Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hump Day To Do List

  1. Work late since you left early yesterday.

  2. Change into workout gear and drive straight to gym from work.

  3. Run on treadmill for >10 minutes without stopping, if possible

  4. Zumba!!!

  5. Shower

  6. Nosh on yummy veggie burrito leftovers from La Pinata (they actually saute mushies, zucchini, and corn in that bad boy instead of just boring ol' beans & rice!)

  7. Make miso soup for lunches for the rest of the week

That should pretty much keep me busy tonight!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Adventures

What a whirlwind of weekend adventuring! It was overall a complete success and a lot of fun. Saturday, I went to my hometown and spent a lovely day with my close lady friends. We watched a few episodes of Buffy and got sushi take-out as per Simone's request. It was her b-day on Friday, so what she wanted was what she got! Not that I'm complaining - I love both of those things! Before I got together with them, I spent the early afternoon with my parents at my mom's house. She recently returned from a nearly 2 week trip to Ireland and had lots of souvenirs for me to ogle over. We hooked her camera up to her tv and ran through her 700+ pictures as a slideshow while she narrated. It worked out quite nicely, actually. She hadn't deleted the bad pictures yet, but it was ok overall.

I made Simone Rainbow Tie-dye Cupcakes from my new fave food blog I posted last week (see her post with pictures here). I thought they were perfectly perfect for Simone and they turned out really well!

I think I probably got the most compliments on the frosting, which was some kind of butter-cream. Maybe because it was so dark in the bar? I have to say, however, that the frosting was DELISH! Now I am no baker, so I was extremely proud of the final product, even though Ryan did the sprinkle job:

I just had to share, since I am so proud of how they turned out! So here are the recipes, from

Perfect White Cupcakes
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

makes 12


1 cup cake flour

½ cup whole milk, at room temperature

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard size cupcake tin with paper liners. Spritz each with nonstick cooking spray.

Lightly whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract in large glass measuring cup.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand electric mixer and add butter; beating at low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no large clumps of flour.

Add 3/4 of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 20 seconds longer at low speed.

Evenly distribute the batter in the cupcake tin. (for rainbow cupcakes: divide the batter into 4 or 5 bowls and carefully mix 2-4 drops of food coloring into each one. I used red, blue, green, yellow, and a 5th bowl for red+blue=purple. Layer each color into the tin until about 3/4 full and slightly swirl with a toothpick - not too much or else it can turn brown.)

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan carefully and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

The Best Whipped Frosting
makes enough to frost a 9″ layer cake or one dozen cupcakes generously (she says, "generously", and TOTALLY means it - I had waaaay too much frosting leftover for cupcakes!)

Recipe adapted from Missy Dew on TastyKitchen

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

In a medium saucepan, whisk one cup of milk with 5 tablespoons of flour. Heat over medium until the mixture begins to sputter, whisking constantly. Continue to stir as the mixture thickens. You will know it’s done when it reaches the consistency of thick cake batter, after about 7 minutes of heating and whisking. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and set aside to cool COMPLETELY.

Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a hand held mixer, beat 2 sticks of softened butter (1 cup) with 1 cup of granulated sugar until light, fluffy, and white in color, about 3 solid minutes of beating on medium-high speed. You want the sugar to be totally incorporated into the butter.

Be sure that the milk/flour mixture has completely cooled, and add it to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat all ingredients for about 1 minute on high speed, scraping down the bowl halfway, until they are smooth and well blended. The frosting should be as light and fluffy as whipped cream.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saag Tofu

Current Weight: 148.6 lbs
Goal Weight (by 1/11/12): 135 lbs
Delta to lose: 13.6 lbs

I didn't lose any weight this week. Poop on a stick! I didn't gain any weight this week, so that's something. But a little frustrated, I am. *Sigh* Just keep swimming... It will just be that much more motivation for me to be a good girl this weekend. Between Simone's b-day festivities and company picnics.... it's not going to be easy. But I can do it. I have to do it, if I want things to change.

I just joined and had way too much fun adding books that I love to my library! After going to the library the other day and picking up Shade's Children by Garth Nix, I am on a renewed mission to read more (again). When I was BART-ing to school in San Francisco every day, I was reading non-stop to keep my brain from getting physics-fried! But I got stuck reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and have somehow lost interest. So I am starting another book. Hopefully someday I can finish that one, but it's stalling me for now. I keep meaning to read A Discovery of Witches, which my mom lent me awhile ago, but the library beckoned (I wanted some Learn to Speak Spanish cds for my commute) and I can't leave that place without a minimum of 1 book (usually 2 or 3).

I am feeling pretty lethargic today. Gotta gear up for the gym and then making cup-cakies for Simone! Weeee! I haven't been sleeping well all week, so let's just hope I don't fall asleep while those cupcakes are in the oven. Not likely to happen, but still.

Brekkie (10+0+65+24+25+0 = 124 cal):
Coffee with 1 Tbsp fat free hot chocolate and 1 packet Truvia
4 oz yogurt with 2.65 oz strawberries, 1.5 oz blueberries, 1 packet Splenda (forgot the Truvia today

Snack (30 cal):
7 Brook Cherries (yum!)

Lunch (116+62+35+34.5+25+24+29+28+11+20+8+34.5 = 427 cal):
1/2 whole wheat pita with 2.3 oz deli peppered turkey, 1 wedge laughing cow cheese, 1/8 avocado
1/2 leftover chicken & black bean enchilada from dinner last night with 0.55 oz non-fat greek yogurt (just like sour cream, but with more protein = healthier!) and the other 1/8 avocado

Snack (94 cal):
1 Tbsp Chunky Peanut Butter (what?!? it's better than the free candy we have laying around, sorta)

Dinner-to-be (225+226 = 451 cal):
Saag Tofu with 1/3 cup brown basmasti rice (1/3 cup before cooking)

Here's the Saag Tofu recipe, as adapted for 2 servings

Saag Tofu, 2 servings (from

1/2 14-ounce package water-packed firm tofu, drained
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 pound baby spinach
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1.Cut tofu in half and then into thirds lengthwise and quarters crosswise. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2.Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add spinach in batches small enough to fit in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until all the spinach has been added and has wilted, 4 to 6 minutes more.
3.Meanwhile, combine yogurt, curry powder, cumin and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Temper the yogurt with some of the hot spinach mixture so as not to curdle and then add to the pan along with the tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bouncing from the Top of this Cloud

It's beautiful outside. Finally! For a while I was beginning to think we were somehow no longer in Cali, stuck in winter forever. My walk today was lovely. Grabbed some vitamin D and warmed my bones. Ahhhhhh.

Tonight is my spin class and fitness boot-camp style class. I actually look forward to these all week. I feel like Thursdays I get the the most bang for my buck. So, bring it! My arms are just about recovered from Monday's work out, ready for a new beating! This week we'll probably focus on something else, since last week I suggested arms. We'll see.

Tomorrow is my weigh-in for the week. Yuck. I keep waiting for the magic number when I can try on those jeans I've been saving to squeeze back into. Realistically, not this week. But soon, I hope. By the end of the month, if I'm so lucky. I will have worked out the planned 6/7 days this week by the end of tomorrow, so I'm expecting some sort of scale movement in the downward direction. One can only hope. Next week will be another 6 days of working out. I have weekend plans, but nothing in the way of my workout schedule, so that's good. No excuses. I just really need to watch my Saturday habits, since I'll be spending the day and night with Simone for her 30th. I just need to remind myself to take is easy on the caloric drinking. I think we'll have sushi for our before-bar treat, so I should be able to keep that in check with more sashimi/less rice. I'll try to keep to a 2 drink maximum at the bar. But 30th b-days are few and far between (and not many of us are left for that mile-marker! yikes!). It helps that I'll be driving myself. I'll just make sure Simone has aaaaalllllll my extra drinks for me. Teehee.

Breakfast: Coffee, 4 oz Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt with 2 oz Strawberries, 1.5 oz Blueberries, and 1 packet Truvia = 10+65+18+24+0=117 cal

Lunch: 1/2 Wheat Pita with 2.55 oz Deli Peppered Turkey, 1 wedge Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow Cheese and 1/4 Avocado; 1 cup leftover Rice-a-Roni with 1.5 oz leftover steamed Green Beans = 116+69+35+69+310+13=612 cal

Dinner: Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas = 525 cal

Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas, 2 servings

4 low-carb whole wheat tortillas
2 cups canned enchilada sauce (with added cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper to taste)
8 oz chicken breast, poached and shredded
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup black beans
1 onion

1. Warm up the enchilada sauce on the stove in a pan big enough to dip the tortillas in the sauce before filling and rolling them.
2. Spread 1-2 Tbsp along the bottom of a glass baking dish big enough to hold 4 enchiladas.
3. Combine the shredded chicken, beans, onions, and cheese in a bowl with a little bit of the enchilada sauce.
4. Split the filling among the tortillas, roll them up, and place them seam-side down in the baking dish.
5. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly and warmed through (temp and time TBD)
6. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Keeping Motivated

My arms are sore. Not as bad as yesterday, but still pretty sore. I blame it on my attempt at assisted pull ups after doing those Tabatas on Monday. It's the only thing I did that was new (and fricken' difficult!). I honestly only did 1 good one and 2 half-arsed ones, but apparently my limit is 2, for now. It definitely hit all those arm muscles I am trying to tone, so give up - I will not. I am glad I had yesterday off from exercise, though!

Today is Zumba with Nicole. She's my fave instructor of the 3 Zumba gals, so it's easy to convince myself to go to class on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I am trying to sneak in some running before class on Wednesdays, though, and that is far more tricky to do than it may seem. I just don't like running. But in an effort to switch things up and jump start my plateau-ed weight loss, I am adding running to my weekly routine. Not a lot, of course. Zumba is a great cardio calorie-blaster, so I just wanted to add 30 minutes of running before-hand. Mind you, I cannot physically run for 30 minutes straight (or at all, probably); I'm still working up to that. Last week, I think I managed 12 minutes of running total (split in half with a 2 minute break in between). I get crazy side cramps most of the time. Not sure what that is about, but I'm thinking it's my body's reaction to me suddenly wanting to add running to my exercise regime. Hopefully in time, they will get better or go away. In the interim, I'm trying to not drink too much water on my drive from work to the gym and I'm making sure to spend a full 5 minutes of just walking to warm up before even thinking about running (slowly increasing the speed). Anyone out there runners? Tips?

As I mentioned yesterday, we stocked up on fruits and veggies from the Farmer's Market. That meant today's breakfast yogurt was much more numnumnumnumnum. Plain non-fat Greek yogurt with 1.65 oz cut strawberries and 1.35 oz blueberries. I tried to leave it unsweetened this time, but that was a no-go. I added 1 packet of Truvia (0 cal sweetener) this morning before actually eating it. I'll keep trying to go without, but I dunno if it's possible. Including the hot chocolate I use to sweeten my coffee, total calories for brekkie were 60+15+22+10=107 Cal. Mid-morning snack was a low-fat string cheese: 65 Cal. Lunch was 1/2 of a whole wheat pita (toasted) with a wedge of Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow Cheese, 1/4 avocado, and 2.5 oz peppered deli turkey breast: 116+35+69+67=287 Cal. I just had my 1 Tbsp chuncky peanut butter and still have 3 small slices of watermelon (11.9 oz with the rind) left to munch on before leaving work for the gym: 94+54=148 Cal. That's a total so far of 607 calories, leaving me with 593 for dinner & dessert. That's quite a lot, actually. I think tomorrow I'll pack something extra to have with my sandwich. I'm trying to steer closer to 1300 cal/day when I do more cardio. Anyhow, dinner planned is Chicken Forestiere with 4 oz blanched green beans: 321+35=356 cal. With a dessert of 10 sweet cherries (43 cal), my total for the day is only 1000 calories. I might need to add something to dinner, I guess. Maybe I'll throw some almonds on the beans and eat more cherries for dessert.

Here's the dinner recipe, as adapted from Eating Well (see their version here) I have criminis and shiitakes from the Market last night - we'll use a combo. We'll be using onion in place of the shallot, sherry in place of the white wine (this is 1st time we're making this sub, hope it works!), and I have parsley growing on my back porch for the added zing at the end. I've started making my own vegetable stock by keeping the remains of my veggies in the fridge and then brewing up a big ol' pot of stock at the end of the week. I keep anything and everything that would be compostable, should we compost: skins off of garlic and onions, peels and green tops from carrots, stems from herbs, woody bottoms of asparagus and broccoli - you name it!

Chicken Forestiere, 2 servings

3 tablespoons wheat flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~10 ounces)
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallot, or onion
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
3/4 cup veggie stock (or reduced-sodium chicken broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or sherry)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or chives

1.Combine 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture.
2.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
3.Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add shallot (or onion) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Pour in broth and wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
4.Reduce heat to low and stir in parsley (or chives). Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Farmer's Market Tuesday

Never before have I had a fondness for Tuesdays until just last month! Well, I might have to take that back if Lost ever aired on a Tuesday during it's time in the sun. I digress... today is Tuesday! And for me, that means I get to stock up on fruits and veggies for the week at the Farmer's Market downtown after work. We've been buying cherries as our fruit for the week, so when we had to grab some extra for our Memorial Day camping trip (in the snow??? whaaaaa???) from Safeway, we were extremely surprised at how AWFUL the grocery store cherries were in comparison! I don't think I can ever buy cherries from anywhere other than the Farmer's Market again. They were so... blah! Tasted of... nothing at all! So today is cherry day, hooray! We also stock up on: organic strawberries, spinach, crimini mushrooms, onions, and oranges. This week, I'll be grabbing garlic, shallots, green beans, and broccoli too. They don't have asparagus at our Market, unfortunately, or I'd be buying bunches of the stuff! Or corn. Sad face. We also got wheat pita bread last week, which was delish - think I'll buy another package of that too. We try and make Tuesday night our eat-out night for the week and support one of the local downtown restaurants. We've almost made it through all the ones along the strip where the Market takes place. Maybe it'll be crepes tonight?

I remembered to bring my lunch today, phew! I had Strawberry non-fat greek yogurt and coffee for breakfast (120+10=130 cal), 2 carrots and 3 Tbsp of Avocado&Cilantro Hummus from the Farmer's Market last week for a pre-lunch snack (40+80=120 cal), an adaptation of Rachael Ray's Baked Potato Soup for lunch (see recipe below, 376 cal with all the fixin's), and a Tbsp of chunky peanut butter for my post-walk-around-the-block snack (90 cal). That leaves me with about 500 calories for dinner. Should be plenty, if I'm careful about what I choose to eat (and make sure to not eat all of it - since portion sizes at restaurants are generally super-sized, I shoot for only eating half).

No gym today, Tuesday is my (only) day off. Took that 20 minute walk around the block, but no intense cardio or strength-training today. My muscles need the day off! As promised yesterday, I did wind up going to Pilates class (55 min), followed by some arm strength training with 8 lb dumbells on the Bosu (15 min), and finally did those 20 second Tabata Intervals I was telling you about (16 min total - 2 min Bosu exercises, 2 min jumping jacks (x2), 1 min break, repeat.

Here's my recipe, adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray (see her original version here)

Baked Potato Soup, serves 4

3 medium red potatoes—peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 cups 2% milk (we use lactose-free milk)
Salt and pepper
1/2 head cauliflower, cored and chopped
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 scallions, white and green portions thinly sliced separately
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup shredded low-fat (2%) cheddar cheese
1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

1.In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, 2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the cauliflower and scallion whites, cover and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup milk, then puree the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

2.Fry the bacon, adding the mushrooms when some of the fat has rendered.

3.Divide the soup among 4 bowls and top each with 2 Tbsp shredded cheese, 1 Tbsp plain yogurt (or nonfat sour cream), crumbled bacon, mushrooms, and scallion greens.

Things I'm Reading In My Spare Time At Work

  • I actually "Stumble"d upon this blog and haven't had enough. I like her writing style and story about losing 135 lbs. Her recipes are certainly on my try-soon list.

  • My mom found this when I started planning my Costa Rica trip and sent me a link. This woman has some hilarious stories and an interesting perspective on quitting her job and retiring to Costa Rica (where health care is freee)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Pilates, Tabatas, and Shrimp - Oh, my!

I forgot my food for today. I spent 15 minutes carefully measuring out my breakfast, lunch, and snacks to the appropriate level of calories, put it in my reusable food bag, threw it in the fridge, and forgot it before walking out the door. Look how cute the bag is (from, see pic at right)! All nicely forgotten and waiting to be used tomorrow, I suppose. Guess that means I can sleep in those 15 minutes tomorrow?

Anyhow, had to make instant oatmeal for brekkie (160 cal) and grab a small turkey & guacamole on wheat from quiznos for lunch (330 cal: no cheese, no sauce, with lettuce/tomatoes/onion/olives/pickles/mustard). I always want more sandwich, but with a nice large cup of mint tea (0 cal), it hits the spot ok. I don't have a snack, which is becoming incresingly painful... I usually have carrots and hummus or a lite string cheese before I hit the gym (, actually). Maybe we have some in the fridge here? They go pretty quickly... Dinner will be Salt & Pepper Shrimp, one of my faves (458 cal). We omit the bell peppers and add 10 crimini mushies, 1 large green onion, 1 med tomato, and 1/2 avocado. The avocado is nice to cambat the heat from the jalapeno. I'll put my recipe at the bottom with the link to Eating Well's version too.

Today is Monday, which is Pilates day. It's nice to have a few days off from cardio, but last Monday was Memorial Day, so it has now been a few weeks since I've had Pilates and my abs are a little bit nervous! I'm looking forward to it, though. After, I'm supposed to be meeting up with a fellow gym member to do some tabata intervals. We've been doing them on Thursdays with our F.I.T. class trainer on the Bosu (short for "BOth Sides Up") and could really reap the benefits of having them at least another day a week. Tabata intervals are 20-seconds of all out intensity exercise followed by 10-seconds of rest. Here was what we did:

Interval A: Drop Squats on floor or squats on the Bosu (round side)
Interval B: Push ups on the Bosu (flat side)
Interval C: Bosu shuffle (round side up)
Interval D: Mountain climbers on the Bosu (flat side)
Do these twice, 20 sec each, 10 sec rest in between (2 min)
Rest 1 min
Cardio: Jump Rope
20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest for 2 minutes
Rest 1 minute
Interval E: Bosu Get-ups (round side up)
Interval F: Bosu jumping jacks or burpees (flat side up)
Interval G: ??? I clearly blocked this one out of my memory

Interval H: Reverse lunge on the Bosu (flat side up)

Do these twice, 20 sec each, 10 sec rest in between (2 min total)
Rest 1 min
Cardio: Jump Rope
20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest for 2 minutes

We'll probably just do the first 4 minues and stop. Apparently that's all you need, to start out with, to reap the benefits. Go look up Tabata Intervals for more info, they're all the rage right now.

Anyhow, here's the recipe, as promised.

Salt & Pepper Shrimp
Adapted from EatingWell2 servings

• 2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice works too)
• 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• ½ teaspoon sugar
• 3 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
• 10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
• 1 large green onion, sliced
• 1 medium tomato, diced
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• ½ teaspoon five-spice powder, (see Note)
• 10 ounces raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 jalapeno pepper, half of seeds removed and minced
• ½ ripe avocado, sliced

1. Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage, mushrooms, onion, and tomato; toss to combine.
2. Combine cornstarch, salt, pepper and five-spice powder in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until they are pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes. Add jalapeno and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more.
4. Serve the slaw topped with the avocado and shrimp.