Greens for Breakfast?

October 31, 2012

So.  For the past few weeks I’ve been reading about and trying out a more macrobiotic outlook on food.  For those of you who are a little unfamiliar with the idea of macrobiotics, it can be both complicated (yin, yang expanding, contracting energies in foods, etc) and simple (whole grains, greens, not a lot of sugar and not a lot of caffeine, boom).  Because I don’t feel comfortable enough with the more complicated ideas of macrobiotics to talk about them, I can speak to the simple version.

For the past few weeks i’ve tried really hard to have whole grains and something green for at least 2 out of my 3 meals in the day.  Yup.  Greens for breakfast.  I used to think it was crazy – I could get down with the salty (hello sunny side up eggs) and even the sweet (pancakes and french toast, i’m lookin at you), and of course, there was oatmeal (yay grains!) but the greens thing I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.  So I started out slow, creating what I guess would be considered macrobowls – greens, veggies, grains and beans for dinner once or twice a week and enjoying leftover grains as a side for lunches.  I inched closer with my breakfasts by switching to decaf (going strong!) and enjoying a mix of grains with my oatmeal, instead of just oatmeal (things like bulgur wheat, quinoa and sometimes even barley, love barley…).   Then, this weekend it kind’ve just sort’ve, happened. 

It started on Friday morning, I drizzled my oats with some maple syrup and could BARELY get it down.  All of a sudden, in as little as a week or so of cutting back sugar – maple syrup was just a little too sweet for my everyday tastes.  Things got weirder on Saturday – I thought about oatmeal, I thought about quinoa, I thought about an Ezekial English muffin.  And in the end (and much to my husband’s annoyance), the only thing that sounded good, was kale. What?

And so I had steamed kale.  I still retained some of my breakfast senses though (i’m kidding, actually, the kale was great).  I cooked up the last of my Field roast Apple and Sage sausages and made a flat bread breakfast sandwich with some tofutti cream cheese, sweet jalapeno pepper jam, steamed kale and the sausage.  As you can see there was enough sausage and kale leftover for a side. 

The craziest thing about all of this?  Is how good of a mood it put me in – for pretty much the ENTIRE day. I’m starting to realize that when I’m cranky, I can look back at what I ate and think “ok, I haven’t had any whole grains or something green yet today, lets fix that” and placebo or reality, it usually works. 

So, greens for breakfast, am I crazy?

xo

ps – Happy Halloween everyone!

Aftermath

October 30, 2012

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Work was called off today, but I got a little stir crazy.  Instead of lacing up for the gym, I took advantage of my (beloved) rainboots to walk the 1.5 ish mile loop around the complex.

The walk provided some much needed fresh air and movement, and an unexpected chance to reflect clear my mind and reset.

Baltimore got a taste of mother nature yesterday when hurricane sandy came through.  Thankfully we were safe and with power for the duration.  Others weren’t so lucky.  Here and especially elsewhere.  It got me wondering, where do you go, if you have nowhere to evacuate to? Would I evacuate?  It’s amazing to me that in a matter of seconds, minutes and hours, lives change.  Houses burn down, trees fall, homes are washed away. 

But at the same time, there I was, crunching over fallen branches and leaves, enjoying the  powerful tranquility that comes with the aftermath.   I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate and grateful. 

By the end of my walk I felt far more relaxed with a quieted mind.  What started as a walk because I was annoyed, ended with a feeling of being ok.  Does that even make sense? Weird things happen when you walk outside I guess.

Stay safe, friends.  Thoughts and prayers to those who are dealing with more questions than answers today.

Xo

Oh weekends

October 29, 2012

This weekend Brandon and I took full advantage of a gorgeous Fall Saturday before settling in for the rainy windy hurricane weather we’ll be enjoying for the next few days 😉  You can tell we’re adults now, because the first thing we get annoyed about is how we may not be able to get things done at our respective jobs. 

Anyhow, I enjoyed an early morning workout, some antique browsing and a walk through one of our favorite parks to watch the dogs play.  Who knew a tennis ball could be so much fun??  I also picked up some resistance bands to add to my “at home” gym and enjoyed a few crochet projects, more than a few dishes that incorporated kale (its my new happy drug, I swear) and a fantastic bottle of wine. 

Lastly: a HUGE shout out to my friend Mike (you’ve seen his guests posts here before) for completing his FIRST half marathon – and he’s only been running for about a year!

Oh weekends!

xo

You make a mean Lo Mein

October 26, 2012

Around our house, comments about dinner are generally hard to come by – unless you count the obligatory “what is this” nose wrinkle when we sit down to eat.  Its not that Brandon doesn’t like the food I cook, its that he doesn’t comment about it. 

So when “man, you make a mean lo mein” came out of his mouth before he even sat down to eat, I was pretty darn satisfied.

Nothing fancy, just some Soba buckwheat noodles and FRESH veggies – which I think made a ton of difference.  I added yellow squash and some zucchini, asparagus, cremini mushrooms, baby bok choy, the last of our swiss chard and some broccoli and pineapple just at the very end to prevent overcooking – I can’t stand grey mushy brocoli.

For the sauce I mixed some olive oil, sesami oil, tamari, black bean garlic, some ginger and a few healthy  dollops of a chile paste/sauce for a kick.  No measurements, just tossed it into the pan as I went.   The noodles went in last and just long enough to develop the flavors.   After a quick search of “what is lo mein”, I was a little pleased that lo mein is actually referring to how the noodles are prepped in the dish (boiled first, then tossed into the sauce mein = noodles, lo mein = tossed noodles).  I like the idea of creating meals as close to their traditional  preparation as possible, so reading that my “lo mein” wasn’t too far off from a true lo mein was kind of nice. 

I think for me, using the fresh veggies here was key.  Although the sauce was delish (and I would TOTALLY recommend the pineapple), having the fresh veggies made the dish something a little more satisfying than using the frozen stirfry veggies that we normally use.  In the constant battle to get my husband to try new things, I buy a lot of veggies and at the end of the week, that can sometimes leave us with, well, a lot of veggies to use up 🙂 Stirfry and lo meins are a pretty awesome way to accomplish that task.  Not to mention the words “well, I guess I”ll eat that swiss chard stuff if its in here then” were like music to my ears 🙂

Plus, you know, leftovers make a great lunch 😉

YAY FRIDAY!

xo

ps:

Your daily dose of cute 🙂 He’s a lover in the morning, so I take full advantage.

Today was weird

October 25, 2012

Not bad, but weird. 

Nothing a self-led workout couldn’t fix. 

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After doubling up on lifting and yoga last night, I opted for an easier cardio sesh with some plyometrics and body weight exercises.

30 minutes of high resistance hill intervals on the bike, followed by
Propulsion squats 3×10 reps
Side lunges 3×10 reps per side
Toe taps, c crunches and bicycle crunch – 10 per exercise (per leg)
Stepups -3×10 reps per leg
Plank/hover – 60 sec, 30 sec, 20 sec
Pushups – 3×10 reps

In the end, I was pretty please with the way my workout rounded out.  Even though it wasn’t an in your face sweat bonanza, I’m glad I worked in my plyometrics tonight and lifting last night.

Time to get ready for tomorrows early morning body pump and core workout.  This week kinda flew by, no?

Xo

Lately

October 24, 2012

I’ve been pretty  boring so far this week:

What I’ve been Reading:  This Crazy Vegan Life.  I’m usually a fiction girl, but for some reason during the fall, I tend to skew towards non-fiction books before my love of mysteries takes over during the winter.  Who says seasons only affect our clothing and food choices, eh? 

I like the book so far.  I dabbled in Vegan cooking since this past Easter and unlike the first time I’ve done something like that – this go-round it seems to have stuck. Despite fighting the label of being a Vegan, its pretty clear that my choices have been definitively Vegan.  So after reading a few different books on Vegan and more recently, Macrobiotics – I picked up this book as one that came as highly recommended based on the other books I read and enjoyed.   It is a bit more of a “weight loss” book than a “all about macrobiotics and Vegan lifestyle” book so far – but I like the reinforcement of information about veggies and whole grains, protein etc.  I never quite bought into the idea that vegetarians and vegans couldn’t get enough protein in their diet and its nice to read information that backs me up on that. 

What i’ve been Eating:   In as much as my meals these past few weeks haven’t been photo worthy (read: drag out the DSLR worthy), I feel bad, because they’ve been incredibly tasty and nourishing  – definitely influenced by the books I’ve been reading (The Kind Diet – for like, the 3rd time now, The Hipchick’s Guide to a Macrobiotic Lifestyle and now This Crazy Vegan Life).   What I find most interesting is after focusing on a whole foods based diet with a ton of whole grains and green veggies, beans etc., everything is starting to taste very very good. And the processed foods that I rarely get, are all starting to taste very very salty or rich.  And I can definitely tell when i’ve eaten something that’s heavier than my normal meal.  It really makes me wonder if I’m relearning flavors, or if I’ve always liked the foods i’m cooking now and never prepared them. 

Dinners have been combos of beans, grains and veggies mostly – some soups and chilis, salads and stirfries dabbled in.  I’m trying to listen to what my body is asking for and cook that.  So last night, that looked like some roasted Buttercup Squash, simmered together with some black beans and a side of roasted asparagus, greenbeans and Swiss chard.   The night before it was a simple dinner of spaghetti and bean balls – ala Veganomicon. 

Lunches are mostly leftovers from the night before or whatever else needs eaten up (I love the satisfying feeling of cleaning another dish out from the fridge). I try to make sure I have some whole grains added into this dish, so for today, I cooked up a combo of Millet and Farro after dinner last night to go along with the leftover beans and squash for this afternoon – yum!  As for snacks, I’m trying to get away from the premade stuff and focusing more on things like nuts, dried fruits,  seeds and fresh green beans.

Breakfasts (why’d I go out of order?) I’ve been crushing pretty hard on mixes of quinoa with bulgur wheat, oats or barley lately.  A splash of almond or hemp milk, a few berries, or sliced bananas or raisins and BOOM.  Breakfast.  So satisfying. 

ONE thing that’s been interesting has been my cutting out the caffeine and more recently excess sugar – especially white sugars, etc.  The first week or so of caffeine cutting went pretty well, but the second week (last week) I was definitely foggy all week, a little snippy and a bit headachy.  This week I seem to have surpassed that.  While I won’t say I see things with a lot more clarity yet, I will say that I no longer automatically reach for the Keurig when I wake up in the morning and whats even more interesting is that wheras last week I would immediately turn on the tea kettle, this week the reflex is a lot less “necessary” and sometimes I sit and think “do I even want tea this morning?”.  I do love the cozy feeling of coffee though, especially on a weekend morning – so I did pick up some decaf coffee for when the mood strikes!

As for sugars – its too early to tell yet, but having purposefully avoided it for the last few days, drizzling my breakfast with a touch of maple syrup this morning was almost too much sweetness to handle.  What is going on!?

How i’ve been sweating:  Workouts oh workouts.  Its been a slow and steady climb back up from the black hole I fell into after my half-marathon and 10 miler this past spring/summer.  My body and mind revolted against the idea of another training plan and after a month or so of not-working out and justifying it, I definitely couldn’t justify the feeling like crap part, both physically and about myself.   So I’ve been working hard at doing workouts I want to do and retraining myself to view workouts as part of a healthy lifestyle, not another checkmark on the calendar or training schedule.  Last week that mean 2 days of bodypump and one night of yoga, plus a lot of walking and an easy breezy 5k.  This week, it means Bodypump so far, and last night’s speed interval workout on an incline!  I went with the intentions of walking (my legs have been a tad tired the past few days) the hills, but after awhile, once I was warmed up, I upped the ante’ and sweated out the rest of the session.  It felt great!

I’ve decided to start what I (half jokingly) call “Operation Ka-donk-a-donk”.  I want a nicer butt! 🙂 Girl’s gotta fill out a swim suit somehow, right?!  Which means focusing more on workouts that will ramp up the intensity on my glutes, like incorporating some inclines to my cardio (ahem).  It also means, after squabbling a bit about it for the past 2-3 months, adding in another day of lifting. I love bodypump, but its not necessarily made for building muscle.  So if I want changes, I’ll have to make changes to my routine.  So tonight, I’m sneaking in a lifting session at home with some heavier weights, lower reps before yoga work on some increased muscle tone.

 Happy Book reading for a Blog on Wednesday! 😉

xo

And just like that – it happens to be Monday. 

My weekend was stellar.  Seriously a fantastic weekend.  Brandon’s parents were down and we spent Saturday at the zoo for the Okto-BEAR-fest (ha ha) and a walk around the zoo.

A face only a mother could love?

Once again, I was reminded of how little we actually need to be truly happy and this weekend’s lesson came from the Elephants. 

The little (??) guy on the right was the baby elephant and on the left was his mom.  And you would not believe the amount of fun this guy had just rolling around in the water.  I’m not saying in order to be happy we should go jump in a pond (then again, why not?)  – but just to remember that its ok to take pleasure out of the simple things. 

 The rest of our weekend was a glorious Sunday in the DC/Alexandria area.  I got to spend the morning with some of my favorite people and  get completely covered in colored corn starch (err..what?).  Early Sunday morning, we headed down to the National Harbor to participate in the 2nd D.C. Color Run.  It was untimed, it was a gorgeous route ( I mean, SERIOUSLY gorgeous) and just a lot of fun. 

Before, all clean and pumped with my accidental running buddy, Lil

 

After, not clean and STILL pumped with one of my best friends, Heather. Note the color.  See also my short hair.  GROW HAIR GROW.

Although I certainly wasn’t breaking any land speed records, I was proud that I was able to get out and run the full race having not done any serious running in the past few months.  I won’t be shy in admitting either that it was a bit of a relief to know that I could.  I was anticipating the worst, mentally and even though I breathed a little hard going up the ridiculous hill, I think everyone did.  Long story short, I don’t know if it revived my interest in running, but it certainly did more for it than anything else has done lately. 

We topped off the weekend with an afternoon in Alexandria, VA. 

Gorgeous anytime of the year.  I seriously love this place.  

With a weekend of walking, running and walking in the books.  We were BEAT last night.  Early to bed and early to rise for me this morning, where I put my tired legs through their paces with a serious squat track for the new body pump release.   A solid way to start the week after a pretty solid weekend.

How was your weekend?

xo