If you follow my blog at all - you know that I am a workout junkie. I probably averaged 10-12 hours a week of workout time for the past couple of years. I estimate that 70% of that time was spent on cardiovascular exercise and the rest was strength and flexibility work. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I LOVE to workout, but I do love the feeling and benefits that I get when I am FINISHED with a workout.
I've been doing the same series of workouts for the past few years. I ride a stationary spin bike almost every single day and I have a collection of workout DVD's that I follow 5 days a week. I've been putting some of these DVD's in the player for over 10 years now and believe me when I tell you that I can recite them word for word - even the really terrible Tony Horton jokes. I've added new videos to my collection throughout the years but I've definitely been feeling like my workout schedule was in need of some changes.
At the beginning of January, I found a new collection of Barre workout DVD's to add to my workout circuit. When I tried to incorporate these new workouts into my already full schedule, I realized that I needed to revamp my workout schedule so that I could workout smarter instead of longer. I'd been doing the same workouts for so long that I didn't even realize that my workouts weren't meeting my exercise needs anymore. Over the years, I continued to add workouts to my schedule without taking the time to really assess what I wanted to get out of my exercise time.
My exercise goals have changed as I've gotten older. I'm more focused on my strength and flexibility today than I was 10 years ago but over time, I had phased out all of my yoga and strength workouts. It was a decision that I made based on efficiency. Spending an hour on flexibility felt like a waste of my workout time when I could be doing something to work my heart AND my muscles at the same time. I know, I know - wrong thinking. The good news is that I've finally come to realize the importance of adding these workouts back into my schedule.
My revamped workout schedule actually involves LESS workout time per week. My new schedule has 7 hours of workout time per week. 3 of those hours are devoted specifically to strength training. (arms, legs, core, abs, back) 1 hour is spent doing yoga or other similar flexibility workouts. The remaining 3 hours are spent doing some sort of cardiovascular exercise. I have to say that I'm super excited about this much more manageable workout schedule. It was just the shake up that I needed to get inspired to workout again.
It wouldn't make any sense for me to start a new workout program without pairing it with a healthy diet. No matter how much or how often I work out, my weight is more influenced by my diet. Creating healthy, pre and post workout meals has become more of a priority as the workout itself. One of my favorite post workout meals includes this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. It's nutritious and loaded with great fuel for tired muscles and bodies.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Cold, rainy January days are perfect squash soup days. A big bowl of this is just the thing that I need to warm me from the inside out today.
Happy New Year!!
Anyone else feel like they need a sugar detox after overindulging over the holidays? I normally do a complete pantry clean out during the first week of the new year to get rid of all the excess sugar in the house but quite honestly, there isn't a whole lot of sugar left for me to throw away today. Apparently, I was anxious about the impending sugar pillage because I consumed all of the sugar last month without leaving anything to chance. Obviously, I'm in need of a sugar detox now more than ever. It's not going to be easy but I'm ready.
A few months ago I decided to go cold turkey and completely eliminate sugar from my diet. It was kind of a disaster. I was grumpy, irritable and I craved sugar 24/7. You can ask my family - they'll attest to the fact that I (and consequently everyone else) was miserable. This time, I'm taking a more reasonable approach. My plan is to reduce my ridiculous consumption of white sugar and replace it with smaller amounts of more natural sweeteners like maple syrup and molasses.
My plan is to trick my brain into thinking that I I don't need sugar by eating lots of foods with big, bold flavors. This Apple Walnut Quinoa Salad is really tasty and the touch of maple syrup in the dressing adds just enough sweetness to satisfy my overactive sweet tooth.
Apple Walnut Quinoa Salad
1/3 cup olive oil
Whisk together dressing ingredients. Combine salad ingredients in large bowl.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.
Did you do a pantry clean out this week? What things did you throw away? What did you buy at the grocery store to replace the things that you threw away? Send me a comment with your thoughts.
No matter how hard I try, I can never out-bless my parents. They truly are one of the great blessings in my life.
When they found out that Ben and I were planning a trip to Hawaii, they offered to travel 700 miles to our house in Georgia and dog sit our crazy Weimaraner for the week and a half that we were gone. That in and of itself is a full time job but while they were here, they also tackled house and yard projects that had been on our to-do list for quite a while. At the end of our fabulous trip, we came home to a sparkling clean home (and driveway) and an extremely exhausted pooch.
In preparation for their house/dog sitting visit, I put together a couple of simple casseroles and soups for my parents and put them in the freezer. I had no idea that while we were away, my mom would restock our freezer with her own amazing food for us. There's nothing like coming home from vacation to a well stocked refrigerator and a homemade apple pie and homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs in the freezer. Did I mention that it's impossible to out-bless my parents?
Even when I'm not expecting house guests, I like to make quick breads to keep in my freezer. One of my favorites is this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I love this bread because it's dairy free but it's rich in wonderful warm Fall spices and flavors - and chocolate chips!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
14 ounce can pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
This recipe made one big loaf and two mini loaves of breed. My large loaf of banana bread sunk in the middle as it cooled. That is usually an indication it's underbaked and could have used a few more minutes in the oven. That certainly didn't stop us from eating it though.
Why is it that we make a distinction between company food and everyday food? Shouldn't our everyday meals be good enough to serve special guests? Perhaps we're overestimating the expectations of our guests. Is it possible that they're appreciative for even the simplest of meals?
I hardly ever serve uncomplicated and simple meals to my guests. It's not that I'm trying to prove myself as a qualified cook, food is just my way of showing my guests that they're worth the time and effort that it took for me to prepare a complex meal. I recognize that not everyone shares my theory that a sophisticated meal is an act of genuine love, humility and appreciation but I still can't seem to stop myself from pulling out all the stops when guests come for dinner.
As much as I would like for the meal that I serve to guests to not be a reflection of my affection, I feel like they're linked too closely in my mind to separate. Food = Love. That's just how I roll and it's not likely that that will ever change. Most of my guests will never get served meatloaf and it's not because I have snooty, uptight dinner guests. It's simply because I love them and I'm able to express my affection through pork roast better than I can through meatloaf.
I would categorize most of the recipes that I share on my blog as everyday foods but today I'm sharing a company food recipe. My roasted pork with apples and potatoes takes just the right amount of effort and care to really set it apart as company food.
Roasted Pork with Apples and Potatoes
1 pound pork tenderloin
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch wedges
1 large braeburn apple, sliced
6 ounces haricots verts
3 Tablespoons chicken stock
3 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Slice pork and arrange over vegetables. Drizzle pan sauce over pork.
What better side dish for a roasted pork, apple and potato dinner than homemade applesauce?
This recipe just screams Fall comfort food but who says you can't eat roasted pork and apples in the Spring? This recipe was a big hit and I will be making it again when the weather turns cooler after our annual trip to the apple orchard.
It's no secret that I love pumpkin. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, you name it. If it's got pumpkin in it - I love it. I love pumpkins so much in fact, that I try and model my life after a pumpkin.
I'm kidding of course but I do have mad love for the pumpkin. I might be the only person in the world that's still baking pumpkin recipes in the middle of February. If you've got a pumpkin fascination like me, you'll understand and you will NOT want to wait until Fall to make these Mini Pumpkin and Pear Stratas. They are REALLY good.
Mini Pumpkin and Pear Stratas
1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 french bread loaf, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups chopped bartlett pears
3/4 cups dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Bake 25 minutes at 375. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Sift powdered sugar over tops before serving.
I put my batch of stratas together the night before I wanted to serve them. I filled the muffin tins, covered it with plastic wrap and then tucked them in my refrigerator overnight. When I got up in the morning, I popped the pan into the oven and we were were enjoying these piping hot pumpkin stratas in no time. There's no shame in enjoying pumpkin recipes in February - right? #pumpkinallyearlong
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