Super Bowl Eats

So are you like me and somehow let the Super Bowl sneak up on you?  I am so swamped with work and life and trying to keep up with my exercise that I kind of am letting it almost past without any planning.  My team is NEVER in the big game….but I do still like to watch.

This year is going to be a smaller affair since we aren’t having guests over since we don’t get CBS on our HD antenna, sigh.  It’s the worse part of being a cord cutter…living in a signal dead zone for CBS.  So we will be streaming it on the computer.  Because of that, I’m going simple but hearty (and healthy) for the meal.  It’s also during my Operation Size 16 challenge…so you know I’m not going crazy.

I am going to repeat a favorite recipe – the Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew recipe.  It’s an excellent vegan meal that both the man and I love.  It’s supposed to be really cold this weekend, so I’m thinking that it will be a great comfort food dish.  It’s super filling from the squash and the stew so it will keep me from wanting too many snacks.

February Challenge

It’s time for a new challenge for me!  You guys know how I am – I like challenges and I like to make up imaginary deadlines for said challenge.  This month I thought it was time to bring back the monthly challenge instead of the program challenge only.  What is the challenge?  Watch the video and see 🙂
I am a dork and I’m nervous you all will think I am super crazy so please be nice 🙂  Apparently according to one of my besties who previewed this for me – it’s exactly how I am in real life…oye, lol!  I will do more videos over the next month on this challenge and other things!  
I will post my pictures and measurements and weight tomorrow on the 1st.  If you are joining me please let me know!  I will use #operationsize16 on Instagram and Twitter on my related posts.  I will post a focus area for each week of the challenge with specific goals for what areas I need to hit that week.  That will also go up tomorrow.  I’m excited, I love a good PUSH goal for a month in order to get me motivated. 
I think that’s it for setting up the challenge.  Talk to you all soon!

Oh Kenpo X

The description of Kenpo X by Beachbody is this:

“Kenpo X was created to give P90x users a high-intensity cardiovascular workout packed with lots of punching and kicking combinations to improve balance, endurance, flexibility, and coordination.  During this workout you’ll learn some of the most effective ways to defend yourself, while at the same time getting your body in peak condition.”

The description of Kenpo X by Kim after doing it twice is this:

“Um….hun?”

Okay.  I LOVE P90x so far.  I really do.  All the workouts are so different and focus on different areas of the body that I can already tell it will be one of my favorite workout systems.  But Kenpo X?

I don’t hate it…I just don’t get it for it’s placement in the program.  It may be the fact that I started this pretty much right after finishing INSANITY, but this workout is not high intensity.  My heart rate only jacks up during the breaks when you do all the jogging and jumps.  And then it’s back down, quickly.  Again, I know my cardiovascular strength is pretty good after insanity, but I read about people burning crazy calories and feeling wiped out and I just can’t figure out how to get myself there.  I can totally see this as a fantastic beginner workout, I think it would have kicked my butt at 300 lbs.  But for an extreme workout program like P90x, I find it lacking.   Most of the workout is just too low impact and stationary for it to really get me going.  I barely break a sweat and can keep my sweats on…which is weird.  For most of my other cardio workouts I’m out of the sweatshirt by the end of the warm up and mostly down to a sports bra by the cool down.  This one, nope, I just am not ever uncomfortable.

Since the next day is rest and stretch and there are only two cardio days to begin with – it just is starting to feel like a waste of a cardio day.  I was so tempted to reach for INSANITY or Turbo Fire this morning…I doubt next week I will be able to resist.  I really want my cardio days to kick my butt so I don’t know if this is really getting me max results that I want from P90x.

Anybody else struggle to get a good cardio burn from Kenpo X?  What do you do – grin and bear it for the duration of the program or sub?  I’m learning towards making that a day I dig out a different cardio DVD and play around with that right now.

Getting Shipwrecked on a Fabulous Island

This week while Miss Tabby is off exploring the real islands (I shall have her note when she gets back that today we had a winter weather advisory, freezing rain, and barely above freezing….nope I’m not jealous…), I’m helping her out and guest blogging on her fabulous web island.

Tabby is a super crafter, party planner, and all round Superwoman and her blog is fun and full of ideas that make me want to go plan a party right this second.  As I plan some events this year you better believe I’m getting all my ideas from her!  Today go check out the Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole recipe that I am in LOVE with over on her island then let me know if you make it and what you think!

Focus, Determination, DRIVE

Today was day 10 for P90x for me.  I splurged a little this morning as I’ve been kind of on a little retail therapy kick this weekend and bought myself a little something special – a set of sportblocks!

I love them.  Like seriously love them.  My old weights were a messy jumble and they didn’t actually weigh what they said they weighed and I couldn’t change them fast enough.  Now I just set these and go go go!  I didn’t buy the stand, just the weights because the stupid stand was almost the same price as the weights.  I sit these on my old transfirmer and that is a flat enough surface.  The stand would be awesome – taller and at an angle…but not worth the cash for me today.  Anyway, these weights are amazing and I can tell I’m getting a better workout because I’m using the appropriate weight.
Today’s workout also made me think a lot about my progress so far.  I have done really well over the last 5 months.  So well it’s hard for me to even really wrap my brain around…it’s why I take so many progress pictures, it helps me see what I can’t believe yet.

So now, I’m in this incredible mental place.  I’m now at the point where I really want to start focusing on pushing myself to get to the maintenance phase.  I’m not that close to it – I have at least another 40 lbs to lose.  But I think that I’m at a point where I am seeing the body changes more than just a shrinking body.  I am starting to see some definition in my arms when I flex and very slight lines on my stomach. When I lift weights during P90x I can see the muscles now.  I am starting to realize that my body is going through a major change that I can control.  That’s why I decided to plunk down the money for the sportblocks today.  It’s why I am about to do some major diet adjustments and start focusing on my diet more during the work day (meaning drinking my water, even if it means a million pee breaks) and staying away from the candy jar (Tabby will have to help me here!).  At home I am going to stay dedicated to my workouts and my clean eating and I am going to steadily tweak my diet for better satiety and make more dishes at home.  
Essentially, the last couple of days I have really realized not that I can do this.  But that I AM doing this.  I AM making my body healthy, strong, and well.  I am driven to be the women I have dreamed of being….the only factor is time.

Strawberry Oat Squares with Jam

The need for this recipe in my house because of the man and the desire to start dabbling in healthy sweet snacks and desserts.  We try to stay away from processed foods, so there is a need for a healthy dessert for the times we want something sweet and fruit won’t cut it.  This recipe stood out to me because of the fact she said it tastes like a nutrigrain bar.  DONE.  I love those things and haven’t had one in ages.  I also liked how easy it seemed (and is) it would be to make.  .

This recipe originated from Oh She Glows, a vegan blog.  I was tempted to make the vegan version, however I don’t want to sue earth balance, I prefer to use an organic butter in my cooking.  If you would like a vegan version, just use the same amount of Earth Balance.  I took one shortcut, I went with the pre-made jam instead of making it myself.  I do want to make these with the homemade jam one day.  The other substitution  the lack of Kamut flour was because I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Servings: 6-10

Ingredients
For Oat Base

  • 1.5 cups regular oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s red mill all purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea sald
  • 1/2 cup Succanat sugar (can use brown sugar)
  • 1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds + 4 tbsp warm water, mixed)
  • 1/2 cup organic unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
For Strawberry Jam, use 1 cup pre-made or the ingredients below
  • 2 1/4 cup chopped strawberries chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a pan with parchment paper.  I used a 2 qt rectangular pan, but a square pan can be used.  
  2. To make the strawberry jam, in a medium sized pot add the chopped strawberries and sugar.  Heat over low until the strawberries begin to sweat and it gets a bit watery.  Once it heats through, add in the chia seeds and stir well.  Bring to a boil and simmer over low to medium heat for at least 10 minutes.  Once it has thickened a bit, remove from heat and cool 5-10 min.  You may add arrowroot powder to thicken if desired.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the chia egg and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the oat base dry ingredients (oats, flour, sucanat or brown sugar, baking soda, and salt).  In a small bowl mix the oat base wet ingredients (melted butter or earth balance, maple syrup, almond milk, and chia) and stir well.
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup of the dry oat base mixture in a separate bowl.
  6. Mix the large portion of dry oat base to the wet oat base and mix well.  Pour the oat mixture into the pan and press down with fingers.  A pastry roller can be used to smooth if necessary.  
  7. Pour the strawberry mixture or jam on top of the oats and smooth out.  Sprinkle on the reserved 1/2 cup of oat mixture.  
  8. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Allow to fully cool 30-40 minutes before gently removing from pan.  Slice and serve or store 🙂
I LOVE these.  I will definitely have these in my rotation and try different fruit toppings.  I cannot wait to use the strawberry jam recipe except on apples with cinnamon – that will be amazing too.  These are sweet, but a good substitution for the common breakfast pastry or quick grab recipe you might be using now.  Yes they have sugar in them, but they have a lot of other good things too.  Chia seeds (yes those chia seeds) are really little nutritional powerhouses.  And you get the benefit of making them at home and knowing exactly what you put in them.  
One tip I have for you before you run out for ingredients.  This one is a good one for a trip to a bulk store (like Whole Foods).  I was able to buy the ingredients for very cheap by purchasing only what I need.  I don’t bake much and I don’t need a whole bag of sucanat, but the 1/2 cup I needed was only $0.86.  The oats were a dollar and the whole wheat flour (I already had the all purpose at home) was another dollar.  Everything else is a standard thing at my house, so even if I had to buy more jam or fruit, it would be only another few dollars.  Healthy and economical?  Good deal.
Hope you enjoy these delicious bars!!  Let me know if you try them out 🙂

Top Five: Whole Body Health in 2013

So I went back and forth about what I wanted to share with you guys this week while Tabby is away.  I wanted to share something that you guys would be interested in while still talking about something that I actually know about.  And I after deciding and writing up almost a whole post I completely changed gears.  I decided to talk to you all about five quick things you can do today to improve your family’s health.

Why did I decide to talk about this?  Easy – because I think from talking to friends that people find today’s health environment overwhelming.  Eat this.  Don’t eat that.  Test this.  Read about this.  You are a bad mom/friend/wife if you cook this.  So on and so forth.  I think people get overwhelmed, I certainly have gotten that way, and don’t know what to do. This list isn’t inclusive, but it really is a great way in my experience, to start making some changes for your family that will make you all healthier and happier.

1. Meatless Mondays.  Adding one vegetarian or vegan dinner for your family a week will change your family in many ways.  First of all, it’s typically cheaper to cook a simple meal without meat and second it also is a day to try out new recipes and try new vegetables.  Most of us eat the same foods a lot.  I know I did growing up.  Now I get a lot of strange looks from my mom when she realizes that I really never repeat recipes except for a handful of favorites.  Branch out!  Try new things!  Eat some seasonal fresh vegetable based dishes and for bonus health points have a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert.  My new favorite thing is to whip my own whipped cream (incredibly easy, cream whipped until it’s stiff, then add to taste powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla extract) and put on top of sliced banana and strawberry with a few chocolate chips.  It’s so so good and so so easy. It’s a dessert you can serve your family daily and feel good because you have a nice healthy fat and carb combo that makes your body happy.

2. Shop Organic – Economically.  I tend to go for the organic if I can whenever possible because I’m really trying to cut back on the chemicals in the foods I eat.  Typically the canned and frozen organic foods are very similar in price, so it’s easy to choose organic there.  But sometimes there is a HUGE difference in price when it comes to fresh produce between organic or not.  I’ve seen the difference be sometimes 100% of the price of the non-organic food.  Obviously that will make a huge impact on your grocery bill.  Enter the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.  The Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that tend to be highest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  The Clean 15 are the fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides in the non-organic version.  So basically – if you have to make a choice, buy the regular Clean 15 items and spend the extra money on the Dirty Dozen.  I use this list regularly when shopping and it’s a great way to make educated decisions on organic food choices.

3. Move as a Family.  This is my favorite one, because it’s by far the most fun.  My husband and I have bikes and we go biking together when the weather permits.  It’s the one exercise we have in common and it’s nice to head out for a ride.  We also play Xbox kinect together – those dance and sports game work up a sweat.  These are ways for us to spend time together and also spend time not sitting down.  Other ideas are to go bowling, a walk after dinner, or play a board game like Cranium where you get up and move while playing.  Just think about what your family or significant other likes to do and go do it.  Get up and go do something now, I’ll wait…

4. Relax and Find Your Me Time.  This one is so so serious everyone.  I know between work, trying to blog, studying about nutrition/fitness, and being a wife, I feel incredibly busy.  I cannot IMAGINE how some of you feel with children or are taking care of other relatives.  But one of the worse things we can do for our bodies is to put ourselves in a state of constant stress.  Stress impacts the body in many ways, some of us overeat, some under eat,  and no matter who you are your hormones are not fans of the stress hormones.  Being over worked and over tired just leads to burn out.  So for our #4 tip – we are going to take a woosah and find time for ourselves.  Every day.  Even if it’s only 20 minutes some days.  Find some time and make it your own.  Exercise, pray, scrapbook, meditate, read a book, take a long hot shower or hot bath…whatever you need to do to feel relaxed find this.  It will make you a better person, believe me.  Not that you aren’t fabulous already, but you feel so much better when you nurture your person.  One of my favorite new habits is to do my P90x stretch DVD at night by candlelight.  I slept SO well after doing this that I wanted to do it every single night.  Work out a deal maybe with your partner to watch the kids for 30 minutes while you have your down time, then take over and let them do their thing.  Let’s take care of our minds and souls as well as our bodies.

5.Call the Doctor.  This is probably the easiest thing to do, but it’s the thing we don’t do.  When is the last time you went for a physical?  I think everyone is really good at taking the kids to their appointments, but most of us don’t go ourselves until something is wrong and it becomes an emergency.  This week add make an appointment for a physical and an appointment for the dentist to your to do list (don’t get me started on to do lists…Tabby knows I love them!).  Keep up with your health BEFORE it is a problem and you will save yourself and your family a lot of stress.  Oh and ladies…this is a gynecology appointment AND a physical with a general practitioner   Not just one or the other.  If you haven’t been in a while or are going to a new doctor make sure you know your family history, especially if you have immediate family members with illnesses that make your at higher risk for something so you can discuss this with the doctor.  Discuss with the person making your appointment that you want a full physical and that you want to fast before so they can take your cholesterol and all the other blood tests.  Make sure you are honest about anything you are feeling like being sluggish or tired a lot.  Most importantly, make a note in your smart phone to make another appointment right after you finish if you can, or to call back later for your next appointment.

I hope that you found something in here that you can use to help you and/or your family be healthier in 2013. Health is about so much more than your weight and if you are sick or not.  It’s a whole mind/body/soul connection 🙂

Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole

As I have worked harder on my weight loss, I have fallen into the habit of doing meal prep of 2-3 meals a week on Saturday or Sunday. It saves me money as well as keeps me on the straight and narrow – meaning keeps us from going out to eat. I wanted to share a new recipe I found and made this week that is extremely easy to throw together but tastes delicious and has a lot of nutrients.  Casseroles are perfect for a busy family because you can throw it together and bake.  I often have left over rice from the batch I make in the rice cooker so this was a great way to use it up.

I am going to write it out as I prepared it, but you can go to the site for the original recipe.  It has a few mistakes or typos or something so you can take that and play with it as you want.  This is my interpretation.

Mexican-Style Brown Rice Casserole 
Serves 6
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 15 oz Wegman’s mild salsa
  • 16 oz organic frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup organic mild cheddar cheese
  • 15 oz can organic refried pinto beans
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice (mine was a combo of short grain and jasmine)
  • 10 oz organic frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat a 2 qt glass dish with EVOO.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine rice, salsa, and cumin.  Spoon 1/2 of rice mixture into a prepared baking dish and spread to cover the bottom of dish
  3. In a large bowl combine refried beans, black beans, corn, cilantro, and chili powder.  Mix well and spread bean mixture on top of the rice layer.  Smooth with rubber spatula.
  4. Squeeze excess water from thawed spinach.  Sprinkle evenly over bean layer.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese.  Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  5. Place casserole in the oven and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.  Cut into 6 pieces and serve.  
I served mine with a little salsa on top instead of the suggested sour cream and had a salad on the side.  My husband had his with some roasted veggies we had left over.  This meal is incredibly filling because of all the beans and corn in it.  It’s really awesome comfort food.  The serving suggestion is to add more vegetables, but you could easily grab some tortillas and wrap these up as an amazing burrito or have a smaller serving (maybe half of one serving) with a side of eggs for a healthy and different breakfast.  
I also like these types of casseroles because they are very easy to play with to make different variations.  I already have been thinking of making a fajita version that substitutes the spinach with a layer of sauteed peppers and onions.  

Tenacious Health Challenge Group

As we get deeper into 2013 I already have had some friends drop off the healthy living resolutions they set for themselves and some others struggling to figure out what to do next.  So with that in mind, I am setting up a Tenacious Health Challenge Group that will start February 18th!

Why Tenacious Health??  Because tenacious means persistent, stubborn, and tough.  My Beachbody coaching team is called Team Tenacity so I wanted to play on words so here we are.  Point is that we are going to KICK butt together and get healthy.

Why Now?  Now because it’s a good time to get committed.  Starting a  program mid February takes you through to the spring time when the weather is nicer and it’s easier to be healthy because the sun is out more, the fruits are out in abundance, and the weather is nicer.  This is to help you through the dog days of winter and push you to start working on your health and wellness during a time where it’s easy to slip.  It’s also a good time to think about not just the exercise programs, but the Ultimate Reset as well.  I did the Reset, then rolled into exercising and I think my results were better for it.

What is it? The challenge centers around Beachbody’s challenge packs and 5 very committed challengers.  Any program you want + Shakeology + your commitment for the duration.  Challenge packs vary in price depending on what program you would like and can save you upwards of $70 on the program + shakeology.  There are ways to get discounts if you are interested in them so don’t let cost be a deterrent.  We will also enter the Beachbody Challenge.  What is the Beachbody Challenge?  It’s a contest that Beachbody runs that pays you for your awesome results for using their products.  I just entered my results from INSANITY and have my before pictures taken to submit after I finish P90x 🙂

Your coach?  Me 🙂  You get me as your coach for the whole of the program and beyond.  I’ll be here to answer questions or go find an answer if I don’t have it, to help the group stay focused, and to motivate when times are rough.  I will set up a place for us to communicate – email group or Facebook or Google Groups depending on what the people involved want and use for communication.  This isn’t just about a one on one coaching situation, it’s about a team moving forward and getting healthy together.  I’m a graduate of the Ultimate Reset and INSANITY programs and am currently working on P90x.  I have also used Turbo Fire, Turbo Jam, and Les Mills Pump, so I am familiar with a lot of the Beachbody programs and drink Shakeology pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day.  I drink my own kool aid because it tastes like weight loss, lol.

So if you are interested, please shoot me an email at healthyengineer@gmail.com and I can help you select a program or get signed up as a Coach if you are interested (this is the moolah saving option).  If you just want to check out what the challenge packs are in general look at my general site, my Ultimate Reset site, or my Shakeology site.

Hope you are interested in getting started on a healthier life this spring 🙂