Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Delightful Dinners: Panko Pork Chops

Tonight I decided to make a new favorite of ours: Panko pork chops. There's not much special about the recipe and obviously it's pork chops coated with Panko, but it's mmmmm, mmmmm good!

I like to buy the "breakfast" pork chops. They are thinner than standard chops so they cook faster as well as they are a smaller portion. The chop on the far right didn't look so good so he got retired to the trash.



Along with our chops I steamed some broccoli.



Prepping the chops is pretty easy but does require a few dishes.

First you dredge the chops in a cumin/onion powder/flour mixture. Keep the coating thin and shake off any excess. Then dredge in a mixture of egg white and soy sauce (we like the less sodium type). Finally dredge in Panko.



After all the dredging simply pan cook them for about a minute on each side. I put a couple spritzes of Pam Olive Oil in the pan.



After the pan cooking put them in the oven for about 5 minutes and you're done! Throw a sweet potato on there with the broccoli and it's yummy dinner time!



It was good, my friends, very good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly Lunch: Chicken Thighs with Olives in Tomato Sauce

Lunch is a tough meal for me during the week. I get tired very quickly of the typical lunch fare: sandwiches, soups, salads. While I like those things I currently have no desire for them at lunchtime!

Cooking Light is my favorite cooking magazine. I LOVE CL!! However, I often see very delicious looking recipes in there that I never try because there are ingredients included that I know Jesse doesn't like.

Well, I've decided a great way to spice up my lunch routine AND get to try recipes Jesse might not like is by making the recipe on the weekend and portioning it out for lunch! This way every weekend I can try a new recipe and have a week's worth of yummy lunch. The change each week will keep things interesting.

So this is the first week of my new plan (we'll see how long it lasts) and I picked CL's Chicken Thighs with Olives in Tomato Sauce (from March 2009 issue).

You can get the details of the recipe at the link above. Below is a pictorial guide to this fantastic recipe!

First, I had to de-skin 8 chicken thighs. I don't normally buy chicken thighs but I gave them a try since the recipe called for it. After dealing with them for this recipe I believe I will just use boneless-skinless chicken breast next time. The thighs are good, but a pain to deal with and added a bit more fat.

Browning the thighs before they go in the slow cooker:





The next step calls for making the wine reduction. I didn't have fresh garlic so I simply added garlic powder to the slow cooker but still cooked the wine. This step was SO fast that I didn't get a picture. Here is the wine I used, though.



Other ingredients needed:



The crushed red pepper adds great spice to this recipe! If you like it hotter go for 3 tsp. More mild, toss in 1 tsp. I'm an in between type of girl when it comes to spiciness so I put in 2 tsp.



A little tomato paste and then the diced tomatoes:







Then just let those thighs cook for 4 hours! That's the bulk of the recipe. How easy is that? Just a few minor steps left.

After close to 4 hours of slow cooking on high I prepped the olives and parsley:



Four hours is up! Into the cooker they go:



I grabbed my bowls to get ready and separate out my lunch portions. The parsley and olives cooked in for a few minutes.

As I began making my portions I noticed that the meat was soooo tender that I could easily pull out the thigh bones. Great! I really didn't want to mess with bones at the office.



I was left with just the tender meat and all the tomatoey, olivey goodness. I couldn't resist, I made myself a little bite to try!



Mmmm! Good! Spicier than I expected, but great! I really wanted to eat a bowl of it right then and there but knew I shouldn't.

I finished up my lunch portions and was done. Such an easy recipe! I couldn't wait to try it at lunch.



I'm happy to report that this recipe was awesome for lunch today! It reheated well and contained all the flavor. The spiciness was still there although a bit tamer after being in the frig overnight.

I can't wait for lunch tomorrow. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The benefits of flax seed

Flax seed seems to currently be quite popular among many health conscious foodie bloggers that I read. I decided to investigate the benefits of all this flax seed!



A little Googling always does the trick. Check out these fantastic benefits of adding flax seed to your diet!

  • High in omega-3 fatty acids
    - By now most of us realize how important omega-3's are to our diet. They are essential in heart health, lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, lowering our risk for certain cancers and much more.
  • Full of fiber
    - Helps lower cholesterol, helps stabilize blood sugar, lowers risk of colon and breast cancer, plus helps in many digestive issues (I'll leave that for you to Google).
  • Aids in eye health, macular degeneration is an example from WebMD.

Flax seed grows both as a golden color as well as a reddish brown. The color does not affect the nutritional value and both pack a healthy punch.



Flax seed is really easy to incorporate into your diet. I bought some ground flax seed meal and plan to add it to oatmeal, my turkey meatball recipe, and possibly some baking!

To learn more about the benefits of flax seed check out my source: WebMD: The Benefits of Flax Seed

Quick run report

Got in a nice 3 miles today!

Finished in: 34:22

I did the first mile right at about 12:00 so I must have picked it up in mile 2 and 3. I need to mess with the Garmin more to view all my laps times.

Feeling good!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ahhhh the smell of new shoes!

Well, not my new shoes, but Jesse's!

Today, after completing week 3 of C25K Jesse and I went to On The Run and had him fitted for new running shoes! They evaluated his gait and fitted him with a great pair of Brooks running shoes. Jesse said they felt very comfortable. Hopefully they will make running even more enjoyable for him. I know my running shoes were a huge boost for me!

Believe the hype! Getting fitted for proper running shoes is worth it!

Here he is with his new Brooks. Can't wait to head out for the next run!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Homemade Maple Cinnemon Almond Butter

So The Hungry Yogini is always talking about adding her homemade maple Cinnamon almond butter to food she eats. It sounds delicious!

I've never had almond butter before, but I thought what the heck? I'll try to make my own from her recipe.

I picked up the ingredients on my last grocery trip so I was ready to go.



First you need to coat the almonds with the Cinnamon and maple syrup and prepare them for roasting.



As they roast the whole house smells great! After taking them out of the oven I just wanted to start snacking on the roasted almonds, but I resisted.

One thing I noticed after the roasting is immediately after taking them out of the oven I could move the almonds around. They were in sticky maple syrup goo, but they were movable. After letting them cool 5 minutes some of them were practically cemented onto the pan! I had to pop them off with a butter knife.



Next it's into the food processor for grinding. For some reason I didn't take any pictures of this step at all. Next time I'll have to remember.

I think I was distracted by the noise of the food processor. I haven't used it much so I wasn't expecting the loudness of the grinding. I had to put in ear plugs!

Safety first! lol



Finally the almond butter was complete. Mmmm! Looks good!



For my first time making this, it wasn't bad! I added a little too much salt and I could have let the almonds grind a bit longer as the AB is a bit gritty still, but it's good. After leaving it in the frig overnight it tasted even better the next day!

Thanks to The Hungry Yogini for a great recipe!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Food Review: ESSN Pomegranate Limeflower Energy Drink

So this morning in walks our intern, Josh. He plops down a can of ESSN Energy Drink on mine and my officemate's desk.

He laughs, "Just try it! Just try it!"

We're suspicious. I mean, as our intern it is his duty to bring us gifts. But, this?

"150 calories??!!!?? I'm not drinking this!" I demand.

"Oh suck it up and just try it."

I refused, but I did promise to try it with Jesse at home and give it a review.

This one's for you, Josh.

So first of all, I'm not really an energy drink kinda gal. I could go into the reasons, but let's just say I'm not.

Also, at 150 calories and 37 g of sugar it's not something I'm likely to consume often if at all. But I'm game. I'll at least try it.

The can was pretty, at least on the front.



Sorry, I just don't like drinking so many calories!



Jesse was first up to give it a try. He checks it out first.



I think it made him drunk!!



Bottoms up!



It was....ummm....tasty?



lol

Sorry, Josh, but that stuff was terrible! In all honestly I've yet to try an energy drink that I thought tasted good. However, I think Dusty (my officemate) was spot on when he said it smelled, and possibly tasted, like nail polish remover. I also thought it tasted like cough syrup. Yech!

Now fetch me my coffee, intern boy!

Personal Challenge Update

Here are the results for Monday and Tuesday of my personal challenge to get up 1/2 an hour earlier:



Oh dear. It's not going well! lol

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Delightful Dinners: Pasta with marinara, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions

Jess over at See Jess Run always inspires me with her great "Food for Fuel" posts. Recently she had a post about her pasta dinner and it looked delicious! She had added zucchini and mushrooms to her pasta and I thought, "I love those veggies. Why don't I add those to mine?"

So I decided to. At my recent trip to Whole Foods I picked up an organic zucchini and some Texas mushrooms as well as an organic onion to add to my pasta dish. Usually I just eat my pasta with the jar sauce. How boring! I was really looking forward to my healthy additions.

Veggies chopped and ready to get cooked:


Into the pan!


And finally, the dish is complete with pasta and marinara sauce. Mmmmm...


It was sooo good! I can't imagine not doing this to my pasta from here on out.

Thanks, Jess, for the inspiration!

Healthy Shopping: Getting back to it

A couple of years ago I wanted to start eating more organics and just "healthier" in general. I began going to Whole Foods every weekend to pick up a few organics to include with our meals during the week.

Well, naturally, we put our house for sale, started building a new house, lived in an apartment between, yada, yada, yada. Short story: the habit of buying organics faded before it even began.

Now, since losing weight and becoming more focused on health issues in general, I want to return to buying organics and trying to slowing switch over to mostly organics over conventional foods.

I know everyone has their views on organics and whether they're "worth it" or not. Personally, the less unneeded chemicals I put into my body the better (imho).

Switching to 100% organics would be hard. VERY hard. So right now I'm just trying to move in that general direction. Most of our foods are still conventional and we still eat a lot more processed stuff than I'd like, but one step at a time, eh?

So yesterday I decided to head back to Whole Foods (Trader Joe's PLEASE come to Houston!!) and pick up a few items. I thought it might be neat to chronicle my "healthy" shopping trips, so here we go!

I picked up:
  • Organic raw whole almonds
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Organic maple syrup (from the WF bulk selection)
  • Texas grown mushrooms (conventional)
  • Organic zucchini
  • Organic onion
  • Organic black olives
  • Organic dried cranberries
  • Soy crispets (for hubby - he's a crisp lover!)
  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Flaxseed meal
  • Bob's Red Mill Organic whole oats
  • Ezekiel Organic whole grain bread

That's it! I have plans for all of this (in fact some already eaten!) and will be sharing that soon!



Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Challenge!

Starting Monday I am putting myself up to another personal challenge: Wake up (that means OUT of bed) by 6:00 am each morning!

I'm am a snoozer. I major snoozer. I'll hit that button 3-4 times before I actually get up! I've tried a few different methods to get my lazy arse out of bed, but as of yet have not found a way to keep myself getting up earlier.

Honestly, I'd like to get up early to exercise/run before going to work. I've made so many failed attempts at that, that now I'm just shooting to be up by 6:00 for breakfast. I have to start getting ready for work no later than 6:30 so if I can accomplish 1/2 an hour early for breakfast then hopefully I can expand on that.

We'll see how it goes!

Don't Believe the Health Hype

A good article debunking 6 common health myths. I agree with all of these and found the article to actually be honestly good info.

Don't Believe the Health Hype

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Good Run

Well, after the recent tendon scare (which apparently I overreacted to) I was pleasantly surprised today to have a great run!

Yesterday I ran C25K W2D3 with hubby Jesse and the leg felt really good. Today I decided to try a bit more mileage and shoot for at least running a mile straight. My training plan calls for 2 mile runs every Thursday so if feeling good I would stop at 2.

I did feel good! About 3/4 a mile in I hit my stride and just felt great. The leg/tendon didn't hurt and I had a nice pace going.

When I hit the 2 mile mark I slowed to a walk with a big smile on my face. Ahhhh the pleasure of a run!

This weekend I'll have another easy run and then hopefully if all goes well I'll start up my training plan on Tuesday (which I wanted to start last Tuesday).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mmmm tilapia!

Ok so I did a wups. I forgot to buy a couple key ingredients for the recipe I was going to make!

Oh well. I went forth with the tilapia and pan seared it. It turned out good! Just a little salt, pepper, and light dusting of flour and yum!

I added steamed green beans for me and Jesse and Jesse also had left over rice.

Next time I'll remember my sauce ingredients, but tonight was still a fine meal.

I snuck some avocado onto my tilapia!



For dessert: Sliced apple with peanut butter



Not a bad meal at all. I'd like to try some organic peanut butter next time since I'm trying to move towards organics and less processed foods. But one step at a time.

Have a great night, all!

Coming soon!

Can I make tilapia that looks as good as this?!!?!??



I'll be attempting this recipe tonight and hopefully it'll turn out as good as that picture looks! The only fish I've ever cooked before is salmon so this is new territory.

Results pics to come!

Things seem a bit better. Hmmmm....

So my leg/tendon is feeling better today. Yesterday, I called off my intended run and iced the tendon after work. I then iced it again before bed.

It's still just barely sore feeling. The swelling, what I thought was a lump, has gone down a lot too, but not completely gone.

I think things will be ok, but I'm going to take it easy again this week and just run C25K with Jesse as long as I don't have pain.

I have one of the straps pictured below and may try using it if needed. I'd rather just heal up, though!

We'll see how things go!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I think I have a touch of patellar tendonitis

Ugh.

I'm having some discomfort, I wouldn't call it minor but I wouldn't call it major either, between my knee and my shin. There is also a swollen lump there.

Google has me 95% convinced it's patellar tendonitis.

My guess is that my weight training session from Sunday brought this about. I did a pretty intense session which included legs. Then yesterday I ran C25K W2D2 with Jesse and had some discomfort. Today it's worse and I noticed the lump.

I took last week really easy and only ran C25K week 1 with Jesse. This week I was planning to get back to my training and preparing for May's 5k. I really think I need to rest more now. Ugh.

I'm just torn between wanting to get out there and do more running and not wanting to further any knee issue by over-doing it.

This sucks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sensational Snack: Avocados

If you ask around you'll be hard pressed to find many people that don't like avocados in some way, shape, or form. From a fresh slice in your salad to guacamole for dipping, avocados add fantastic taste to many dishes!

As one of my favorite fruits I have to be careful with eating avocados since they are higher in calories and fat. However, those calories and fat pack a major healthy punch.



Check out some of the great health benefits of avocados:
  • Avocados are full of mono and poly-unsaturated fats. These fats help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol), especially mono-unsaturated fat.
  • Avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including 4% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E, 4% vitamin C, 8% folate, 4% fiber, 2% iron, 4% potassium, with 81 micrograms of lutein and 19 micrograms of beta-carotene.
  • Avocados contain 81 micrograms of the carotenoid lutein, which some studies suggest may help maintain healthy eyes.
  • Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.




For more info check out my sources!

World's Healthiest Foods: Avocados
www.Avocado.org
Great Web MD article on avocados

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trying something new

So, lately my eating habits and food choices have been horrid. I KNOW I should be eating better and I KNOW that what I was eating was terrible for me. The results of my poor choices have certainly shown up on the scale.

I need to get back on track, and I will because I'm ready to and done with all the junk food, but I have one problem: I'm bored. Basically I've been eating a lot of the same stuff for quite a while. Same breakfast meals, same lunches, same snacks, same dinners.

Solution? Well, it's pretty easy - try some new stuff!

I've heard all the rave about hummus but have never tried it. I'd like to make my own (I'm really starting to want to get away from pre-packaged stuff) but figured I'd try something from the store first to see if I even like it.

At the store today I picked up some garlic and chive flavored hummus. Mmmmm already sounds good! I decided to try it with some sort of cracker.

I ran into a bit of a cracker dilemma at the store. I wanted something organic, that looked good, and didn't cost a fortune. Even though our Kroger and HEB are the super stores with an organics section, I still couldn't find anything I wanted to try cracker-wise. I finally just snatched some melba toast and figured I'd try to find something better at Whole Foods another day.

Once home I dove in and tried it out. It was good!! A little different from what I expected but tasted good. So hummus and melba toast will be a new snack for me this week.

It's so easy to get into a rut with food. I'm determined to keep things interesting and of course healthy. :)



While at the store I decided to simplify my life even more by adding two more shakers to my countertop collection for garlic powder and seasoned salt. My hubby will be happy about this!

Making healthy choices easier is always good.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Beast

My Garmin is so f'in awesome!! I haven't even scratched the surface of what all it can do but I'm already impressed. It has been nicknamed "The Beast" because it's so huge. Plus, I think it has a demanding side to it. The Beast needs run data.

C25K Newbie!

That's right everyone! There's another C25K newbie joining the ranks of that awesome program: my hubby!

I'm so excited! Jesse decided to do the C25K program so that he can participate in some 5Ks with me. How awesome is that? VERY AWESOME! =P

He actually started a little over a week ago and today was the first day of W2D1. I've been running the program with him and really enjoying our time running together.

So far he's enjoyed the program! Week 2 is definitely a bit more challenging for him but he'll get stronger as he goes. Week 1 was a little easy for him.

I'm really stoked! He is even signing up for the Pearland Pear Run (5K) in May!

Now I need to get him one of these shirts! He deserves it!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My new toy: Garmin Forerunner 305!

Woohoo! I got a new toy!

Yesterday my Garmin Forerunner 305 arrived in the mail. I've been using a Polar heart rate monitor for about a year and I like it a lot. However, now that more of my focus is on running I'm needing more data. Thus I decided to get a Garmin.

The 405 was a bit pricey for me and the 205 was lacking the HR monitor which I still wanted, so the 305 was the best option. I picked it up on Amazon for $169.00.

I haven't been able to play with it yet because you have to charge it for a few hours first. So last night it was on the charger. After work today I'll finally get to start checking it out!

More updates to come!