Sunday, April 25, 2010

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Eat well, Live Well, Be Well -

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Belated Earth Day.
Every year I like to plant a tree on Earth Day.  This year though, I opted to start a small garden.  I’m always hesitant to garden because I think I have a black thumb.  I also am not impressed with my non-existent gardening skills.   This year though I decided to forget about all my past failed attempts, and go for it… with the help of the  EarthBox. The EarthBox is the answer to all of us who think we are doomed to fail at growing our own fruits and vegetables, or who forget to water everyday, or who don’t know what type of soil and fertilizer to use.  The EarthBox requires little maintenance and takes the guess-work out of the process.

I know.  I know.  It can’t be that hard to put a seed in the ground and water it and a few months later have some food.   But apparently I can’t handle that, so I’ve decided to boost my gardening confidence with the help of two EarthBoxes.
I’ll share with you all the journey of two cherry tomato plants, 2 red bell pepper plants, 2 orange bell pepper plants, a sweet banana pepper plant, and a hot banana pepper plant!

Here are the pictures from planting day, April 17th.

The Goods!
Tomatoes Week 1
Tomatoes at Planting

Peppers at Planting

After I planted the plants, they were looking a little weak!  By the next morning they had their mojo back!

And after one week, this is what “my garden” is looking like!

Tomatoes After 1 Week

Peppers after 1 Week*

*  So I know what you are thinking!  The little one in the top right hand corner of the Peppers family isn’t doing so hot!   He is making me feel bad.  I know I went out of town for 3 days this week, but I watered before and I watered when I got home.  Plus the EarthBox is self-watering, and the box was not low on water when I got home.  Plus, all his cousins are doing good, so I’m not sure what is going on with him.  I gave Orange Pepper plant some lovin’ this morning and I hope tomorrow is a new day for the little one!

On a more positive note – look how much they’ve all grown (except the “little one”) in one week!  I can’t wait to see what 8-10 weeks bring!

Eat well,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Journey into Spinning

The story starts with an injury.  I remember the day very well.  We were on our 17 mile run just coming down from the Ringling Bridge.  I had been training with a group out of Fleet Feet Sarasota for my first marathon - the 2009 Disney marathon. Just as we were at the bottom of the bridge with about 2.5 miles left to the store, I turned to my friend - a much more expereinced runner than I - and said, "My foot hurts.  Everyone morning when I get up I feel a shooting pain up from my heel."

Looking back, I was so naive. I was new to distance running, so I've never experienced the injuries that come along with it.  Growing up a swimmer, I didn't have to worry about foot or knee injuries. My friend turned to me and said, "You have plantar fasciitis." 

I finished the run, went home to take a nap, woke up, stepped down, confirmed the shooting pain in my heel, and began my obsessive internet search on this condition.  I was 99% certain that I had plantar fasciitis so I began the treatment process.  I (reluctantly) stopped running.  I started sleeping in the Strassburg Sock.  I wore one of three pairs of shoes with either inserts in them or great arch support (any fashion sense was thrown out the window during this time).  I began seeing a chiropractor for the first time in my life to get Active Release Technique (ART).  I switched to a heavy swimming workout.  And then finally, after a few months, I began spinning!  (Just an FYI - I did (barely) complete the Disney Marathon in 2009)

I was traveling for work, working out at a YMCA in Fernandina Beach, FL when the spin instructor came onto the cardio floor and started asking (begging) for people to join her spin class.  There was only one person in there who came often, but the others who joined were all new.  I don't know that lady's name, but THANK YOU for bringing me in there for change!  I've always seen the "spinners,"  but I was always intimidated to jump in there myself.

That was nearly 2 years ago, and I've been addicted to spinning ever since. It is a workout that isn't hard on the body like running, but it gets you moving and those endorphins high.  Nothing like some bumping music and sweat dripping off your face to start your day!

I encourage you all to try a spin class. In a 45 minute class you will burn anywhere from 500-650 calories!  You don't need any fancy gear to do it either.

A Beginner's Guide to Spinning 
  • Show up to class at least 20 minutes early especially if you are taking a class at a peak time (5pm - 7pm). 
  • Most gyms have a "sign-in" system (sign a list, grab a number, or sign a list where your sign in spot corresponds to your bike number, etc.).  Be sure to inquire about this at the front desk when you arrive.
  • Choose a bike.  Some things I look at when choosing a bike at my current gym.  You probably wouldn't be aware of these things when you are just beginning, but after a few classes you will start to know bikes you like.
    - Location, Location, Location.  Are you a front-row Joe or a back seat driver?
    - Is it a newer bike or older bike?  I can tell because the newer ones are not rusted near the pedals.
    - Is the seat narrow or wide?  The solid black seats are narrower and hurt my bum more, so I like the black and grey seats.   
  • Tell the teacher you are new.  She/he will help you adjust your bike to the correct settings.  
  • Mount your bike and test things out a bit.  Is your seat far enough forward?  Is your seat high enough?  Are your handlebars at the right height?  After a few minutes you might want to tweak some things to ensure a comfortable ride.
  • The nob in the center of your bike controls your resistance.  For your first class keep things light.  Over time though you will look back and realize that at the beginning you thought you were kicking ass, but really you just had about 1/10 the resistance as  your power house neighbor.  
  • Bring a large bottle of water and a towel (unless your gym supplies them)
  • Don' think you have to go out and buy cycling shoes to spin.  Your regular running shoes will work just fine as a beginner.  If you decide this is something you'd like to spend more time doing, then you can invest in a pair of cycling shoes.  You will need MTB shoes with SPD cleats. (Finally after all this time, I've invested in a pair of cycling shoes - Specialized BG SportMTB Shoes.  The verdict is still out on how comfortable I think they are.)
  • After the class be sure to discuss with your instructor anything on the bike that wasn't quite right, or if everything was great, REMEMBER your settings so the next class you can easily set up your bike to your liking.
  • Enjoy the adventure.
Experienced Spinners: What to do if you can't make it to a Spin Class?

This weekend I was talking to a lady before class started.  She was telling me that she used to spin all the time but with her new job, her schedule won't sync up with the class times our Y is offering.  I suggested that she create her own workout by finding spinning programs/playlists online, loading her iPod, and creating a solo class on the spin bikes in the cardio room.

If you find yourself in the same situation - making excuses on why you can't attend class - download these songs and get spinning on your own.  If nothing else, these songs will crossover nicely to any cardio routine you do.

I found this playlist from the blog - Spinning Music.  There are tons of great workouts there, so be sure to check it out.  You might just find a few that hit the right note for you.

Best of 2009 Spin Mix

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas (4:49):  This song has been on heavy rotation on my iPod since it came out.  It’s one of those tunes that just makes you want to move.  Warm up your legs with some easy spinning and throw in a few dynamic upper body stretches.
Sexy Bitch (feat. Akon) – David Guetta (3:16): I am such a bad feminist for liking this song… but I do.  It reminds me of a lawyer I knew when I was first practicing.  He was about 25 years older than I was and continually said inappropriate things to women.  But the thing was – it didn’t come from a place of malice.  He adored his wife, and thought highly of women.  You could just tell.  I had a huge soft spot for him.  And this song is kind of like that.    Let’s tackle some small rolling hills to get going.  First, we climb out of the saddle, then sit down and sprint.  For an extra challenge, do the sprints standing.  Here we go!  First hill: C: 0:15 – 0:30, S: 0:30 – 0:45.  Second hill: C: 0:45 – 1:15, S: 1:15 – 1:45.  Third hill: C: 1:45 – 2:45, S: 2:45 – 3:15.
Love Drunk – Boys Like Girls (3:47): More sprints?  Sure! Three of them: 30/45/50 seconds at 0:48 – 1:20, 1:45 – 2:28, 2:38 – 3:28.  Wanna do ‘em standing?  You bet!
Right Round (feat. Ke$ha) – Flo Rida (3:27): Crank that tension up to 6 or 7/10 and  do some random lifts: 4/8/2.
Love Game (Chu Fu Ghettohouse  Fix) (feat. Marilyn Manson) – Lady GaGa (5:21):  We deserve a 45 second rest.  Give your shoulders a roll and take a big drink.  The second large hill starts here.  This one’s a fast standing climb.  We’re going to alternate between regular and aggressive stances, 15 seconds each, then 30, then 45, then 60.
Waking Up in Vegas – Katy Perry (3:19): More sprints, this time at each chorus: 15/15/45.  They’re at 0:47 – 1:02, 1:29 – 1:44, and 2:22 – 3:07.  Shorter sprint intervals are the perfect time for new riders to try a standing sprint or two.
No You Girls – Franz Ferdinand (3:40):  More high tension lifts – 7/10.  Do 8 counts to the bridge, then 4, then 2 for the choruses.
Good Girls Go Bad (feat. Leighton Meester) – Cobra Starship (3:18): Okay, there’s only one big, 7.5 minute hill between us and the showers.  Roll the tension back to 4/10 for this fast climb.  Take a posture break and switch to a standing jog for the choruses.  Remind new riders and those who’ve been away from the bike for a while to take a break when they need to.  The transition between songs here is a natural spot to kick back and reload.  Advanced riders, keep it going for the whole 7.5 minutes.
Fire Burning – Sean Kingston (4:03): Keep the climb going, and keep it fast.  This time we’re going to do at least three tension increases, while maintaining the pace.  Shoot for pleasantly thrashed by the end of the ride.
Africa (feat. Culture) [Radio Edit] – Karl Wolf (3:52):  Ahhh….. we made it.  Roll the tension back to 2/10 and take a few minutes to spin easy.  We’ll lower our heart rates and do some static upper body stretches on the bike, then climb off and treat our quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to nice long stretches.
Down (feat. Lil Wayne) – Jay Sean (3:32):  Some extra cool-down and goodbye music.

Here are some other sites to get spin programs from:
Spin Freak

Enjoy the journey.

Be well,

      Wednesday, March 31, 2010

      Peanutty Udon Noodles and Tofu Salad


      Serves 6

      Creamy peanut butter and salty tamari anchor this hearty tofu-udon dish. The silky noodles, sauce and cabbage accented with bits of color from the carrots and radishes make for a satisfying meal when served warm, at room temperature or even chilled.


      1/2 cup natural peanut butter
      1/4 cup honey
      6 to 7 tablespoons tamari
      1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
      1 teaspoon garlic chile sauce (optional)
      3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
      2 tablespoons sesame oil
      20 ounces tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-thick slices
      10 ounces dried udon noodles
      3 cups chopped napa cabbage, green part only
      3 carrots, sliced
      1 bunch red radishes, quartered
      1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts


      In a food processor, mix together peanut butter, honey, 3 tablespoons of the tamari, vinegar, chile sauce, garlic, and 2 tablespoons warm water and puree to make a sauce. Set aside.

      Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, cook tofu on first side for approximately 7 minutes. Carefully sprinkle tofu with half of the remaining 3 or 4 tablespoons tamari and cook for about 4 more minutes or until the first side is golden brown. Flip tofu and sprinkle second side with the remaining tamari. Cook until golden brown, then transfer tofu to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to let drain.

      Cook udon noodles according to package directions, drain and transfer to a large bowl. In a large pot with a steamer basket, steam cabbage, carrots and radishes for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Combine noodles with vegetables and mix in reserved peanut sauce. Top with peanuts and serve.


      Per serving (about 11oz/314g-wt.): 510 calories (200 from fat), 22g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1390mg sodium, 59g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 19g sugar), 24g protein

      Curry-Coconut Peanut Sauce

      From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

      Makes 4 1/2 Cups

      This sauce should come with a warning: One spoonful will have you hooked. Fortunately, it complements almost anything from vegetables to poultry and tofu.

      1 teaspoon canola oil
      1 small red onion, minced
      3 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 teaspoons)
      1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
      4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
      4 teaspoons curry powder
      4 teaspoons cumin
      1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
      5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
      1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
      5 teaspoons tamari
      4 teaspoons honey
      1/8 cup lime juice
      1/8 cup ketchup
      3/4 cup water


      Heat canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, serrano pepper, and ginger until onion is translucent. Add curry powder and cumin; sauté over low heat for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, cilantro, tamari, honey, lime juice, ketchup, and water. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking often. Reduce the heat; simmer for 10 minutes.


      Per serving (1/4 cup/49g-wt.): 80 calories (60 from fat), 7g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 140mg sodium, 5g total carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 2g protein

      Lettuce Wraps with Chile Peanut Sauce

      Recipe and Photo from Whole Foods

      Serves 4

      While appearing elaborate, lettuce wraps are actually rather easy and fun to prepare. This tempting Asian recipe emphasizes bean thread noodles and peanuts, though the flavors and combinations are limited only by your imagination. Try sautéed chicken or beef, dried shrimp or carrots if you wish. Serve with chile, peanut and hoisin sauce on the side. Leftovers are delicious all tossed together for a quick and simple salad the following day.


      Chile Peanut Noodles
      3 ounces dried bean thread noodles
      1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
      3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
      1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
      1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari
      2 teaspoons chile sauce
      2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

      Lettuce Wraps
      1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
      1/2 cup dehydrated coconut flakes
      1/2 cup toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
      1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
      4 limes, quartered
      1 head butter lettuce, such as Boston
      Hoisin sauce


      For the chile peanut noodles, soften noodles in medium pot of hot water until tender, about 15 minutes. Bring noodles to a boil and cook 1 minute, then drain and set aside. Using a food processor, mix together the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, lime juice, shoyu or tamari, chile sauce, garlic, and 1/3 cup warm water until combined thoroughly. Toss noodles with 1/2 cup of the chile dressing. Reserve remaining dressing, and set noodles and dressing aside.

      For the lettuce wraps, arrange cilantro, coconut, peanuts, onions, limes, lettuce, hoisin sauce, chile noodles, and reserved chile dressing in separate bowls. Let guests create their own lettuce wraps by topping lettuce leaves with any or all of the items as they like.


      Per serving * (about 8oz/221g-wt.): 540 calories (270 from fat), 30g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 61g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 23g sugar), 15g protein *Does not include sauces

      Kid - Friendly Recipe: Apple Sandwich with Peanut Butter and Granola

      Serves 2

      Kids will love to help you make this healthy snack since it’s fun to spread the nut butter and sprinkle the chocolate chips. No corer in the kitchen drawer? Slice the apples into rounds first then use a small cookie cutter to remove the core from the center of each slice. Wrap sandwiches tightly and tuck them into lunchboxes, if you like.


      2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
      1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
      3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
      2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
      3 tablespoons granola


      If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

      Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.


      Per serving (about 7oz/192g-wt.): 300 calories (150 from fat), 16g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 36g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 25g sugar), 8g protein