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I Like Soup April 30, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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Green Minestrone.  I have no words.

Servings: 8

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 quart chicken stock
4 cups water
1/2 cup brown rice rigatoni or small macaroni
4 cups escarole, core removed, leaves washed well and shredded
4 cups spinach, stems removed, leaves washed well and shredded
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded

Heat canola oil in large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, fennel, and celery to oil, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes, chicken stock, water, salt & pepper and bring to boil.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add pasta and bring to boil again, simmering for about 5 minutes.  Add greens and chicken breast, bring to boil, and simmer another 5 minutes or until pasta is cooked.

The escarole and/or spinach could be substituted for any greens, as long as you have a total combined 8 cups.

Calories: 157.2
Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 34.2 mg
Sodium: 259.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 16.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 16.7 g

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We Have Superior Paddling Foo April 29, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Dragon Boat, Recipes and Food.
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Yesterday, my dragon boat team went to our first dragon boat race of the 2012 season.  I think this has to be up there with one of my favorite race experiences ever. We really gelled as a team and morale was super-high. We had more focus and intensity on the boat than I’ve ever seen since I started calling about a year ago. And, just for icing on the cake, we took 2nd place in our division, which means everyone went home with bling.

I learned something about my body, too. I learned that while paddling in a race is more strenuous, it actually takes me longer to recover from calling. Today I have a sore throat, bruises on my inner knees, sore-to-the-touch quads, I’m extremely aware of my core, and I’m damn tired. After years of paddling, I’ve learned to expect to recover from a race basically in the same day, but I called four races yesterday (plus three visualizations and four practice race starts), mostly from a lunge position. Let’s just say I’m still waiting for the recovery to happen.  (Note to self: improve leg strength and practice yelling.)

I didn’t see it coming, either.  I figured Saturday would be dedicated to the race, and Sunday would be a cooking day, as usual.  Because I have so many food restrictions, I really have to plan ahead for my food for the week. Typically, I make a large vat of soup on Sundays, which I can pre-portion out and bring to work for lunches during the week. Sundays are really, really important. Today, however, I’m apparently spending more time on the couch than making food.

Rather than getting some chicken stock on the stove this morning, I took a nap. After my Sunday morning walk around Seward Park, I took a nap. After I woke up, I took another nap.  When I woke up for the fourth time today, I freaked out because it was 4 PM and too late to start a stock so I could make soup tonight.

Fortunately, there is balance in the universe: the dragon boat race that knocked me on my ass is also the thing that has saved my butt this week. I needed something quick and easy, so I decided to attempt a quinoa salad for this week’s lunches, inspired by the dish one of my team mates contributed to our potluck table at the race.

Here’s a dirty little secret I’ve held close to my heart for a long time: I don’t like quinoa. Ew. Please don’t tell the health nuts or they’ll revoke my club membership. My favorite food of all time is spinach. I will happily eat beets, brussels sprouts, lima beans, and almost any other “acquired taste” put in front of me (except sea urchin), but any time I’ve made quinoa I have just hated it. Ptui. Ickisauce.

But life is full of happy surprises if you stay open to the possibilities.   (more…)

A Headache Free Passover April 10, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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Passover food has a certain…reputation.  You have to really like eggs, and too much matzo can have certain digestive ramifications.  Plus, many of the foods we enjoy on a daily basis are not allowed during Passover.  With my dietary restrictions added to the mix, let’s just say I had very low expectations for Passover this year.

Fortunately, I come from a wonderful, thoughtful family of really talented cooks who prepared the food for our seders.  There was a tzimmes and a potato kugle, both adapted with migraine-triggers substituted out for safe ingredients.  The flour-less, pareve chocolate cake was amazing.  And, I had a lovely salmon both nights while everyone else enjoyed their rather onion-y (and I’m sure equally delicious) briskets.

Not only was the food delicious by Passover standards, I would eat it any time!

Mom’s Migraine-Free Tzimmes

The traditional recipe calls for dried fruit (prunes) and red wine, neither of which I can have.  So my mom substituted fresh grapes and apple juice.  We weren’t sure how the grapes would turn out, but I think they were the best part of the whole tzimmes.

Servings: 8

4 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 3/4″ cubes (about 5 cups)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4″ cubes (about 2 cups)
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4″ chunks
About a cup of red or black seedless grapes
2/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
2 tbsp honey
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
.5 tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a 9 x 11 inch casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well.  Turn into prepared pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hr, or until the sweet potatoes and squash are tender.  Stir before serving to evenly distribute the sauce.

Calories: 200
Total Fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 21 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 48.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.5 g
Protein: 2 g

But I Thought the Top was the Best Part of the Muffin… April 8, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Dragon Boat, General Exercise.
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Recently, a co-worker who is interested in trying dragon boat paddling asked me about exercises he can insert into his workout routine that would work the muscle groups needed for dragon boating.  Of course, I immediately thought of the obliques and lats.  If you belong to a gym, or have equipment at home available to you, it’s not so hard to work out those muscle groups.  Without equipment, you can still do a lot with your obliques, but the lats are tougher to work sufficiently to prepare for paddling.

My new favorite oblique exercise is the side crunch on a fit ball.  I would show you photos of me doing this exercise, but I don’t look anywhere near as pretty as this guy

Of course, you need one of those big fitness balls in order to do this exercise.  Fortunately, there are a bazillion exercises you can do to work out your obliques without any equipment at all:  side plank, oblique crunches, lying jackknifes, oblique v-ups… the list goes on and on.

Lats, on the other hand, are a different story.   It is awfully hard to work the lat muscles without any equipment.  Some of the most effective low back exercises I’ve found are back extensions, quadruped extensions and full swan with rotation.

There are many things I love about dragon boat paddling.  One of them is the great reduction in muffin top that I experienced after I first started paddling.  I can still pinch an inch (and probably always will) but paddling, and exercises like these when I’m not paddling so much, keeps it under control.


The Accidental Exerciser April 7, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in General Exercise.
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Update: In response to this post, a very resourceful friend sent me the link to Nano Workout.  I just popped a sprog trying out the kitchen dips.  Next – chair crunches!

Some weeks I just don’t have the time to get into the gym.  I would say my intentions are always good, but that’s probably not true, either.  When I get really busy, I just don’t even want to bother.

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, and I haven’t gotten into the gym as much as I’d like.   Instead of whining about it (which is my usual MO), I decided to see what opportunities I could find to slip in some mini-workouts here and there.

Here are a few of the opportunities I found:

  • While waiting for people or public transit, I find a park bench and do chair dips.
  • When given a choice between escalator, elevator, and stairs, I choose stairs – and I RUN up the stairs.
  • If I don’t have time for a full workout, instead of skipping the gym, I do fewer reps with more weight.

Most of us live a life of convenience and we have to seek out opportunities to burn calories.  Here are some other ways to sneak in exercise as part of our daily lives:

  • Park in the farthest parking spot from the door.
  • Always choose the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.
  • Wash dishes by hand.
  • Hang up your laundry to dry.
  • Walk or bike instead of drive.
  • Put music on when doing housework, and clean with vigor!
  • Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
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