Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stop! And give me 20!

20 minutes, that is!
We live very busy lives; from work, school, meals, etc, sometimes it can be hard to get in that needed daily exercise! In addition it can take even more time just getting to the gym. I was thinking about these work out-barriers and my friends who are taking Ga Tech summer finals this week (good luck!) when creating this quick 20(ish) minute cardio workout that left my pulse flying and me dripping with sweat! Another great thing? No equipment needed! So take a study/work break, grab some water, floor space, and let's hit it!

Short, Sweet, and Sweaty Cardio Circuit:
10 Squat Jumps
10 Lunges with Knee Raise (each leg)
10 Plank Jacks
10 Push Ups
10 Mountain Climbers (each leg)
10 Jumping Jacks
5 Burpees
Repeat 5x through (without any breaks), 2 min rest, repeat 5x again.

Advise for this circuit: have a way to keep track of which repetition you're on, it's easy to lose track!
Each set of 5 took me about 10 minutes. With a break and a second round, the circuit should take about 25 minutes! Short, sweet, and SWEATY! And by the time you're done you've done a total of 650 reps! Now that is an efficient workout!
If you've got a little extra time I always recommend light warm up and cool down cardio (I did the elliptical before and after the circuit).

Try the circuit out and let me know what you think!

Question: What's your biggest barrier when it comes to making time for exercise?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Amanda cooking dinner!

Amanda has been on a roll making some delicious dinners lately, so I thought I would highlight just a couple.
Two nights ago we had fish taco's for the first time!
Very delicious and so easy to make! We bought two large fillets of frozen wild salmon and baked it in the oven for close to half an hour. We used Kickin' Chickin' (ironic, I know) seasoning because that's all we had, but we'll probably use something more simple (and less salty) next time to season the fish.
Once the fish was done, we just forked some of the meat into whole wheat tortillas and topped it with all the usual taco fillings: salsa, guacamole, and cheese (obviously I didn't have this last ingredient).
Delicious, healthy, and very versatile! I recommend making fish tacos, using any fish you have on hand and stuffing the taco's with your favorite taco fillings! Good job Amanda!

Although I am a vegetarian, Amanda's dinner last night smelled so good I just had to post about it! Amanda made her first slow-cooker BBQ Chicken! 

I was amazed at how little preparation this recipe that filled the entire house with the mouth-watering smells of molasses, brown sugar, and spices took!
Amanda filled the crock pot with a pound of chicken and then followed the direction on the back of the BBQ chicken seasonings packet. Chicken, seasoning packet, brown sugar, ketchup, and water were combined into the crock pot and allowed to cook on high for 4 hours.
Amanda added store-bought bbq sauce and made herself a sandwich. To go on the side, I steamed green beans for about 10 minutes, then sauteed them with onions, black pepper, and butter. Even as a vegetarian I can't help but admit this looked yummy! Oh well, the sacrifices we make : ).
Well done Amanda cooking protein-packed dinners!

Glimpse into the future: look out for my first circuit workout coming soon!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Discovery of Blueberry Muffins!

This summer has been an attempt to discover go-to recipes for my favorite baked items. Banana bread, check. Chocolate chip cookies, check (still need to post about). My latest discover? BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!

I tweaked a recipe I originally found on all recipes and made these Monday night in a procrastination effort for my final : ). This recipe is incredibly simple! The recipe does ask for 1/3c milk and since I was making these for my dad and Amanda I used regular dairy milk, however I think almond milk could have been easily substituted!

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Servings: 8 large muffins
1.5 c all purpose flour
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1.5 cup fresh blueberries

1.Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder).
3. In a separate bowl mix together vegetable oil, egg, and milk. Then add wet ingredients to dry mix.
4. Once fully mixed, add in blueberries. Be sure not to over-mix so you don't get purple muffins!
5. Bake in oven 20-25 minutes.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Start of the Weekend!

Started off the weekend right with an easy run with Thomas!

Our legs were stiff from the 6.5 mile run we did Thursday evening, but it helped to get them moving!
We started and ended our run at the local gym, so I followed with some Body Pump! Wooh, endorphins are flowing!
I got my Gymboss Interval timer in the mail a couple of weeks ago, but didn't get a chance to look at the instructions until yesterday. I used the timer to complete the first workout on Jess's Summer Shape Up. Day 1 included a leg workout and an intense core workout. The timer kept me efficient and breathing hard, since my breaks were actually 10 seconds (and not the extended breaks I usually take). I was seriously sweaty after this workout, but loved it and my timer! For $20 I think the timer was a great buy!
This weekend is filled with work at the gym and studying for my final on Tuesday! See ya after that!

Monday, July 15, 2013

MMMMMMirza Ghasemi

The title of this post might sound like gibberish, in fact, it's the name of my favorite Persian Dish!

Being a vegetarian, many Persian dishes aren't edible for me (beef and chicken kabob don't scream vegetarian), but this one is and I love it. Mirza Ghasemi is incredibly simple, just eggplants, tomatoes, and onions! Some versions include eggs, but my mother has never made it with eggs, so I don't either.
A bit of prepping goes into the dish to get the water/bitterness out of the eggplants, but once that's done, it's quick, quick, quick.
You MUST love eggplants to like this dish. : )
I've successfully learned how to make this eggplant rich dish from my mother and am here to share it with you.

1 Eggplant
2 large tomatoes (chopped)
1 large white onion (diced)
2 tsp Turmeric
3 Tblsp Tomato Paste
Olive oil

1. Eggplant Prepping:
Wash the eggplant and cut to make circular pieces of about 1/2 - 3/4 inches. Leave the peal on (it's so delicious in the stew!). Cut the circular pieces down the center to make half-circle pieces.
Line a cookie sheet with paper towels and place the eggplant pieces on the cookie sheet. Generously shake salt on the pieces, this helps get the water out of the eggplants (by osmosis) and kill the natural bitterness of egg plants. Leave the salt on the eggplants for at least 2 hours.

Look at that osmosis at work! 
Flip the eggplant slices, salt, and repeat.
One the eggplant are done drying, put the egg plant on a wire rack (or straight into the oven) and broil for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant are slightly brown.

This is a picture from when my dad made the dish, he accidentally peeled the eggplant, but be sure to LEAVE THE PEEL
2. Dice the onion. Saute the onions in a large pot. When the onions are only slightly cooked, add in lots of Turmeric (anywhere from 1-2 teaspoons). This spice is purely for color!

3. Over medium-low heat, add eggplant, chopped tomatoes, 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste, and a splash of olive oil. Give it a good stir!

4. Cook for 10-15 minutes covered, lowering the heat toward the end. The stew should get to a consistency where the eggplant fall apart when it's mixed. Turn off the stove when this consistency is reached.

5. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

This dish can be eaten hot or cold and is often enjoyed with bread that's dipped right in to this delicious eggplant-y goodness!


Sunday, July 14, 2013


Among the cardio and strength circuits I have been completing (and having so much with), I haven't been running much and, my goodness, are my legs feeling antsy! They are craving a long run!
So what better way to get back in the swing of things with running than to sign up for a half marathon?

Here are the races I'm considering:

Area 13.1 Half Marathon aka "Alien Half"
August 17
Supporting: Russell Foundation and Life Connection Ministries
Why the funny nickname? This race starts at 7 p.m. and continues into the night, plus you get glow-in-the-dark apparel!

October 6
Supporting: various charities

Oct 12
Supporting: Georgia Sea Turtle Center
Takes place in the scenic Jekyll Island!

Oct 28
Supporting: AthHalf Educates (Music & Arts)
My good friend Thomas who attends UGA recommended the Ath Half to me. It would be fun to run and spend a weekend with him in Athens.

Nov 28
Supporting: A canned food drive supports The Salvation Army
LOVE this race! I've done it a few times already and love having this the morning of Thanksgiving Day, before I sit down and stuff my face : ). 

I most likely will run the Thanksgiving Half no matter what, but I also want to do a half marathon before that, any good recommendations?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Go-To Banana Bread Recipe --> Sister approved!

With my last physics test (minus the final) out of the way, I finally have time to put up my latest baking experiment, banana bread! This bread is seriously BANGIN!
I have loved banana bread ever since I can remember and I have constantly been looking for a healthy and delicious recipe. With a few tweeks from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com, I have finally found one!
How do I know this one is a keeper? Well first off, it was SO yummy, but also my sister, Amanda, loved it and Amanda has very little tolerance for "healthy versions" of just about anything.


Just out of the oven!

Time to eat up! YUM!

Banana Bread

1 cup all purpose white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 overly ripe banans
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 snack package of unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
1/8 cup non-fat greek yogurt (plain)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
1. Mix together flours, baking soda, and cinnamon.
2. In another bowl, beat together brown sugar, apple sauce, and yogurt. Add in eggs and vanilla. Add in mashed bananas.
3. Add flour mix and walnuts.
4. In a greased bread pan pour the mixture in.
5. Cook for 60 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.
*edit: I have also made these into a dozen muffins and baked them for only about 35 minutes

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Favorite Recipe!

With all the rain that has been pouring over Georgia lately, I have been craving some warmer dishes!
For dinner tonight, while my Dad cooked Salmon and steamed corn-on-the-cob, I made one of my all time favorite dishes, Stewed Cabbage!

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving years ago and now make it regularly. The ingredients for the recipe are always inexpensive and by cooking an entire cabbage you'll defiantly have enough for left overs.

One head of cabbage, cubed
One (15 oz) can of Italian Style Stewed tomatoes
One large white onion
2-3 colves of garlic
3 stalks celery
Salt/pepper to taste

In a large pot (needs to be able to fit an entire cabbage head) saute onions and garlic in butter until onions are translucent. Add cabbage, tomatoes, and celery and let simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally and salt and pepper to taste. That's it!

Did I mention cabbage is about 20 calories/cup? Low-cal, good for you, and so yummy!

What foods do you crave in cold/dreary weather?


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th everyone!
Let me just say, these past couple of weeks have been absolutely wonderful!
I spent last Wednesday-Saturday with the wonderful Geddes Family and some friends from GT at Amelia Island!
Bekah, me, Seth, Serena, and Katie
I went on some wonderful bike rides, runs along the beach, and great food and time with these people! Thanks for a wonderful couple of days! Let's go back!

Monday night I caught up with one of my best girlfriends, Bailey, who is studying abroad in South America. This girl is super fit and healthy. She's also one of my running gal's, together we completed the Disney Marathon last January. Holla for both finishing in under 4 hours!

I miss you so much, Bailey, and I can't wait until you come back to America!

Yesterday I woke up to heavy rain, which was not very motivating for me to drive to the gym, so instead I opted for Jillian Michaels's Banish Fat Boost Metabolism Workout video. This is 55 minutes long, and a slower pace than most of her workout videos, but still gets me super sweaty and elevates my heart rate. The video was a great recovery after an intense BodyPump on Tuesday!
Check the video out for your self!

I worked the afternoon shift at the bread bakery I work part time at. I always bring healthy foods with me to the bakery, because it's a very tempting place (carbs on carbs on carbs)! For lunch, I whipped up a very random, whatever-I-have-in-the-fridge salad. It included squash, zuchini, bell peppers, banana peppers, peas, edamame, and artichoke hearts. I also threw in one of my favorite veggie burgers, the "Simple Truth" vegan burghers, which have 21 grams of protein in each! I love the Simple Truth brand, it's Kroger's healthy-story brand, so it's affordable and yummy! The edamame is by Simple Truth, as well.

After work, I did a cool down run with my good friend Thomas who ran the Peachtree Road Race this morning (Go Thomas!). Ironically, the running clothes I grabbed before going to work were UGA colors (Thomas goes to UGA and I go to GA Tech, rivals!).

A quick visit to my wonderful friend and practically my mother, Gayley, and then I headed home.

My gym this morning, surprisingly, was open so Sammi and I headed there for a great workout. It ended up taking a while, but since it's a holiday, why not for a long workout?
20 Min elliptical, Ab Circuit (modified from one off of pbfingers.com), and 20 min bike.
JJ=jumping jacks and JR=jump rope

Wooh, we were tired after this!
Now off to start the 4th with breakfast (and more importantly coffee!!!)

What are your plans for the fourth? Are you getting some exercise in?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday Routine

Tuesday's and Thursday's are always busy for me because I have class at a local community college from 2p.m to 8:15 p.m. Technically it's a lecture followed by a lab in that time, but needless to say it's a lot of class at once. It's always important to me to get a workout in the mornings before class so I don't feel so restless sitting for 6 hours.

When I woke up I grabbed my sneakers and headed to the gym for BodyPump. Created by LesMills, BodyPump is a full body barbell class that targets all the major muscles and it is one of the most fun and challenging group fitness classes I have ever attended. The instructors are always so incredible who teach BodyPump! This morning I really challenged myself by upping my weights for legs, triceps, back, and chest. Boy did I feel this while I sat in class!
Breakfast was my go to peanut butter, rice cakes, and fruit along with coffee splashed with my favorite creamer, Vanilla Almond Milk! 30 calories/serving and so good!

I always pack my lunch on Tuesday's and Thursday's and today I attempted Tuna Salad for the first time.

The tuna salad turned out great! All I did was mix a can of Chunk Light Tuna, a spoon of Miracle Whip, a spoon of yellow mustard, a spoon of relish, and a stalk of chopped celery. I even threw in some mild banana peppers because I just love them. I added some baby bell peppers, carrots, and an apple for sides and this kept me going all the way through lab, today.
Lab always leaves me feeling pretty tired and sometimes even light headed--the lab is strict on their no food/drink policy, which includes water, and 2.5 hours without water is a lot! I went on a short 2 mile run to get my legs moving after 6 hours of sitting and then made a very simple dinner of sweet potato, a bowl of yellow squash, peas, and edamame sauteed in just a spoon of Italian Dressing, and a Boca Vegan veggie burgher for added protein (17 grams of protein and only 90 calories!). I hadn't realized how long it has been since I ate a warm meal and it felt great to have these vegetables on my plate.
I'm excited for no class until next Tuesday, since Thursday is Independence Day, which will give me time to catch up in class and relax some more! I'm also excited for a package that will be arriving in the next couple of days...my Gymboss Interval Timer!!!!

 I was introduced to the product through Jess at blondeponytail.com . I can't wait to use this for interval workouts to make them more effective and efficient.
If you have any great interval workouts, please let me know!

I hope you've had a happy Tuesday!


Monday, July 1, 2013

New House and New Peanut Butter

I've been MIA recently with moving to a new house and vacationing in Amelia Island (more to come about my fantastic vacation), but I promise exciting posts are on their way, for now some updates : )!

First off, my family and I are almost moved in to our new home in the suburbs of Alpharetta! And of course I am most excited about the beautiful waiting-to-be-used kitchen:

Now for a food update! I was browsing the shelves of my local Walmart for peanut butter, a staple in my diet, and as I was reaching for my go-to Skippy All-Natural, I came across something I had seen before but never tried: Naturally More Peanut Butter
This peanut butter is blended with flax seed and flax oils to provide Omega-3's and 9 grams of protein (Skippy only has 7/serving)! With only 130 calories from fat, which is actually on the lower side for peanut butter's and all natural I was defiantly willing to give this a try, and goodness I am glad I did. Although the oil separates and so much mixing is needed before eating, the preparation is worth it for this creamy spread with bits of crunchy flax seeds! I will be buying more when this runs out. I still got Skippy All-natural, because I love the creamy, original taste, but I have an extra peanut butter to incorporate into my favorite breakfast now.
Current favorite breakfast:
Peanut butter of choice + Plain Rice Cakes (Gluten free!) + bananas = a breakfast that is delicious and keeps me filled and provides great post-workout fuel.

This is actually the breakfast I ate this morning after completing a cardio-circuit at the gym with a good friend of mine, Sammi. Thank you Julie for the workout!
We started with 25 minutes on the bike, then did the cardio circuit, followed by 10 more minutes on the bike. I was surprised at how sweaty I was after the circuit and felt good!

After a workout and breakfast I have been moving items into the new house and now it's time to study! Be back soon and try some Naturally More Peanut Butter : )