Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quick (Cinco de Mayo) weekend in review (& pictures) + What I'm Cooking

D's parents came to visit it us for the weekend.  The weather was absolutely perfect despite the Weather Channel making me nervous all week; I couldn't have asked for a better result.  They brought Allen Brother steaks (AMAZING! Like better than Ruth Chris, amazing!)  We grilled asparagus and I made one of my favorite salads, Mixed Greens with Grapefruit and Cranberries (from an earlier post).  This meal was by far the best thing I've eaten in FOREVER!  Sorry, no pictures of our meal.  We were too busy stuffing our faces.

Later that evening the women played the men in euchre (best of 5 games) and we WON! That's 2-0 for the ladies!

Today, D and I focused on putting in some more sweat equity into our backyard.  His parents also brought us a variety of fantastic flowers from their beautiful backyard.  Here are some of the irises that didn't quite make it during transport but are blooming beautifully on my kitchen counter.

We decided to go to Lowe's to find a weeping tree and additional flowers.  While there, we think we finally found a light fixture for above our dining table:
It's perfect!
After 2 trips, we had plenty of bags of soil, a Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree, lilies and additional flowering ground cover.

Our little helper, Luna
It was brutally hot outside but it's not called "Sweat Equity" for nothing.  D and I both got a bit burnt.  Here's some of the progress we made.

Just need new mulch
We originally had a poorly-kept coy pond in that area but decided to take it out and fill it in instead.  I think it was a good decision and will hopefully keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Once we called it a day on the yard work, we decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (a day late).  I made fresh guacamole from scratch.  We added that to grilled, blackened chicken tacos and served that along with grilled Mexican corn on the cob (sweet white Indiana corn on the cob smeared with mayonnaise and drizzled with chili powder and topped off with cilantro.  It usually calls for Cojita cheese or grated Parmesan but I didn't have any on hand.)


2 large avocados, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 medium white onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, diced small
1-1/2 TBSP cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir.  I like to smash some of the avocado pieces but also leave some chunks.  

D says this is the meal he could eat everyday.  What a wonderful end to a truly fulfilling weekend.  Hope you all enjoyed your Cinco de Mayo weekend!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Perfect Night-Before Pre-Marathon Meal! What I'm Cooking: Turkey and Artichoke Heart Pasta

Sometimes, a recipe will hit me like a ton of bricks and I'll obsess over the flavors until I can get myself into my domain kitchen.  I was at work the other day and I was craving spaghetti.  Recently, my meals have been on the lighter side and I was yearning for something heavier and heartier.  Work days can be a bit challenging because I work such long hours and oftentimes, I get home and crash, with just enough energy to complete that night's P90X workout.

But on this particular night, I was motivated to buckle down and make exactly what I wanted.  I went to the pantry, grabbed what was available and came up with this:

Turkey and Artichoke Heart Pasta (makes 4 large servings or 6 small servings)

1 cup whole grain wide noodles (I used Ronzoni Healthy Harvest)
1-1/4 lb lean ground turkey
1/4 tsp cumin
2 large garlic cloves, minced and divided into 2 portions
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 8-oz can artichoke hearts (quartered), drained
3-1/4 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper (I like it spicy!), divided into 2 portions
salt and pepper, to taste

In a pot of boiling salty water, cook the whole grain pasta until it is al dente (approximately 7 to 8 minutes).
In the meantime, in a large pan, over medium heat, cook the ground turkey with the cumin, half of the minced garlic, and half of the crushed red pepper until it is cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the remaining garlic and onions to the same pan and cook for a minute.  Pour the red wine and balsamic vinegar on top to help scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and to help soften the onions.  Cook uncovered for a few minutes until the onions and garlic have softened and the red wine and balsamic have reduced by half.  Add the cherry tomatoes and using a spoon, gently squish them against the bottom of the pan.  Once the tomatoes look like they have softened up, add the artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, herbs, garlic and remaining crushed red pepper.   Reduce heat, add the ground turkey back in and let simmer for several minutes.  Once the noodles are done, all them into the pan, along with a spoonful of the pasta water, and mix all the ingredients together.  Season with fresh ground pepper and serve into bowls.

This dish is having a bit of an identity crisis.  It's not sure if it's an Italian pasta or whether it's a version of a chili.  Either way, it was exactly what I was aiming for.  I have really been loving canned artichoke hearts and  hearts of palm lately.  They have showed up in several of my recent dishes.

I've had leftovers for a few days now.  It was perfect for my work lunch yesterday.  Even going with the larger portion, I was able to stay under 500 calories.  I know that we are definitely into summer now with temperatures close to the 80s but I still thoroughly enjoyed this meal!

PS, I am NOT running in the Indianapolis Mini Marathon tomorrow but I have several friends who are.  So to you awesome/crazy people, I wish you the best of luck!

What I'm Cooking: Blackened Tuna Cakes with Sriracha Cream Sauce & Corn and Jalapeno Relish

The majority of the time, I find cooking inspiration from others.  The wonderful world of Pinterest (the mental crack for domestic princesses-in-training and bored housewives all over the world) makes it easier than ever to find recipes, crafts, home decor, fitness and fashion ideas.  Pinterest has exponentially increased my (previously nonexistent) ADD and further exacerbated my already serious shopping compulsions.  Eventually there will be a legitimate medical service called Social Media Therapy and I will be lying down on a couch expressing my inability to disconnect.  Until that day, the pinning must go on....

Earlier this week, while aimlessly scrolling through Pinterest, I came across this delicious recipe for these Tuna Cakes by Skinny Mom.

via Pinterest
I just happened to have all the necessary ingredients already so I decided to give them a try.  In the past, D has mentioned several times that he hates canned tuna, (he said he bit down in a bone one time which totally grossed him out) so, I was taking a bit of a risk making these.  I decided to play around a bit with the ingredients but I think I did a pretty good job.

Blackened Tuna Cakes served with Sriracha Cream Sauce & Corn and Jalapeno Relish (makes 2 servings)

2 cans tuna in water, drained
2 tsp blackened seasoning (I used Zatarain's)
1/2 medium white onion
1/3 cup roasted garlic bread crumbs
2 large egg whites

Sriracha Cream Sauce (makes 2 servings)

1 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 TBSP mayonnaise
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek Yogurt

Corn and Jalapeno Relish (makes 4 servings)

2 small ears of sweet corn
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno (seeded)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup black bean (drained and rinsed)
1 lime, half juiced
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the canned tuna, blackened seasoning, onion, bread crumbs and egg whites.  Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Divide into 4 separate balls and then flatten out like a burger patty.

In a medium sized skilled, spray a generous portion of cooking spray, and get up to medium heat.  Place 2 tuna patties into the skillet and cook until both sides have a nice browning on the outside (a couple minutes on each side).  Repeat with the remaining 2.

Instead of using chipotle chiles in adobo for the serving sauce, which Skinny Mom's recipe called for, I went with Sriracha because I LOVE IT! I put this on everything!  In a small bowl, combine the Sriracha, mayonnaise and Greek yogurt.  I served them in ramekins on the side.

To make it a complete meal, I threw together a deliciously bright and tasty corn and jalapeno relish.  In a medium sized bowl, I cut the corn off the cob. (Next time, I'm going to grill them first.  I love the charred flavor of corn on the grill.)  I added the quartered cherry tomatoes, seeded jalapenos, black beans and cilantro then squeezed out the juice of half a lime and sprinkled a pinch of salt and pepper, giving it all a nice stir.

I placed a lime wedge on each plate and voila, a delicious and healthy meal was created!  This whole meal was under 500 calories per serving.  D was a bit hesitant to give them a try but ultimately, he loved them and got an entry into the Clean Plate Club.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What I'm Cooking: Artichoke Heart and Asparagus Spring Salad

I wasn't planning on writing a second post today but I am really excited about the salad I just made for lunch/post-run.  (I ran a little under 2 miles which is kinda laughable but I can't mention enough how much I hate running so as long as my legs hurt afterwards and I felt my heart rate rising, I'm satisfied.)  I had several food items in various Tupperware containers and fresh produce on its way out.  This inspired me to whip up this delicious Spring salad:

 Artichoke Heart and Asparagus Spring Salad (1 serving)

  • 1/2 TBSP Olivio Coconut Oil Spread (I swear, I'm not a paid spokesperson, but maybe should be)
  • 4 spears asparagus, diced 
  • 1 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1-1/4 cup canned quartered artichoke hearts 
  • 1/2 cup northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 TBSP fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Expressions Classic Dressing
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1.  Heat the coconut spread (or butter or olive oil) over medium heat.  Add the diced asparagus and saute for approximately 5 mins.  Add the pine nuts and continue over heat until the nuts start to look toasted.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
2.  In the meantime, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, northern beans, scallions, red bell pepper and cilantro.  Use a grater to zest the lemon over top.
3.  In a ramekin or small bowl, combine the juice of the lemon with the Garlic Expressions vinaigrette dressing.  Give a quick whisk.
4.  Add the asparagus and toasted pine nuts, as well as the lemon pepper seasoning, to the ingredients in the medium-sized bowl.  Pour the dressing over the top and stir all the ingredients together.  Season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper, if needed.

Calories: 385; Fat: 14g; Carbs: 44g; Protein: 17

Seriously, ENJOY!  This salad is very well balanced with lots of different texture.  It has 385 calories and 17 grams of protein so it is definitely packed with nutrients and the perfect sized meal!

Today is Going to be a Killer! Making the Most of ME-Time + Tone It Up!

On the days that I work, I find it very hard to cram in everything I want to get accomplished.  I only work 3 days a week but it can really put a cramp in my desired routine.  I get up at 5am, shower/get ready, make a smoothie and rush out the door.  I have long 12-hour shifts which most of the time is spent sitting on my butt at a desk.  9 flights of stairs gives me a mid-morning and mid-afternoon mini-workout.  Then when I get home, I rush to make something for dinner that will give me enough energy for a workout without bogging me down.  A big salad; grilled chicken with a veg; a quick throw-together pasta.  By the time my food has digested and I'm ready to work out, it's usually 9 o'clock or later.  P90X's daily routine's range from about an hour to an hour and a half.  I finish off my post-workout with a protein shake, take a quick rinse-off shower and drag my exhausted butt into bed (which is close to 11.)  If i'm working 2 or 3 days in a row, that cycle can be really grueling.

On my days off, however, I like to take my time but also spend it as productively as possible.

I almost always sleep in (10am is my usual); not productive, but I need to refuel this old machine.

I make breakfast, like today's:
Whole wheat English muffin, 1/2 TBSP Olivio coconut oil spread, 1/2 TBSP peanut butter, 1/2 banana
I catch up on my favorite blogs and research ideas for my own blog.

I sometimes catch up on a few of my DVR-ed shows, like this season's Bad Girls Club (yes, very guilty pleasure)

I look for recipes.  Lots and lots of recipes.

More recently, I look for new workouts.  Today I got my first Tone It Up Bikini Series email which took me to their blog.  Ever since Katrina and Karena's perfect physique pictures started popping up everywhere on Pinterest, I have been totally enamored with these girls: their work, their lifestyle (hello, they live in sunny, Southern Cali, travel around the world, can surf, skateboard, etc.  You name it, they can do it), their perfectly, chiseled and sculpted bodies.  They are just so darn adorable!

Ok, I might have a bit of a girl-crush.  Point is, I totally admire and respect the Tone It Up empire they are creating.  Today they talked about creating a Visualization Board to help you stay on track and keep the momentum going.  I really need to sit down and do this soon.  It is great to see a daily reminder of what you are aiming for.

I also watched a few of their Bikini Series YouTube videos.  I highly recommend subscribing to their YouTube account.  Lots of useful videos.  Today I'm going to do the Bikini Beach Bum and Bikini Strap workout.

And finally, they are also collaborating with Self Magazine for the Drop 10 Challenge.  Again, an amazing source of useful information.  Do these girls ever have a day off?  Ok, enough with my obsession  admiration with TIU.

It's already close to 1pm so I need to get the ball rolling....I'm also going to try and go for a 30 minute run even though it sounds like there's a massive wind storm outside.  When D gets home, it's the beginning of Week 5 of P90X/Phase 2.  We're supposed to be starting off with Chest, Shoulders and Triceps but we're currently missing that DVD so we're just going to do Chest and Back plus Ab Ripper X.

Holy cow, I've got a lot on my plate but I need it.  I didn't work out on Saturday or Sunday and I had a few adult beverages so I am definitely feeling the effects.  Wish me luck!


Friday, April 13, 2012

I AM IN THE ZONE! >> What I'm Cooking (Recipes Galore) + Week 4 P90X Results

For now, I'm taking my blog in slightly a different direction, not that I think anyone really cares AND not like my blog has ever really had FOCUS.  It's my blog and I'll write what I want to (I kinda just sang that in my head).  I'm going to continue to write about the usual stuff (my adventures dining out in Indy, my family/friends, home improvements, etc) but I'm also going to chronicle my journey into living healthy and the trials and tribulations associated with getting into shape.  I, by no means, specialize in nutrition or exercise so consult with an expert and take whatever you want from my little blog - the little nook I've carved out in the wonderful world of the internet.

I've had such positive energy lately which has translated into creativity and motivation.  There is renewed life in our beautiful kitchen (no cob-webs up in here).  I haven't bought a cute outfit in ages but our fridge and pantry has been stocked with fresh produce and health-conscious staples.  I see that as an investment with better pay off.  I'd hate to waste a paycheck on an outfit when my muffin top is raging or my saddle bags are rearing their ugly face.  Eating right and exercising doesn't really provide the instant gratification that retail therapy has in the past but I never feel the buyer's remorse either.  Although I moan and whine before and during a hard workout, I've never looked back and thought "Geez, that was a mistake."   I've also cut back on the alcohol, significantly.  I really don't have the room in my diet nutrition plan for the empty calories and it's been wonderful not having the bloat from all the carbonation.  That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a beer or glass of wine when out socially but otherwise, I don't see any need for it.  A solid workout has become my de-stresser after a long day of work.

My workouts over the past 4 weeks consisted of following the Classic P90X schedule which goes as follows:

  • Day 1: Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulder & Arms + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Rest or X Stretch

I didn't follow this schedule down to a T but I tried my best.  Week 4 was supposed to be a rest week but I didn't want to!  A couple days I added a 30 minute jog or did a Tone It Up workout instead.  D refuses to do Yoga X with me so I do it by myself on a day off, like today.  We are missing a couple of the DVDs which I hope to get soon because Week 5 mixes it up and add some new workouts.

I definitely can't give all the credit to working out.  A HUGE portion of it has been my adjustments to my eating habits.  I mentioned this in my previous post but I'm going to say it again: MyFitnessPal for iPhone (and I'm assuming Android) can be your best friend.  I know it sounds tedious and completely anal to record everything you eat but I think it is essential.  It is downright scary, to me, to think of how many weekend benders I've had in the past where I ate/drank probably 3000+ calories a day.  Quite frankly, I should be obese.  By carefully monitoring what you eat, you have the ultimate control.  I try and keep my calorie consumption under 1500.  Because I've incorporated physical activity, I've added 300 more calories from the usual 1200 I would aim for prior to starting up P90X.  I can safely say that there hasn't been a single night that I've gone to bed hungry.  I eat nutritionally dense foods, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.  I tend to stick with poultry for my meats (occasionally I will eat red meat).  I also find a great source of protein from beans, tofu, eggs, etc.; not to mention, the delicious protein shakes post workout.

Below are some recipes of the meals I've made over the past couple weeks as well as some of my go-to items.

On days that I work, I typically go for a smoothie that I can quickly blend up and take with me as I rush out the door.  My 20 minute drive is perfect for me to easily and conveniently drink a smoothie down while listening to my favorite sports-radio channels.

SKINNY GREEN MONSTER (makes 1 serving)

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 TBSP creamy peanut butter
Combine all ingredients in a blender.

PEACH BANANA SMOOTHIE (makes 2 servings)
  • 2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 banana
  • 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
Not too much difficulty with the smoothies.  Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are a great option too.  Beware of seeds!

I also want to recommend Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Cereals.  I've tried the Red Berry Crunch and the Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola.  They are so delicious, a great source of Omega-3 and not loaded with sugar.
Nature's Path Organic (Flax Plus) Red Berry Crunch in a empty jar of peanut butter.
Giving it one last hoorah  before heading to the trash.

Here's what I had this morning:
Whole wheat English muffin with 1 TBSP Olivio Coconut Spread, 1/2
fresh grapefruit, low fat cottage cheese with a handful of fresh raspberries
Nothing super special but at right around 320 calories, it did the trick!  I have to take a minute to thank my friend *Fefe for accidentally leaving my a container of Olivio Coconut Spread because I'm obsessed.  I use it with everything! 

For lunch and dinner ideas, I've scoured the internet looking for great, easy recipes, especially soups that make a large enough batch for dinner and then again the following day, work lunches for both D and I.  

Curried Carrot Soup (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Eating Well

  •  3 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
1.  Cook oil and curry powder in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until fragrant (1-2 minutes).  Stir in carrots, celery and onions; toss to coat in oil.  Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Stir in broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. 
2.  Using an emulsion blender (or regular blender in batches), blend until it's a smooth, pureed consistency.  Pour into bowls.  Season with fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper.  

Chicken Enchilada Soup (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Skinny Taste

  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8-oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Optional: scallions, shredded cheese, fat-free sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, tortilla chips
1.  Heat oil in dutch oven (or crock pot) over medium-low heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft (3-4 minutes).  Slowly add chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil.
2.  Add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, chipotle powder, and oregano, and stir.  Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
3.  Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks.  Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste.  Serve in bowls and top with sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), scallions, cilantro, avocado and lime.

Turkey Chili Blanc (makes 4 servings) Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

  •  12 oz uncooked ground turkey (extra lean)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 12-oz can/bottle beer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp instant beef bouillon cubes
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 15.5-oz cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1TBSP lime juice
  • Optional: sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), cilantro, lime wedges, ground chipotle chili powder
1.  In a large saucepan, cook turkey and onion over medium-high heat until turkey is no longer pink and onions are tender; drain.
2.  Return to saucepan and stir in beer, water, broth, jalapenos, bouillon cubes, chili powder, cumin and adobo sauce.   Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the drained beans and lime juice; heat through.
3.  Mash half of the beans to thicken chili; stir and ladle into bowl.  If desired, garnish with sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges and chipotle chili powder.

Chicken and Avocado Soup (makes 4 servings)  Adapted from Skinny Taste

  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • 4 lime wedges
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch cumin
  • pinch chipotle chile powder
1.  In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add 1 cup of scallions and garlic.  Saute about 2 minutes then add tomatoes and saute another minute, until soft.  
2.  Add chicken stock, cumin and chile powder and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered on low for about 15-20 minutes.
3.  In each bowl, fill with 1/2 cup chicken, 1/2 avocado, scallions and cilantro. Ladle 1 cup chicken broth over the chicken and serve with a lime wedge.

Lately, I've also been on a major salad kick!

Mixed Green Salad with Grapefruit and Cranberries (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Eating Well

  • 2 red grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 TBSP minced scallions
  • 1 TBSP white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups torn red leaf lettuce
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1.  Remove the skin and white pith from grapefruit with a sharp knife.  Working over a bowl, cut the segments from their surrounding membranes.  Cut the segments in half on a cutting board and transfer to a large salad bowl.  Squeeze the grapefruit peel and membranes over the original bowl to extract 1/4 cup grapefruit juice.
2.  Whisk oil scallions, vinegar, salt and pepper into the bowl with the grapefruit juice.
3.  Add lettuce, spinach and artichoke hearts  to the salad bowl with the grapefruit segments.  Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing until well coated.  Sprinkle cranberries and pine nuts on top.

Tuna and Avocado Spinach Salad (serves 1)

I tossed this delicious salad together the other night so ingredient measurements may not be precise.
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup red leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 can chunk light tuna in water
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon wedge
  • dash of lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette
1.  In a small bowl, mix tuna, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and lemon pepper seasoning.
2.  In a medium salad bowl, combine spinach, red leaf lettuce, red bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado and craisins, and toss.  
3.  Top with the tuna and drizzle the Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette dressing.

For the past 2 days, I've made the same exact thing for lunch.  I am on a sweet potato kick.  It is an entree and a dessert all in one (especially topped with coconut spread and a dash of cinnamon).  I also improvised this simple, yet totally scrumptious salad.

Citrus Salad (makes 1 serving) 
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup red leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup scallions
  • 1 TBSP craisins
  • 1/2 medium orange, diced
  • 1/4 orange, juiced
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette
1.  Start building the salad with the spinach and lettuce, cherry tomatoes, scallions, craisins, and diced orange segments.
2.  In a small ramekin, add garlic vinaigrette and orange juice.  Give quick whisk and pour over salad.

So what are the results?...drum roll....

I've dropped 3 pounds on the scale.  Not really the numbers I wanted to see but the actual physical ones are the best!  See for yourself:

It may not seem like a lot but to me, it's fantastic.  By far, my stomach and hips have always been my trouble spots and they are shrinking every week.  My clothes are fitting looser.  My hips aren't flaring out as much as they used to.  The thought of pools opening up in about a month in a half doesn't seem as daunting; in fact, I'm excited.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting in Shape in 2012: Eating Right + P90X

D and I are going to Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in t-minus 120 days (but who's really counting).  This will be our first major vacation together so we are beyond stoked.

I've already bought my first bathing suit for our trip:

Can they also throw in her body please?!

D and I have made the commitment to get (in his case, back) into shape!  Up until about a year ago, he was still active.  He played soccer in high school and then for years after that, he played with friends in a few recreational leagues.  He was always in the best of shape until a knee injury about 2 1/2 years ago and our move to the south side of Indianapolis put a damper on that.

Me, on the other hand, I gave up active sports when I got into high school and instead played varsity golf.  I did minimal activity and managed not to balloon up until about the age of 26 when I started my notice my flailing metabolism.  So over the past couple years, I've done my best watching what I ate and for the most part, when I was really dedicated, I was able to keep my weight down.  At my heaviest, I weighed about 136lbs.   I put myself on a strict eating regiment and over about a year and a half, lost almost 20 lbs, which was just in time for my best friend's wedding last Fall.  But after that, when the cold weather started coming in, I resorted to the comfort food and the convenience of fast food (what idiot decided to put a McDonald's in my place of employment?).  I was lucky and only managed to put on about 8lbs, considering the junk that I was consuming.  It was in January that I really started to notice how "squishy" I appeared.  Most people would say to me, "you're pretty tiny, why do you need to lose weight?" and while yes, I'll agree that I'm petite, I'm also lacking tone or definition.

In February, I started to get back into my strict diet.  I call it a strict diet because I am absolutely anal about recording my food.  I still eat delicious food, I just focus on healthy choices and portion control.  I used to use Spark People but the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone is just so awesome and easy to use.

For a couple months, I was in a bit of a cooking lull but I've bounced back.  I really enjoy cooking because it's fun and relaxing but also because I love knowing exactly what I'm eating.

Here's a preview of what I've been whipping up lately.  My plan is to post all the recipes on Friday (the 13th dun dun dunnnn!)
Green Monster Smoothie
Baked Orange Salmon with Citrus Salad 
Tofu Stir Fry
Curried Carrot and Ginger Soup
Chicken Enchilada Soup
Turkey Chili Blanc
Mixed Greens Salad with Grapefruit, Artichoke Hearts, Cranberries and Toasted Pine Nuts

A couple years ago, I got sucked into the continuous replay of the P90X infomercials and on an impulse, I went ahead and purchased the program.  You can't help but be amazed at the testimonials from the people who have done it.  But when I got it, I did it 2 times, decided it was too hard, and packed it away.  What a ween-wad!

Flash forward to now, with the support and combined participation, D and I have decided to give it another try.  We're in a much more conducive place in our lives.  We have the desire, the time, and the space to do it.  We're starting our 4th week today!!  I really enjoy the Plyometrics and the Yoga X.  I've never really been able to do pull ups, ever, so instead I do a modified version using a chair.  Hopefully, by the end of the first round of P90X, I'm able to do a few without.

ME WEEK 1 (not fun to post):
NOT ME (but what I'd ultimately like to get to):

I am already seeing results (I'll post a new body picture once we complete Week 4) which really are the best motivation.  I'm not so focused on the scale because the number isn't going down as fast as I'd like but I'm seeing definition in my arms, legs and stomach.  Not only that, I am over that initial 2 weeks where every muscle in your body aches and it seems nearly impossible to do simple things like pull a shirt over your head or walk up a flight of stairs, I'm excited to workout and constantly looking for new inspirations.  I even squeeze in exercises while D is at work or at my work by taking the stairs (all 9 stories up to my unit).  I have begun doing them 2-3 times a shift.  I've also begun easing myself into running which I despise with every morsel of my being.  It doesn't help that I haven't quit smoking yet which is a MAJOR goal of 2012 (I know, feel free to smack me).

Here are some websites and tools that have been insanely helpful: - A great way to find endless amounts of health and fitness blogs
Tone It Up - I love the girls of Tone It Up but not really able to invest $ into their program, yet.  They send out emails with very helpful tips and tricks.  They also are working with which is just as useful. - Great articles and reads on fitness and health.  Also, great healthy recipes. - Delicious recipes with nutritional info  - Another site chock full of healthy options
MyFitnessPal - I had the app on my iPhone for forever but never used it until a couple weeks ago.  Now, it's my go-to app to log and track everything that I eat which is key (I think) to the weight loss aspect of my body transformation.  I love that you can scan the bar code of the foods you eat and it will automatically pull up the nutritional information.

What do you use to keep motivation or what have you tried that has delivered results?

I feel like I'm getting into the best shape of my adult life and couldn't be happier.  Jamaica here we come!