Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prove Me Wrong

I hit a personal best at the gym today, I used a 25-pound dumbbell for my three-point one-arm row, really focusing on using my back and not my arm to complete each repetition.  This is a huge squee for me!   I also increased the step height for my step-ups.  This is major because of my past knee issues and the fact that I'm terribly afraid of falling.  I set the step just inside the frame of the Smith machine so I could use the frame to check my balance if needed.  

Lifting is so empowering, I urge you to get off the treadmill and move into the free weight section.  It is challenging but it is NOT difficult and the benefits of increased strength and balance *and* an increased metabolism is so worth it.  And there are no endorphins like lifting endorphins.   I dare you to prove me wrong.

Feeling so hardcore today that I even had raw egg in my post workout shake.  I ran out of protein powder (waiting on a shipment) so I added an egg to my banana, kale and kefir and VitaMixed it to perfection.  It was really delicious, super green and silky.  Though I would ONLY do that with the pastured eggs from The Farm, never ever ever with a factory egg.  Yo, Adrian!

Yesterday was the farmer's market, spent $8 and got some new Yukon gold potatoes, a cuke, some gold tomatoes, summer squash, young collards and more Chinese broccoli (you *have* to try it, so good.)  Josh gifted me with a small bunch of amaranth greens from his thinning (bottom right corner) which I was so excited to try.

I cooked up the amaranth greens with the new potatoes and summer squash and made a beautiful "eggy pie" for supper last night.  It was so easy, I just sauteed the veggies with some scallions until just tender.

I put the cooked veggies in a greased pie dish and poured over a mixture of six eggs whisked together with 1/4 cup of coconut flour, three tablespoons yogurt, one teaspoon baking powder and a couple of handfuls of cheese.  I used grated cotija anejo (more about that down post.)

Baked at 375 until just set, about 35 minutes. 

A lovely "green and gold" salad with the summer squash, cucumber and tomatoes with some crisp romaine went alongside.

Fresh and delicious!

Eating more vegetables is as simple as placing a big salad on the supper table every night.  Everyone has time to make a salad.  Seriously!  Even if you're just opening a clam shell of prewashed greens, tossing over some cherry tomatoes and drizzling over a bit of oil and vinegar, you have time to make a salad.  I dare you to prove me wrong.

The summer squash also made an appearance at lunch today with some grilled chicken and sweet red grapes.

Sunday's Indian feast was good, but not great.  The grill was a little too hot so the chicken got a bit too charred.  The flavors were all there, though.  The naan wasn't bad for a first try.  The mint and cilantro sauce was awesome as was he Punjabi gobi.  I'm making a curry sauce for the leftover chicken tonight. 

Lastly, I have to rave about the Mexican Grilled Corn.  I made the "crema" with homemade mayo, garlic, cayenne and lime juice.  I grated cotija anejo, a hard Mexican cheese that is so delicious (salty, tangy yet milky.)  I grilled the corn until tender crisp and nicely charred, brushed on the crema, sprinkled on the cheese and squirted on some lime.

We devoured it before I could get a shot of a cob ready to eat  but Rob and I agreed, it was the best grilled corn we have ever tasted. Prove us wrong!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Splendid Sunday

Last Saturday was the first "chicken day" at The Farm for the 2012 summer season.  We usually prepare our first local chicken simply roasted or cooked on the rotisserie for Memorial Day weekend but this time we decided on something different.  Today we're having an Indian Feast.  

As for the chicken, we're doing it Tandoori style on the grill.  I skinned the chicken, cut it into parts, cut slashes into the meat and it's in the fridge bathing in a deep red yogurt, ginger, garlic, hot chile and rich spice marinade.  We're also going to make homemade naan (the dough is rising.)  Punjabi gobi is also on the menu, which is my absolute favorite cauliflower dish ever.  It's stir-fried with garlic, ginger, cumin seeds and a pinch of garam masala.  So moreish!

I had a blast at the Indo-Pak market last week, I bought some papadums for our appetizer and made a spicy and tangy cilantro-mint chutney to go with them.  I bought some mango pickle, a bunch of whole and mixed-ground spices and some ghee.   There will be some good food porn to come!

I'm taking tomorrow off from the gym because Rob has the day off so I left Rob and Tally in bed this morning and hit the gym for my weight lifting workout.  Like vegetables with every meal, my weight lifting is non-negotiable, top priority.  I feel great and I'm really looking forward to enjoying our feast with a cold, crisp glass of gewurztraminer alongside.  

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Workout Wednesday

I never did end up joining the gym to which I had the free pass.  It's a very nice gym, barely 1-year old L.A Fitness but the price tag was quadruple that of my previous gym.  The $199 initiation fee didn't sit right with me but I'm sure running that pool isn't cheap. I had a bit of an uneasy feeling when I was talking to the sales manager about the costs and fees and thought better of handing him my credit card.

Sometimes listening to that little voice really pays off because I got a card in the mail from another local gym.  The American Bodyworks that is about 6 minutes from here just reopened with a new owner.  A former Mr. America took over, he is in the process of re-branding it as  Required Fitness (love that name!)  To drum up new business he is offering a two-month membership including 4 one-hour personal training sessions for $49.99, no commitment.  I couldn't pass it up.  I figure if I don't like it, I'll just use my package and move on. 

But I like it, I really like it!  The small staff is smiling and helpful.  It's a really good size space with every bit of equipment you could ever want.   No contract, no bull$hit initiation fees.  No pool, no germy wet areas, no problem.  It is nice not having to pay for amenities that I won't use. 

I am officially  four workouts into Rachel Cosgrove's The Female Body Breakthrough: The Revolutionary Strength-Training Plan for Losing Fat and Getting the Body You Want  I was really nervous as I was reading the workouts but now that I've done each of the first two workouts twice I'm feeling more confident.  There is no doubt about it, I love weight lifting workouts.  I love not getting on the treadmill or elliptical.  Not even for the warm up.  It is awesome.  (But, but, how can that be good exercise?!? Read the book and you will see the light at the end of the treadmill!)  

The plan is 16 weeks long and I'm committing to it from start to finish provided I remain injury free.  I have to prioritize my workouts, there is no other way around it.  One hour per day spent on planned fitness activity taken out of my sedentary activity budget.  I can live with that because that's the only way that I am going to get strong, get fit, stay active and healthy.  I can LIVE with it.  How about you?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time is Flying Tuesday

How can it be a week since I last posted?  Maybe because it's spring and I love spring so much, it goes so quickly.  I'm in a happy, stable head space which makes is so much easier to live healthy and living healthy nourishes my mind and body so well that I can be in a happy, stable head space.  It's such a good cycle to be caught up in.

I had another great visit to the farmer's market this morning.  If you are local to Cobb County Georgia, please please please come out and support these amazing local farmers and artisans to come to the Kennesaw Farmer's Market each week. 

I spent $15 this week and came away with a beautiful bounty.  I kept it small this week as it's a holiday weekend coming up and Rob and I will visit the larger and busier Marietta market on the weekend with Tally in tow and make it a family outing. 

I got Chinese broccoli (see closeup below,) peaches, a fragrant cantaloupe, a freshly picked fennel from Josh at Backyard Beddies and eggs and romaine lettuce from Spreading Oaks Farm in Dallas, GA.  I found out they also do grassfed, local beef.  I'm going to order a $50 0r $100 package to pick up next week.  I'm so excited about this!

I couldn't resist this bunch of beautiful Chinese broccoli with the pretty yellow flowers.  I don't think I ever had it and I always try to find something new at the farmer's market each week.  It is said to be more delicious than regular broccoli, without a trace of bitterness.  I look forward to tasting it.  I think a quick stir-fry with garlic and ginger and splash of rice wine vinegar is the way to go.

In other news, I bought a VitaMix!  I wasn't sold on it right away after bringing it home, after all, it's a huge investment for a kitchen gadget.  My first few green smoothies were nigh undrinkable.  But after my first batch of silky and luscious mayonnaise, I was in love!  I had to stop myself from eating it off the spoon.  I also made the "best creamy tomato soup ever" as proclaimed by Rob.  It was so easy and the texture is heavenly.  I even made a delicious and drinkable kale smoothie for us this morning.  I think practice is key.  I've been using to make my post workout shake, too.  Oh, yeah, I joined a gym!  Stay tuned for more details...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tantalizing Tuesday

When I came back from the farmer's market this morning, I went out back to collect Tally-droppings was rewarded for my toiling, the hydrangeas have exploded in a rainbow of lavender, violet, powder blue and cream.  I could not resist cutting some to fill a vase.  

The farmer's market was bountiful with some interesting and exciting produce today.  Early peaches!  They are hard as rocks but very fragrant.  The sample was sweet and tangy.  A few days on the counter and these will be a beautiful dessert sliced up and drizzled with raw cream.  I may have to pick up some burrata, prosciutto and arugula to make Jamie Oliver's peach salad this weekend.

The guys from Dallas, GA weren't out as their Mom had surgery over the weekend so I picked up some hydroponic romaine lettuce from another vendor.  It's crisp and delicious but the flavor isn't the same as when it's grown in the soil.  Also, snapped up the last of the local strawberries.  These are super-ripe and will have to be gobbled up in a day or two lest they go over.  I'm up to the task!

Have you ever had chow chow?  Oooh, it's so goooood!  I had to have this, it's a hot one made with jalapenos and habaneros.  I'll be putting a good glob of it on a grassfed burger this week.

I got one big summer squash, just picked this morning, a very pretty variety of spinach with deep purple stems (the poye spinach isn't ready yet) and a dozen radishes that I traded for a kombucha scoby.  I'm going to slice and quick pickle them and serve them in a salad with the spicy green tops.  All in all, it was a good take, $18.50 total including the trade and the $6 jar of chow chow.

I've had tremendous success brewing kombucha since purchasing a live scoby from Savvy Teas and Herbs etsy shop. The dehydrated culture I purchased last year ended up in the trash as it never would reanimate after months of feeding.  If you are interested in brewing your own kombucha and would like a live and active culture visit Savvy's site or contact me.  Every batch I brew a new baby culture grows.  I'd love to see them go to a good home.  

I'm currently sipping on a coconut ooling kombucha that I bottled with some pineapple juice added for second fermentation.  Tangy, tropical and super fizzy!  Is there such thing as healthy soda pop?  Yes and you can make it yourself.

This is my next batch, organic green.  It will be ready to bottle on Thursday.

Finally, here's a pic of my outdoor girl just hanging out in the container garden, she just came back from a "mad five" where she runs like a maniac up and down the length of the yard for five minutes and then has to just rest a spell.

As always, your comments are most welcome.  What is ripe and blooming in your area?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Photo Tour of Saint Augustine

It's a dark and rainy day today. Seems like a perfect time to revisit our sunny trip to Saint Augustine.  This is the Bridge of Lions that connects Anastasia Island to Old Town Saint Augustine which is our nation's oldest city.

Old town has a very different feel to any other coastal town I've visited.  It has a very tropical Spanish Colonial look and feel. 

I kept expecting Captain Jack Sparrow to pop out at me from around every corner.

The Bunnery, where we had awesome coffee drinks and delicious freshly baked croissants.  The were hot out of the oven!

My signature shop!  Custom scented bath goodies.  I spent a good long time and a fortune in this store.  Twice.

Casa Monica Hotel, built in 1888 and restored in 1999.

The Lightner Museum, formerly Hotel Alcazar which was built in 1887, how houses a vasst collection of Victoriana.  It's the site of what was once the world's largest indoor pool.

Which now houses Cafe Alcazar, where we had a most wonderful late lunch in the deep end of the pool!

Here is the sun rising over Anastasia Island on our last morning.  We loved Saint Augustine and are looking forward to our next trip there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vitacost Coupon

I often buy my supplements from Vitacost.  They have a great protein powder that is sweetened with stevia.  The chocolate flavor is the best.  But did you know that Vitcost doesn't just sell supplements?  They have all kinds of bath and beauty products, tea and healthy groceries and coconut oil.

If you click through my blog, you can get a coupon for $10 off your purchase and I'll get the same.  Win-win!  Also, today May 1oth, you can get free shipping on all orders over $25.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rainy Day in the Kitchen

It has been raining all day.  The herbs love it, Tally has been lounging on the couch (who is she and what has she done with my dog?) and I've been having fun in the kitchen.  I washed and prepped the huge bag of spinach I got at the farmer's market yesterday and cooked it up my favorite way, Catalan style.  Lunch was good!  I also washed, trimmed, sliced and cooked my epic collards.  They are now cooling in the pan having been cooked in rendered Happy Hogs bacon fat with melted onions, crushed red pepper, tossed with red wine vinegar and topped with the bacon cracklings.  Supper is going to be good, too!  

With all the rain interspersed with sunny days, the herbs are growing so well.  I'm eating them in everything.  That is, except the peppermint.  So I harvested a bunch of peppermint along with some pineapple sage and lemon balm to make my own dried herbal tea blend. 

 Smallest to largest~ peppermint, lemon balm, pineapple sage

I started by washing the herbs well and letting them dry on towels.

I removed the biggest stems and put them on a baking tray.

Into a 150 degree oven for an hour and a quarter, then let them cool in the oven with the door ajar for another 20 minutes or so.

I rubbed the dried herbs with my fingertips to break them up and picked out the last of the stems and transferred them to a tea tin.

I brewed a heaping tablespoon in hot but not quite boiling water for about 5 minutes and I'm sipping my cuppa as I type this.

Very uplifting and tasty! 

Do you have any other ideas for the peppermint applications other than tea?  All ideas are welcome!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Food and Photos and Books

My camera has made it back from Boston via Walt Disney World! Now I can decorate the blog with my silly mug just for you. ;)

As you may be able to tell from the photo, I have decided to try letting my hair go natural. I've been coloring my hair in one way or another since I was probably 13 years old and have not seen my natural color since I tinted over that first gray at age 25. Another haircut or two and we'll see how it looks. It works for Jamie Lee Curtis, so I'm hopeful. 

I've had a few "real" food projects going on in the past week, one of them being my accidental crackers.

I made a fermented whole wheat dough packed with oats, flax and sunflower seeds.  I wanted a loaf of bread that was dense enough to slice thin and ended up with a brick. I sliced and toasted it and found it to be awesome so I went a step further and sliced the whole loaf and dried the slices low and slow in the oven.  The result was a whole bag full of crispy, crunchy sourdough crackers similar to Melba toast.  Keeper!

 I finished reading Rachel Cosgrove's The Female Body Breakthrough: The Revolutionary Strength-Training Plan for Losing Fat and Getting the Body You Want and will be starting the training program as soon as I pull my thumb out and decide which gym to join.

Meanwhile, I started implementing her nutrition plan, which is a good one; cutting out sugar and a vegetable (or fruit) and protein with every meal.  Good grains and good fats, too but the vegetables and protein at every meal is non-negotiable, which is a good rule of thumb for most people seeking to improve their overall health through nutrition.  She suggests eating every 3-4 hours to the tune of six meals a day, one meal being a protein recovery shake post-workout. I'm eating five times a day and will add in the shake once I kick-off the workouts.   Splurges are encouraged to about 10% of the meals each week but skipping veggies or skipping a meal counts as a splurge so I plan on making it a "planned indulgence" like a restaurant meal or wine.  Self-five! 

Here is a nice representation of the meal plan, grilled sockeye salmon and steamed snap beans and  baby carrots with tossed dill and a pat of grassfed butter. 

Now that I'm eating veggies with every meal and the farmer's markets are up and running, I picked up a couple of used books that I can't wait to dig into...


Tally is loving her new found freedom.  She's outside by choice all day digging,  terrorizing the local critters or just hanging out on the deck.  I've had to increase her food portions because she's doing so much running around.  My baby obviously doesn't take after her Mamma.