“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” - Walt Disney

Saturday, March 9, 2013

February Flashback: Cooking Part 4

What was up on the menu board last night?  Singapore Shrimp Stir-Fry (yes, another Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook choice)!  Although I haven't really been observing Lent this year, (oops - no judgement, please) when I was meal planning the week I chose two shrimp dishes - last night's soup so that I could bring it as leftovers for lunch with a green salad, and tonight's stir-fry for "fish Friday."  Guess those Lenten practices are a little more ingrained in me than I thought, lol.

Singapore Shrimp Stir-Fry (serves 4) 
4 oz Chinese wheat noodles or spaghetti 
1/4 c reduced sodium soy sauce 
2 tbs rice vinegar 
2 tbs reduced sodium chicken broth 
1/2 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil 
1 large egg 
1 large egg white 
2 tsp canola oil 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger 
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
6 scallions, cut into 1/2 pieces 
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach  

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt if desired. 
2. Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, broth, and sesame oil in a small bowl.  Set aside. 
3. Whisk together egg and egg white in a small bowl until frothy.  Heat 1 tsp of the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat until drop of water sizzles in pan.  Add egg and egg white and scramble until set but still moist, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer eggs to plate and cut into small pieces. 
4. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 1 tsp canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in shrimp, scallions, and bell pepper; cook, stirring, until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and spinach; cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, 2 minutes.  Add noodles and reserved soy sauce mixture; cook until just heated through, about 1 minute. 
Just after adding the noodles and sauce
*Healthy extra: Add 1 cup of any of the following vegetables to the stir-fry when you add the shrimp: trimmed snow peas, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, 2-inch pieces of asparagus, or thinly sliced carrots. 
Per serving (1 cup): 263 calories, 6g total fat, 28g carbs, 6g fiber, 27g protein.

I don't like bell peppers, so I left those out (although they would have added some pretty color to the dish), I substituted egg beaters for the eggs, and I ended up adding a pre-washed bagged broccoli/carrot/snow pea medley that I found in the  refrigerated area of my store's produce section as my "healthy extra."

This stir-fry was yummy, and very filling with all those veggies!  However, like last night, I feel like the dish could definitely have benefited from some heat.  When I make this again (and that will be a definite occurrence) I'll be adding some red pepper flakes, no question.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February Flashback: Cooking Part 3

When I was meal planning for the week, it was kinda chilly and grey outside and soup sounded warm and yummy.  I'm not a big soup person to begin with, so I have to be in the right mood - which is why when this evening rolled around and it had been 72° today I wasn't really feeling the soup...

But, I'd committed to cooking and I didn't want to waste the ingredients, so I put on my apron and rolled up my sleeves.  Dish of choice?  Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook Smoky Shrimp and Corn Soup.

Smoky Shrimp and Corn Soup (serves 4) 
2 tsp olive oil  
1 large red onion, thinly sliced 
2 celery stalks with leaves, thinly sliced 
2 tbs all-purpose flour 
3/4 tsp smoked or sweet paprika 
2 c fat-free half-and-half 
11/2 c fresh corn kernels (from 2 large ears) 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined 
1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add flour and paprika and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. 
After adding the flour and paprika
2. Remove saucepan from heat; add half-and-half, whisking until smooth.  Return to heat, add corn and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Adding the half-and-half
3. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until shrimp turn opaque in center, 3 minutes. 
Simmering the soup after adding the shrimp
Per Serving: 228 cal, 4g fat, 31g carbs, 3g fiber, 16g protein
Finished product
While I liked the soup, I could've used a little something...more.   It was just a little too sweet with the corn and red onion, and not balanced quite enough by the smoky paprika.  Maybe some heat is what it needs?  I am a Texan, after all - it would be interesting to play around with adding some red pepper flakes, cayenne, or tabasco. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

February Flashback: Cooking Part 2

Tuesday night's dish was another one from the Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook - this time a lamb dish: Lamb Chops with Fruited Couscous Salad.  I'm a big fan of couscous and actually use it quite frequently in my cooking because it's so easy, and I love love love lamb!  I was so excited to see this slightly middle eastern slant on chops in a Weight Watchers cookbook!

Lamb Chops with Fruited Couscous Salad (serves 4) 
1 c whole wheat couscous

3 fresh apricots, pitted and chopped (when apricots are out of season, substitute a Gala or Honeycrisp apple, cored and chopped - I had to use the apple)

3 tbs fresh or dried currants (I substituted reduced-sugar-Craisins b/c my store was out of dried currants)
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbs fresh mint, chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs honey
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 (4oz) bone-in loin lamb chops, about 3/4 in thick, trimmed 

1. Prepare coucous according to package directions, omitting fat and salt (omit salt if desired).  Fluff with fork and let cool completely.

2. Combine lemon zest and juice, honey, oil, 1/4 tsp of the salt, cilantro, and mint in a small bowl.  Transfer couscous to a medium bowl and add apricots/apple, currants/craisins, and herb dressing mixture.  Toss to combine.

3. Sprinkle lamb chops with remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat.  Add lamb chops and cook, turning once, until interior of chop registers 145 on a thermometer for medium (about 8 minutes).  Serve lamb with couscous. 

Per Serving (1 chop with generous 3/4 c couscous): 255 calories, 7g fat, 32g carbs, 5g fiber, 19g protein.

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of cilantro, so I was a little hesitant to use it and briefly contemplated leaving it out - but wanted to maintain the integrity of the recipe - so I put it in.  And I'm so glad I did!  There was no overwhelming cilantro flavor and it mingled well with the mint and lemon in the dressing and counterbalanced the sweetness in the fruit!  As noted in the recipe above, I had to substitute a honeycrisp apple for the apricot this time of year, and my store was out of dried currants so I had to grab a package of reduced sugar Craisins and use those instead.  I was not disappointed in my substitutions at all - in fact, I LOVE this salad and will definitely be making it again!  I threw in a mixed green salad with fat free balsalmic vinegrette and another glass of nonfat milk (yup, we're a house of milk drinkers!) ... and ... voila!  Healthy yumminess!!!

Support for the Girls

Guys, sorry about this, but this post is for the ladies - or should I say, for "the girls."  I'm just gonna put this out there - I've got a very large chest.  Even when I'm at a weight that I'm happy with I'm definitely...top heavy, to say the least, lol (can we say 36/38DD?).

So when I took up the high-movement activity that is running I basically figured I was screwed and I'd just have to learn to live with the sway, the jiggle, and the bounce I'd always found in "normal" sports bras...  Then I started reading running magazines and websites and saw new terms like "high impact" and "compression" and running bras - yes, there was just a thing as a running bra - not just a general sports bra.  And it was like the proverbial light bulb over my head turned on.  Duh - I'm not the only one out there with this problem - and manufacturers are listening and producing bras for girls with "big girls."

So I delved into the plethora of online research out there, and picked the brains of my running friends, and purchased the Moving Comfort Fiona bra.  I loved it so much I ended up buying 4 of them.  Talk about support, comfort, and structure all in one - so I wore them for years!  My only complaint?  Not a lot of protection from the whole "headlight" issue.

My next search and round of questions for my friends then addressed that problem and I ended up with two more options - the Moving Comfort Jubralee and the Under Armour Armour Bra.  Both have what the industry calls encapsulation, which is basically a structured cup to help cut down on bounce (and also helps with headlights).  So of course, I ended up buying multiples of both styles.  I still wear my Fionas, but mostly on the treadmill or on a run where I know I won't see many people.

So imagine my pleasure when I was scrolling through Facebook and came across the "How to Pick the Best Sports Bra for Large Breasts" article in Fitbie.  And what are the top two recommended for high-impact activity like running?  My current faves!  Yay!  Seems silly, but it's like a validation of my choices.  So, looking for a new bra?  Searching for something to begin with?  Check out the article and see what might be the best option for your needs.  It's got great info on terms, what to look for, and what's important.

No, they're not cheap, but a running bra is one of those things where you get what you pay for!  And don't forget to always, always, always put on some kind of anti-chafe protection in the cups, the chest band, the straps or anywhere else you might chafe - because if there's anything worse than chafing, it's having to put your everyday bra on over a chafed spot from your running bra - ouch!

Q4U: How did you find your "perfect bra?"  Care to share what it is?  Any recommendations you think I or the other readers should try?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February Flashback: Cooking Part 1

After failing miserably at committing to cooking in February, I'm trying again in March.  So I sat down with a couple of my favorite cookbooks, made a meal plan for the week, composed a shopping list, hit up the grocery store after work, and came home with lots of goodies - prepared to get cookin'!

The recipe I chose for tonight was Rosemary Chicken with Balsalmic-Glazed Onions from the Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook.  Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, chicken is a healthy staple, and caramelized onions are a recent discovery of taste explosion for me, so this seemed like a great way to ease into my cooking week.  After popping out to the backyard to grab some sprigs of fresh rosemary out of the garden, I got to work.  (FYI, I halved the recipe to feed two.)
Rosemary Chicken with Balsalmic-Glazed Onions (serves 2)
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 very small onions, each cut into 8 wedges
1/8 c. balsalmic vineagar
1 tbs honey
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 (5 oz) skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp dried 
1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skilled over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook, turning often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add vinegar, honey, and worcestershire sauce and simmer until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl and keep warm.  Wipe out skillet.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and rosemary.  Spray skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Serve chicken with onions. 
Per serving (1 chicken breast with 1/3 cup onions): 243 calories, 6 g fat, 17 g carb, 1 g fiber, & 29 g protein.
While the chicken was cooking, I realized I needed sides.  I have to admit, I cheated a little bit and took the easy route by grabbing the steam-in-bag brussell sprouts out of the freezer and the pouch of uncle ben's ready rice out of the pantry to round out the meal (hey, I cooked the main dish, right?  lol).

After adding a serving of brussel sprouts (the bag said 6-7 sprouts), 1/2 cup of rice, and a glass of nonfat milk, here's the finished product.  I must say that even though it's not as pretty as the cookbook's picture, I'm still pretty impressed with myself.
This whole meal (including the milk) was: 494 calories, 8 g fat, 43 g protein, 60 g carbs, & 6 g fiber.  Not too shabby, right?  And that was a full plateful of food - and yummy food at that!

Also, I had to laugh at my cooking partners - the two cats - they were right underfoot and in the way the entire time, it's amazing I didn't drop something on them (which was probably their plan).
In front of the stove
In front of the sink

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013 Mini Goals: March: Build an Injury-Proof Body

"March Comes In Like a Lion" and yes, the lion is here!  The Runner's World article "A Month-by-Month Guide to a Fitter, Faster You" lays out monthly mini goals for the year and March's is to Build an Injury-Proof Body.

MARCH: Build an Injury-Proof Body

"'The knee accounts for about half of all running injuries,' says Robert Gillanders, P.T., D.P.T., O.C.S., a physical therapist with Sports + Spinal Physical Therapy in Washington, D.C. 'But knee problems are usually indicative of a weakness in the hips, glutes, and core. If those areas aren't solid and able to stabilize you as your foot strikes, your knees take the brunt.' Gillanders is a fan of simple exercises you can do anywhere... "  Read the rest of the article here.
The one nagging joint problem I've always had was my knees, even before I became a runner - but once I started running, unbelievably my aching knees stopped aching!  Guess all that exercise really helped (this is also one of the reasons I scoff at people who tell me that running is bad for my knees - they were worse before I was a runner!)  As for other ailments, fortunately for me, I had a very minor stress fracture in my right foot that I got when I was training for my first half, but I haven't had a running-related injury since (knock on wood!).  And I definitely want to keep it that way!  So I'm a big proponent of cross-training and strength training to supplement my running schedule.

Last month I re-started one of my most effective/favorite exercise videos: Chalean Extreme which involves slow and heavy weight-lifting, and finished the "Burn" circuit at the end of the month.  The "Push" circuit is up next, and what I'll be concentrating on during March.  So it's my own way of strengthening my joints, my legs, and my core.

I'm also going to try to make up for missing February's mini goal and try the whole cooking thing again...hopefully I'll have a much better showing this time than last...smh.

Q4U: Do you supplement your running with cross training and/or strength training and/or core work?  What do you do?