SD, I Am Ready

25 Wed, 2010 § 3 Comments

We leave for San Diego tomorrow, & I could not be more excited!  I have been resisting the urge to pack for weeks!  FINALLY, this week has been all about preparing for our trip.

To keep fueled & feeling my best for SD, I have been pushing especially hard while working out & making meals that keep me feeling light  & energized.

I have been trying to stick to only fruit in the mornings for a couple weeks now.  Terry Walter’s Fruit Soup has been great for a nice pre-workout boost of energy.  Its combination of carrot juice, cantaloupe, mango & peaches is chock full of nutrients, & ground clove enhances the refreshing flavor.  I also had ginger added to the fresh carrot juice.  I am really enjoying this end-of-summer-bounty-in-a-bowl, garnished with champagne grapes; the hint of spices offers just a touch of warmth — perfect for these mornings that are becoming cooler.

I have also been devouring variations of fresh salads [piled high with sprouts Dave surprised me with] as well as Green Monsters.  I finally found a real juice bar in SLC!  The Blue Star.  Yesterday, as a post-climbing treat, I was delighted with a juice combination of romaine, bok choy, celery & watermelon.  Yum!

I will definitely make a Green Monster as pre flight fuel tomorrow & squeeze in interval training [our flight is not until 8:45am] before leaving.  Exercising makes travel much more comfortable; stimulating my muscles & blood flow should make the flight more tolerable.

Even though it is only a short flight, because I eat a small meal or snack every couple hours, packing a few goods for the plane is a must:  peaches, tea for an upset tummy & homemade Quinoa Granola will fill my carry-on [the only bag I am taking – yay].

My variation of Ashley’s original, amazingly creative, Granola.

  • Preheat oven to 375*F

~ Bring to boil & simmer about 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed:

  • 1 C Quinoa, rinsed well [I used a combination of red & white]
  • 1 Can light Coconut Milk
  • 5 Cinnamon sticks [1 tsp]
  • 2 tsp Vanilla

~ While quinoa simmers, combine:

  • ½ C Almonds, chopped
  • ½ C Cashews, chopped
  • 2 T Chia Seeds
  • ¼ C ground Flaxseeds
  • 1 T Sesame Seeds
  • Sea Salt

~ In a mixing bowl, add nut/seed mixture to cooked Quinoa.

~ Stir together:

  • 2 T Brown Rice Syrup
  • 1 T Maple Syrup
  • 1 T Coconut Oil

~ Pour over Quinoa Mixture & mix well.

~ Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

~ Bake until golden brown & almost completely dried out, ~1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

~ About halfway through baking, I sprinkled & pressed 1/2 C dried Cherries into the granola.

~ I also reduced the temperature  to 325* because it was browning too quickly.

~ Allow the granola to cool completely, before storing in an airtight container, to prevent it from going mushy.

~ I dusted a substantial amount of cinnamon over the granola before storing [I keep it in the fridge but do not think this is necessary].

In an old Yoga Journal issue, I found an amazing post flight sequence to help “get us grounded & enjoy our destination”.  It will be perfect while waiting for Dave’s sister, Christine.  I am anxious to enhance my practice, exploring new yoga classes & instructors, while in SD.

Did I mention we are going to a Padres’ game?!  Baseball is my favorite sport to watch.  Really.

Also, we will be bouldering on the beach.  Aw.

We may never come back! 🙂

~

Any tips or tricks for traveling & flying?

Dave & I will also be having a Friday date night, just the two of us, if anyone has suggestions.  [We have never been to SD.]

Just the Rock

24 Tue, 2010 § 2 Comments

Fading away in dejection, two weeks had passed; I was still depressed, lacking appetite & the desire for human interaction.  Shut the door.  Block out the world, a part of me taunted.  Curl into yourself & sleep.

Instead, I succumbed to another part urging me to get over it: I reached for the door knob; twisting it, I entered the world again.  I had to get out.  I had to live.

Today.

~

I had only attempted it a few times & it had been weeks — maybe even a month — since my last go.  As I stepped through the doors of the climbing gym, I knew my melancholy had made me weak but I bouldered anyway.  I could not hide but still needed to get away & think — no, clear my head — be alone.

Just be.

That day, I only saw the plastic.  I only felt my hands grasping, reaching to the next hold.  I keyed into my foot pointing, toeing solidly into the wall.  I felt gravity but was more aware of my body —  my muscles contracting; my breath moving in rhythm.  Falling never crossed my mind.  I simply climbed.  My heart felt happy.  In that moment, only I existed.

I have found few things with which I can connect, fold myself into & become completely present.  Every time I touch the rock, I am seeking the presence I found that day at the gym.  Unfortunately, too often, that experience is not recaptured.  I am constantly distracted by & at war with my ego. When I do find presence, I climb harder & often — though not always — with a sense of ease.  More than that though, I appreciate what it offers & enjoy climbing most during these moments.  It is when I do not limit myself with assumptions about the route, the grade, my own expectations…when my ego fades & I do not compare myself to other climbers…& when fear is overcome…I can simply be.

Only the rock & my body exist.  I simply climb.  So tuned in, it is only my subconscious reacting.   Releasing my mind, I let my body connect with the rock.  When there is more, I fall.  When I let distractions in, I fall.

Falling is not a bad thing if you are pushing your limits.  In fact, falling is even good for the ego; but when it is because of the ego, more than just falling is at stake.  It taints our experiences, leading to frustration & obsession with external concerns.

I miss climbing.  I miss tuning into my body…connecting with the nature of the rock & working with it rather than fighting against it.  I miss finding presence through this moving meditation, taking what I learn & practicing it off the rock as well as on.  I miss giving my ego a bit of a beating. 😉

It is time to get back on the rock & recapture what I have lost: to see only the rock — to see, feel & concern myself with this moment only — to gently urge myself,

Be Here Now.

~

What have you lost to the world?  Are you ready to recapture it?

Is Yours a “Chewer”?

23 Mon, 2010 § 1 Comment

Nearly every dog I have known has gone or is going though a chewing “phase”, devouring every thing in sight or at least constantly gnawing on something they shouldn’t be.

Knock on wood, but we either seriously lucked out or did something right.

Let’s assume the latter.  😉

Crate Training & Limited Roam-ability

We adopted Eisley at 5 months & immediately began “crate training”; though extremely difficult — more so on me than her — it proved to be a great approach in several ways.  One being she never had a chance to simply roam & lay claim upon the entire house; when she was out of her crate, she was always with me.  Keeping her within arms reach — or at least eye sight — made it possible for me to immediately interfer — or better yet prevent through distraction — undesirable behaviors.

Few Toys Lay About

Actually, only one.  Meet Hubert.

She knows where her toys are kept, how to ask for them & occasionally can streeeetch up to snatch one.  In order to get one of her toys, she has to perform a command such as “sit” [the one of main focus], “paw”, “down”, “spin”, etc.   Seem mean?  She never tires of these toys, left to search for something of more interest.  She also understands we are her source of “chewy & play things”.  Like all dogs, she thrives off of the attention she gets during this exchange.

We Trade

If she ever started to investigate or nibble on an off-limit item, I would gently, yet sternly, tell her “No”, then “Trade” her for a favorite, appropriate toy.  See why it is important she does not bore of these?

True Attention

Eisley gets oodles of attention, whether playing or just hanging out.  Because she is not neglected, ignored or left to her own devices, she does not need to seek attention through “bad dog” behaviors or find means of entertaining herself [i.e. more “bad dog” behaviors].  We also only play fetch, tug-o-war & such upstairs in the bedroom, so she has learned everywhere else in the house is a spot to be calm & content.

~

Some dogs are simply prone to chewing & getting into things & require extreme measures, but I would like to think our approach helped instill good behaviors.  We have never had a major incident, & I cannot recall the last time she even seemed to think about going for Dave’ slipper.  In fact, Bodhi [our cat] is more prone to eat my stuff; but that is a completely different topic.  Although, a couple weeks ago, she did snag something Bodhi had knocked onto the floor.  I turned to see her playing with a salt water taffy from Dave’s stash.  Can you blame her?  🙂

A Naked Pantry & Left to My Own Devices

20 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

I nearly succumbed to the temptation of eating primarily toast today, augmented with scraping the almond butter container clean with my last few dates & finishing off the green tea coconut ice cream straight from the pint.  However, I was determined to eat as healthily, clean & whole as possible today.  Problem is there is not much left in the way of produce around this place until our Bountiful Basket pickup tomorrow.

The fridge is all but bare; the pantry is fairly sparse.  As my tummy grumbles, I am left rummaging for any remaining scraps & pulling all the creative stops I can muster.  The result?  Some pretty bizarre, but surprisingly tasty, concoctions.

Morning Fuel:

Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are one of my absolute favorites: Mmm, slightly crispy outside, mushy inside.

  • Slice, toss with coconut oil & sea salt; bake on a sheet for about 35 minutes, turning to brown both sides if you would like.

Japanese sweet potatoes are ginormous, with taupe-colored skins.  These took nearly 50 minutes to roast.  I do not like the Japanese variety as much, but they are still tasty.  I always make plenty so I have leftovers the next day.  Last night’s leftovers became this morning’s whimsical experiment.  To reheat — & crisp & brown them a bit more — I broiled them about 12 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes on each side, until they were done to my liking.  FYI: “nearly” burnt — we will call it “blackened” — sweet pots taste reminiscent of roasted marshmallows, I am just saying. 😉

Often I will top these with almond butter, but I like to eat mostly fruit for breakfast lately & did not think plums would pair well, so…

Enter

Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes a` la Mode

I topped the taters with Extra Whipped PB-Banana Soft Serve.

I liked it.  🙂

After yoga I decided I needed something green & had just enough spinach & rice milk for a Green Monster…but I wanted more texture & protein.

Meet

Green Monster Soup

I added a generous amount of cinnamon to a bowl of Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal, then simply poured over my strawberry-spinach Green Monster & topped with pepitas [pumpkin seeds] & a chopped date.  It soaked nicely while I took photos.

Another random winner.

Lunch: the challenge.

I was craving bread but opted for a lighter favorite made from rice: a Mochi waffle.  Mmm, crispy exterior, chewy interior.  Sensing a pattern yet? 😀

  • To make waffle, cut ¼” slices [about 8] of mochi & lay cut-side down on preheated, ungreased waffle iron; close securely & cook until puffed & slightly crisp but not too hard & dry, about 3 minutes, or until your waffle iron signals it is done.  [Mine is pretty accurate].

Since this mochi was unflavored, eating it plain would have been boring & unsatisfying, but did I have anything that would make it savory & filling?  This is why, even if you are like me & generally cook your own beans, you keep at least one can on hand.  You never know when it may save the day.

On a total chance, I coarsely pureed about:

  • 1 C cooked Black Beans
  • 1 T fresh Lime Juice
  • a little cayenne
  • a little coriander
  • a dash of garlic powder

Good, but with quite the kick.  I must have been a little carried away with the cayenne.  I really wished I had had tomatoes or something to cool it down.  After some desperate searching, I came across a lonely cucumber in the bottom of the crisper.  Perfect.

Black Bean & Cucumber Mochi Waffle Appetizers

~

I cannot help but laugh while typing most of this post.  I am not suggesting you make these right away, though I really enjoyed them & certainly will replicate versions.  I simply wanted to show that even with my bare fridge, my tummy & health were saved by a little creativity & willingness to wing it. 😉

What are your healthy fall backs when the kitchen is nearing nakedness?  What random concoctions have you made out of desperation?  Share your hits & misses.

Sometimes it’s ok to Eat Mac-n-Cheese

20 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

Straight from the stove. 😛

Ok, I did not really eat it from the stove, but I did have mac & cheese a` la Dave last night.  Gasp 😮

I often use Mac-N-Cheese as an example of the modern-day disconnect people have with the food they eat.  It is also one of Dave’s favorite comfort foods.  We weened him from Kraft fairly easily years ago, & now he enjoys not-exactly-nutritious-but-certainly-less-bad-for-you Amy’s brand.  Even if it still is what it is — macaroni & cheese — at least it is organic, made with whole grains, contains no additives & apparently comes in a dairy-free version, which Dave picked up [or so he thought] with me in mind.

Since I normally do not partake in the M & C goodness, it is usually reserved as weekly Guys’ Night post-tennis, pre-zombie-killing fuel.  When I walked into the kitchen last night & was thoughtfully informed that he had left the additional grated cheese off so I could have some, how could I say ‘no’?

Is it lame how sweet I found Dave’s sans cheese gesture?  It had me smiling all night between spoonfuls of creamy noodles.

It was not bad; kind of tasty in its own way, especially amped up with Wild Planet’s tuna*.

No need to worry: this is not going to become a staple in my diet, & I balanced it out with a beautiful, fresh salad.

You should know these are the best strawberries from a local grower in the area.  If you know anyone with a strawberry patch, snatch kindly ask to trade goods or services for a bushel of their berries.  You will not be sorry.  Oh, & I love that people always go for the BIGGEST berries, because the tiniest & darkest are always the sweetest.  More for me. 😉

So…yesterday was supposed to be an uber clean eating day with lots of vegetables only…now I have had pasta twice this week…& my tummy let me know it was actually not dairy-free [it grumbled all night].  Do I feel guilty?  Yes. No. A little.  It is ok to leave some wiggle room in our dietary convictions & not be crazy intransigent or hard on ourselves, which carries its own risks.  Yes, actions become habits, but bending occasionally to appreciate something more truly has its place in life.

As I ate my salad, I was consumed by how blessed I am to have access to fresh, locally-grown produce.  I could not stop thinking about raiding my mother’s garden in a couple weeks.  I loved how each flavor stood out — that even each strawberry was slightly different from the last — yet the entire dish mingled & complemented each other deliciously.

Did I feel as connected to my bowl of mac & cheese?  No, but I did feel connected to the hands that prepared it.

All & all, my venture into the box: worth it, & I survived.  🙂

~

Do you ever feel connected through the food that someone has so lovingly prepared for you [even if it is not your favorite dish]?  Or do we too often just quickly fill our tummies without giving thought to our hearts?

*After learning how most canned tuna is processed, I find it a shame consumers are led to believe this is a cheap & “healthy” source of food.  Wild Planet is sustainably-(poll & troll)-caught, hand-packed raw, cooked only once & not diluted with additional oil or water.  The end result is a more ethical product that retains more nutrients & all the naturally-occurring Omega 3.  Maybe it is not an ideal whole food, but a good option when you do not live near the coast.  Wild Planet is definitely not “cheap” either, so we do not have it all that often; because no draining is required, it has been a great protein choice for camping, hiking, etc.

Cycling: Reconnecting to My City & Myself

19 Thu, 2010 § 5 Comments

I first began driving less & bike commuting as another means to stay fit while saving money & decreasing my carbon footprint.  This simply seemed practical as biking is the most “fuel” efficient means of transportation; I did not understand the recreational joy cyclist found on the road.  One ride later, I got it.

Few things feel as freeing as being out on the road…open, exposed…feeling the air…my own body propelling me forward.  It is a time to slow down & really see the world I live in.  I have developed a deeper connection to the city.  I notice places & people that are otherwise a blur as I zip by in a car.  I am able to explore & feel more at liberty to randomly take a side street I have never ventured before.  I have found quaint neighborhoods this way & small, local shops that are usually overshadowed by massive conglomerate chain stores.  I am able to enjoy where I am.  Ok 😉 not always, but I try.

I have talked to many people who would love to trade in some of their car commuting for biking, but are deterred by the process: “it takes more time”, “too much planning is involved”, “route finding seems overwhelming”, “too many possible obstacles”, “need an ‘expensive’ bike”.  It seems unrealistic for them to pedal rather than stick to their vehicles on roads with which they are familiar.

You know those dreaded backed-up intersections & traffic jams that make you cringe as you approach?  I generally coast right through or easily find a detour.  That travel time people are so concerned with stretching?  Mine is not lengthened by much: my 15-20 minute vehicle commute to the office becomes only a 20-30 minute bike commute depending on traffic lights.  Plus, I have already sweated at least twice for the day.  Not much more planning is involved, & I become more efficient & effective with my time [truly productive rather than just busy].  As with anything new you endeavor, that overwhelming sense is soon replaced by familiarity & assurance.  Obstacles do arise, like flat tires, fallen chains, etc., but I know many bikers who can take care of these & be back en route in mere minutes.

You do not need an expensive bike.  I started commuting on a mountain bike & soon added road tires [made such a difference]; eventually I landed a vintage Schwinn road bike for $5 that took only $70 to fix up [made an even bigger difference]; finally, after the Schwinn was giving me more grief than not, I seriously upgraded to Cannondale’s Synapse Feminine 5.  Yes, of all my bicycle flings, my new Cannondale takes the cake, but I managed without it for quite some time — years in fact.

Biking has not been restricting.

Biking has been LIBERATING.

I can slow down & really see things, or I can push it & fly.  Initially a road snob, I am now anxious to experience more freedom on my bike & have been drawn to the trails more & more [though I am still adjusting to the technical aspect of mountain biking].

Not only has biking made me more socially connected to the city & nature, but I have also realized an incredible sense of social RESPONSIBILITY.

On a bike, exposed, I am not privileged to the anonymity which motorists often take advantage.  In a car, if I blow through a red light or cut someone off, will this person ever see — or recognize me — again?  Likely not.  On a bike, I stand out; I am probably seen by the same people almost daily.

I have also realized a couple other facts people seem to glaze over once familiar with driving.  1. Driving/cycling requires constant attention in order to react immediately to changing variables [ie. road, weather, other commuters, animals, pedestrians, etc].  2. Vehicles = 2 ton Death Machines [& there are a lot of them out there].

While texting, applying makeup, changing the radio, talking on a cell, daydreaming, etc., people seem to forget the average car weighs 3,000-4,000 pounds; & trucks — which scatter much of SLC’s roads — range from 7,000-13,000 pounds.  Just because many of us have been driving for years & can now do it on auto-pilot does not mean that we should.  Seeing this from the standpoint of my bike saddle has made me truly grasp the potential damage — & mortal consequences — vehicles can inflict.  Biking has made me a more alert, “aware” commuter — on my bike as well as behind the wheel.

In the saddle, because I am more aware of my surroundings & others, we connect.

I do not know what it is, but you cannot not wave, nod, simply smile or otherwise acknowledge other cyclists as you pass.  When was the last time you found yourself smiling at a fellow motorist simply because you shared your automotive ways?  😉  What about making eye contact with a passerby walking his dog?  It just does not happen.

I also connect with local business, many of which even give support by offering cyclists special deals & discounts for bike commuting.  Check out www.BicycleBenefits.org for participating vendors in your city. 

Most of all, cycling is empowering.

Each pedal stroke…each breath…every twitch of my muscles…brings me closer to my destination.  I value  my body even more as it drives me forward.  🙂  Am I slimmer, more toned since I have been biking?  Probably.  Photos seem to suggest this, but I am not obsessed with these aspects.  My focus is on how my body feels:

Strong & Capable

Do I love every aspect of commuting on my bike?  Not always.  For instance, the curse of the headwind, which I always seem to have even if I was just biking the opposite direction only an hour ago.  Is it difficult to find the motivation when it is cold?  Yes.  When my whole body is tired?  Oh yeah.  When I have 8 sets of sheets to carry?  Uh, yikes.  Some days it is not feasible; most, it is.

Anything challenging is worth putting energy into; from it, I reap even more.

~

What do you love about biking?  Do you have struggles or hesitations?  What other ways have you connected with your city/surroundings & your own body?

Roasted Broccoli & Lemon “Pesto”

18 Wed, 2010 § 3 Comments

Dave LOVES pasta.

Not exactly health food, so I did not necessarily indulge this pleasure very often in the past.  I have realized now though, as active individuals, having some form of whole grain pasta once-a-week will not kill us or completely sabotage our fitness goals.

Enter Tuesday Pasta Nights.

However, I often find pasta too heavy & hate the way I am left feeling afterward; I do not love marinara & steer away from dairy for the most part .   Oh what to do…

More Vegetables; Less Pasta.

Obviously, I am always psyched to find or create lighter pasta dishes that satisfy Dave’s noodle craving without leaving me gut shot & sad.  My secret of using more vegetables than pasta does just the trick.  Keeping portions small & pairing it with a light protein, like fish, also helps from weighing us down.

This “pesto” is not really like pesto at all, but if you chop the broccoli on the finer side [I left it chunky this time], it creates a pesto-type look.  It has become a favorite & reoccurring staple of pasta nights at our house.  This week, it paired very nicely with another simple favorite, baked lemon tilapia, which cooks up in about the same amount of time.

Roasting concentrates the flavors & caramelizes the natural sugars.  A touch of olive oil gives it a crisp, delicious finish.

  • Drizzle EVOO over 1-2 small heads* of Broccoli; add salt & pepper.
  • Bake in preheated 400*F oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning over midway through cooking time.
  • It will look dark — blackened almost — & become tender when roasted through.  [These are close, but not quite blackened yet.]
  • Place Tilapia fillets in lightly oiled baking dish
  • Add an extra small pad of butter [we use 1 tsp? Earth Balance] to each.
  • Slice a Lemon into thin rounds & layer slices to cover each fillet.
  • Loosely cover with foil & bake for 15 minutes; remove foil & bake for another 5-10 minutes until fish flakes easily.
  • Meanwhile prepare 2 small servings of pasta according to directions.

When the broccoli & fish have about 5 minutes left, saute:

  • 2 small, sliced Leeks [white part only] in ½ T EVOO for 1 minute.  [Crushed garlic is also a nice addition or substitute.]

Add:

  • 1 ½ T fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½-1 T Mirin [or other white wine]
  • grated Lemon Peel [about ½-1 tsp] would also be good to add now.

Saute until Leeks are soft & translucent.

Add:

  • ½ T Earth Balance, stirring until melted.  [Adding a small amount at the end lends more flavor without too much extra fat.]
  • Coarsely chop broccoli & toss with the strained pasta along with the leek & lemon sauce.
  • Garnish with toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Serve along side tilapia.

My sister has had success using this same roasting technique with Brussels Sprouts.

*Do not throw out the stalks!  Cut & discard the dry ends, then simply peel or slice the rough outer skin [discard] & chop; they cook up nicely quick boiled [bring to boil covered in a very small amount of water, simmer 2-3 minutes until bright green].  We do stems & florets like this, then toss with a simple dressing, seeds & quinoa.  I saved these for Eisley. 🙂

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