You Can Get Fit!

Hey, Snowflakes!

(Or, maybe I shouldn’t call you snowflakes. I want snowflakes to go away. Ever since I moved here 8 years ago, I have learned that snow slows down life, and keeps me from doing what I want and need to do. Perhaps there’s a lesson for me, here… but I refuse to slow down.)

In the past 2 days, we’ve gotten probably 5 inches of snow at our house. So far… it’s been manageable… but I must say I’m looking forward to Wednesday, when it’s supposed to warm up enough that things will melt (since hardly any roads get plowed around here). I have to get back to my January goal of running 50 miles–the gym treadmill gets the job done, but it’s psychologically a lot harder!

Which brings me to today’s topic:

Did you make resolutions? And how are they holding up?

I think I mentioned earlier that I’m not a resolution fan, but I did set a goal for myself to run 50 miles during January. Note the specificity: I didn’t say that I want to be a better runner or that I want to run more, but I set a specific mileage goal.

And that’s what I’m here to tell you today. Specificity of goals helps you achieve your goals. Want to improve your diet? Rather than saying “I’ll eat more fruits and vegetables”, aim to eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Want to start working out more? Rather than telling yourself “I’m going to go to the gym more often”, make a goal to go to the gym 4 days a week. Get the picture? Whatever your goal is for lifestyle improvement, there’s a way to make it more specific.

Which, in turn, makes you ultimately more successful! Good stuff!

Keep up the great work!

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Hi!

Good busy news from me! I’m running about 12-15 miles per week, I have one more class to go to make 9 fitness classes taught this week, and… while I’m a bit exhausted, everything seems to be in working order! Go, me!

So, I’ve been trying to find recipes that aren’t too challenging (yeah, I really don’t feel like standing up in the kitchen for hours this week, nor do I feel like cleaning a ton of stuff) but provide a lot of nutrition. A quick web search led me to this veggie-filled recipe, which I tweaked in several places.

This is one of those recipes where it’s tough to figure out a name, since it’s full of so much stuff! It also contains spinach, onions, garlic, a few seasonings…. wait, don’t run away! There isn’t a long ingredient list, don’t worry.

I cut back on the amount of liquid in the soup (this was based on the comments at the end) and it ends up giving you more of a stew, not much broth. If you want more broth, increase the amount that you add. THe original recipe calls for 5 cups of broth, and I probably wouldn’t go quite that high.

White Bean, Fennel, and Tomato Soup
based on an All Recipes recipe

1 large onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 c veggie broth (more if desired)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
4 c shredded fresh spinach

1. Saute onion, garlic, and fennel in oil over medium-low heat about 5 minutes, until starting to soften.

2. Add broth, beans, tomatoes, thyme, pepper, salt, red pepper, and bay leaf and bring to boil, Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let simmer another 30 minutes or until fennel is tender. Remove bay leaf.

3. Add spinach and cook another ~3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Adjust seasonings and serve!

The weather is wonderfully sunny outside, so I’m going to take advantage with a longer run in a few minutes! (I did see one of the news stations predict a low of 17 degrees today, though–hopefully that’s passed! Brrrr!!!) Go and make it a great weekend, whatever it is you’re doing!

So… I’m not one for resolutions, for the same reasons as everyone else… (you go all-out for a few weeks, and then what? Strong and steady in the long run is what’s gonna win, right?)

I’m also not much of one for this “new year” business. It’s just a day on a calendar. (It’s a great excuse for a celebration, but aside from that… why save all of your do-gooding until the beginning of the year? I got back in town on December 27th at 12:30 am… and recommitted to my fitness plan on December 27th. That was my “new year”.) Every day, you wake up with a new opportunity to do something healthy for yourself!

That said, I’m taking a cue from Chris Brogan, an online business guru, and I’ve come up with my word to set the tone for the year. What’s one word (or, a few, if you can’t come up with just one) that you want to focus your life on this year?

My word, this year, is comeback. It didn’t hit me until this morning how dedicated I’ve been in my return to my former self, as though the past year and a half have been a mere bump in the road. (In the past 20 months, I’ve been through two major hip surgeries–the second to fix the first–and then got seriously ill last summer, and needed months of recovery and rehab to get through the effects of that.) Now, I’ve returned to teaching several group fitness classes per week, and I’m starting half marathon training again… in other words, I’m well on the road to the former me.

Along the way, I’m taking a lot of time to think about whether or not I want to continue along this same journey, or if I’ll modify it slightly–but the key focus is getting my body back in line again. And it’s doing fine, so far! (with a fair amount of effort! This doesn’t come for free!)

I really believe that having a long-term focus–even on the scale of a month, or several months–helps us plan what we’re going to do on a daily basis. And that helps us live healthier, happier lives! All good, eh?

So, what is your word for the year? How will you set your tone for the next several months?

Last chance for a Recipe Friday this year! So… here it is! I made this yesterday, and it’s wonderfully warm comfort food. Healthy, too: lots of good-for you fiber, anti-inflammatory turmeric in the curry, and the peas are a great vegetarian protein source.

Now, I grew up with grandparents who loved their split pea soup… but that was back in the day when bean soups and split pea soups were merely a bacon or ham flavor delivery mechanism. I had a container of dried split peas, but not being a bacon fan (please don’t stop reading my blog, I promise I’m still cool) I wanted something different. I didn’t have to search far to find this yummy alternative.

Curried Split Pea Soup
based on Alton Brown’s recipe

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 c split peas, rinsed and picked through
5 c vegetable or chicken broth
1 tbsp curry powder

1. Place the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and a large pinch of salt and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to saute another 1-2 minutes, making sure that neither onion nor garlic brown.

2. Add curry powder and saute for an additional minute to lightly toast the spices in the oil. Then add peas and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until peas are tender and no longer hold their shape.

3. Using either an immersion blender or blending in batches in a regular blender, process soup until smooth. Adjust seasoning as desired.

This is such yummy comfort food… trust me on this one! Some cultures ring in the new year with black eyed peas for good luck… why not try split peas?

Start thinking about goals for the coming year! I’ll be back in a few days to talk more on that!

Hey, gang! I’ve returned from my holiday adventure, and I want to share it with you all! We went to Germany, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg to check out their Christmas markets. Though the weather could have cooperated a bit more (maybe 9 hours of sun on the whole trip), it was a really great adventure, and we ate a lot of good food. I did manage several Pilates sessions, and further explored exercises that I can accomplish all while not lying on a questionable hotel floor! (So–Pilates while standing, Pilates on a bed…)

I blogged about the trip, and there are many pictures, so take your time to peruse. You can check it all out at

http://mehrgluhwein.wordpress.com/

I’m getting back into my daily routine–even teaching two spin classes tonight–and glad to say that the knee strain from a few weeks before the trip disappeared shortly after we started… hooray! So, I’ll see what kind of running I’m able to do once I shake the rest of this respiratory infection.

Start thinking of your 2012 goals… I’ll be back with a recipe on Friday, and the new year is just around the corner!

Howdy!

OK, I’m back and recovered from Thanksgiving. I made an Indian feast (worthy of many Recipe Friday posts)… it included:

Papads with tamarind chutney

Minted lamb patties (wow, these were so good)

Baked spicy chicken (almost tandoori-ish)

Homemade chai

Stir-fried red lentils

Garlic naan (storebought….)

Kheer

 

And we shared it with a friend who worked part of the day. Good stuff! The lamb dish will certainly be happening again… I’ll admit that it was my first time cooking lamb!

 

<i>Did you all have a great holiday weekend? Did you cook anything out of the ordinary?</i>

 

I’m prepping for another big holiday adventure, coming up here in a few weeks, but meanwhile, here’s a few fun holiday links:

 

1. Easy gifts for the holidays, or just fun things to share: holiday cake pops and candy apples.

 

2. The perfect Christmas gift for the cat.

 

3. This sweet minty Chex mix looks promising…. not healthy, but use a good quality white chocolate like Callebaut, and you’re set!

 

4. Make your house smell like the holidays! Boil a pot of water, add some orange peels and a few cinnamon sticks.

 

5. And to balance out the less-healthy eats above, here’s a good-looking recipe for curried sweet potato soup. It’s been soup weather for a while here, so why not make a big pot?

 

It’s December in a few days… can you believe it? I made a great red lentil and potato soup a few days ago, and I’ll share it with you all on Friday–big-time comfort food. Healthy, too!

 

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Hi, all.

I’ve been gone for a while… between mentally decompressing, and dealing with an overuse problem in my right hand/thumb (from too much typing, piano playing, cooking, cleaning… I’m trying to get myself to slow down and just read, but it just ain’t happening often enough). I asked my acupuncturist yesterday to give me a few needles for my thumb, which I’d overworked to the point of losing motor control, and he said… well, just don’t use your hand for a while… (Duh, right? I was hoping for the magic bullet. Don’t we all?)

But I can’t be gone for too long, and I just (literally just) made a fantastic culinary discovery that I had to share! I have to thank Indian cookbook author Monica Bhide for inspiring me to try this… because it was amazing, and it worked so well!

Have you ever had those crispy wafers (pappads) at the beginning of a meal at an Indian restaurant? You’ve probably had a bright green, spicy dipping sauce that goes with it–this is coriander (or, cilantro) mint chutney. I made some recently… and had a lot left over after cooking up my pappads that I bought from the Indian market.

First, I used some in a frittata. (that was good.)

And just a moment ago, I took Monica’s suggestion to put some on toast. Eh, why don’t I just give you a few recipes…..

Coriander-Mint Chutney
from various

1 c fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
1-2 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp white sugar (to taste)
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until a thin paste. You may need to add water to achieve the proper texture. I had to scrape down the sides a lot.

**So, once you’ve made the chutney, feel free to use it in a frittata with spinach and onions (that was good, too), or use it on toast…

Coriander Mint Chutney on Toast
adapted from The Spice Is Right (Monica Bhide)

2 slices whole grain bread
butter or butter substitute (salted)
1-2 tbsp coriander mint chutney

1. Toast bread.

2. Spread bread with thin layer of butter. (Allowing it to melt works best.)

3. Spread buttered toast with 1-2 tsp chutney per slice (depending on your taste and/or size of bread). Serves 1-2 — up to you!

This would also be fun cut into smaller pieces as a party appetizer!

I’m thinking this might feature in my Indian Thanksgiving menu. Yeah, I’m cooking a bunch of Indian dishes this year–it’s just the two of us, and we’re not huge turkey fans, so why not experiment? It’ll be good!

Well, I’d better get back to the doctor’s orders, but if you have anything really out of the ordinary going on for Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear about it! Happy weekend!

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