Fall days + Butternut squash sweet potato soup

So this past week has been awful…well, really just on the healthy eating/working out front.  Work is good, friends are good, life is good.  I just somehow can’t seem to pull myself together and get back on track in regards to all things fitness.  It sucks.  It’s hard for me.  It drives me crazy that I can’t focus on being fit right now and I HATE the number I see on the scale and the fact that my muscles aren’t where I want them to be.  But right now, I swear all my brain power goes to learning new things at my job and loving my husband.  Oh and I’m sick.  So there.  Poor me.

But since there’s no use crying over spilled milkshake I decided to embrace this rainy fall day and make some soup.  And not workout.  And lay around on the couch.  It’s been nice.

Butternut Squash + Sweet Potato soup

  • 6 cups butternut squash cubed (I used TJs)
  • 3 cups cubed sweet potato
  • 1 granny smith apple peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a crock pot on low for 6 hours and then transfer to a food processor to blend.  You could also use an immersion blender (I don’t have one but today made me realize it’s a great item for my Christmas list…hint hint to any of my family members that might be reading this).  I also added in a little more coconut milk as I was blending because I had to make this in batches so the liquid was a bit off.

The soup was super easy to make, my house smelled like Thanksgiving and it hit the spot for dinner on this rainy day.  I packed the rest up for lunches this week and I’m thinking about cooking up some bacon to sprinkle on top for some extra protein.
Because I fully intent to pull it together this week.  Good workouts, good eats and no sugar.

Hope it happens.

Advertisements

Turkey Mac

So I just opened up my pictures folder and found pictures to a dinner that I never talked about on here.  What the heck?  That’s what being busy will do to a girl.

So without further delay, here is a quick and easy, tasty dinner using some of my last summer tomatoes…cue the violins.

Turkey Mac
Inspired by this recipe

While approximately half a box of whole wheat penne noodles were boiling, I cooked up half of a container/package (?) of ground turkey breast (seasoned with garlic, red pepper flakes and taco seasoning).  When that was almost done cooking I added in about 6 medium-sized freshly grown tomatoes and half of a can of corn.  I cooked all of that for about 8-10 minutes before adding in the noodles.  I topped off of that with 1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and added a little sour cream to my bowl.  Pretty much the easiest dinner ever.

Orange Juice

Today I can’t wait to wear this shirt (under my layers of black…down vest, rain jacket etc – 48 degrees at kickoff).

I’m so proud of my husband for helping to bring this to market :)  Go here for some info on the whole Beaver juice  story.

In other orange juice news, I used the freshly squeezed variety to make a super tasty dinner earlier this week.

Orange Paleo Chicken (adapted from original recipe here)

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 1 t fresh ginger
  • 3 T reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T sriracha

Directions
In a medium size sauce pot, add the orange juice, zest, ginger, soy sauce and sriracha. Set over medium heat and let simmer to reduce and thicken while the chicken cooks.  For the chicken – heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a separate pan. Add the chopped chicken and cook until a nice brown crust has developed on the chicken pieces, about 6 minutes). Add the chicken to the sauce pot and stir to coat with the orange sauce. These were the directions from the original recipe which I followed.  However, to cut down on pans I think you would be fine to cook the chicken until almost done and then just add all the sauce mix to the chicken and let everything thicken that way.

Serve over quinoa with a side of spicy green beans (olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, cooked over medium heat).

And unrelated to orange juice but more related to my overall health – I finished week two of the new job and am still alive (but tired).  I also managed to get in a workout every day this week even though some of it had to happen before and after work.  Here’s how they shook out:

  • Monday – Lunchtime pilates (with new work friends) + 30 minute incline treadmill walk after work
  • Tuesday: 45 minute run on the treadmill before work
  • Wednesday: 30 min cardio + lunchtime pilates (leaving a few minutes early)
  • Thursday: Quick 2.5 mile run after work on a new to me trail while waiting for Chris to get out of a meeting
  • Friday: 30 minutes of elliptical intervals + 30 minute butts & Guts class with my new workout pal Laura.

And finally, I wrapped up the week with half a high school football game (sideline view was nice).

Followed by dinner and a delicious sour beer at the Racoon.

And a cider at Journey’s.

And that brings me to now.  Off to pull myself together for game day.  Hope you all have great Saturdays.

Efficient workouts + shrimp pasta

Week one of the new job is one the books.  Done and done.

I also tried out my new lunchtime workout schedule for the 1st time and I feel like it’s going to be doable.  Honestly the only negative thing that was going through my mind when I was dealing with all this job stuff was the fact that the building was off campus which meant I could no longer walk to the gym at lunch and will have to drive.  Huge bummer since that’s a massive part of my day but in the end I realized I can’t base my career on gym access.  So I’ve vowed to make it work.

The commute definitely adds some time into the equation so I’m realizing I’m going to have to get a lot smarter about my workouts.  Gone are the leisurely hour and a half sessions + locker room time.  From now on, it’s 60 min or less in the gym with 15 minutes to get ready, giving me 15 minutes for commuting.  Here’s how things shook out for day one:

30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical.  Varying between resistance levels 7 -12, I alternated 30 sec to 1 minutes bursts to really get my heart rate going.  After that I did a quick dumbbell weight circuit 3 times through:

  • Front Raises 8lbs x 10
  • Lateral Raises 8lbs x 10
  • Single Arm Tricep extensions 8lbs x 12
  • Bent over rows 8lbs x 10
  • Squats 25 (varied between regular, side and sumo)
  • Side ab bends 16lbs x 25 per side
  • Step Ups on the weight bench 8lbs x 10

I did all of that in under an hour.  Nice.

And you know where else I was efficient this week?  With our Thursday night dinner.  I was still tired from my trip and Chris had firewood delivered and had to deal with stacking that.  We were going to go out or get pizza but I really wanted something healthy so I raided the kitchen and this is what I came up with.  It was delish.

Spicy shrimp Parmesan Pasta

  • 20 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 crown broccoli
  • Whole Wheat spaghetti noodles
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • garlic powder

But because I was being so efficient I didn’t measure anything.  Here’s my best guess at directions to recreate:

Spray some olive oil on the shrimp, and toss with red pepper flakes, garlic and sea salt.  Steam the broccoli on the stove in a steamer basket while your noodles are cookie.  Cook your shrimp on a pan over medium heat.  Add the shrimp and broccoli to the noodles. Toss in a bit of olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking and top with parmesan cheese.  I probably added about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup?

And of course, I topped it with sriracha.  So good.

Can you believe this is October? + My favorite Salmon

Um seriously how are we still getting weather like this?  We are living on borrowed time my friends because any day now the rains will come.  But until they do, we’re taking advantage of it.

Like yesterday when we decided to hit up Journeys after work (me in flip flops and shorts).

Sadly they are no longer serving hard cider on draft.  This may be a blessing in disguise.  I certainly don’t need those extra calories.

And before we hit up Journey’s we had a delicious salmon dinner.  This is one of the 1st meals Chris made for me when we were dating and I’ve always loved it.

Sweet & Spicy Salmon rub (courtesy of Chris)

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

2 ingredients.  How easy is that?  Dump them directly onto the (fresh) salmon filet, rub it around and throw it all on the grill.

We served it with grilled, spicy asparagus (olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes) and wild rice (from a box – not my finest moment).

So good.  I could eat that meal every day but I admit that salmon is the one protein we don’t eat enough around here but we need to be better.  So many nutritional benefits.

In other news, my workout yesterday was pretty typical – a pilates reformer class and 30 minutes on the elliptical split into before and after class segments.  And as for my two challenges, I am not at all doing good with the sugar-free variety.  Those darn M&M’s from my mom are just too tough to exist.

And with that, I’m out.  I shall leave you with this picture of my night.  How glorious is that for this time of year?

Spicy chicken tomato cream sauce over broccoli

Wait, what is going on here? Someone is blogging about her day the day it actually happened? Like for real, on an actual computer? Pinch me I must be dreaming.

And what great things do I have to share with you today? How about a little twist on a classic? Like I’ve mentioned here before, Chris looooves pasta. If it were up to him, we would have some sort of penne pasta every night (or maybe bean and cheese burritos). And tonight was no exception. I needed to use up some of the last tomatoes from our yard and had chicken thawed from earlier in the week (note – we buy organic chicken breasts from Costco but I split each breast in two. They are gigantic). So of course, we had pasta. I pretty much followed this spicy shrimp pasta recipe, tweaking things ever so slightly.

I chopped up 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Sautéed them in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Then I chopped up a bunch of smallish tomatoes (probably 8-10).

Then I added said tomatoes to chicken (and sprinkled in more garlic and flakes).

I stirred that around on medium heat for 5ish minutes. The sauce will start to thicken just a bit.

Then I added in goat cheese (about half of a container) and about 1/4 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt.

I poured it over noodles for Chris.

And steamed broccoli for me.

Don’t forget to top with sriracha.

Lemme tell you, this meal was delicious. I’ve been trying to tone back my noodle intake but it’s been hard since Chris loves them so much and tonight’s dinner proved a great solution. Besides steaming the broccoli, this wasn’t any more work than making one big batch of pasta and I felt so much better about what I was eating. Highly recommend it.

In other news, I have become obsessed with the gym stepmills. I’ve always loved these machines but they hurt my knees. I hopped on one the other day to test things out and at I realized that the machines store all the other people’s workouts. You hop on and you can see the weekly average and highest “score” (stairs and calories). Um, are you kidding me? Amazing. I did 30 minutes on one Tuesday and got the 2nd highest score (you can actually enter your name into the machine) and then today did 28 minutes and climbed 130 floors to take the top spot. I am a dork. And also my knees hurt. Clearly I cannot continue this.

Um ok, now it’s time to watch Grey’s. They totally jumped the shark last season…hello plane crash? But I’m too invested in it to quit watching. Hope you had a great night and happy Friday.

Home-grown tomatoes & bike rides + Indian Summer

We have had something crazy like 58 straight days without rain.  That is unheard of in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s been amazing.  Nothing but day after day of gorgeous weather.  I’m hoping it continues and we get a full on Indian Summer.  Cross your fingers.

And because this is it – the last time we get to taste summer for another year – I’m trying to take advantage of it and enjoy things like grilled corn on the cob, chilled white wine, salmon burgers, BBQ chicken, sleeping with the window open, and evening bike rides.

Like this one tonight.  Neither Chris or I had time to work-out today (work is crazy for both of us) so we jumped on our bikes and rode around through the village.  It’s so nice to still be feeling warm, summer air on your face as you coast down hills.

And before the bike ride we enjoyed another summer treat – home-grown tomatoes!  I had no luck with my tomatoes last year but this time is a whole different story.  I’ve been getting legitimate edibles from my plants.  Very exciting.

Tonight’s entire shrimp pasta was made with tomatoes from my yard.

And speaking of my yard, tomorrow we’re going to try to spend a little quality time with it before we have to pack away the lawn furniture and fire pit.  We’re thinking drinks and s’mores around the fire and maybe if we’re feeling really crazy we’ll spend the night outside on our air bed.  Wild side I tell ya.

And with that, I’m out.  Chris has just turned on the Pac 12 Network and I need to go negotiate alternate TV programming.  There’s only so much football I can handle around here.

Question for you – what are you going to miss most about summer?

Blackberry chipotle chicken

Can I just give you a little rundown of my day?

  • 5:20: Wake up/brush teeth/wash face/put on gym clothes
  • 5:40: Make & eat breakfast, make lunch, make coffee, make Chris’ smoothie
  • 6:00: leave the house
  • 6:30 – 7: cardio intervals on the bike with Mandee. (30 sec fast/1 min recover)
  • 7-8: Pilates reformer with a sub who was amazing!  If you live in the Portland area you have to check her out.
  • 8:30-6: Work.  Mostly meetings, including a 2 hour working lunch where I brought my own and avoided the cookie.  Go me.
  • 6-7: Honestly I’m not sure where this time went.  If you account for traffic, a stop at Rite Aid, a PB & jelly rice cake snack and a random look at some property with Chris I think that makes up just about an hour.
  • 7-8: Make dinner.  It was delicious but relatively time-consuming.
  • 8-8:30: Eat dinner
  • 8:30-9: Clean up from dinner
  • 9: Finally sitting down on the couch to relax.

It was a good day but it just feels like a lot.  I love getting up and working out in the morning but I usually just do it at my house.  Rachel the awesome pilates sub is also teaching a class Thursday and I’d love to go but it means Chris has to also come in early and I’m not sure if that will work.  I’m toying with going to the 6am pilates class and then coming home, getting Chris and going back to work.  We shall see.

What about you?  What’s your favorite time to workout?  Does getting taught by a certain teacher make you want to go to an out of your ordinary routine class? 

Oh and because blogs are always better with pictures, here are a few visual.

Egg + pepper pouf for breakfast

Salad for lunch

My new favorite snack (1 ate 3! Whoops)

And now for dinner.  It was amazing!

Blackberry Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries

For the chicken – sprinkle organic/boneless/skinless chicken breast with Italian seasoning.  Grill. This takes about 15 minutes.

For the sweet potato fries – scrub and chop up 2 sweet potatoes into skinny “fry” shapes.  Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne, sea salt, garlic and paprika.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  This time I baked them on top of a wire rack inside a cookie shake and that seemed to make them crisper than if I didn’t use the rack.

For the oh so delicious sauce – mix 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/2 blackberry jam (if you want it a little sweeter add a little more jam or a drizzle of honey), 1/4 balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic and the sauce of 1 can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce.  Bring to boil and then turn heat to low, stirring until it thickens.

Then you pour the sauce (which is also good for fry dipping) over the chicken and enjoy.

And there you go.  Another must-try recipe.  It’s going to become a staple here, I hope it becomes one in your house.

Night :)

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Monday + Grilled sweet potatoes

Now that Monday’s pretty much over is it bad that I’m already counting down to Friday? I honestly have no big plans but I think the fact that summer is almost over makes me appreciate it more.  I realized I can’t remember the last time I actually sat outside in my Adirondack chair drinking coffee on a Saturday morning so I fully plan on taking advantage of that before I can’t.  I also feel like baking.  Maybe because fall is in the air or something but I have this crazy craving for something pumpkin-y.  I also really want to clean out my closet and dresser and then re-evaluate my wardrobe.  Kind of like back to school shopping except I’m not going back to school…Wow, I just realized the above paragraph makes me sound old.  Eh, oh well. I’m still jazzed.

You know what else I’m jazzed about?  Tonight’s dinner.  It was so good.  I had initially planned on making BBQ chicken with corn on the cob and Annie’s but Chris has Hood to Coast this weekend so he gets to dictate most of the meals this week and this one sounded good to him (side note, anytime my husband wants quinoa instead of pasta is a good day).

And because I’m trying to cut back on carbs I subbed in sweet potatoes for the traditional quinoa (and yes I know that sweet potatoes are a carb).

They were so easy to make, just scrub a sweet potato, slice into rounds, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with cayenne pepper and garlic (these are the same ingredients I used on the corn).  Wrap in foil and grill for 15-20 minutes.

And for dessert I had some watermelon.

And now I’m off to relax.  I actually feel like I could fall asleep at the computer right now which isn’t good since it’s not even 9 – maybe my workout wore me out?  I went for a 30 minute slow jog on the treadmill and then hit up my favorite lunchtime pilates reformer class.  Tomorrow I’m actually getting up at 5 so that I can get in some cardio before another reformer class.  My gym offers classes at 6 and 7 AM on Tuesday/Thursday’s but I don’t love the teacher so I usually skip it but tomorrow this sub is coming in and I really want to try her class.  I’ve heard she’s hard.  Can’t wait.

Also, wanted to pass along this post from One Fit Foodie.  Great stuff about how people (particularly “healthy living bloggers”) should make sure they’re eating real, whole food to fuel their bodies and not fake chemicals and giant bowls of veggies with no protein.  I totally agree with her.  It drives me crazy to read these blogs (that I’m sure young, unaware women are reading) and see them filled with recipes that while low in calories are super high in processed foods or consist only of a huge plate of broccoli.  Yikes, don’t get me started on this.  Kind of hit a nerve.  Anyway, go check out her post and her site.

Thoughts from the peanut gallery?  For some reason I can’t think of any engaging question to ask so I’ll turn things around.  Anyone have anything they want to ask me?  About anything? 

Ooh or tell me what your favorite fall baked good is.

Cutting back on carbs

Not sure if my body has finally adjusted or what but this morning I got up at 5am to work out and I don’t feel like a tired zombie yet…Technically the night is still early so who knows, I may wind up in bed by 9… we shall see.  Let’s just hope my body’s not too used to early AM alarms because I’m really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.  At least until 8:30 or so.

Instead of going to the gym like I planned, I opted for 45 minutes of my friend Jillian :)  I did levels 1 and 2 of 30 Day Shred and felt great.  So great that I decided to add in yet another double day and went to Zumba this afternoon.  Someone will be feeling sore tomorrow.

On the food front, also a good day – breakfast was a tasty little number I whipped up involving watermelon and bananas.  I swear, frozen watermelon is so good in smoothies.

Watermelon Banana Protein Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup frozen watermelon
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup protein plus peanut flour
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Lunch involved a Larabar after the gym plus leftover chicken from last night’s fajitas mixed with some goat cheese.  Not my best effort but it got the job done.  Dinner however, was fantastic.  A random little salad beast with my new favorite dressing.

Turkey Spinach Salad

  • 1 giant bowl of spinach
  • 1 chopped organic tomato
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • 4 slices of deli turkey meat torn into pieces
  • Honey balsamic vinaigrette (1/2 c olive oil, 1/4 c honey, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar)

That dressing makes for more than just one salad FYI.

And then washed that down with a little popcorn – air popped with a tablespoon of melted butter, cheese sprinkles and nutritional yeast.

Pretty nice little Friday I tell ya.

But let’s be honest, all that stuff above was nice but I’m sure you really want to know why the title of this post is cutting back on carbs, right?  So I had my annual physical today – not like my lady physical – I share my life but some stuff doesn’t need sharing.  This was just my physical where they do your blood work and test all your cholesterol and such.  Technically my dr said I only need to come in every couple of years but my insurance covers a full work-up every year so of course I’m going to take them up on it.

Excluding your lady physical, how many of you go in for regular, yearly physicals?  How many of you actually know what your cholesterol is?

Everything came back awesome.  The first thing my doctor asked me before he even told me my results was if I exercised :)  He said my labs were fantastic and it was very evident that I’m in shape and physically active.  Yes!  Apparently my good, bad and combined ratio of cholesterol is phenomenal.  My iron levels are good, my liver functions are good, lipids are good… basically if this was a test in school I would have gotten an A+.  Except when it came to my glucose.

I should mention that I have a family history of diabetes.  Not like my mom or dad, more like on my mom’s dad’s side (which is a side I don’t know so I can’t ask them for more details)  so my doctor has always watched my glucose numbers because unfortunately a family history of diabetes can kick your butt even if you are super healthy and follow an amazing diet.  Now, my glucose levels are not out of the “normal” range, but they did happen to fall on the absolute highest level of normal…basically I’m 10 points (?) away from being pre-diabetic.  That is no good.

And again, he was not overly concerned with this but brought it up as something to watch.  Especially because at some point Chris and I would like kids and having a family history of diabetes can sometimes make a woman more susceptible to gestational diabetes which while temporary in some women, could push my levels over the edge and turn me diabetic which is really, really scary.

So we chatted and his best advice was to “stay slim.”  He said that’s actually a “prescription” they give to patients who become pre-diabetic.  He said the best thing I could do was to keep exercising and cut back on carbs – bread, pasta, rice.  And I admit, while I’m not a big bread eater we do eat a lot of pasta in this house.  A lot.  I would say that 75% of our weekly dinners involve some type of noodle.  It’s actually super interesting to me that this is the first time my levels have been this high and this past year I’ve been eating pasta a lot more than I had in the past.  Coincidence?  I’ve been trying to cut back on the noods anyway so it’s kind of nice to have a medical reason to take it easy.  Might make it easier to actually follow through.

Wow, ok this post is super long.  I need to get out of here before I write a novel.  Hope everyone has a great Friday and has some fun weekend stuff planned.  Tomorrow my mom and I are going berry picking and then we’re going to can things.  Can’t wait.