Excitement and Milestones

Today is a fun day. Yeah, it’s humid as anything and my run this morning was extremely sticky, but I’m still excited from yesterday. I increased my squat weight! Since I’ve been more aware of my calories, one of the metrics I use to be sure I’m getting enough to eat is whether or not my strength stays the same. Well, most of my weights have stayed consistent, so no worries, but it’s great that I’m still improving. I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to do a full pull-up, but I haven’t worked negatives in a long time, so we’ll see.

Also, today I figured out an awesome new breakfast that I’m going to continue when the weather cools down: soup!  I had leftover chicken breast and a half a cup of broth that didn’t fit in the containers in the freezer, so instead of a scramble, I figured I’d make a stew.  Spinach, mushrooms, chopped chicken, broth, and a slice of cheese melted over the top.  Maybe a little weird to eat in the middle of July, but delicious nonetheless.  I’ve been trying to come up with something besides oatmeal to eat on chilly mornings.

What’s keeping you happy this morning?


Sunday Recipe: Shrimp and Mango Stir-Fry

This is a recipe inspired by April Smith, a calorie restriction blogger over at April’s CR blog.  Now, I’m not a calorie-restrictor, but one thing I love about April is that she prefers to avoid grain products and posts amazing recipes based around protein, veggies, and healthy fat.  Of course, since there is some philosophical mismatch, I’ve altered her original recipe a bit.

Shrimp and Mango Stir-Fry

One serving:

145g peeled and de-veined shrimp

60g each red and green pepper, cut into strips

100g cubed mango

1 tsp. ghee

1/2 lime

mango salsa, to taste (I used Desert Pepper peach mango salsa)

Heat a wok over medium heat.  Add the ghee and when it’s melted, add the peppers and mango.  Stir-fry for a few minutes, until they start to soften, and then add the shrimp.  When the shrimp are cooked through, remove from the heat and pour onto a plate.  Squeeze lime juice over the stir-fry and top with salsa.  Serve with steamed broccoli tossed with olive oil.

Friday Five: Five Things For Which I’m Grateful

Continuing my body love Friday Five series, inspired by Melicious and Weightless, here are five things for which I am grateful:

1.) Pacifica Perfumes. No synthetic fragrance, so I won’t react badly to them, and the Persian Rose scent is so absolutely heavenly. It relaxes to a deeply sensual oriental scent. Love it.

2.) Kale. I eat a lot of kale.

3.) On-campus rec center. I work within a ten-minute walk from a rec center with treadmills, an indoor track, a nice weight room, indoor and outdoor pools, steam room, sauna, mat room, and climbing wall. Awesome.

4.) My amazing husband who does most of the cleaning.

5.) Chocolate. Because it is that time again.

Product Review: Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Skin Creme

I thought I’d write up a quick review for a product I’m really loving right now.  I have problem skin.  It reacts to just about everything: stress, bad diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor product choices.  Lately, I’ve been having some pretty epic breakouts (for me) because of the stress of travel, bad diet, and some poor choices of moisturizer.  Particularly, I’ve realized that shea butter, as well as coconut oil, causes me to break out.  Ick.

Now, since shea butter and coconut oil are both supposed to be so good for your skin, it can be difficult to find reasonable products that don’t contain them, but also don’t contain petrolatum or synthetic fragrance (which also cause me issues).  I love love love the texture of Nivea creme, but don’t appreciate how after a day or two of better skin, I start breaking out again (oh, right, petrolatum).

Enter the Bees.  Burt’s Bees is hit-or-miss in some ways, but this creme is bang on.  The texture is that rich, velvet-y texture of Nivea, albeit slightly grainy, and melts in your hands.  It’s thick and stays on your skin.  I mostly use it on my face, but I also lube up dry elbows and use it when I give myself a manicure.  Yes, it’s greasy.  It’s primarily made from oils and wax.  But it’s natural oils and wax, which your skin can absorb.  I slather on a pea-sized amount at night after washing and use a much smaller amount, which I just barely pat into damp skin in the morning.  It absorbs while I make breakfast and then I’m ready to make up after brushing my teeth.  Brilliant.



Calorie Awareness and Optimal Nutrition

I alluded previously to the fact that I prepare a lot of my food by weight so as to be more aware of what I’m eating. This is a practice borrowed from the practice of calorie restriction with optimal nutrition (CRON), which I do not practice. Well, I suppose I do eat less than I would when I don’t monitor, which might be considered “moderate CR,” but I’d rather call myself “calorie-aware.” Basically, my approach is to try to stick to a calorie level that is supposed to maintain my weight and activity level.  If my weight drifts one way or the other, I adjust calories accordingly.  Oh, and I try to get all my vitamins and minerals from my diet.

That’s where CRON-o-meter comes in.  I highly recommend this software (which also has an online version now, at http://cronometer.com/.).  The best part is that everything is edit-able.  I can go in and set custom nutrient goals, using the pre-loaded government guidelines to start, and then tweaking those that I think need tweaking.  Vitamin D and magnesium got a tweak today when I read up on stuff.

Then, I just watch what I eat.  I use a digital scale to weigh a lot of the food I eat, as it adds consistency to my meals.  I mean, professional bakers have long used scales to ensure consistency in their recipes; I just steal that trick to make sure I’m eating the same amount of yogurt every day, for example.  My husband has started weighing out certain foods, too, since we find that it helps make sure things last the whole week.  Before I would eyeball my yogurt during the week and have maybe 3 tablespoons of yogurt left by the end of the week.  Drag.

Also, little tip:  If you pour wine in 4-oz. servings instead of 5-oz. servings, you get an even number of servings out of a bottle.  This is good when you have an even number of people in the house.  Also, 4 oz. of wine is 100 calories.  That’s my kind of 100-calorie snack.

So while I don’t really practice CRON, I use a lot of their tricks to keep my diet healthy without feeling deprived.  For example, today was my apartment complex’s free breakfast day.  They give out a donut and a juice (sugar high, right?).  I love, love, love donuts, but I rarely eat them, so of course I’m going to go for the free donut.  But I entered it in (I weighed it because the donuts they get are smaller than average and not really as caloric as the standard “doughnut” entry) and added protein, veggies, and healthy fat to make up a decent breakfast.  And you know what?  Even though I had a sugar-filled pastry as part of my breakfast, I still feel satisfied at 11:30am because I also got plenty of protein and good nutrition.

What a Week!

So I realize that I’ve been missing for a week, and I don’t even have as exciting an excuse as a conference to explain it.  Last Tuesday, I developed a nasty stomach flu and was down for the count for a few days.  Then, just as I was feeling better, I had to start preparing for a party I was throwing on Saturday night.  Yikes!  And yesterday, I just took a little time to myself.

My yoga streak is still going strong.  Even when I was sick, I was able to do at least a little bit of gentle yoga.  Yesterday, I had my second Bikram yoga class.  I’m still undecided on what I think of it.  I think I like flow better, but there aren’t any convenient flow centers.  We shall see.

Today, I’m getting back into my exercise routine, heading to the weight room this morning.  I basically quit everything except yoga while I was sick.  I also owe my readers a post about how I eat, since I made a reference to it in my last recipe post.  So much to do!

Sunday (Monday) Recipe: Zucchini Lasagne

Oops, I’m a little late posting my Sunday recipe, but I do have something for you. It’s my tweaked lasagna recipe that doesn’t involve pasta. Totally gluten-free, totally grain-free, and low in carbs, too, if you’re into that kind of thing. And all the veggies add amazing amounts of nutrients, with lots of protein from the meat and cheeses. I’ve given everything in weights since I’ve started measuring my food more carefully in an effort to be more aware of the nutrition I’m consuming. I’ll discuss that in more detail later this week.

Zucchini Lasagna

200g ground beef
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 can crushed tomatoes

300g zucchini, sliced the long way (this was about 2 medium zucchini)
100g baby spinach (this is a heaped 3 cups)

125g part-skim ricotta (about 1/2 cup)
1 beaten egg
8g chopped basil (a scant handful)

1oz. grated Romano cheese

Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Start the beef in a cold pan so that the fat renders out to cook the meat. When the meat has cooked, add the garlic and tomatoes and simmer for 15-30 minutes, to let the flavors come together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 5″x9″ loaf pan with parchment paper. Mix together the ricotta, egg, and basil together.

Line the bottom of the pan with 1/3 of the zucchini slices. Top with 1/2 the meat sauce, 1/2 the ricotta mixture, and 1/2 the spinach. Put down another layer of zucchini, meat sauce, ricotta, and spinach. Top with the last of the zucchini and sprinkle the top with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 an hour, until bubbly and hot throughout. I actually checked the internal temperature to make sure the egg was cooked. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Makes two generous servings.  I topped my serving with 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil for flavor and fat.