Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fun Treadmill Workout?

I promised myself that when I finally found time to post, I would not mention the weather so I'm going to pretend that 2 feet of snow and -15 degree weather for 3 weeks is normal! Plus I refuse to post a picture of this craziness.

I'd like to say that the reason I haven't posted anything in 2 weeks (or has it been 3?) is because I've been working out so much that there just hasn't been the time.  Unfortunately I've barely worked out.  It started with an issue with my elbow.  I messed it up a few months ago and it has really been bothering me so I've been restricted to basically just running.  There may be some people in Chicago running outside but I am not one of them!  I don't hate the treadmill the way some people do (my daughter) but I get bored with it easily.  Of course part of it was just plain laziness, too.

I was already planning to run tonight when I saw that Patty Rivas posted what she called a "Fun Treadmill Workout" on Google + so I decided to give it a try.  I had to adapt it a little bit because I'm out of shape but it was still a challenge and a really nice change.  Click here for her blog post describing her workout.  Here is how I adjusted it.

I started out with a walking warm up for the first song which turned out to be almost exactly 5 minutes long.  Then I ran the next song at 5.3 and bumped it up to 6 for the chorus.  I quickly realized this was going to be harder than I expected so for the next song I dropped back down to a walk with an incline of 1% and bumped it up to 3% at the chorus.  I continued this back and forth for 5 songs and then ended with a walking cool down.  I did a total of 33 minutes and 2.44 miles.

I liked the unpredictable part of it.  Some songs repeat the chorus way to many times and others had what seemed like unusually long ones which forced me to really push myself.  The other thing I liked about this workout is that depending on what song I start with, it could be a different workout every time.  I'm definitely going to use this to try to change up my runs from time to time.  Thanks Patty!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vegetarian Times Review

Last week our food plan had several recipes from the January/February 2014 issue of Vegetarian Times.  I've been subscribed to this magazine for years and I plan to continue.  The funny thing is that while I like the magazine and enjoy reading it, I generally have bad luck with the recipes.  Often they seem unnecessarily difficult.  I get a lot of inspiration from the recipes though so I end up with a lot of great recipes from the magazine that were never actually printed!  Having said that, a few of our favorite recipes come straight from Vegetarian Times with no adjustment at all.  The apple crisp that we make every fall is from a late-1990's issue!

So here is what we thought of the recipes we tried last week.

Sesame-Ginger Broccoli Soup - In one word, weird.  It was very thin and the ginger flavor overpowered everything.  Personally I like ginger and once I got past the weirdness, I didn't mind it.  I can't believe there was so much broccoli though, and I couldn't taste it at all.  Kayleigh ate hers, Bill had 2 spoonfuls. I had pickled ginger in my fridge for ages and finally threw it away last summer because I never use it.  I actually went out and bought more specifically for this recipe and now I'm sure that will sit around a couple years until I need the space and throw it away again!

Red Curry Vegetable Soup - My issues with this recipe aren't actually the fault of the recipe itself.  We had this with brown rice and I think we would have really liked it except for two things.  First, I don't know what is up with Thai red curry paste the last year or so but it is not spicy at all.  We thought it was just a fluke with one jar so we bought another and then tried several other brands but they are all way too mild for our taste.  We ended up adding random hot sauces trying to increase the flavor so that messed with the overall dish.  The other issue is that the last 3 times we had green beans, they were not good.  I don't know where the grocery store is getting their green beans from but the taste is really off lately.  We all ended up picking them out of the soup.

Black Bean Tostadas with Kiwifruit Salsa - I don't know why I put this on the menu because it really doesn't sound like something we would like.  Then I came home and saw it and really started to question what I was thinking!  But then I tasted it and, surprise, it was my favorite meal of the week!  I loved it.  The kiwi salsa was so good I made a second batch for this week.  Bill and Kayleigh made dinner the night we had this so I told them to skip the grinding a chili pepper step and just use cayenne.  Also, we obviously used vegan sour cream instead of yogurt.  I was really disappointed there weren't any leftovers from this.

Oven-Fried Truffle "Chips" - I chose this recipe mostly because my mom bought me truffle oil a few months ago and I have yet to use it.  Here is my first example of Veg Times making things too involved.  I make "fries" all the time and never have I had to do so many steps or use so many pans, bowls, etc.  I have never boiled the potatoes before roasting them but I thought maybe it would make them cook up better.  No, it did not.  They also didn't cook any quicker so it was a completely useless step.  Also, in my opinion these had way too much oil on them and the oven temperature was too low.  I can't believe for a minute the fries pictured were actually made by following this recipe!

Cherry Turnovers - Recipe number two that they made much harder than necessary.  Unlike the fries though, these were delicious!  The recipe had you moving back and forth to the refrigerator after each step.  I did not do that and they still turned out fine.  I've decided to keep frozen cherries and puff pastry in the freezer at all times now so we can have these whenever we want.

As usual, we had some winners and some losers and I came away with a few new ideas.  Overall I'd say this was probably one of the better issues as far as recipes go.

I realize now that I should have taken some pictures during the week but I didn't even think of it until right now!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Orange Pecan Muffins

I am always very ambitious when buying fruit at the grocery store but I can never come close to eating all of it.  Even though I've been eating several mandarin oranges every day, I have a huge pile still left.  That's why I decided to put them in a muffin.

Orange Pecan Muffins

About 5 mandarin or clementine oranges
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup margarine
2 tablespoon arrowroot powder
6 tablespoons water
1 cup soy milk
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Peel the oranges and chop them in a food processor.  You should have about 1 cup when you are done.  Mix with the sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and spices.  Cut in the margarine until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.  

In a separate bowl, combine the arrowroot and water.  Stir in the milk.  Add this to the flour mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Add in the pecans and oranges.  

Spoon into a lined muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.  

I had some left over batter even after filling the cups all the way to the top.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How To Have A Happy Day

We still have a lot of snow here and it is still very cold.  On Sunday they notified us that schools would be closed Monday and Tuesday and that our work start times were delayed.  Monday morning they closed both our businesses so we were all home for the day and the state closed all the roads.

This morning, I had planned to go to work.  Most of the roads were opened but they were still warning people that the conditions were very hazardous.  Bill leaves about an hour before me so he called and let me know that the intersections were very icy.  I put on multiple layers of clothing and headed out for work with plenty of time to spare.  First I struggled to get the garage door to open but luckily the car started fine.  I was happy to see that Bill had set the 4-wheel drive because I wasn't sure that I remembered how.  So I slowly headed down the driveway and at the end - stopped.  I tried to pull forward and my wheels started spinning.  I finally managed to pull forward but when I went back, I again got stuck.  I continued to do this over and over, trying different angles and speeds but couldn't make it into the street.  After several minutes I realized this was a sign that I really should not be on the road so I pulled forward and went inside.

After taking off several layers I sat down and was really unsure what to do.  I was irritated that I wasn't able to get to work, partially because I didn't want to use a vacation day but also because I'm tired of being stuck in the house.  There is nothing more I can clean or organize!  After a few minutes though, I realized this was a great opportunity to just focus on doing things that make me happy.  There was nowhere I had to go and nothing and had to do.  To make it even better, Kayleigh was stuck here with me!  So I decided to be happy and enjoy my day.

First I lit one of my favorite candles and watched some TV.  Once Kayleigh woke up, we made some muffins.  Her chocolate muffins were from a cookbook but I wanted to use up some mandarin oranges so I we had to adapt a basic recipe (I'll post the recipe tomorrow).  Then we watched a little more TV and ate lunch.

After lunch, we pulled out several games (non-electronic) and played all afternoon.  In case you're curious, I won 3 games of Battleship but Kayleigh won Bargain Hunter and Bonkers.

Throughout the day I learned that it is not a waste of time (or a vacation day) to sit back and pick things to do just because you enjoy them.  I hope to not have to wait for severe weather to do this again!  Although Kayleigh's school is cancelled again for Wednesday, I will hopefully be back at work, refreshed and happy.

 In case you can't tell, that says the temperature outside was -3.  We were excited that it warmed up!
 Tiger barely left my side all day.

 Kayleigh picking out a muffin recipe.

My favorite boy.

Playing Battleship - 1970's version.  Our other cat insisted on laying across Kayleigh's legs which may explain why I won!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

We Are Snowed In - Time To Bake!

I'm really glad that today is a Sunday because I can't imagine trying to get to work when it looks like this outside:

After this big dump of snow, we are supposed to drop way below zero.  Kayleigh's school is already cancelled for Monday and Tuesday and Bill's start time for work tomorrow has been pushed back three and a half hours.  All the local colleges and universities are even closed.  Although I have what I would consider to be one of the least essential jobs in the world, I will be at work tomorrow!

This afternoon while Bill was outside trying to get the snow off our garage so it doesn't cave in and Kayleigh was downstairs running on the treadmill, I decided to bake!  I had several ideas in mind but when I noticed that my blondie recipe calls for three eggs, I decided to try our eggless experiment again.  That allowed me to say I was "working on a blog post" instead of "baking cookies to stuff in my face while watching TV"!  No more guilt!

I used the arrowroot mixture again so for three eggs it was 3 tablespoons arrowroot and 9 tablespoons water.  I was worried at first because it looked like it was separating but after mixing it at high speed for about a minute, it looked better.  The final batter was the same appearance and consistency (and taste because you know we always eat the batter!) as usual. The bars tasted better than usual because they were a little less oily which was nice.

                                                        This it what it looks like when you first add the arrowroot.

I'm really surprised that it worked for three eggs. It appears that this substitution will work for any baked goods kind of recipes.


3/4 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
9 tablespoons water
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the arrowroot and water together and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

In a mixer, beat the margarine, sugars, and vanilla until well combined.  While the mixer is on low, slowly add in the arrowroot mixture.  Beat about one minute.  Gradually mix in the flour mixture.  Stir in the chips.

Pour the batter into a parchment lined 15x10 inch baking pan.  Spread it evenly over the pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Watch it carefully.  It seems to go straight from raw to burnt.  Cool completely and then cut in squares.

 Here it the batter .

 It almost overflowed!
UPDATE: The state just declared a state of emergency.  Only emergency vehicles allowed on the road.  Please let the power stay on!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Meal Plan - Last Week and Next Week

The bad weather and stress of the past couple weeks finally got to Bill and I and we both caught a cold last week.  We are big advocates of zinc to fight off colds so we've been taking that like crazy and it is keeping the symptoms minimal.  Still we haven't been overly motivated.  I had planned to post a recipe during the week but every night I said - "Maybe tomorrow"!

We did get through most of the recipes planned for the week though. We had a few changes during the week though so you can see that there is some flexibility within the plan.  

Tuesday was the first night where we made an adjustment.  We still had the soups but instead of the southwestern greens and pinto beans, we made Rockin' Reubens from Robin Robertson's "Quick-Fix Vegetarian" with the left over sauerkraut from Sunday.  My husband would eat these reubens every week if I let him!  The funny thing is that none of us have ever had a traditional reuben so we have no idea how it compares but we love them.  Since we didn't have the pinto bean dish, I had extra spinach which I threw into smoothies during the week.  Spinach never goes to waste in our house so that was an easy adjustment to make.

The only other change we made is that we had leftovers on Friday and we are having the meals planned for that day tonight (Saturday).  I did this because Kayeigh had to work last night so I thought leftovers made more sense.  

As I had mentioned, we had a lot of new recipes last week.  My favorite hands down was Thursday's quinoa with kale, sweet potatoes and pecans.  This was the only night I wasn't home to cook.  Bill came home and went straight to bed so Kayleigh made it by herself and she did a great job.  It was so good!  I really liked the texture of the kale.  It was cooked but  not soggy and the whole thing went together really well.  We forgot to roast the cauliflower and broccoli though so those left overs and still hanging around.  

Speaking of leftovers, my husband was concerned we didn't have enough to make a meal last night.  Here is what I pulled out of the fridge:

Yeah, we had plenty!  The roasted garlic mashed potatoes and multi-veg hash browns are the only things left.  We weren't too thrilled with either of them so I think I'm going to puree them together today and have them for lunch as a kind of mashed potato thing.  

Overall we did well last week but this week I'll be back to work and Kayleigh will have practice after school so we'll see how it goes.  I received my January/February Vegetarian Times in the mail yesterday so I picked several things from there along with a few things from Robin Robertson's "Quick-Fix Vegetarian" because Bill really likes that cookbook.  Here is what I have planned:

Breakfast - Cherry Turnovers - Veg Times p. 64
Sesame-Ginger Broccoli Soup - Veg Times p. 24Quinoa Pilaf with Spinach, Apples and Walnuts - Quick Fix p. 99

Oven-Fried Truffle Chips - Veg Times p. 63

Black Bean Tostadas with Kiwi Salsa - Veg Times p. 56

Red Curry Veg Soup - Veg Times p. 26
Brown Rice

Fettuccine with Rainbow Chard, Golden Raisins, and Pine Nuts - Quick Fix p. 125

Linguine with Edamame Pesto - Quick Fix p. 130

I also want to make the Bittersweet Cashew Cream Truffle Squares on page 50 of Vegetarian Times sometime this week.

I won't even mention my weekly exercise challenge results!  You can imagine how it went if I couldn't even get up the energy to post a recipe.