I've been working on them for years not months. In my early to mid 30's I was what I consider my ideal weight but not my ideal body fat percentage. As a fitness professional I am quite aware of the difference here and how it plays out on a person's (me in this case) health. Unfortunately for me my health took an interesting turn in my early 40's. I broke my leg in 3 places and required 8 screws and a plate to repair it. When I was finally able to walk easily again, I found myself with an even higher body fat percentage and a scale weight that made me sad.

It has taken me diligent work but my fitness has improved and my numbers are turning around. One factor has been my dedication to my TLS low glycemic impact eating. Once I saw how easy it is to put on lean muscle and take off unwanted fat by eating healthy whole foods I chose to be a coach. Now my eating plan fuels my goals.

Another factor is my dedication to exercise. Running has completely changed my life. Today's run was 5.5 miles. I ran on flat ground. I stopped when I felt pain and ran when the pain eased off. I knew my body could sustain the run. I knew my muscles could continue. I knew my lungs and heart were strong enough to take the extended cardiovascular exercise. I was happy about that.

When I take a look back at where I was 4 years ago I am amazed. I am awed at where I was and where I am now. I could never have run 5.5 miles 4 years ago. I doubt I could have run 1 mile. I had to learn I wanted to run. I had to find that bottom place, even as a trainer, to get to the place where I wanted to excel. Once I reached that place I had to start the training. Most people don't wake up runners. Most people have to start walking. Then they have to progress to walking with a few jogging or running bursts in there. Eventually they switch out to running. Few people enjoy running more than 3-5 miles. Some people enjoy endurance running. I never thought I was one of those people.

Six weeks ago I wanted to make my 5 mile easy run be an 8 mile run. I wanted to have that easy recovery at the longer distance. Yesterday's run was not 8 miles but it was darn close. This morning I woke without any soreness in my body. I feel I've achieved that goal. That is one step on the road to my grander goal. My goal of running a full marathon in less than 5 hours in March. My scale weight is approaching my desires as is my body fat percentage. It seems the running and the fat burning goals are inching their way to achievement at about the same rate as my running goals.

I have a simple exercise for anyone who is struggling with their grand goals right now. Look at that goal. Look at all the steps to achieving that goal. Look at where you had to come from to even state you wanted to reach that goal. Take pride in yourself. Take pride in the path you have been on. Take great pride in what it took to get to where you are today. Think about what your next step is. Are you working on burning fat but not getting the results you desire? Get yourself doing another 30 minutes of cardio. Are you doing plenty of cardio but not eating enough or the right foods? Set a meal plan and follow it to the letter. If you are having issues remembering to eat on time set a timer and eat when the timer goes off. Getting the right foods into the body does not happen by accident. You have to plan it. Getting your cardio done requires planning. Getting your strength training done requires planning. You are just as important as all the people and events that are filling your days. Take the time to put yourself first. I can guarantee you will have more energy and be more productive in the time you offer to others.

How about ranch today?? How about we go for a comfort food? Wouldn't it be nice to have a ranch dressing that you could use without feeling guilty?

Ranch Style Dressing

1/2 cup kefir OR 4 TBS Greek  yogurt mixed with milk to make 1/2 cup
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and allow flavors to meld. Use sparingly on salad. I have used this dressing as a dip for roasted chicken. Yup. I'm just that weird. It does taste yummy though!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Participation

There are days that I feel we should get points for participation simply by getting out of bed. This morning I was not in a participation mood. Fall is in full swing here in the mountains. Mornings are chilly. We were at 40 degrees when I was getting out of bed. Not much incentive for putting on the running clothes and getting out there.

I did it though. I got up and put on my cold weather running tights, tank top, and cold weather running long sleeve shirt. My first half mile was so chilly I had to tuck my hands into the sleeves of my shirt. The next mile I was pushing my sleeves up my arms. By the end of mile 2 I was peeling off the long sleeve and offering a prayer of gratitude to the angel who insisted I wear the tank top under the long sleeve. I was aiming for 8 miles. At mile 7 my ankle chose not to participate any longer. It was cranky and achy. I opted for the half mile steep uphill walk instead of the mile plus a bit of gradual uphill followed by a flat finish to my front door. The ankle is fine now.

I ate a huge breakfast. Now an hour later I'm hungry again. Looks like my metabolism is participating today. Even though I'd love a huge meal heavy with carbohydrate laden pasta I'm going for a nice salad with protein. It is about goals. I'm choosing meals that will get me to my goals. I love salads. Even in the cooler weather salads still hold appeal. I think one reason is I give every effort to make my own salad dressings. They are not hard to prepare. Simple ingredients put together in a variety of ways. For the next 4 days I'll be posting a different salad dressing. I promise there will be a healthy alternative to the classic ranch and a blue cheese option as well. Today?

White Balsamic Pesto-ish Dressing

2 cloves garlic, coarsly chopped
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil OR 1 TBS dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar

Mash the garlic and sea salt together with a mortar and pestle until the garlic is thoroughly pulverized.


Add the basil and repeat until the basil has turned the mixture green and the leaves are no longer recognizable.


Add the olive oil and slowly combine. Combine the oil mixture and the vinegar. Add to your salad sparingly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spice

Spice is important in life. In my creative life I add spice by knitting lace. It is soothing like adding cinnamon to chocolate. It is invigorating like adding crushed red pepper to meats. It brings me joy like adding fresh herbs to salad.

Over the weekend I knit on my lace sweater. I spent 2 hours on the spin bike knitting. I am fortunate enough to have a spin bike in my living room. I was able to spend my Sunday morning knitting, biking, and listening to a book. I have added some more length to the sweater since that biking session. This afternoon I had a fun photo opportunity. The sun was coming through the big windows at the gym and casting a shadow of the bike on the floor. I couldn't resist. When I'm biking I put each ball of yarn in a separate knitting bag and hang them on the handle bars of the bike. It is very much like the way they are laid out in the shadow. This lace sweater is spicy in that crushed red pepper kind of way. It adds zing to my day. It takes me a while to digest and leaves me feeling happy and warm!


My knitting spice today was knitting on my lace shawl. The pattern is Shipwreck. I'm just starting on the final patterned round before the massive net begins. It is wonderful. It is soft. It is comforting and reassuring. It is spicy in a cinnamon kind of way. It has me captivated. The yarn is like butter in my hands. I love working on it!


For today's meal I added spice. I bought a turkey breast portion to cook in the crock pot. I love the crock pot for cook while I'm at work meals. Cooking turkey breast this way makes the meat juicy and tender.

Pulled Turkey

1 split turkey breast
1 TBS spicy barbecue seasoning mix
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup water

Put the turkey into the crock pot. Cover with the seasoning mix and the garlic powder. Add water to the pot. Cover and cook on high for 4 and a half hours or until the meat is tender and coming off the bone easily. I would have it on the plate with salad and steamed greens for a well rounded meal.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Soup

Though we woke to overcast skies and a chill in the air but the day turned sunny by mid-afternoon. The intense winds that blew away the clouds lingered. Leaves rustled across the lawn and trees swayed. It inspired me to make soup. I had two kinds of kale and a white sweet potato from my CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture). The big orange squash, yellow onion, garlic, and canned beans were lurking waiting to become something delish. 


While I've been lazy lately about peeling squash and sweet potatoes I decided this soup needed the extra attention. I diced up the onion and sauteed it in 2 tsp olive oil until it was clear. I added 4 cloves of minced garlic to it and cooked them a bit longer. I then added a gallon of water and started peeling and chopping. All the veggies were tossed into the pot along with 2 tsp sea salt. After an hour and a half of simmering I had a lovely stew like soup!




Sunday, October 14, 2012

Endurance

Today was a cardio-knitting day. Instead of the planned 10-12 mile run I had planned I spent 2 hours on the bike with my sweater. I listened to a book and knit. I peddled and I knit. I wasn't speed knitting. I wasn't speed peddling. I was out for the endurance of the activity. My intention was cardio for an extended period of time. I feel pretty successful. I reached my goal for endurance cardio. I added close to 1.5 inches on my sweater.

On Sunday, in many American homes, football is the center of attention. The common foods being consumed are not low glycemic nor are they healthy for the body. Most of them are full of empty calories and unhealthy fats. A common sports watching snack is hot wings. I thought I'd share a way to have the hot wings taste and keep the meal on the low glycemic impact plan.

Healthier Hot "Wings"

1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 package spring mix salad greens
2 TBS blue cheese crumbles
2 TBS sugar free hot wing sauce

Broil the chicken 5-10 minutes on each side or until cooked through. In a bowl toss the chicken with the wing sauce. Divide the spring mix onto 3 separate plates and top with the chicken. Garnish with blue cheese crumbles.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Feeding the Soul



There are days that are meant for feeding the soul. Today was one of those days. I went out for a 5.7 mile hike with 3 other women today. What a moving experience it was! We started mid-morning when the chill had not yet left the forest. The first 1/2 mile was straight up hill and before we reached the top, well the place where it leveled off into a more gentle switchback climb, I had shed one of my layers. We walked through shade and sun. We felt pockets of heat coming up from the valley below and chilly winds that whipped over the mountain top. It was 4 hours of change. It was 4 hours of physical challenge. It was 4 hours of wonder and joy.



Hiking in these mountains is always amazing. The ecosystems change as you ascend. At one point I looked out over a cove of trees with moss covered boulders at their bases. On the next turn there were lush ferns covering the ground. Much of the hike was technical and strenuous. Technical in that we had rocks in the path and roots to avoid tripping on. Strenuous in that we were climbing up about 80% of the time. It was so worth the climb. We reached a few pinnacles where the view was unobstructed. On this clear day I felt like I was seeing the end of the Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance.



As we hiked we talked. We enjoyed each other's company. The dogs that accompanied us ran and played. At the 3/4 mark as if there was some unspoken agreement we walked in silence. It was peaceful. We were on a ridge with views and drop offs to either side of the single track path. My thoughts fell into place. My heart filled with joy and love. My creative spirit yearned to express itself. My soul filled and was fed by the beauty of the undisturbed wilderness around us. It was a glorious day in the woods!

As we say goodbye to the deep greens of summer I thought I'd honor that change with a French Lentil Salad. Each of the greens in this salad have a distinctly different flavor. I hope you enjoy it!

French Lentil Salad

1 pound dry lentils, cooked and drained
1/2 cup finely sliced scallions
1/2-1 cup chopped Italian parsley
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil


Boil the lentils over medium to low heat for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse them. While the lentils are cooking chop the other ingredients and combine in a bowl. Add the lentils and mix through. This can be eaten right away or served once the flavors have had time to mingle deeply.



Friday, October 12, 2012

The Three Rs

Review, renew, revisit! Today is one of those kind of days for me. This morning I renewed my passport. It is a simple task but for some reason I drug my feet getting it accomplished. Now that it's done I feel freer and a bit silly for waiting so long. I'm ready to complete some other tasks that fall under the heading of  The Three Rs today.

First up is a sweater. I participate in a Ravelry group called Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup. It is a game of sorts. The goal is to craft items you will use, give as gifts, or donate to charity and have them fit into "class prompts". The structure is fun and supportive of growth in the crafter. Since I started with the group two and a half years ago I have taken my knitting and spinning to new heights. One of my favorite opportunities for growth is with the OWL (Ordinary Wizarding Level). The goal here is to choose a project that will require steady work over the course of approximately 3 months.


This Fall I chose to knit a lace cardigan. It is beautiful! The yarn is exquisite! I know I'll love the completed project. However, as I began the project I quickly learned that I disliked the way the pattern was set up. The lace portions did not flow properly in my mind, and that prevented me from making any progress on it. I quietly set it aside and knit many other items. I realized last weekend, while reviewing my Fall knitting plans, that if I were to continue on the project some changes must be made. Since I'm participating in a challenge of sorts I had to ask for approval to make any changes. I waited for a few days and was approved. The changes require me to rip out all I'd knitted so far and start over. I'm happy to be doing this. To the non-knitter it may seem like more work since I have already knit 5 inches of the sweater body and will need to reknit it using my pattern alterations. I don't think it will feel like more work in the long run because I have chosen to make the lace flow in a way that makes sense to me. The project is ripped back and ready for speed knitting this weekend!



Next up is my cardio. Since I've already had a busy morning of appointments and have a full schedule of clients this afternoon I'm planning to hold off on my cardio until after work. It is Friday. I'll be finished seeing clients at 6:30 pm today. Plenty of time for evening cardio! The plan is to come home and do an hour of cardio-knitting. I'm feeling quite content with this. I might even go so far as to watch a movie instead of listening to a book while I ride and knit. Things could get wild!

Finally, in the kitchen today I'm choosing to revisit the Spaghetti Squash. I've cooked with it before. It is a simple squash to make. I've not been tremendously pleased with the results. It tastes like squash to me and not pasta. I have tossed it with sauteed onion, garlic, and chicken breast and then served it with a salad. That seemed OK. I'm going for the spaghetti pasta experiment today. I had a client ask me this week if I ever use it. I had another client raving about how enjoyable spaghetti squash is. Neither of these people know each other. I took it as a sign. I'm revisiting it. I'm giving it another chance. I'm going to make a simple sauce with ground turkey, fire roasted tomatoes, fresh garlic, and what is left of the basil in my garden. We'll see how starting fresh works here.


To cook spaghetti squash you cut it long wise and scoop the seeds out just like all other hard squash. Bake it cut side down in 3/4 of an inch of water at 375 degrees for an hour or until the meat is soft. To serve it you scrape it out long wise with a fork, often will come out in pasta-like strands. Serve it on a plate and top with sauce or butter.

Simple Tomato Sauce

1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp olive oil
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 pound ground turkey (optional)

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are clear. Add the basil and tomatoes and heat through. In a separate pan brown the turkey and drain off any fat. Add the cooked turkey to the tomato sauce and serve over the baked squash. I added a side of steamed Swiss Chard for a low glycemic impact meal. 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are you dehydrated?

One of the first questions I ask a new client is how much water are they drinking. I'm amazed at how many people are drinking less than four 8 oz. glasses of water a day. The average sedentary person, this means no activity at all, requires eight 8 oz glasses of water to maintain metabolic health! Then I explain they will need to drink that minimum 1/2 gallon of water and up to an additional 1/2 gallon daily depending on what level of exercise I will have them doing. After that I start coaching them on their new water habit.

The first step is determining how are they going to track it. There are many ways to track water. It is rare to find people have fun tallying it up on paper. I suggest a water bottle or a favorite water cup or glass. My water bottle holds 24 oz. I know that I need to empty this bottle 3-4 times in a day. I have tracked that by putting 4 rubber bands on the bottle and moving them to the top as I empty the bottle. I've met people who use their wrists to hold the rubber bands. In the morning they put them on the right arm and move them to the left as they drink their water. Some people find having 3 water bottles is helpful. They know they must empty all of them in one day. Still others find that having a gallon jug that is refilled daily is the easiest solution. There are many options. Find one that works for you and stick with it.

 Then comes the taste obstacle. I understand that water is plain. If that bothers you there are some calorie and chemical free ways to add taste to your water. Slices of cucumber make water refreshing for some. A squeeze of lemon or lime is enough for others. I have fresh mint in my garden and enjoy bruised mint leaves in iced water. Lemon slices and thyme leaves are another wonderful water additive. The point is to increase your water intake without increasing your intake of other types beverages. While it may be relaxing or enjoyable to sip herbal tea all day long the body needs to have water for metabolic functions. One of those functions is the removal of unwanted fat from the system.

During a workout I will give my clients 2-3 water breaks. For about every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise you need to drink 6-8 oz of water. That means if you are doing cardiovascular exercise you need to be prepared with a water bottle for the entire time. When I run I use a Camelbak backpack that holds 1.5 liters of water. On a 5 mile run I'll drink about half of that. On  a 10+ mile run I will empty it.

Now the question is...Are you getting enough water to keep your body hydrated and metabolize fat?


This knitted water cup cozy is one way I have added fun to drinking water. I'm always looking for new ideas if you have one to share please do!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mario Brothers, Turban Squash, and Running?



Have you noticed how much fun the Turban Squash is? I picked one up this morning. I've cooked them before. This one just tickled me. Stores usually have them displayed with their knobby parts up. Something made me put the knobby part down. It made me think of the original Mario Brothers game. I know, silly. Mario Brothers was a big deal when my children were young. When I see Mario anything it makes me think of my oldest son, Bengi, when he was 10. Very happy memories!

Bengi works for me in the gym, and I am fortunate to see him everyday. I'm even more fortunate that he is a runner. He began running before I did; now races are family events! On November 11th we are running the Outer Banks Marathon. He will be running his first full marathon, 26.2 miles, and I'm running my fourth half marathon of the year, 13.1 miles. I'm excited we are down to 31 days until race day. At the same event my partner is planning to qualify for the Boston Marathon, by running the distance in under 4 hours. WOW! Big goals for one short weekend!

In preparation for that event today's cardio was running. I did an easy 5 mile run in a flat park area. It was a crisp morning here in the mountains, 45 degrees, when I left home for the run. I broke out my winter running pants and hoodie. After the first mile I had to shed the hoodie. I was grateful I'd chosen to wear a tank top under it. I find the extended cardio sessions exhilarating.

I haven't always enjoyed exercise. I've actually had a good stretch of time that I was anti-exercise. I just wanted to go through life not moving. I'm so grateful that I'm no longer in that phase of my life and I have compassion for those who are. I don't feel they should stay there. Movement, no matter how gentle, helps the body and the spirit to heal in many ways. Are you just getting started? Think about setting a "marathon" goal like walking one mile for 26 days. Are you already walking and feel the need to push harder? Try to double your walk distance in 26 days. Are you running? Do you want to run? Check out the Couch to 5K program. There are many couch to 5K apps for smart phones you might try one of those too.


So how do you cook that turban squash anyway? It is much like all the other hard winter squashes. Cut it in half, scoop the seeds out, place it cut side down in a shallow baking pan with 3/4 of an inch of water and bake at 375 for 45-75 minutes. The length of time is dependent on how thick the squash is. It needs to cook until soft. At that point the options are pretty open. You can mash it with a small amount of butter. This is one has a nuttier flavor than other squash. You might not want to go with cinnamon or nutmeg. You may be happier with a savory flavor. The squash has a large cavity when the seeds are removed. After baking you could fill it with a multitude of other veggies. Try steamed broccoli, sauteed onion and garlic, and chopped nuts or seeds tossed together. This is also one of those squashes that has a super hard outer shell. Imagine scooping out all the baked squash and using the shell to serve soup or stew. Wouldn't that be fun?  Just look how open the squash cavity is!




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

About that cardio...


I've increased my interest in cardio once more. I did a full hour of cardio-knitting yesterday. One hour on the stationary bike knitting on $5 in Paris. I know I'll have to switch it to lap knitting once the length grows a bit. For now it is a fun round and round knit while the pedals go round and round. The knitting made me happy. The biking made me happy. The book I'm listening to while doing all this made me happy too. Today I went for a 5 mile run in an hour. Big happy here too! I ran from home. I ran hills and only had to walk about 1/4 of a mile. I'm so proud of myself.

Happy is good. Cardio brings about a happy feeling. Maybe that happy is not until you are done. Maybe that happy is not even noticed until you miss your cardio for a few days. It does bring happy. Cardio actually encourages the body to release more serotonin.Serotonin is that wonderful hormone and neurotransmitter that helps us all fight depression. It has many other functions too but today the focus is on happy.

If your only goal was to increase your happiness rating than cardio 3-5 times a week is your best bet. If you are also interested in burning off some excess fat you will want to combine your cardio with healthy eating. My goal with my eating is to have my meals be low glycemic impact. That means lots of fiber, a healthy dose of protein, and good fats at every meal.

After today's run I was famished. Running 5 miles works up an appetite. As a child my mom would cook frozen Brussel Sprouts for my father. They were mushy. They usually had butter on them. Dad loved them. I'm not sure I loved them. Fresh Brussels are a whole different world! My favorite way to eat them is roasted. One of my go to fast foods is canned chickpeas. I know you can soak and boil them. I've never had success and they take forever. In the interest of speed and ease I purchase canned beans. (Still trying to keep the happy here!) A few months ago I got adventurous, or perhaps lazy in the kitchen, and combined the two of them on one roasting pan.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Chickpeas

1 pound brussel sprouts, halved or quartered
1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
2 tsp olive oil
salt and garlic powder to taste

Spread the olive oil on a broiler pan or jellyroll pan. Add the veggies and roll around to coat. Season to taste. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly crisp.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Craving Pizza

There are days I have weird food. Weird combinations of food and weird food substitutions. I've been eating an alternative diet for about 15 years. At first I cut out wheat and dairy. I had to cut out mushrooms because they became a migraine trigger. Then I cut out gluten completely. I was eventually forced to cut out soy. So what is left? Veggies, protein, and a few other grains.

I don't feel deprived, often. There are some foods I wish were still in my diet. Just because they taste good and are common social foods. Pizza is one of those foods. I can make a gluten free crust and have a goat cheese pizza. It is tasty. It is not brick oven pizza. This week I'm not eating any grains. No gluten free crust for me. So how am I going to satisfy that pizza craving? By making one of my weird food meals!

Eggplant Pizza Like Dinner

1 Large eggplant, sliced in thin rounds
1 small package baby spinach
1 green pepper, sliced in thin rounds
1 or 2 tomatoes sliced thin

I spread the eggplant out in a single layer on a broiler proof pan and broiled for 5 minutes on each side. Then I layered the spinach on top:


I put pepper rings and tomato slices over the spinach. Then I sprinkled with powdered garlic and put it back under the broiler until the spinach wilted and the tomatoes had started to cook.


It may not be pizza but it satisfied the craving and kept me within the limitations of my meal plan! My blood sugar remained balanced and my taste buds are happy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chilly days are meant for soup!



We were supposed to hike today. The plan was to hike/run about 6 miles. We woke to overcast skies. Well, more like socked in mountains. Viewing the mountain tops was impossible. Since our hike was up there in elevation and we had already been warned that wet ground would make it dangerous we opted for plan b. Plan b involved rehanging the nets that hold the yoga balls in the gym and shopping for food. Plan b was much less glamorous. To cheer us and warm the house I opted to make soup. Wonderful chill chasing soup!

Sunday Chill Chasing Soup

2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp sea salt

Put the leeks, salt, and 3 quarts of water to boil in a stock pot. When leeks are limp and have transferred their flavor to the water (about 25 minutes) add sweet potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the kale and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the kale and sweet potatoes are soft. Add the beans and heat through for another 5-10 minutes.


Leeks are grown in sandy soil. They often have traces of mud inside their many layers. To clean them easily cut the roots off and slice them open long wise. Rinse thoroughly. Allow them to drain before chopping.