Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running and the Warrior Dash

Part of being the best me I can be is working out on a regular basis.  I’m not going to pretend that I go to the gym every day, or that I never make excuses to not go, because that wouldn’t be true.  But, I have been trying to go on a regular basis and feel like I am doing okay with that.  Here is the problem: I love actually working out.  After the 3rd minute on the treadmill I get into it and am happy to be there.  I just HATE everything leading up to that.  I hate driving past my house to get there.  I hate changing clothes.  I hate finding parking in the parking lot, mostly because people seem to forget they are there to work out and block the parking lot trying to find the closest spot possible. I hate the other people in the gym.  But I know I need to work out.  I know working out is part of being healthy. 
                I have always been athletic, and played tennis all through high school (and was pretty good) and softball until I wrecked my knee and couldn’t play catcher anymore.  I am pretty sure I have belonged to a gym in some form or another since I was 16 and going to physical therapy after having my ACL and meniscus repaired.  The place I went had an office in the gym and it was just natural to continue to work out there and keep strengthening my knee.
                In the past year I have started running.  Despite all my athletic prowess ;) I have never been a runner, especially of long distances (and by long distances I mean over a mile).  Both of the sports I played involved more sprinting than long distance running.   I managed to have good stamina just by playing these sports, especially tennis, all the time.  Now that I no longer play any sports, I need to do other things to keep in shape.  I find the elliptical boring, but will do 15 minutes or so after the treadmill to try to use different muscles. 
The problem I am having is that I start getting better and better at running, and then my gym attendance drops off and I start back at square one.  Well, last night Scott got a text from a friend of ours asking if we wanted to join him and his wife to do the Warrior Dash.  I have heard a lot about it, and it seems fun.  Well as fun as a 3 mile run with obstacles can be (and oh yeah, getting covered in mud!) Crawling through a tunnel? Sure! Crawling under barbed wire? Alright! Jumping over fire?  Umm... sure?  But there is beer at the end, and I will try almost anything once.  The goal now is to be able to run the full three miles without stopping.  Currently I am working on run/walk intervals while I build up to a constant run.  The race is in May, so I have plenty time to get there, and I am really looking forward to this.  Even if I suck, a friend told me that there are a lot people there who are only trying to have fun, and don’t care about time/winning. 
Running + obstacles + mud + beer = awesome!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quick Recipe: Asian-inpired Roasted Potatoes

On Sunday night, I decided to make super-easy tuna burgers inspired by the recipe in Hubert Keller’s Burger cookbook.  The burgers themselves were delicious, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love raw tuna lightly seared on both sides?  I needed to come up with a side dish, and had half a bag of baby fingerling potatoes to use up.  I knew I wanted to roast them but had to figure out how to season them so they would go with the Asian-inspired tuna burgers.  I took a gander in the pantry to see what seasonings I had and came up with a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself)!
I had a jar of rice seasoning that I bought when after Scott and I had taken a sushi making class.  It has seaweed and sesame seeds, and who knows what else in it.  I used about half a teaspoon of oil, rubbed that into 14 ounces of large-diced potatoes, then sprinkled about a tablespoon of the rice seasoning on and roasted at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  When the potatoes were done, I squeezed half a lime one and a heaping tablespoon of finely diced cilantro and mixed.  They were some of the best roasted potatoes I have ever had, and the best part was they were only 4 Weight Watchers Points + per serving (recipe makes 2 servings). The sesame seeds got nicely toasted and the lime added a wonderful zing.
Now I am trying to think of other interesting seasonings on roasted potatoes to make as an easy side dish.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pastrami Cupcakes

One of my favorite cooking blogs is called Emily Bites.  She has great, Weight Watchers friendly recipes that are pretty easy to make.  I have made the Lasagna Cupcakes several times.  They are perfect for lunch, since they pretty much package themselves into single servings, and two is just the right amount for a satisfying meal.

Over the weekend, Scott spend Saturday smoking a pastrami that we had been brining for a week.  As you can imagine, a 9 pound brisket left us with a LOT of leftovers, and I need a creative way to use some them that would fit into our diet.  So I took some inspiration from Emily Bites, and made Pastrami Cupcakes.  They came out even better than I imagined.  Bear clearly agrees since he stole several of them off of the kitchen counter while they were cooling.

Pastrami Cupcakes
3 Weight Watchers Points + per cupcake
Makes 12 cupcakes

5 ounces beef pastrami, diced
1/2 pound Jarlsberg light, or other light Swiss cheese
3/4 of a pound of mushrooms
24 Wonton wrappers
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is heating, saute sliced mushrooms in a non-stick pan until cooked through.  Mix pastrami and mushrooms in a bowl.  Shred the cheese.

To assemble, spray muffin pan with olive oil spray.  Press a wonton wrapper into the bottom of the muffin tin.  Put approximately a tablespoon of the pastrami/mushroom mixture in the wrapper, then top with a tablespoon of the cheese.  Press another wrapper on top of the cheese, then repeat the layers of pastrami/mushroom mix and top with cheese.  Repeat 12 times in the muffin tin.

Spray the tops of the pastrami cupcakes with the olive oil spray (this will help the wontons get crispy) and bake for 25 minutes.

This is a super-easy recipe that I think everyone will enjoy, and check out the other variations on Emily Bites.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Recipe: Tarragon Vinaigrette Salad

Tarragon Vinaigrette Salad
Tarragon is a bit of underrated herb. It doesn’t get much use, but the licorice flavor really packs a punch, and made a flavorful vinaigrette for a winter salad. This is one of those salads where I combined a few leftovers with a few fresh ingredients to make a fast and easy dinner.

Salad Ingredients (serves 2)
4 ounces stale bread, cubed and baked at 350 degrees until crunchy
2 pears, cubed
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I used some beautiful yellow teardrop tomatoes)
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted
1 roasted beet, diced
4 cups salad greens

Tarragon Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Wish the vinaigrette ingredients together, then pour over salad and toss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: Being The Best Me I can Be!

The new year is a time for reflection, and a time to look ahead. 2011 was flat out amazing. The meals I ate, the places I visited, the fun I had with friends and family all added to something wonderful. I can’t even remember what resolutions I made at this time last year, but no matter what they were, if I accomplished them or not, 2011 was great.
Now that it is 2012, I’m looking ahead to another year that I hope is just as amazing. There are so many wonderful things happening this year, including my husband turning 30 (and the surprise that will accompany that!), my big brother is getting married to a fabulous woman who has become a friend, and my fifth wedding anniversary will be celebrated with another great trip.
This year, my only resolution is to do everything I can to be the best, happiest and healthiest me I can be. How this will play out over the next 12 months is anybodies guess, but I can tell you one thing- by the end of 2012 I plan on being great. In 2011 I lost 30 pounds, and I hope to continue that trend through Weight Watchers, which is a great program that has really worked for me. I want to couple that with being a regular, consistent gym goer. Hopefully this will also involve becoming a better runner but I would be happy just doing some kind of work out on a regular basis. My gym habit has waxed and waned over the past year, and I need to make it a priority.
Another part of being the healthiest me I can be involves finally getting a handle on my headaches. There have been weeks at a time where I cannot remember a day where I did not have a headache. Excedrine is like candy to me and I have never thought twice about popping more than the recommended dose multiple times a day. A lot of my headaches are stress-related, and I carry all of my stress in my neck and shoulders. I have actually already started working on this goal, through acupuncture and a laser treatment. So far, the combination really seems to be helping me. Hopefully things will continue and the frequency and duration of my headaches will continue to lessen.
I hope everyone has also had a chance to reflect on the past year, and have figured out what they can do to be the best they can be.
Feel free to leave a comment here about your resolution, and we can look back at the end of 2012 and see how we did. Happy New Year!!!!!