Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky WIAW + November Challenge

Happy Wednesday and Halloween, everyone!  I hope your Halloween is filled with awesomeness and candy -- but mostly awesomeness.

We successfully survived the Frankenstorm with our windows intact and power going strong (despite the fact that when I went to bed on Monday night, it sounded awful outside), which was a huge relief.  We also got Monday and Tuesday off work, which was - how to put this delicately? - absolutely *&#@*%$! fantastic.

I'll get to my What I Ate Wednesday post in a moment, but before that, I want to publicly commit myself (and thus make myself accountable) to a November challenge. The theme?  Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Here's why I want to do this: I realized a few weeks ago that I've become pretty scared - ok, it's more accurate to say that I've become freaking terrified - of doing all sorts of stuff that I wouldn't have thought twice about a few years ago.  I'm scared of failing, I'm scared of being judged harshly, and I'm scared of being laughed at.

Since I'm being all honest and whatnot, I'll admit that I'm actually pretty freaked out to even be writing this right now.

Knowing that my comfort zone is about thisbig these days, I know I need to stretch my boundaries.  I know I need to push myself.  Most of all, I know I need to do the things that scare me.
Behold my miniscule comfort zone! (Source)

I find that I spend insane amounts of time imagining all the ways something could go horribly wrong, but when I actually do the thing that I've spent so much time thinking about, it's either a) not anywhere near as bad as I thought, or b) actually pretty awesome.

To wit:

For the last three years, I've wanted to write and submit an essay for the Modern Love column in the New York Times.  I've known exactly what I wanted to write about, but I was always too scared to do it.  I worried that if it didn't get published, I'd be shattered by the rejection of such a deeply personal essay that I'd worked so hard on.

So, for three years, I avoided it -- until this summer, when I couldn't ignore it anymore.  I wrote it, did some editing, and sent it in.  It ultimately wasn't selected for publication, but by the time I got the "thanks but no thanks" email, I was actually fine with that idea.  I'd realized that the victory was in writing and submitting it, not in getting published, and I was proud of myself for doing it.

Another example is a 5K race I signed up for a few months ago.  When I decided to join Weight Watchers last winter, one of my goals was to be able to run 5Ks again like I did during college.  I figured I'd sign up for one once I reached my goal weight, do a training program, and then run.

But on a Friday afternoon in September, I got an email notice saying that there were going to be road closures for a 5K race happening the next morning.  I wanted to sign up, but I kept worrying about it.  My inner monologue went something like this: "But you haven't trained!"  "You're going to be the slowest person there!"  "You'll look like a total fool!"

I (quite nervously) signed up anyway, and as the sun rose on Saturday morning I placed myself in the back of the crowd, totally expecting to be the slowest person there.  As it turns out, I spent the first mile weaving through all the people I was passing, and I had the same race time as I did when I was 21.  All that stressing out was totally unfounded!

I was in there somewhere! (Source: ARLNow)
 And so, I'd like to take the next month to do some of the things, both big and small, that totally freak me out.  I loved Angela Liddon's August Challenge on Oh She Glows, and this will be modeled on a similar premise: every day this month, I'll do something that scares/intimidates me.  I'll write about them all here, and y'all are welcome to join me.

It'll be like the personal challenge equivalent of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) -- and if I have three friends doing NaNoWriMo, then dag-gummit (or a more colorful variation thereof), I can do this.

Now, with all that being said, on to What I Ate Wednesday!

WIAW, as it's affectionately called, is the hottest little cyber-potluck on the Internets (and thanks to Madison at Eating 4 Balance for appreciating the term cyber-potluck! :)).  Hosted by Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, it's a weekly round-up of some fabulous food from across the blogosphere.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

The first order of business each morning is always the same: acquire caffeine, ASAP.  Once I get my cup of chai, I actually start to become human.

My life-force in a mug.
After my AM workout (which had to be extra early today, ugh), I had some banana-blueberry-pecan oatmeal:
Like a blueberry muffin, but in a bowl.

Lunch included organic spring mix with herbs (I love that stuff) with quinoa/brown rice pilaf, chickpeas, and home-made balsamic vinaigrette:

 Snacks consisted of an almond butter and jelly sammich on Suzie's Thin Cakes, as well as a veritable pile of fruit.  When I got home, I was a starvin' cowgirl, so I had some carrots and hummus to tide me over until dinner.

Dinner featured Italian herb and Parmesan turkey burgers, with another huge pile of greens.

This, however, is where things started getting...spooky.  There was a chill in the air, but I decided that I wanted a smoothie anyways.  Brandon wanted one too, so I went to the kitchen to whip up a smoothie for us to share.  The result looked eerily dark, as if there was a hidden ingredient...Brandon drank his down, not knowing what lurked within.

THE HIDDEN INGREDIENT WAS KALE!  Bwwhahahahahahahahaha!  (Brandon,we can totally watch Top Gear, or whatever TV shows you want, as compensation for my sneaky ways.)

I shall spend the rest of my evening randomly busting out in a diabolical, kale-induced cackle. :)

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Woah, Nelly!

Thankfully, most things in DC are shut down today, so we don't have to be at work. :)

It was rainy and blustery this morning when I got up, but the wind and rain are really getting strong now -- we're hopeful that our power will stay on, but I'm prepared just it case it doesn't: I hit the gym this morning, the most critical elements of our laundry pile have been washed and dried, there's chili in the crock pot, and I pre-cooked some soup for tomorrow (just in case!).

The chili, I have to admit, is a point of serious amusement for me.  First of all, it sprung from a totally random craving: bison.  When I was at the grocery on Thursday night, I was struck by an overwhelming desire to have bison.  Now, this would make sense if I'd ever eaten bison before -- but I haven't had it once in my 31 years.  
Hello, sir.  I don't believe we've met before.
Well, I take that back: we've met - just not at dinner. (Source)
 I've learned to listen when I get random cravings, since my body seems to have some sort of weird mutant superpower in terms of knowing exactly what it needs, even if I haven't had it before.  I know: it makes no sense to me, either.

Case in point: a few months ago, I was having some problems with my estomago -- and all I wanted was GT's Kombucha.  Now, I'd never touched the stuff before in my life, but because I'm a mutant, for a good three days my only discernible thought was "Must.  Have.  Kombucha."  So finally I caved, and lo: it made my stomach feel better within the day.

So, all that is to say that when random cravings arise, I've learned to heed their advice.  And this craving for bison wasn't letting up.  The only logical explanation is that you can take the girl out of Colorado, but you can't take the Colorado out of the girl.

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam...
Okay, now I'm getting homesick.

We picked some up a few days later, and I originally planned to make bison burgers with BBQ sauce.  However, the weather gods and the grilling gods conspired to make this impossible, since Frankenstorm's impending violent winds necessitated pulling our grill inside.

DCA Metro Radar
They say the worst is yet to come -
can we please talk about how glad I am that I don't have to be outside in this mess?
It was time to improvise, so I scoured the cabinets and the fridge.  I wound up throwing a bunch of stuff together in the crock pot for a few hours, and to my great surprise (and giddiness), it was freaking delicious.

And thus, Frankenstorm Bison BBQ Chili was born.  I'll post the recipe in a few days once I figure out (read: guestimate) what the measurements were.

In the meantime, Brandon and I are catching up on all the stuff piling up in our DVR while listening to the wind howl stronger and stronger - here's hoping the power stays on tonight!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Batten Down the Hatches!

For the last week, DC has been abuzz with news of Hurricane Sandy -- will it hit us, or go out to sea?  Ok, now that we know it's going to hit the East Coast, where's it going to go?  What should we expect?

Every time there's any sort of weather event in Washington, people go nuts: there's a run on batteries, water, sanity...everything.  I decided to start stocking up late last week, so as of Saturday morning we had plenty of non-perishable food, batteries, and agua.  We're all set!

I also picked up the most obvious necessity: fresh flowers.  FEMA's biggest problem in its short history wasn't its mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina -- rather, it's the fact that they consistently leave fresh flowers off their list of recommended emergency supplies.

Hurricane survival requires flowers, does it not?

Once we got all prepared, it was time for a run!  I got to run outside a bit yesterday while it was still nice out (it was sunny and in the upper 60s, which was freaking gorgeous), and it was fantastic.  Today, however, the wind is already starting to kick up.  With that in mind, I figured that it'd be a better time to hit the treadmill and leave the outdoor runs for once Sandy has done her biz-nass here -- after all, it'll be an obstacle-course adventure to hurdle over felled trees and whatnot, right?

Local Radar
Thar she blows! The outer bands of Sandy are on their way towards DC... [radar photo from Weather Underground]
I did 3 miles at an average 8 min/mile pace, and listening to one of my favorite NPR shows (Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me) made it feel a lot shorter.  I also did my plank-a-day for 60 seconds, plus 5 minutes of strength training on my arms and upper body.

I followed up my sweat session with a bowl of banana-blueberry-pecan oatmeal and some green tea, which was just what I needed as the bad weather started to blow in.

Now it's time to batten down the hatches, hunker down, and ride out the storm -- if you find yourself in the midst of meteorological grossness, this batch of oatmeal reminds me of blueberry muffins (which, in turn, remind me of late spring/early summer and generally glorious weather):

1/3 cup GF rolled oats
1/3 cup water
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup almond milk
1 banana, smashed/mushed into a puree
1 tbsp pecan pieces (optional)
Honey or agave to taste

Pre-soak the oats and chia seeds in the water for 2-3 minutes.  (They absorb some of the water while pre-soaking, and this helps them cook faster and more thoroughly.)  Microwave on high for 2 minutes - although I should note that there tends to be a lot of variance among microwaves, so it might take more/less time for each person.

Once cooked, add the frozen blueberries, banana puree, almond milk, and agave.  Mix thoroughly, and top with pecans.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WAIW: The I Love Autumn Edition

Happy Wednesday!  Friday is within sight, and that's mighty exciting for this girl. :)

My contribution to this week's edition of What I Ate Wednesday -- a happy little cyber-potluck, started by the fabulous Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, that has grown by leaps and bounds and is now a huuuuuuuge virtual get-together -- will also include some love for my favorite season: autumn.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

Brandon's mom was visiting from Tejas for the last couple of weeks, and the three of us had a great time hitting up some lesser-known tourist destinations in and around DC.  (Side note: my mother in law is fantastic!  I know the words "mother in law" and "visit" tend to strike fear into a woman's heart, but in my case, it's just the opposite.  I lucked out -- big time -- in having married an awesome dude with an awesome mom.)

Because I love autumn (ok, I probably have an unhealthy obsession with it), I took pictures of leaves everywhere we went.  So, while I showcase my daily noms, Imma also showcase some leaves.  It's random, I know, but I'm stickin' to it.

As always, the day starts with my morning cup of chai:

Double spice chai + pumpkin spice chai (thank you, Twinings!) make for a perfect fall drink.

 After hitting up the gym, I had my customary fruit + veg recovery smoothie.  This one was replete with a lot of spinach - I've been feeling anemic lately, so I'm trying to (read this in an Aaaahnold voice) pump it up on my iron intake.

Lunch + snacks: Trader Joe's Lentil & Ancient Grains soup (can we talk about how much I love their soup selection?  When I have a super-busy weekend and don't have time to prepare a batch of soup for the week, Trader Joe's soups always come through for me.), apple, banana, cantaloupe, grapes, and some KIND maple-walnut granola to nosh on when I get to work.  I really want to start making my own granola, so that's going to appear here someday soon!

I didn't get a picture of my post-work, pre-dinner snacks of carrots & celery with hummus, largely because I was too busy wolfing them down to grab the camera.  There are times when nothing can come between me and my food, and this was one of them!

Aaaaaaand, here's a random leaf picture (I can't think of a single decent segue between the food and this picture, so I won't even try to make a graceful transition):

For dinner, I didn't have time to think up a new recipe this weekend, so we went with an old standby: Middle Eastern lentil-veggie soup with chicken.

Of course, I'm already dreaming about the weekend -- I mean, it's a mere 3 days away, so why not?  I have visions of new recipes and long runs outside in the gorgeous fall weather dancing in my head.  :)

Hope you all have a fabulous Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Yearn for Veggie Burgers

I had quite a workout this morning!  I did 30 minutes on the elliptical at a 7:30 pace and resistance level 13, 10 minutes on the treadmill at an 8 minute mile pace + 1.5% incline, and 5 minutes of ab work - including a 60 second and 30 second plank series for Plank-a-Day. I was a sweaty mess after all was said and done (I sweat like a wildebeest when I work out, which always leaves me totally bewildered by the women at the gym who seem to just, like, mildly glisten with a teeny bit of perspiration while they run.  How do they do that?!).

Anyways, something tells me I'm going to be a starvin' Marvin later today.

That fact occurred to me while I was packing my lunch, post-sweat session -- which, in turn, made me wish I had some veggie burgers on hand to add to my lunchtime repertoire.  I'm not vegetarian, but I love vegetarian food.  And I really, really love veggie burgers.

I often find myself pining away for the veggie burger selection back in Colorado.  Back in my glutinous days, I loooooooved Morningstar Farms brand -- but once I went GF, my beloved Morningstar Farms burgers and I had to go our separate ways.  It was a difficult break-up, and I still gaze sadly at them in the frozen foods section.  Sigh.

[Image Not Available] - <strong><em>MorningStar Farms®</em></strong> Tomato & Basil Pizza Burgers
These guys were my faves, hands down. (*Sheds tear*)
Happily, I soon found two other kinds that I like: Sunshine Burgers and Amy's Sonoma Burgers.  They're both GF, soy-free, filled with whole ingredients like brown rice, quinoa, veggies and nuts, and absolutely delicious.  I've bought tons of Sunshine Burgers, and I do love them -- but oh, how I'd like to mix things up occasionally and have a Sonoma Burger!

 Sonoma Veggie Burger

But do you want to know the one type of veggie burger that no one on the East Coast seems to carry?  Amy's Sonoma Burgers.


I've submitted product request forms at two Whole Foods branches and our local Harris Teeter, only to have them disappear into a void of unresponsiveness.  Sigh, again.

So, failing the ability to buy them here, I'm either going to have to a) beg shamelessly, b) figure out a way to have my parents bring me a stockpile whenever they come to visit, or c)  figure out a way to make them myself.

And seriously, I'm not above option A: shameless, brazen, throwing-myself-at-the-feet-of-the-store-manager groveling.  Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeze? 

But, as my Dad says, discretion is the better part of valor, so I feel like the better course of action is to figure out how to make them myself.  Y'know, it preserves my dignity and whatnot, which is nice. 

Research ensues, and Operation: DIY Sonoma Burger will commence soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

20 Pounds Down

I know the year is nowhere near over yet, but when I look back on 2012 thus far, there's no doubt that this has been a huge year for me.  There have been lots of ups and downs, and a lot of changes.

One of the changes I'm most proud of is the fact that I lost 20 pounds and kept them off.  

I was a relatively normal size and wieght when Brandon and I started dating three years ago, but I put on a good 5 pounds after we got together -- it was more fun to spend time with him than it was to go to the gym, and the fact that he served up uh-maaay-zing home-made GF lasagna and pizza (neither of which I'd had in years), not to mention home-made cookies, was a party for both my tastebuds and my fat cells.  And oh, did they ever party.
Behold, the most addictive substance on Earth.
My weight kept creeping up, and I definitely didn't like the way I looked -- but more importantly, I knew I wasn't as healthy as I could be.  There's a long history of cardiovascular disease in my family, and I knew that if I didn't get myself back from the precipice of being clinically overweight, I'd be doing myself a huge disservice.  

I had that epiphany while listening to one of the first modules for my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  In it, Dr. Walter Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health discussed the correlations between high BMI and all manner of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and infertility.  
And I gotta say: none of 'em sound fun. It's crazy, I know, but I just don't like the idea of encountering any of those medical issues in a dark alley.  Or anywhere.  And I knew that if I didn't take corrective action soon, I was going to be increasing my risk for all these diseases.

I also had a key goal in mind: I used to love running, but I have arthritis in my feet from 27 years of undiagnosed Celiac disease -- so I took a years-long hiatus from running in the interest of preserving my joints.  In another lecture for IIN, Joy Bauer, a nutritionist who works with NBC, noted that for each pound of body weight, there are 4 pounds of pressure applied to your joints.  That's when it really hit me: if I ever wanted to run again, I needed to lose weight.

So, when my weight hit a new high a few days before my 31st birthday, I knew I needed to act fast.  I signed up for Weight Watchers online the next day after work, and I started the program on February 1st.

One thing I love about Weight Watchers is that you can eat unlimited quantities of fruits and veggies.  Calorie counting never worked for me, simply because once you reach your daily quota, you're cut off -- and being that I'm one of the hungriest people alive, whenever I tried calorie restriction I'd spend hours battling with my empty, loudly growling, and very angry stomach.  With Weight Watchers, though, I could chow down on carrots, apples, pears, pineapple -- if it was a fruit or veggie, I could eat until I was full.  I never got hungry on WW, which was fabulous.

Slowly but surely, the weight came off.  I lost about a pound per week, and by the summer, I'd lost 20 pounds -- and took myself from a size 10/12 (which I'd been for years) to a size 6.  This was a huge deal for me, since I haven't been a size 6 in decades.

Moreover, though, I now feel a lot healthier than I did before.  My endurance is better, my muscles are stronger, and I know I'm doing my body a huge favor by eating loads of produce instead of snacking on crackers.

Then there's the fact that I started running again, which was a glorious, marvelous, Chariots-of-Fire-should-totally-be-playing-right-now moment.  I'd missed it so, so much, and being able to run again has been a huge release for me.

When I think back on where I was when I started this journey, I'm incredibly happy with how far I've come.  Deciding to lose weight was, at its core, the most loving decision I could make for myself.  Making the choice to treat my body well -- to eat nutrient-dense food, to get back to the hard workouts that I used to love, and to control my weight -- has helped me in more ways than I can put into words.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Total Request (not-so) Live Friday: Quinoa, Chickpea, Chicken, and Grape Salad

Good morning and happy Friday! (*Does happy dance*)

As always, I'm incredibly glad that the weekend is almost here - this week went by quickly, which I always appreciate. :)  Does anyone have big plans for the weekend? 

Last Friday I posted a recipe to follow up on last week's What I Ate Wednesday post - and, since you awesome folks liked the looks of the quinoa, chickpea, and chicken salad I posted for this week's WIAW, I figured I'd do another Total Request (not so) Live post.

It's not exactly live, and I'm definitely not Carson Daly, but that's beside the point!
What I like about this recipe is that it's versatile and easy to throw together -- and it makes a freakin' enormous bowl of salad, so you can take the leftovers to work for lunch or have them on hand as a pre-made healthy dinner.  I'm a huge fan of leftovers, simply because they make life a lot easier when I'm pressed for time!

For those who are vegetarian or vegan, it's also easy to omit the chicken and make this a purely plant-based salad.  The quinoa and chickpeas are filled with protein, fiber, and all kinds of fabulous nutrients.

Quinoa, Chickpea, Chicken, and Grape Salad:

2 cups organic red grapes, washed and sliced in half
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup basil, sliced thin
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp. Annie's Dipping Oil - Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar
Garlic powder to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional) Chopped walnuts
(Optional) 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
(Optional) 1/4 onion, diced into small pieces

Side note: The Annie's dipping oil is the key ingredient - I definitely recommend this over regular olive oil and balsamic! 
This stuff is the bomb-diggity. Have I mentioned my affinity for outdated slang phrases?
 Instructions: Combine all the above ingredients into a large bowl, stir 'em up until they're well-mixed, and serve over the lettuce of your choice.  (Like I said, it's easy to throw together!)

Hope you all have an awesome Friday! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Kvetching and Love the Plank

A few weeks ago on Twitter, I caught wind of the  plank-a-day challenge, and I found myself surprisingly intrigued.  Why was this intrigue surprising, you ask?  Basically, planks have generally been my greatest nemesis in life.  (Well, ok, they're a close fourth behind things like stomach flu, commuting delays, and gluten...but still.  Nemesis.)

Core strength has always been a bit of a tricky issue for me: my back muscles are really strong, but my abs are absurdly weak.  Allow me to illustrate:

Back extensions after 1 minute:
La la la, I'm just chillin' and reading Elle Decor...
Back extensions after 2 minutes:
Oh hai, I iz paintin mai nailz
Plank after 15 seconds:
I want my Mooooooooooom! Make it stoooooooop!
When I saw the plank-a-day challenge, that little voice inside said "Dude, you know you need to do this."

My brain tried to dissuade me by screaming "NO!  We can totally just get away with sit-ups!  Everything's gonna be great!"  But I knew: I need to overcome my plank aversion.  It's more like a plank disability, really, and I knew I needed to push myself to power through it.

So I started doing daily planks.  

On day one, I held it for 30 seconds and started whimpering pathetically halfway through.  But wouldn't you know it, once I started doing planks consistently, I found that I was able to hold them longer and longer.  

With each passing day, I'd tell myself to hold it for just 3-5 seconds longer than I did the day before.  By creating small goals I knew I could achieve (or at least tell myself "you held it this long yesterday, so you can do it again today.  And five extra seconds?  That's pratically nothing!  You got this!"), I managed to not only break through my plank barrier but to -- gasp -- learn to like plank.  This would've been unthinkable for me even a month ago, so I'm impressed that this challenge was able to turn me around so quickly.

So, for anyone doing the plank-a-day challenge, believe me: if I can do it, you definitely can!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

WIAW: Getting My Veggie On

Happy WAIW!  As always, mad props to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting this delicious get-together.  These make my Wednesdays all the better!

After my cup of chai, I started my morning with 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill.  HIIT is great for cardiovascular health and torching calories, so I figure there's nothing to lose (pun intended) in busting my butt with even a brief HIIT routine.  Once I felt like my heart wasn't on the brink of explosion anymore, I followed it up by doing plank for a new personal record of 60 seconds.  Progress!

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

By the time my gym date was over, I could only think of one thing: breakfast.  My stomach growled ferociously.  I'm actually pretty sure it was trying to digest itself.

It was officially time for my daily smoothie (banana, Vega protein powder, almond milk, cooked spinach, frozen blueberries, and ice cubes).

The rest of my noms du jour are a study in veggies: I try to eat purely plant-based during the day so I can keep my meat and dairy intake relegated to dinner.  This helps me have a ton of healthy fruits, veggies, grains, and nuts during the day, which I can tell my body loves -- do you ever get that "Oh, my system is so happy with this!" feeling from your food?

I tend to be insatiably hungry, so I have to bring a lot of food to snack on.  My snacks were an organic pear, two Suzie's Thin Cakes with cashew butter, and carrots with hummus.  My lunch was organic baby greens with chickpeas, some leftover baked potato, and Organicville Sundried Tomato and Garlic Vinaigrette (which, BTW, I lurve).  It didn't make the photoshoot, but there was also some cantaloupe up in here.

Once I came home, I was ready for more food (that HIIT apparently revved up my metabolism something fierce!), so I had some pineapple in addition to more carrots and hummus.  Given all the hummus I eat, there's a very good chance I'll turn into a chickpea one of these days.

Dinner was a quinoa, chickpea (!!!!), grape, and chicken salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and fresh basil.

Dessert featured a piece of the GF carrot cake I made for my husband's birthday yesterday -- I'm happy to report that despite the initial quasi-fail, the leftovers are delicious. :)

Hope everyone had an awesome Wednesday -- only a few more days until the weekend!  (Not that I'm counting or anything...ok, I totally am.) :)

Of Birthdays and Baking

Good morning!  It's supposed to be another gorgeous day here in DC, so my temptation to call in with scurvy is at an all-time high. ;-)

Weather aside though, am I ever dragging today!  After we got back from dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday, I stayed up late last night with my latest baking project: a gluten-free carrot cake.

I have a mixed track record with GF baking, since I'd never baked anything from scratch (even in my pre-Celiac days) until this year.  It's been a steep learning curve for me, and there have been some epic fails -- but I'm determined to conquer healthy GF baking, even if it takes a loooong time!

I tried to healthify it a bit by using ground flax instead of eggs and applesauce instead of oil, so if there ever was a nutrient-dense dessert, this is it.  I mixed the batter, popped it in the oven, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best...

40 minutes later, it looked and smelled fabulous.  When I stuck a toothpick in the middle it came out clean, but then when I tried to cut a piece, I found that it was barely cooked. Noooooooooo!  The edges were starting to turn brown, so I didn't want to bake it much longer.  This, of course, begged the question of how on earth I was going to get it fully cooked.  Suddenly, inspiration struck: I wonder if the microwave would work?  It sounds crazy, I know, but I figured it was worth a try -- after all, a nuked cake is better than a woefully undercooked cake.

I put it in the microwave for 10 minutes, and lo, it worked!  I think it might've lost a lot of moisture, though, so we'll see how it goes when I try to serve it up this evening.  That'll be the real test!  (*Wrings hands in anticipation*)  I think I might try this recipe again but make muffins intead of a full cake -- the smaller they are, the more thoroughly they'll bake.

I was up until 11 or so with my baking experiment, and even though I was tired when I went to bed, my mind was racing and I couldn't fall asleep.  So, when the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, it was a monumental struggle to get out of bed and go to the gym.  

I always find that working out when I'm tired really helps me stay energized and alert all day, even if I was totally dragging when I hit the gym.  Today I did 30 minutes on the ellptical and then 10 minutes of high-intensity interval training (1 minute at 3% incline and 9.0 pace, followed by 1 minute at 3% incline and 3.7 pace, repeated 5 times).  And, despite being a sweaty mess from the cardio, I also set a new personal record on my plank-a-day: 1 minute solid!  Wahoo!

Today is also a big day (well, sort of ) on the home front: Brandon and I started dating exactly three years ago today.  I'm not a fan of big anniversary celebrations, but I do get all nostalgic when I think about our various milestones -- our wedding anniversary (July 30) , obviously, but also the day we got engaged (August 23) and the day we started dating (October 17).  His birthday actually played a key role in us getting together: we'd been spending a lot of time together and we both knew that we liked each other, but a first move had not yet been made.  When I found out that his birthday was coming up, I arranged a small party/happy hour for our friends to celebrate his birthday -- and the next day when he emailed to thank me for setting it up, he asked me out on our first official date...which was that afternoon.  The rest is history!

The rest of my day will involve lots of green tea and veggies to keep me going through the "tonight I really must get more sleep" haze, followed by a post tonight for What I Ate Wednesday!  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Great Start

Good morning!  Now that Monday has happily passed us, the weekend doesn't seem so far away anymore. :)

It's supposed to be a gorgeous day here in DC: sunny, low humidity, temps in the makes a girl want to ditch work altogether ("Yes, I have scurvy and won't be able to come in today - sorry!").

Partly cloudy
Feels like: 54°F
Wind: 7 mph NW
Pressure: 29.85"
Humidity: 64%
Dew point: 42°
SunnyMostly sunnyMostly sunnyChance rain shwrMostly sunnyMostly sunnySunny

Lo:   Hi:
53     66
Mostly sunny
Lo:   Hi:
47     69
Mostly sunny
Lo:   Hi:
48     70
rain shwr

Lo:   Hi:
57     69
Mostly sunny
Lo:   Hi:
53     69
Mostly sunny
Lo:   Hi:
48     65

Lo:   Hi:
46     67

But, since faking a case of scurvy isn't really an option, I want to be sure I get outside to enjoy the sunshine somehow, whether it's to eat lunch outside, take a stroll around the block at work, or get off the Metro a few stops early so I can walk part of the way home.

In the meantime, though, I got a great start to this beautiful day at the gym: 30 minutes on the elliptical listening to my course materials for IIN, and then 15 minutes of circuit training with my Jackie Warner Power Circuit Training DVD.  I love this DVD -- it has tons of different options (40 minute full-body workout, 15 minute full-body, 15 minute abs, 15 minute lower body, and 15 minute upper body), but in the interest of saving time I did the 15 minute full-body workout.


Until a year ago, I used to only work out in the evenings.  I often found that I was too tired to do an intense workout when I got home at night, though, so I decided to train myself to wake up early and hit the gym.  Now I love my AM workouts -- they keep me torching calories all day long, and I find that I love having my evenings free to hang out with Brandon, go to dinner with my girlfriends, or just veg out.

Hope your Tuesday is off to a good start!