Monthly Archives: February 2010

Though shalt not waste

While scouring my fruit bowl the other day for the ripest orange, I came across an avocado that had gone forgotten.  Its ripeness was just right for eating.  I really hate a too-firm avocado.  Their creaminess is the best part.  Wasting food in my house has always been a cardinal sin; wasting an avocado is punishable by death.  I really try to use all the food I eat, even if it means rearranging my menu plans.  So I knew avocado in some form was in my future and the sooner the better.

After picking Brad up at the rental car place after a long work week in Atlanta, we were both starving and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner.  I decided to make a southwestern chicken salad with guacamole of course.

I assembled our salads separately, giving Brad a larger portion than my own.  My salad is the one pictured.  It included:

2 big handfuls of salad greens

3 oz. of chicken sauteed in non-stick spray and heavily seasoned with blackening seasoning

1/3 cup frozen corn (microwaved)

1/3 cup black beans

1/4 English cuke

1/4 of the Guacamole (recipe follows)

Large dollop of TJ’s Fat Free Organic European-style Yogurt

3-4 Tbsp. TJ’s Chipotle Salsa

I like to make guac with red onions, lime juice, jalapeno, and garlic, but often leave out ingredients if I don’t have them on hand.  The real star of the show is the avocado and if you have a nice ripe one, you won’t be disappointed no matter what you omit.

For this recipe I used:

1 medium very ripe avocado

1/4 large red onion chopped

juice of 1/2 lime

salt

I had garlic on hand but completely forgot to add it…nothing a little garlic powder can’t fix.

Side note: I was not a fan of the Chipotle salsa.  In fact, I asked Brad if he planned on eating it because I wanted to throw it away.  I’ve never met a salsa I didn’t like this much; so much that I am willing to break the cardinal sin of wasting food and throw it away.  Eating is supposed to be a good time (that’s what I think anyway), so if I dislike something this much, I don’t want it to ruin my good time. I’m giving him a week to eat it and then it’s going out with the trash.

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P90X Update

I have had a few revelations about dieting during my stint with P90X.  First off, let me just say that the workouts are great.  They’re very challenging and I’m definitely going to keep them up (except yoga).  What happened to yoga you ask?   Well, to be perfectly honest, I’ve finally accepted that I hate yoga and I don’t have to be good at or like every kind of physical activity.  Last Wednesday when I was about 60 minutes through the 90 minute yoga video (pretty intense for someone who hates yoga), I noticed two things: 1) I was getting better at the moves and 2) I did not care; I still hated it.  Just like running or biking is not for everyone, yoga is not for me.  I’m sure I could get better at it, but when I can physically feel myself getting better, and this is not motivation enough to proceed, it’s time to accept the fact that it is just not my cup of tea.  And that’s okay.  There are so many other things I enjoy doing.  That being said, I really admire people who are super awesome at yoga and being stretchy (like Brad who can reach 8 inches past his toes – I’ve measured).  I might change my mind and give it another try someday, but today is not that day.  Tomorrow is not looking good either.  So in lieu of yoga, I  am going to incorporate running or the elliptical as a substitution.  Both of these options make me much happier.

Yesterday, I made another change to my P90X plan and can actually feel a difference in my happiness level.  I was pretty sick and tired of eating a huge portion of meat at lunch and dinner.  Sometimes I just don’t feel like eating meat.  In fact before this diet plan, I went days sometimes without meat touching my lips.  I got plenty of protein other ways (dairy, nuts, and beans).  True, it wasn’t the level P90X wants you to eat, but it was a considerable amount.

Another thing I’m not too keen on for the program is the limit of fruit and vegetables. Phase 1 allowed 1 serving of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables = not enough fiber.  I really really missed my fruit!

I understand the thinking behind the plan, but I don’t think it is too restrictive and made me mad for sugar.  I was allowed one large portion of carbs per day (Phase 1) and also got some carbs through their 20g of protein energy bar (23 grams of sugar in the form of evaporated can syrup) and their recovery drink (18 grams of more sugar in 1 scoop, 36 grams in the 2 scoop recommended serving).  Rather than wait for these actual products to arrive via snail mail, I bought alternatives which were recommended on various websites as being good substitutes.  These were Clif Builder Bars ( 20 grams of sugar) and Accelerade (20 grams of sugar in 1 scoop) – pretty comparable.  Does that seem like a lot of sugar to you?  It does to me! For comparison, two pieces of your average whole wheat bread has 3.2 grams of sugar.  A kit kat has 20.4 grams…I’m just sayin’.

I don’t want to say anything too negative because I actually know people who have had amazing results from this program.  I’m  just providing some facts, explaining why the “diet” portion is not working for me, and you can make your own assumptions.  When I say it isn’t working for me, it’s really too soon to see if it is physically working because I have heard that you really can’t tell if you’re getting good results until the Phase 2.  What isn’t working for me is the constant feeling of deprivation, boredom with my food, and general lack of interest in eating what I’m supposed to be eating…it just kind of sucks all of the fun out of eating, you know?

So to remedy this I’m going to start writing down everything I eat and focus on balance, making sure I am getting somewhere between 50 and 75 grams of protein every day and plenty of fruits and vegetables…all the vegetables I want in fact.

Morale to this story:  I’m still working on figuring out what is right for me and that takes time.

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Chicken Chilly

It is soooo cold in NC today.  Cold AND windy!  It didn’t get out of the 30’s today and the ind was super gusty.  I know someone from the Northeast is cursing me under their breath right now, but I think you can stand what you’re used to, and us North Carolinians are not used to this type of weather.

I was outside this afternoon for about an hour and a half coaching Girls on the Run.  If you don’t know about Girls on the Run, I highly recommend checking out their website.  It is a nonprofit program that started right here in Charlotte, but is now used all over the nation.  The program takes female volunteers to “coach” an hour-long after school program where 3rd-5th grade girls lean how to have good self-esteem and also get some exercise in the process.  Although we run a 5K at the conclusion of the semester, it is not a running program.  We teach the girls all about the benefits of exercise and we plan games each day that involve running around a track.  But, the girls move at their own pace.  If all they can do is walk, then they walk.  The fundamental goal is to build the girls up so that they have the self-esteem to make good choices about their health and their life in general.  I really love doing it!  I miss being around that age group and I would have loved to been involved in such a program at that age.  It would have been so good for me.  Sometimes, I wonder if the girls are listening when I and the other coach are telling them how great they are and how important it is to make healthy choices, but I think we’re doing some good, one way or another.

After being outside for a bit, I just couldn’t get warm.  I was chilled to the bone and took the long drive home with the heat blasting the whole way.  I knew I wanted something warm and comforting for dinner.  Chicken chilly chili sounded perfect to me!

1 can pinto beans

1 can garbanzo beans

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes and juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 red pepper chopped

1/2 white onion chopped

1 lb. ground chicken

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Saute pepper and onion in a pan.  Add beans, diced tomatoes and juice, and all spices to a pot and simmer.  Brown ground chicken.  Once chicken is cooked through, add to bean mixture.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Very easy!

Top with a dollop of yogurt and mozzarella cheese.

This really hit the spot.  Later, as I was making my lunch for tomorrow, I noticed we had some green onion in the bottom of the fridge.  Had I known, this would have been an excellent addition to my little bowl of comfort.

Nothing beats chili on a chilly day! 🙂

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Trying P90X

My eating habits have been a slow progression towards healthier eating since high school.  In high school I would skip breakfast and grab peanut butter M&Ms at 10 am, then snack off someones’ plate of chicken nuggets made with God knows what for lunch followed by 1-2 20 oz. Sundrops, probably one of the most unhealthy drinks of all time.  In college I somehow grew to really like vegetables and fruit, plus a lot of other foods I have never tried or like before.  This was probably due to a lack of my parents’/grandparents’ staple meals that made up my entire diet prior to college.  Once that was missing, I had to fill it with something else.  And it turns out that fresh produce is easier to eat in a dorm/college apartment than frying up some chicken or my grandmother’s made-from-scratch biscuits (don’t hate).  But along with this new appreciation for healthier foods came a new understanding of calorie restriction and a continued love of process foods/college fare dining (i.e. pokey sticks) for late night snacking.  Don’t get me wrong, calorie restriction is a useful and effective way for some people to manage their weight, my approach just wasn’t sustainable for someone running 4 miles a day.

So after college I kept up the healthier eating, practiced cooking and became a better cook, learned more about the benefits of whole foods, and have what I think is a pretty healthy diet.  Except for the fact that I have had about 5-7 pounds that I just can’t have struggled with losing for the past 5ish years.  With my wedding coming up in August, I really really really want to lose these few pounds and tone up. I exercise a good bit.  A bad week would be exercising four times, while I count a good week as six times.

Brad purchased the P90X program several months ago and after hearing me complain about my 5-7 pound predicament for the past two years weeks, he suggested that we try out the program together.  So, I have now completed one week of P90X and some of my thoughts of this week are…

  • It’s kind of expensive.  Besides purchasing the program, you eat a lot of meat, which I haven’t been used to lately and can definitely tell a difference on my grocery bill even though I’ve only been buying stuff on sale.
  • The workouts are pretty difficult, but in a good way.  I’m doing the P90X Lean, which is more of a weight loss program than the classic, which is more for toning or bulking up.  It has more cardio, which I really like.  I think this is usually the hardest part for most people.  But the lean is less weight lifting and if you’re already pretty active, you won’t struggle as much as some.
  • I like that it emphasizes whole foods and cooking your food.  I think I’ve eaten more whole foods this week since somewhere at the end of the week I usually end up eating a veggie burger or a can of soup because I just don’t feel like making my lunch.
  • Although P90X says you can be a vegetarian and do this program, I don’t really see how you can and completely do the nutrition program.  They give examples of things vegetarians might eat instead of meat, but since carbs are limited, it seems counterintuitive since most vegetable proteins also have quite a bit of carbs.  I don’t think this is a bad thing, I just think that it wouldn’t work quite the same way for non-vegetarians who have more strictly limited their carbs in the first phase (there are three phases).
  • You don’t get hungry if you strictly follow the nutrition guide and get in all of your protein.  You can still have one large carb portion a day (think 1 cup of brown rice).  I’ve read that your body can’t really this much protein, but I think the purpose is to keep you full so you don’t crash and burn and eat two pieces of chocolate cake.

It’s kind of funny that most of my thoughts are about the nutrition since most blogs and people you talk to that have done the program are more concerned with the challenges of the fitness plan.  I really attribute to my already regular exercise and the belief that I can get over almost any fitness hurdle after going from a chubby asthmatic kid to someone who has ran four half marathons in the past three years.  Seeing where I came from and where I’ve gone really developed the attitude that I will get there eventually if I keep working at it.

I have the bad habit of doing programs like this for two weeks and then when I see no progress, I quite.  However, I’ve read from blogs that review the program that you really see results in phase 2, after you lower your protein and up your carbs a bit.  I believe this is because you’re stronger and able to do the exercises more effectively.  Anyway, knowing this I have made the goal to go completely through phase two and stick it out until day 60.  The program is 90 days and I feel like if I haven’t seen any progress after phase two, something isn’t working for me.  If this happens, I might keep up the fitness but look more closely at my diet.

I’ll definitely document any progress I have and any further thoughts I have along the way.

For more information see the office P90X website.

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Green Curry Soup…I mean Stew

This weekend in NC, it snowed for the umpteenth time, which is pretty uncommon if you’re not at a high elevation in the mountains.  In Charlotte, there was more ice than snow.  We set out to our friend Gibson’s house mid morning to brave the ice and have brunch with friends.  I made scones that weren’t worth mentioning.  I’ll post them later when I develop a better recipe.

I was so excited to go to brunch, not just to see good friends, but also because my friend Brittney just got her own new dachshund puppy and we decided to make the brunch Rascal and his official first play date.  Rascal did not warm up to the little guy immediately.  Brittney’s pup’s name was Clyde and he was soooo adorable.   I held him for most of the morning, which Rascal did not like at all!

He loves kisses.  🙂  Eventually Rascal took to Clyde once he learned how much fun it was to be chased by him, especially since the Clyde could never catch him.  Rascal doesn’t find many dogs that has trouble outrunning him since his legs are so short.  As you can see Rascal is MUCHO larger than Clyde.

Clyde is a mini so he will never get as large as his new pal.  Rascal was extra needy the rest of the day after watching his mama snuggle a puppy for a few hours.

The cold weather made me in the mood to make soup that night, so I gathered all the ingredients to make green curry soup.

Star of the show: green curry paste I found in the back of the cabinet with an 89 cent sticker on it.  Best supporting actress: Ms. Toe Thumb.

Recipe:

4 chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

1 can of light coconut milk

1 Tbsp.  green curry paste

1 inch piece of ginger peeled and grated or finely chopped

2 tsp. brown sugar

32 oz. low sodium free range chicken broth

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried cilantro

1 chopped carrot

1 chopped stalk of celery

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 cup of green beans (fresh or frozen)

1/2 pint of mushrooms

1 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)

1 cup jasmine rice

Non stick cooking spray

Saute ginger in a large pot with cooking spray.  Do not burn.  Add chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Add chicken and cook for five minutes.  Add rice and all vegetables.  Cook for 10 minutes, then add herbs.  Cook for five more minutes then turn burner to low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

I underestimated the expanding capacity of rice that you allow to simmer for a while.  My soup turned into a hearty stew, but was still very delicious and satisfied my craving for something warm and comforting.  The curry gave it a bit of a kick.

This recipe made enough for six 1 cup servings.  It was pretty delicious and I would love to try this again with less rice to make more of a soup (maybe 1/2 cup instead?).  It would also be pretty good with red curry paste which is my very favorite form of curry.  I only used green because we didn’t have red and who wants to trek out in the icy snow and fight through all of the bread and milk buyers for a can of red curry paste?

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