Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekly Exercise Challenge

I almost forgot to post this week.  As expected, I didn't meet my 2 hour with 4 miles of running goal last week but I did manage to get in two really good workouts.  Considering the week we had with the holiday and funeral, I'm pretty happy with it.

Total workout time - 1.5 hours
Total run distance - 2.5 miles

This challenge was originally going to go until the end of the year and then I planned to change it.  Since I've had a rough couple of weeks, though, I'm going to leave my goal where it is for now.  I'll re-evaluate it in a few weeks.

I also continued to do my plank challenge everyday but I've been unable to hold it longer than 1 minute 32 seconds.  I'm continuing to try though.  I missed last Friday because we were at the wake all day and I was exhausted mentally and physically once we got home.

Weekly Meal Plan

Our produce for the week

On Christmas Eve this year, my sister-in-law ask me to send her my weekly meal plan so that she could follow it or at least get some ideas.  I've been planning my meals for years now and I always have people asking me about it so I thought I'd start posting some of them here on my blog.

Now that I have returned to work, I have to plan the week around meals that are quick and easy so that Bill and Kayleigh can prepare them.  I also tend to repeat recipes more often than I used to because they get pretty irritated having to figure out a new recipe every day!

I'm thinking that I'll post my menu plan for the upcoming week on Saturdays so that if anyone decides to use any of the meals, there is time to go grocery shopping.  I probably won't post every week's plan but I'll try to get at least two in every month.

When planning meals I usually pick 2-3 cookbooks for recipes and then add in some of my own recipes. I'll list the cookbooks that the recipes come from and try to post one of the recipes here sometime during the week.

This week I picked 3 cookbooks:

I selected the two holiday ones because a lot holidays fall in the winter so they both have good choices for this time of year.  I feel like our diet hasn't been as healthy as it should be lately with everything we had going on so that is where the Greens cookbook comes in.  When in doubt, eat more greens!

So, here is my plan for this week.  I'm going to be home all but two of the days so this isn't one of the quick and easy menu plans but it still isn't too difficult.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes - p. 180 Celebrations

Multi-veg hash browns - p. 270 Holiday Kitchen
White bean and greens burgers - p. 114 Greens

Southwestern-style greens with pinto beans - p. 105 Greens
Baked potato soup or Spinach & fennel soup

Hoppin' John - p. 274 Holiday Kitchen

Quinoa with kale, sweet potatoes, and pecans - p. 85 Greens
Roasted cauliflower and broccoli

Pad See Ew - p. 122 Greens
Tempeh kuku paka - p. 224 Celebrations

All of these recipes are vegan except for the baked potato soup.  I've tried to veganize that but it just didn't taste good so Bill and Kayleigh will have that and I'm having the spinach and fennel soup.  Saturday is always leftovers or whatever we can throw together.  Some of these recipes are new to me so I'll let you know at the end of the week how they worked out.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spaghetti Sauce

Hope everyone had a nice holiday.  We celebrate with my family on Christmas Eve and, for the first time ever, it was at my parent's house instead of ours.  Although I still cooked a lot of the food, it was nice to not have to worry about cleaning the house.  We had planned this change over a month ago and with the recent death in our family and our unfinished house projects, I was really glad it wasn't here!
Yummy snacks on Christmas Eve

Several years ago, we had pasta with your choice of marinara, Alfredo or pesto.  That was when we discovered that my niece, who usually wouldn't eat any of my food, loves my marinara sauce.  Funny enough, Kayleigh won't touch it!  This year my mom thought it would be easiest to have spaghetti so I brought the sauce, which we have now renamed "Lily's Spaghetti Sauce".  Kayleigh didn't eat it, as usual, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

On Christmas day, Bill and Kayleigh used to go to his mom's house.  I'd stay home and try to get our house back in some kind of order after our Christmas Eve celebrations.  This year, obviously, Bill and Kayleigh had no where to go so we all lounged around and had a very nerdy Christmas watching these all day:

It was so relaxing.  We then had fajitas for dinner - not very traditional!  Also, the three of us have very similar senses of humor so one person would make a joke and we would just keep it going.  At one point we were laughing so hard we could barely breath!  It seemed wrong since we are supposed to be mourning but I think it helped Bill keep his mind off what is coming later in the week.  Overall I would say it was a pretty good Christmas considering the circumstances.

Looks like they planned their outfits but they didn't!

Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 T olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes1 cup vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
3-4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
5 pepperoncini, chopped
1 tsp pepper
1 T salt
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion until nice and caramelized  Add the garlic and cook two minutes.  Add the tomato paste, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Taste the sauce after about 10 minutes and add more salt and/or sugar if needed.

NOTE:  If you don't have pepperoncini on hand, add 3 T balsamic vinegar at the very end.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Day Late and a Dollar Short

I didn't get a chance to post my weekly exercise challenge results yesterday.  I don't have the exact numbers at the moment but I can say that I didn't come close on the run distance or overall time.  Usually I don't think sitting on the couch watching TV is a good excuse to not exercising but last week it was.  My husband's mother has been battling cancer this year and passed away Saturday.  Last week we knew the end was near and I felt like I was being more useful watching TV and talking with Bill than I would have been on the treadmill.  This week probably won't go much better but that is OK.

On top of his mom, we also lost his sister's father-in-law the week before and my aunt has only been given a couple days.  It has not been a happy few weeks for our families but I've been overwhelmed by the support from our friends.  It has meant so much.  Today I went into work for half a day and one of my co-workers brought in a taco dip (vegan!) for me to take home so we'd have something to eat around the house while we made all the funeral arrangements.  I've only been at this job for 5 months but I have made such good friends already.  They have really been thoughtful and supportive and I can't begin to express my gratitude.

Blurry but delicious taco dip

The only positive exercise accomplishment I had last week was that I did my plank challenge every day.  I was amazed on Friday when I held it for 1.5 minutes.  I never thought I could do that!  Unfortunately tonight I was supposed to do 2 minutes but I completely collapsed at 1 minute 32 seconds.  I've decided to keep trying to reach the 2 minutes.  When I do, I'll continue the challenges from there so it will definitely take me longer than 30 days.  On the bright side, Bill tried it with me tonight and only made it 27 seconds so I feel pretty good about my time!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winter Exercise Goal - Week 3

I just finished week three and once again I met my goal:

Total workout time - 2 hours 18 minutes
Total run distance - 4.25 miles

Every week I think I'm not going to reach the running goal but so far I've been able to pull it off.  Friday I struggled through my run but ended up getting 2 miles.  That left me with only half a mile needed on Saturday.  I really need my recovery days so even though it wasn't a long distance, I was worried about running two days in a row.

Since it was such a short distance though, I decided to push my speed.  The guidelines I was using last winter on the treadmill were 5 MPH for slow, 5.5 for comfort and 5.8 to push myself.  Recently I've noticed that anything below 6 MPH seems really slow.  So yesterday I ran the half mile at 6.5 just to see it I could do it.  Once I met that challenge and walked a little bit, I decided to go a quarter mile more but keep increasing the speed to see the fastest I could handle.  Shockingly, I got up to 7.4!  I possibly could have gone faster but I got scared and had to slow down.

Overall, I feel a lot better.  My headaches, upset stomach, and general tiredness have mostly gone away while my stress at work has increased so I think the regular exercise is definitely working.

One of my co-workers is doing a plank challenge so I decided to start that last week as well.  I had my daughter pick a random 30-day challenge off the Internet and she picked this one:

I started this past Monday.  Planks are probably my biggest weakness so I'm not sure how I will do at this.  As you can see (maybe) I did 45 seconds today but by the end of the week, I'm supposed to be at 1.5 minutes.  What?!  We'll see!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

We had our first big snowfall overnight and it is still snowing. Luckily it is Saturday so I don't have to go to work but that also means I don't really want to go to the grocery store.  So I was digging through the refrigerator looking for something that could work for lunch.  I stumbled across the bottom part of a butternut squash way in the back that still looked good so I decided to turn it into soup.

Usually butternut squash soups have sweeter flavors in them that I don't care for.  I prefer spice and garlic so I went with curry kind of flavors.  I was expecting a thick creamy soup when I was done but it turned out much thinner so I threw leftover rice in at the last minute.  It turned out nice and spicy and perfect for a snowy day.

I often take leftovers and turn them into soup so I think I'll do that as a series here.  Every couple weeks or so through the winter, I'll come up with a soup based on the leftovers in my fridge.

Here's the first.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups chopped butternut squash
1/2 tsp sweet white miso
1 cup light coconut milk
3 cups water
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
ground pepper
lemon juice

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium sized soup pot.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add the butternut squash and miso.  Cook two minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk, water, and garam masala.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the squash is soft (10-15 minutes).  Transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and process until the soup is completely smooth.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the rice.  Heat a couple minutes until heated through.  

On each serving add ground pepper and a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Eggless Experiment Revisited & Week 2 Exercise Goal

Last night around 8 PM I decided that I had to have brownies.  I have several vegan brownie recipes that are good but they are never the same as a box mix.  We had discovered earlier this year that Betty Crocker makes a mix that doesn't contain dairy so we've had a couple boxes of that on hand for when I needed brownies quickly.  We've always used Egg Beaters with it though.

This past summer, Kayleigh and I tested several egg substitute options by replacing the one egg in chocolate chip cookies.  Last night we decided to try our favorite to replace the two eggs called for with the brownie mix.  Our favorite of the five options we tried was the arrowroot powder so we used 2 tablespoons of that mixed with 6 tablespoons water.

I didn't notice any difference in the taste or texture.  Kayleigh thought they actually tasted better.  So now we know that will work for replacing two eggs as well as it did for one.  I'm going to keep my eyes open for a recipe that calls for 3 eggs for a future test. Usually the more eggs you are replacing, the less successful the results so we'll see.

 As for my weekly exercise goal, here are my results for this week:

12/1 - 12/7
Total workout time: 2 hours 8 minutes
Total run distance: 4 miles

I met my goal again but I almost didn't.  We are trying to get a lot of house projects done before Christmas this year so our house has looked like this lately:

That has made it a little harder to get my workouts in.  Last night I knew I still needed 1 mile of running and about 15 minutes which is obviously doable but I thought brownies sounded better than running at 8 PM!  Then when we were about to put them in the oven, I started to feel guilty so on the spur of the moment, I jumped on the treadmill and told Kayleigh to call me when the brownies were done.  So my goal was met and I got to eat brownies too!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Week One - Exercising Results

I've completed the first week of my winter exercising program. My goal was to workout for 2 hours including 4 miles of running.  I immediately regretted the 4 mile part of the goal but I decided early in the week that even if I didn't reach it, I'd leave that out there as a goal.  I wanted it to be reasonable based on my schedule but to also a challenge.

I was absolutely shocked when I went through my twitter posts this week and found that I had actually met the entire goal.  I had to re-add it several times to make sure!  My results are as follows:

11/24 - 11/30
Total workout time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Total run distance: 4 miles

Shocking!  I'm going to keep the goal at this level for the rest of 2013 and then re-evaluate and hopefully increase it a little.  My main purpose right now is to get back in the habit of exercising on a regular basis.  And on that note - I need to go workout!