Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Ginger Garlic Honey Cashew Chicken

Happy Friday everyone! So I've had this jar of amazingness sitting in my fridge for about a week now that I have been DYING to try. My absolutely sweet coworker got me Ginger Garlic Paste from her local Indian Supermarket since she knows how I love to cook and try new things - seriously, it was so nice!


She instructed me that it's especially great for marinating meat. So when I found this delicious recipe the other day while perusing through EatLiveRun, I was determined to try it out this week and put the ginger garlic paste to good use!

You can find the recipe for Ginger Honey Cashew Chicken here.

If you don't have ginger garlic paste, then you don't know what you're missing - go fill your fridge with it now because it will become your favorite condiment.

No, but seriously, if you don't have it, feel free to just use some fresh minced ginger and garlic. Jenna's recipe doesn't call for garlic, but when is adding garlic a bad thing?

If you do have the ginger garlic paste, just substitute ~2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste for the 2 tsp minced ginger. The flavor was able to really absorb into the chicken in just 20 minutes. It creates a nice coating on the chicken as well when you toss it in the oil to cook.

I served this alongside some fresh sauteed julienned green bell peppers. It would also be great served on top of a nice bed of rice or couscous - YUM!

Forgive me, Brent and I demolished this dish before I remembered to take a snapshot, but don't worry, Jenna has plenty of gorgeous pictures on the recipe page. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: ~1.5 C (1/2 of recipe)
Calories: 435 | Fat: 21 g | Protein: 40 g | Fiber: 2.4 g | Carbohydrates: 21 g

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 3 Training Summary

This is the first week the mileage increased in the training schedule. Only three weeks in, and I can already feel a difference: my endurance is getting better, and I can run 5 solid miles on the road at a good pace without any need to stop. I've also been doing hill intervals every week as part of my training, and I think that has a lot do to with my enhanced endurance.

This week, I covered a total of 17 miles of running, 2 miles walking, 1 strength workout, and a whole lot of stretching. It may sound funny, but after an hour long workout, I tend to get a little 'lazy' and either skip stretching or do an extremely abbreviated version, so I'm trying to be better about it. I didn't get any yoga in this week, which I was a little disappointed about; but  I was extremely busy after work, so I figured with what little time I did have, I would make running the priority. This upcoming week, my goal is to get two yoga sessions in.

Here's my Week 3 Training Summary:


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Trail Workout

In honor of The Hunger Games, this week's workout is all about running through the woods!

When I saw it was supposed to be in the 80s today in MA for the third day in a row, my first instinct was to take a half day at work so I could spend the afternoon enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors. I pulled up trusty ol' Google maps, took a gander at some of the parks around, and realized I live near LOADS of conservation land - who ever thought Waltham could actually be cool like that? I found this one about 3 miles from my apartment called Rock Meadow Conservation that listed some good hiking trails, so I made this my destination for a 4-mile trail run.

Not even a 7 minute car ride, and I arrived to this lovely hidden gem:


I took off into the open meadow, rocked out to some Pitbull (seriously, 'We Run the Night' feat. Havana Brown - go download it, it's a great workout song!), and I kind of forgot I was running. Until I realized how hot it was getting, so I B lined it to the woods to catch the shade.

And then the real workout kicked in.

Soooo, It had been awhile - like since August - that I had done any kind of running in the woods. And my goodness, I totally forgot how difficult it is! I realized about midway through, I probably shouldn't have made this a 4 mile endeavor, but my competitive and prideful side took over and forced me to drudge on.

So why should you do trails? It's an absolutely amazing workout for both your mind and your body. While you're running or hiking, you have to constantly be on alert for rocks, branches, roots, holes, bumps, etc. I find this aspect of it great because it distracts you from the struggle of exercising. And honestly, it kind of makes you feel like those people in fitness ads running through forests - or shooting an action movie in the woods! haha

Trails also tend to not be completely flat; the sudden inclines, declines, and turns is a great way to trigger muscles you wouldn't normally use on the road or treadmill.

And it's a great way to explore new areas. Take today for example - I never would have known this place existed! I'm so glad I do now because I will be returning regularly through the course of my training.

If you're new to trail running, I recommend bringing a friend along. I say this because it can be dangerous. If trails aren't well-labeled, it can be easy to get lost. And the obstacles can be pretty dangerous, too.

Case and point:

With all the hills, roots, and rocks I had to dodge, I didn't realize how much higher I had to lift my feet off the ground and how much my stride shortened because of it. My legs started to get pretty tired during mile 4...then this root appeared out of nowhere, and I took a ridiculous digger. It was one of those where your legs keep peddling, but your body is way too far ahead to be able to catch yourself. I had to finish the last mile completely covered in dirt. Not a pretty sight, but I have to admit, I did feel pretty bad ass.

Trying to clean off the dirt...


Yeah, that happened. But it was SO worth it.

I capped the workout off with the Lady Gaga ab workout, and I'm proud to show you the following photo:


Hard work pays off. Now go find a local trail and try running or hiking it! You won't regret it. Even if you fall over a tree root :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Week 2 Training Summary

Well, I have to say, I hope this summer weather continues because it's making the training process a LOT more enjoyable! I've found that even on days I intend to take off from running, I'm itching to get out and hit the pavement.

During week 2 of training, I covered a total of 16.2 miles, a yoga session, two days of strength training, and a 5K road race for which I set a new PR of 24:34 - very exciting! Here's a summary table of my Week 2 Training:



The 5K "Race of Ireland and USA" was SO much fun! It started at The Burren pub in Davis Sq, looped around Teele Sq, Tufts, Ball Sq, Magoun Sq, and ended in front of Five Horses tavern. This might be one of my favorite courses I've run - talk about rolling hills! But unlike the Tavern to Tavern 5K back in August, this course ended on a nice 300 yard downhill.

Along with Brent and my other partner in crime, Ally, we all finished with new PRs, and continued onto the post-race party at Joshua Tree in Davis Square, sponsored by Harpoon. Ally and I made festive St. Patty's Day race shirts - HANDS OFF MY SHAMROCKS - and Brent conveniently left the one I made him at home. But I made him take a picture with it anyways because it was too awesome to just sit on the kitchen table...


Aaaand here's Ally and I "rehydrating" after the race - St. Patty's Day is probably the only time rehydrating with a beer is acceptable, so we'll roll with it.



Check out these awesome medals they handed out for participants - they're bottle openers! Oh, the little things...



This upcoming week, the running mileage increases, so thank goodness for the gorgeous weather we're having!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Kale

I wish I could make the recipe of the week be EatLiveRun's Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Fried Sage, but considering the words "butter" and "fried" make up like 25% of the title alone, I'll refrain from posting it on my FITNESS blog. Although, I did have this for dinner on Tuesday and will post a picture to urge you all to try this recipe when you have company over or are looking for a good splurge meal on the weekend - it's totally worth it!


On a healthier note, I stumbled across this really simple recipe for Roasted Kale on myrecipes.com this week and decided it was worth a try. I've only really had kale in soups, so I was kind of curious to see how it would hold on its own as a side.

I specifically liked that this recipe called for roasting the kale, which ends up making the kale CRUNCHY instead of soft. Don't get me wrong, there are certain veggies I love sauteed (i.e. broccoli and carrots in the above picture), but I'm not a fan of that technique when it wilts and turns veggies into mush - which is likely why I'm not a spinach lover (except for when it's doused in butter and garlic).

For those not familiar with kale, it looks like this:

Image from Wikipedia
It belongs to the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. It's super rich in vitamins, carotenoids, and sulforaphane (a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties). In other words it's REALLY GOOD FOR YOU. So you should try it - and this recipe is perfect for kale beginners!

The recipe is from Cooking Light and can be found HERE.

All you need are 5 simple ingredients, 4 of which you probably already have in your kitchen.

Roasted Kale

Preheat your oven to 425° and place a baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. While, that's heating...

Start off with 10 ounces chopped kale, 3 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 clove thinly sliced garlic.


In a large bowl, mix the ingredients together. Lay kale out on your heated pan (you'll hear it sizzle as it hits the heated pan, this is good!). Roast that kale in the oven for 7 minutes, stir it up a bit, then put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. It will start to turn a deep green and the edges will brown.


Transfer from pan into a large bowl. Stir in the 1 tsp of white wine vinegar.


Serve as a side to your favorite protein-packed dish and enjoy the tangy, garlicy, crunchiness of your roasted kale.

 

I paired it with a couple scrambled eggs with sriracha sauce - delish!

Nutritional Info:
Serving Size: 2/3 C
Calories: 72 | Fat: 4.7g | Protein: 2.3g | Carbohydrates: 7.1g | Fiber: 1.4g

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I went to the grocery store and bought eggs today

Alright, so I know this a fitness blog, but I find when I'm reading other "specialized" blogs out there, I really like when the writers go off the usual topic and let the readers in on their life a bit - I think it actually makes the blog better because you can relate to the writer a little more. So every now and then, I plan on writing a post about my life - and I promise to make it interesting! None of this "I went to the grocery store and bought eggs today" nonsense (although, apparently a solid number of people on Facebook somehow find that interesting - I went on the other day, and a "Facebook friend" had a similar status up, and about 5 people had LIKED the status about getting eggs at the grocery store. C'mon, really??) So look out tomorrow for a non-fitness post!

However, on a fitness-related note...

I'm not quite sure how, but as I was surfing the interweb last night, I stumbled across advertisements for a new running series called Race Around Waltham (RAW), and of course, now I am obsessed with the idea of participating in it. RAW is a coordination of six road races that range from 5K to 5 miles, all starting and finishing in Waltham - how convenient considering I live here! AND if you participate in five of the six races (run, walk, volunteer), you win a prize. Unfortunately, there's one I definitely won't be able to participate in, since I'm GETTING MARRIED that day, but the other dates are completely open for me as of right now - very exciting!

The first race is coming up on March 31st, called Shifter's 5K, benefiting the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. It starts at The Wave Sports Pub in Waltham at 1pm, and Harpoon Brewery hosts a post-race party with food and drinks. For the first 250 people that register, you get a t-shirt. AND it's only $25 for a pre-registration fee; $30 for race day registration. Obviously, I can't say no to this, and neither should you!

Here's the entire RAW schedule:

  • Shifters 5K - March 31st at 1pm; start-line: The Wave Sports Pub
  • Moody Street 5K - May 6 at 12pm; start-line: The Skellig
  • Tailgate Trot 4 Mile - June 9 at 9am; start-line: The Wave Sports Pub
  • JB Blastoff 5K - September 8; start-line: The Wave Sports Pub
  • Race around the Reservoir 5 Mile - October 20 at 9:30am; start-line: Reservoir Woods complex
  • Piggy's Run 5K - November 17; time and place are not yet listed on the site 


Each race benefits a different purpose. Feel free to go on their Facebook page and check it out for more info!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Week 1 Training Summary

To prepare for my half marathon, I searched out some good beginner training schedules. I found one on Cool Running I liked and another on HalHigdon.com, and I kind of incorporated a little of both into the schedule I made for myself. Cool Running's seemed to be a bit aggressive, especially in the beginning, and didn't incorporate much cross training or strength into it, so I mixed it up with Hal Higdon's training schedule to come up with a happy medium.

Week One was very successful! I conquered a total of 14.75 miles over 4 days,  incorporated two days of cross-training/strength, and one segment of yoga (which I aim to increase as the mileage increases and I require some intense stretching!) Here's a more detailed Week 1 Half Marathon Training Summary:


I also did 5-10 min of core work after my runs, including: stability ball, planks, leg raises, bicycles, and random Pilates movements. I hardly ever do standard crunches, I find they don't accomplish as much as functional ab movements like planks and Pilates.

I did use my Food Tracker for the majority of the week - this weekend was a little tough since I went to a bridal open house at my wedding venue and wasn't sure what was in the passed hors d'oeuvres, let alone the bottomless champagne glasses floating around the place. Most days I stayed between 1200-1500 calories; the weekend days were probably closer to 1500-1800. My weight ranged from 118-120 through the course of the week, likely depending on how hydrated I was. My goal is to keep that consistent through training. I've actually heard it's quite common to GAIN weight while training for high mileage races, so I'm kind of determined to make sure that doesn't happen. I think people go into it thinking the training schedule gives them a free pass to eat whatever they want, and unfortunately, that may put a damper on weight loss benefits - who knows though.

Don't hesitate to comment and let me know if there's any other information you all would like me to post during the training process!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

I haven't posted a dessert yet, but with the warm temps we've had, I got inspired to make this delicious summer treat! I'm usually not really a fan of "low fat" desserts - if I'm going to indulge in dessert, I want it to be worth it. So when I decided to attempt creating this recipe, I was a little skeptical...but hopeful. And I have to say, it came out absolutely how I would have hoped - creamy, thick, sweet, chocolatey with a hint of banana, crunchy with the white chips, yet lower in fat/calories than your typical scoop of ice cream.
Also, I used almond milk in the recipe because that's what I had in my fridge. And it's almond milk that really makes this low fat. If you're not counting calories or want to splurge, feel free to make it with your preferred milk. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so I'll make sure to do that later. Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 C almond milk (I used Silk sweetened plain almond milk)
2 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + extra if you want a rich chocolate taste
3 Tbsp Splenda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 C white chocolate chips

Preparation:
  • Combine 1/2 C almond milk, cocoa powder, and Splenda in a microwave safe bowl. Whisk together well to break up all clumps and fully incorporate. Microwave for 40 seconds. Mix well together.
  • In a separate bowl, mash bananas well.
  • In a blender or food processor, add remaining almond milk (1 cup), mashed bananas, vanilla, cornstarch, and cocoa mixture. Process for 10 seconds until pureed. 
  • Place mixture into an ice cream maker and process for about 20 minutes until thick.
  • Add the white chocolate chips and carefully stir in.
  • Serve immediately or store in freezer for later use or to firm more. 


Nutrition Info:
Serving size: ~1 cup of prepared ice cream
Calories: 177 | Fat: 6.5g | Sugar: 11.5g | Carbohydrates: 30 | Protein: 1.6g | Fiber: 3.2g

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Nowhere to go but up!

Confession: I have asthma. And for those not aware, asthma makes it really difficult to run outside in the winter; not because of the cold but because of the SUPER dry air. I've tried to make it work. I've tried wearing a mask. I've tried putting a scarf around my mouth to "warm and dampen" the air I breathe in - but YOU try running 5 miles with fabric wrapped around your mouth! It's a giant pain in the $@#! and looks kind of ridiculous. 

Luckily, I was able to purchase a really great treadmill so that I don't have to give up running in the winter. However, treadmill running is NOT the same as outdoor running. Sure, you will burn plenty of calories, but I personally find treadmill running a whole lot easier than running outdoors. I try to incorporate hill training in my treadmill workouts about once a week, but it's just not the same. The belt of the treadmill does all the propelling for you and requires a lot less energy to get up those hills. This makes it a whole lot easier to run 10 miles in under 90 minutes!

The second the temperature hits 50 degrees, I'm out the door for a run. So you can bet with the temperature in the 60s yesterday, I hit the Waltham grounds running. One thing I've realized is that my area of Waltham has a LOT of hills - big hills I cannot avoid. And having been treadmill running the majority of the past 3-4 months, these hills pose a great challenge, even at a shorter distance of 3 miles. I was able to complete my 3-mile loop yesterday in just under 24 minutes, but it did not feel good. 

Therefore, my goal over the next few months is to conquer hills. Once a week, I plan on incorporating some intense hill interval training in order to train my body to handle sudden elevation changes. I figure if I can increase my uphill endurance, it will make the flat half marathon course that much easier. So, who's with me? 

This week's exercise is all about running for the hills. To start, find a route that has a proper hill; by proper, I mean one that takes more than 10 seconds to run up (aim for between 100 and 800 ft).  

Image from expressnightout.com


Workout:

Warm-up: 1-2 miles at below race-pace (i.e. if you run a 5K in 25 minutes, slow it down to a 9:00 mile) 

Beginner Interval: Run at race pace up the hill (8:00 mile); Either walk or slowly jog (10:00 mile) back to the foot of the hill. When you've recovered, attack the hill again. Repeat this for four to five intervals.

Intermediate Interval: Increase the intensity of the workout by recovering for shorter periods of time between running up the hill. Repeat for two sets of five intervals.

Advanced Interval: Build up to three sets of five intervals. 

Cool-down: 1 mile slow jog (9:00/10:00 mile)

When running up the slope, focus on getting your legs used to going up the hill, really using your quads - run with high knees! You should always drive hard with your arms to work your way up the hill. Shorten your stride and work on pulling yourself up the hill with your arms. Focus on running tall, keeping your back straight, and try not to lean forward too much - think about pressing your hips into the hill to avoid bending at the waist. Push off your toes to create an upward lift to help propel you forward. Keep your head up and focus on the goal of making it to the top. Once you get to the top of the hill, take three quick steps to propel you over the hill - DON'T stop when you get to the top. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Starting Line of Half-Marathon Training

So yesterday marked the beginning of my half marathon training - March came up so quickly, I nearly forgot my first training day was upon me! The first month or so should be fairly easy with all distances being between 3 and 5 miles. So I'll hold off until mid-April to start complaining :-)

A friend of mine suggested I log my workouts and post them, and I thought that was a really great idea. It'll be good for me because that way I'll make sure I keep track of the mileage, and it can also serve as a preparation guide for any first-time half marathoners out there reading. And heck, even if you don't ever plan on running any type of road race, but you want to train to be a runner, maybe it can be of use to you, as well!

I'm considering going a little further by logging some other things - ideas include: meals, approximate calories consumed and/or burned, weekly weigh-in...it seems like a lot, but I use a food tracker app 6 out of 7 days a week anyways, so it really wouldn't be any more effort to post it weekly.

That being said, is this something you guys out there reading would be interested in seeing me post??

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips for maintaining a good social life while staying healthy

In a perfect world, everyone could go out to eat every night, order whatever they want on the menu, and no one would ever gain a pound. Unfortunately for us, this isn't the case. Ever since I've begun my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I've been struggling to conquer the whole 'how do I maintain a good social life while staying healthy?' battle. Being a 20-something is absolutely wonderful (I could stay this age forever!). However, many social events involve heavy pub grub, pints of thirst-quenching beers, and astronomical food portions. And somehow french fries are just that much more delicious washed down with that pint of IPA.

Having no control is what got me to 146 pounds in the first place, so obviously, I had to make some serious changes. In the past year, I feel I've managed to figure out a good balance for sustaining my social life while maintaining my waistline. Here are some personal changes I've incorporated into my life that may help you, as well!

1. Exercise regularly. Alright, so this may be an obvious one, but it is SO IMPORTANT. If you are not savvy in the kitchen and turn to restaurants or sandwich shops for many of your meals, then you really need to do something to counter-balance all those calories you are consuming. When you eat out, you lose control of exactly what is going into your food, and calories tend to sneak in where they wouldn't if you were making it on your own. My simple solution?: Incorporate more cardio into your routine. And no, running a mile 3 days a week is not what I mean (believe me, I know firsthand). If you want to be healthy, it requires effort - if it didn't, ~70% of country would not be overweight. And if you're eating out 90% of your meals, then being healthy requires even MORE effort. Try a mix of either: running for 30 minutes, walking 60 minutes, biking 45 minutes, or elliptical 30 minutes (whatever suits your fancy) - FIVE days per week. Do three days on, one day off for rest. You need to work hard to burn the extra calories in your take-out. And besides, if you're working out five days a week, you'll have less time to go sit out at a restaurant eating a burger and drinking that tall-boy Sam Adams.

2. Limit your nights out. I'm not saying become a hermit. Not only does limiting nights out  save inches around your waist, it is the best thing you can do for your wallet. Brent and I used to go out to eat about 3x per week. We love trying new restaurants, and when we moved into Newton Centre in 2010, there were tons of new places we wanted to explore. Not only did I find myself gaining weight rapidly, but our spending was RIDICULOUS. Entree + 1-2 drinks = ~$35-$40 per person with tax/tip, so multiply that by 3 = $105-$120 per week, which translates to $420-$600 a month PER PERSON on food. And that doesn't even include the grocery bill. The next time you go to the grocery store and cringe when you see a $100 food bill, think again. That $100 will go a long way if you're preparing meals at home for the ENTIRE week compared to the 3 meals it would cover if you went out to eat. My simple solution?: Limit eating out to ONE NIGHT per week. I made a point of kindly telling my friends I've made this change (especially with budgeting for my upcoming wedding), and it's been a great success for both my waistline AND my wallet. By doing this, you will save hundreds of dollars a month, thousands a year. And you will have much more control over your diet!

3. Limit your alcohol intake when you go out. Believe me, I love my glass of wine just as much as you. I like two glasses even more than one. And on a Friday or Saturday night, I love three even more. But I'm just going to quickly remind everyone how many calories are in alcohol: those 3 glasses of red wine served at my favorite Italian restaurant can run me up almost 400 calories: not to mention, close to $30! My simple solution?: If you have multiple social functions to attend in a week, consider having only 1 drink per event, ESPECIALLY if the events are on weekdays. It's not worth the hangover the next day!

4. Plan out your restaurant food order. This has been kind of a miracle method for me in the last year. One of the hardest parts for me in going out to eat is deciding what to order, especially when everything on the menu sounds so good.  I also feel like the more I glance over a food menu while seated in a restaurant, the higher my chances are of making poor food decisions. I'm a sucker for a BLT with fries, and if that's on a menu, it takes all my willpower to choose something healthier. My simple solution?: If you know where you're dining ahead of time, try to find the restaurant menu online and plan out your order beforehand. A lot of chain restaurants have nutritional information now on their websites, and it's VERY helpful in deciding what's the best meal choice to make.

5. Don't order an entree salad. SO many people do this in their effort to lose weight, and you'd think with a salad being mostly lettuce that this would be the best option, but it's definitely not. Sure, it's much better than ordering a bacon cheeseburger...but really, most salads these days come with bacon AND cheese anyways - in addition to like 4-5 tablespoons of extra creamy dressing and a pile of croutons; unfortunately, that crispy chicken salad with honey mustard dressing probably has the same amount of calories as the bacon cheeseburger. My simple solution?: If you want to go the salad route, try ordering a cup of non-cream based soup with a side garden salad with dressing on the side. Soup is my new go-to food at restaurants; many times, they're loaded with vegetables, low in fat (unless they are cream-based), and SUPER filling. A side garden salad will be void of add-ons that make entree salads high-calorie, and asking for dressing on the side will allow you to add the amount you need - plus, don't you just hate a soggy, over-dressed salad??

6. Substitute fries with mixed vegetable side dish. This is probably the hardest one for me, as I am a HUGE fan of the crispy, fried potato string amazingness. Every time I'm at a restaurant and see my order comes with fries, it's kind of an internal struggle for me to make the verbal request to substitute them for the vegetable of the day. But you know what? Once the words escape my mouth, I'm really glad I did it. Because once the food comes out, I'm usually so hungry I don't care that there are vegetables on my plate instead of fries; I just want to eat. Obviously, there will be some days where fries just need to be present on the plate, but try to make an effort to substitute them every now and then. You can save hundred of calories in one meal by doing this.

I hope at least one of these tips can help you maintain a social life while sustaining that healthy lifestyle you are living! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Recap

This was one of those weekends that make it even harder on Monday morning because it was just SO GOOD, you never want it to end. Well, I guess people typically don't ever want weekends to end, but you know what I mean. 
We did a good amount of cooking this weekend - it's part of our whole trying to budget for the wedding while monitoring our intake of high calorie, enormously portioned restaurant offerings. 
Brent played chef on Friday night and created this really amazing citrus balsamic sauce to go with our sauteed chicken. YUM.
Saturday night, we went on a pub crawl in Cambridge for one of our friend's birthdays - SO MUCH FUN! We started off at The Field, which is pretty much my favorite dive bar around the city. We then set out on a route from Central Sq to Harvard Sq, with the goal of ending up at Hong Kong, per request of birthday boy - unfortunately, we never did end up there. Along the way, we made stops at People's Republik (way over-crowded and college-aged, not my scene), The Cellar (I love a garden-level bar!), and ended at Charlie's Kitchen (hello, awesome mix of diner/bar). I love me a pub crawl!
Sunday morning, we had to go pick my car up in Central Sq - yeah, definitely was not driving home after the pub crawl. We took the dogs with us so they could get some fresh air, and Max got a little over-excited and had an accident on the sidewalk right in the middle of Central Sq, of course. I'm sure he wasn't the first either. 
Then we made this for dinner on Sunday:



That's right folks...Barbecue Pulled Chicken. Maybe not the healthiest of meals, but leave out the unnecessary bun, and it's really not so bad. Besides, everyone deserves a splurge every now and then, and this one is MORE than worth it. The recipe can be found here, and I can't recommend it enough. Seriously, go make it. I know you want a bite...



I also made these Double Banana Chocolate Chip breakfast bars. It took pretty much all of my will-power to stop after just one. A few hours later, my will-power died down and I had another. So I ran 4 miles, crisis averted. 

As sad as it was for this weekend to come to a close, I cannot be more excited for this upcoming weekend! All my bridesmaids are staying over Friday night for girl's night, and we're going to pick out bridesmaids dresses on Saturday morning - PSYCHED! I'm also super excited because after 6 long months of waiting, my dress is finally in, and I'll have my first fitting on Saturday. Sunday we're off to an open house at our wedding venue, White Cliffs Country Club - fully equipped with all sorts of delicious food and wine. I can't wait!!

How was your weekend??

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

First off, if you eat broccoli, then you have no excuse not to try its delicious white cousin - CAULIFLOWER! This poor vegetable doesn't get enough attention in my opinion, so I'mma give it some.

Why should you try cauliflower? Well, to start, it's very low in fat and carbohydrates; nice, right? It's also very high in dietary fiber, water, folate, and vitamin C - hello, high nutritional density!

I'm slightly obsessed with EatLiveRun.com (I could literally spend probably 2-3 hours a day on this blog and be totally fine with it), and during my browsing last weekend, I found this amazingly simple recipe for Spicy Roasted Cauliflower - Jenna's recipe can be found here.

All you need is a good set of spices and a big head of cauliflower, and you're ready to go!


Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:
Large head of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into florets
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  • Mix spices together in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle oil over cauliflower florets and sprinkle spice mix over them. Mix together well and lay out on a lined sheet tray. 
  • Roast for 25-30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes or so to evenly roast.

Makes 4 servings as a side dish. I served it alongside cajun-spiced shrimp that Brent made...SO good!



Nutritional Value
Serving size: 1 cup cauliflower (~1/4 of recipe)
Calories: 60 | Fat: 4g | Carbohydrates: 5.1g | Protein: 2.3g | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugars: 1.8g

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Exercise of the Week: 6 Moves for a Sculpted Back

Many of you probably dedicate close to 30 minutes through the course of the week to sculpting your abs - am I right? Well, that's great! Keep up that hard work and I bet you'll notice a difference come summer!

Along with those gorgeous abs, it's also REALLY important to give some attention to the opposing muscle group - that's right, your BACK! No one wants to be lop-sided now, do they?

I'll admit, for awhile, I was guilty of back negligence - but recently, I've noticed that while my front core is holding up pretty well, my back could use a bit of work. So I've been looking into some fun back exercises to try out and share with you guys. I've found a few that work the entire back and can be done with or without a stability ball - I'm personally a huge fan of the stability ball and think it's a great accessory to have at home for toning. If you don't have one, check out your local Target, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls.  I got mine at TJ Maxx for all of $11, and it came equipped with its own pump. 

This is a no excuse workout: these exercises are super convenient and can be done during commercials while watching TV. And have fun with it! [Workout inspired by Fitness Magazine, exercise.com, and fitness-passion.com]

1.) Targeting the Lower Back

No stability ball:
Image by Fitness magazine
Lie face-down on the floor with arms at side and palms facing up. Keep your abs and glutes tight through this exercise. 
Lift chest off floor, raise arms back toward hips, and lift legs about 3 inches off the floor.
Hold for 3 counts and lower back to starting position. 
Repeat for 10-15 reps. 

With stability ball:
Image by Fitness magazine
Lie with your hips on top of a stability ball and legs extended behind you parallel to the floor, hands shoulder-width apart on the floor.
Lift both legs up toward the ceiling as far as you comfortably can without over-arching your spine.
Hold for 3 counts and lower legs back to starting position.
Repeat for 10-15 reps.

2.) Targeting the Upper Back

No stability ball:
Image by Fitness magazine
Holding 3-8 lb dumbbells, stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at sides with weights, and your knees slightly bent.
Keeping abs tight, slowly shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, keeping elbows straight.
Hold for 3 counts and lower.
Repeat for 10-15 reps.

With stability ball:
Image by exercise.com
Lie with your hips on top of a stability ball, legs a little wider than hip-width apart, toes on the ground to help stabilize your body. 
Hold a 3-8 lb dumbbell in each hand, arms down.
Keeping your lower back flat, extend arms out to the sides to about shoulder height, elbows straight. 
Hold for 2 counts and lower arms to center. 
Repeat for 10-15 reps. 

3.) Targeting the Upper Back

No stability ball:
Image by fitness-passion.com
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a 3-8 lb dumbbell in each hand, palms facing backwards.
Bending from the hips, lean forward, keeping your lower back flat, so that your back is parallel to the floor. Arms will be reaching down below you. 
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the dumbbells to either side of your ribs, elbows out. 
Hold for 2 counts and lower arms to start.
Repeat for 10-15 reps.

With stability ball:
Image by Fitness magazine
Kneel on the floor with your hands and forearms resting on the ball, about shoulder-width apart.
Roll the ball away from you and extend your arms forward, dropping your chest and pelvis toward the floor, keeping abs tight. 
At full extension, hold for 3 counts and roll ball back to starting position, contracting shoulders.
Repeat for 10-15 reps.