Chili-stuffed Sweet Potatoes + spiced watermelon

I’m currently writing my first ever iPhone post because clearly I cannot move the 2 feet to fetch my laptop and sending iPhone pictures to my computer is just too much for me to bear.

Today I will bring you one of my stand-by recipes adapted from here: Unsloppy Joes

I started out making the recipe as described- to go between buns or bread in sandwich form. That’s a delicious way if eating it, but I later discovered that an especially delicious mode of consumption is .:drumroll:. as a stuffing. In/on a sweet potato. (Never would have guessed that from the title, right?) So here we go, without further adieu I bring you…

Chili-stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Chili-stuffing

I really enjoy this chili mix. It has a strong flavor that’s perfect for a sandwich or for topping sweet potatoes. The vinegar gives it a good kick.

Chili-stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato clearly unpictured, but I assure you it was tasted and delicious.

Chili-stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I ate this alongside my typical vegetable mix:

Carrots and Snap Peas

Plus a summer favorite that’s come back into the mix:

Yesterday, I was in the mood for something different, so I sprinkled some Jerk Seasoning on top:

20130603-203119.jpg

Must say, it was quite delicious.

OK: Confession time, I started this post on my phone but switched to the computer for all the editing, recipe posting, font stuff. Maybe one day I will get out a post that doesn’t need much editing to take full advantage of my mobile app.

Exercise Quickie:

Today I did Strong Lifts B workout.

Squats: 110lb 5×5 (poor form on 2 of the reps, so I’m retrying it Friday),

DB Overhead Press: 25 lb DBs 3×4/5/4

Deadlift: 130 1×5

The Group Effect

Yesterday at the gym I had… an interesting experience. But First

..OK this isn't really what's first

… let me say that I officially have a go-to method for performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Now, for those of you who are exercise-enthusiasts, I’m sure that you know all about HIIT. But, if you don’t, here’s a list of the Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training:
1. HIIT burns fat more effectively than standard “endurance” cardiovascular exercise (45 minute moderate jog, elliptical, etc).
2. HIIT takes around 20 minutes. “Endurance” training takes 45-60 minutes.
3. HIIT has been shown to improve athletic performance. It’s a great way to get faster if you’re a runner. (I’m not)
4. HIIT can substantially improve insulin action (in young men –> but it’s likely to do the same in other groups as well). This indicates that it may be a good way to prevent type-2 diabetes.
Source.

Basically, HIIT appears to be the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to cardiovascular training. The premise is simple: alternate a moderate cardiovascular effort with a super-high-intensity cardiovascular effort for about 20 minutes. Most people like to do a 2:1 ratio moderate:high intensity. (So 1 minute moderate, 30 seconds high)

Well, despite all of these awesome benefits, I still had not been able to get myself on board with this training until recently. For me, working out on a machine by myself is boring, and I like to read a magazine while doing it. Trying to adjust the level and check the time sort of detracts from my magazine-reading pleasure. But alas, I finally found a solution!…

The Stepmill

If you’re looking to get your body sweaty and your heart a-beating heavy, this is your machine. (just don’t lean on the rails) This baby has a “speed interval” setting in which you choose a level 1-20 (I chose 13), and it automatically alternates between a slower pace and a faster pace every 2 minutes. While this is a longer interval for HIIT, it worked just perfectly yesterday evening.

After only 22 minutes on the machine, I got off real-sweaty and feeling as if I just ran a mile as a kid after never-exercising-ever-in-my-life. I don’t mean to deter you by saying this, I only mean to say that you get a great workout! And I didn’t have to adjust anything but the rate at which I moved my feet. (meaning, I still got a little magazine-readage in… not much, but I did.)

Alright, back to the f***ing annoying interesting thing that happened to me yesterday (breathe now because I’m getting long-winded):

I was planning on going to a Cycle class, so I was wearing a wicking tank top and knee-length compression shorts. Unfortunately, I was too late for the class, and I decided to do the above stairmill HIIT workout. As I was checking into my local YMCA, I noticed that a few boys in their mid-teens (personally estimated to be 15-16) were shaking a vending machine, trying to get free snacks. They give up and start walking towards the fitness section of the gym. I also walk this way but at a quicker pace than their moseying stroll. As I approach them, I see one say to the other, “Behind us?” turn to me, then say, “Oh.” As I walk ahead of them, one sheepishly starts it. “Hey!” Then his friends begin chiming in softly with a few more comments. (You know, they wouldn’t want to be too conspicuous) I forget what was said, but I understood the meaning: typical young male calling out at a female walking past. (Keep in mind- I’m 23) I breathe a sigh of relief (not actually- I just thought it sounded nice) as I turned the corner to walk further towards the fitness section of the gym. I turn off on a hallway to fill my water bottle. As I come back out on the main track towards the fitness area, the mid-pubescent males were right behind me. They became a little more bold with their statements at this point; throwing in a louder “Hey!” and other basic questions/statements to try and get my attention. The counselor in me was th|-|is close to turning around and informing them that their behavior was (1) appalling, (2) sexual harassment, and (3) f***ing stupid. I did not. But a (BIG HUGE) part of me wishes that I had.

What would you do if a few mid-pubescent boys started cat calling you at the gym? 

Switching it Up

After a nice long break from strength training (last one was Thursday before my friend-filled weekend off from the gym), I decided that I wanted to do a Circuit Strength Training workout this morning. I have two that I do regularly with dumbbells, but I wanted to switch it up and try something different yet still get the fast-paced dual cardiovascular and strength training workout. So, I thought: “Hey, I haven’t tried doing a circuit training workout on my gym’s TRX straps yet!”

^^That’s some stuff you can do in TRX.

Basically, it allows for a body-weight workout in which you use your core almost constantly to stabilize yourself. If you’re unfamiliar with the equipment, here’s what the full thing looks like:

You adjust the difficulty of each exercise by the amount of angle you have in your body. I have to say, it’s a pretty awesome workout – I’m already feeling a little sore.

TRX Circuit Strength Training Workout

Circuit 1 (3 sets):
– 12 Squats (jumping forwards and backwards, holding the handlebars and leaning away (turned away) from the bar)
– 8 TRX push-ups (holding handle bars, leaning away)
– 8 rows (leaning away, facing bar, pull self up)

Circuit 2 (3 sets):
– 12 speed skater squats per side (holding straps, facing bar)
– 8 up and out shoulder raises (leaning back, facing bar)

Circuit 3 (3 sets):
– 10 tricep pushups on knees (trx not involved – couldn’t think of a good exercise using the straps)
– 10 TRX hamstring curls (feet in straps, lift body off ground, bring knees in and out)
– 8-10 bicep curls (holding straps, leaning away, facing bar, flex bicep)

Core
– 12 jackknives with feet in straps
– 20 v-sits on a bosu
– 12 hip drops (hold handles at head, side facing bar, drop hips out and raise)
– 15 leg raises w/reverse curl (not on trx)
– 25 butterfly crunches (not on trx)
– ~45 second side plank with feet in trx straps
– ~50 second plank with feet in straps

Speaking of workouts…

TWIW 7.24.11-7.30.11
Su – off
M – 45 minute Cycle
Tu – Circuit Strength Training
W – 20 minute stepmill, 25 minute elliptical
Th – Circuit Strength Training
F – 30 minute speed intervals on stepmill
Sa – off

TWIW + Peanutty Protein Goodness

So over the course of the past few months, I’ve come to realize that bloggers love acronyms.

So, in accordance with the blogger-laws-of-the-interwebs, I’ve turned This Week in Workouts to TWIW… it’s a vital difference, obviously. Here goes:
TWIW(This Week in Workouts)
Sa – off
Su – off (clearly my weekend was event-filled)
M – Circuit Strength Training
Tu – 30 min. Quick Cardio (high-intensity floor cardio) + 60 minute Power Yoga (this made me incredibly sore for two days)
W – 45 minute elliptical
Th – Circuit Strength Training
F – 60 minute KickIt Core (Kick Boxing w/extra core work… my back is soooore)

So you know how I told you guys that I always eat a late night snack? Well, I was perusing blogs the other day (while simultaneously debating what my late night snack would be) and I stumbled upon a fantastic find! So now, without further ado, the best-new-addition-to-the-foods-that-I-eat/love/am-addicted-to:
… brought to you by Clean Eating Chelsey
… because I didn’t change her recipe at all…
…. and it was so delicious…
Peanutty Protein Muffin (for 1) source
Ingredients
– 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water, beat with a fork until gelled
– 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– dash of cinnamon
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup peanut flour
Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a mug, one at a time. Mix well.
2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
3. Top or stuff with something delicious.
4. Devour!

wet ingredients
mixed up and ready to microwave…

…2 minutes later…

Voila!
Slid easily out onto a plate…
With 1/2 tbsp crunchy (kroger natural) peanut butter
Ahhhhmazing!
other filling ideas:
– Cut in half and stuff with strawberry slices
– While warm, cut in half, stuff with chocolate, and eat like a sandwich
– Your favorite jam
– Ice cream(mmm)

Nutrition Facts:


Lentil & Bulgur Pilaf with Red Cabbage (or Spinach)

Ha! I fooled you! I’m actually going to tell you about my workouts last week.

Last week in Workouts
Sa – off
Su – Circuit Strength Training
M – 45 minutes Cycle
T – 30 minute Quick Cardio + 1 hour Power Yoga 
W – Circuit Strength Training
TR – 45 minutes elliptical
F – 45 minute Cycle
^^ This is what I did all weekend.
…and now without further ado…
…inspired (/directed) by my good friend Ashley…
Lentil & Bulgur Pilaf with Red Cabbage (or spinach) serves 4
Ingredients
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
– 2 cups red cabbage (or use frozen spinach and add at the end)
– 3 cloves garlic
– 3/4 cup lentils
– 1/2 cup bulgur
– 1/4 cup amaranth
– ~1 tbsp cumin
– ~ 1/2 tbsp coriander
– ~1/2 tbsp indian complete seasoning
– ~1/2 tsp mustard
– ~1/2 tsp allspice
– ~1/2 tsp ginger
– ~1/4 tsp marjoram
– ~1/4 tsp turmeric
– fresh ground black pepper
– 4 cups water
– 2 tbsp tomato paste
Directions
1. Heat oil in a large skillet (that has a tight-fitting lid) over medium. Add onion, mushroom, and cabbage (omit cabbage if using spinach) and saute until tender.
2. Add garlic, lentils, amaranth, bulgur, and spices and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Add water and tomato paste. (Add frozen spinach now if using it) Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until water is mostly absorbed.
the goods (cooked)
+
lots of spicessss
+
amaranth, lentils, & garlic
 =
+
water, tomato paste
=
+
20 mintues…
=
mmm
spinach version (I actually preferred this version)
Serve and enjoy! (see above image… and make sure not to serve with rotten green beans!)

Recent Pains + Recent Gains = Pretty Sweet Life.

Of the things that I hate in life, messing up something I’ve prepared for myself (or others…but mostly myself) to eat probably makes the top 5.

So imagine my level of saddness when these beautiful beans:
OK… maybe they’re not that beautiful
Turned into this:
after roasting. They look sort of alright at first glance, but some of them were sour (ewwww) and I ended up tossing the whole batch for fear of eating another sour green bean. This has never happened to me.
Have you ever eaten a sour green bean?

Fortunately, the dish that I made with it turned out great! (Still enjoying it as leftovers)
Looks plain, but tastes great! And it’s quick and easy! (Recipe soon)
The other recent pain happened yesterday during an awesome Quick Cardio class at my Y. Yesterday I was so excited to be able to go to my favorite combo of Quick Cardio + Power Yoga with this really awesome instructor. Quick Cardio is basically 30 minutes of high intensity cardio – running, jumping, shuffling, leaps, etc. It’s quite fun but also quite intense. (And I’m sure you all know what Power Yoga is)
Well, in Quick Cardio, I’m working hard and feeling pretty awesome (we had these run-across-the-floor things and I beat my group a couple times) when all of a sudden I get the most-killer-cramp-I-have-ever-gotten-in-my-life. The right side of my insides seized up into the worst-pain-I-have-ever-felt-from-an-exercise-cramp.
this was in my side
Normally, I’m the type to just run through cramps until they go away, but I felt completely incapacitated by this cramp. I’m pretty sure I made a face of excruciating pain as I grabbed my side and stopped because another lady in the class instructed me to go get water haha So after guzzling down the full 20oz of my water, the cramp subsided but the class was over : (
Have you ever gotten a cramp from hell such as this one?

Luckily the awesomeness soon followed this cramp set-back. Two nights ago, I made my usual plain yogurt. As I had told you all before, I have started to use pectin (the no-sugar-needed kind) to thicken my yogurt and upped the milk fat to 2% in an effort to make a more creamy yogurt that won’t turn into liquid. And finally (FINALLY!!!) I was successful. So, if you want to make your own thick-and-creamy yogurt that tastes just like Stonyfield Farms follow these steps:
Homemade Yogurt Recipe (Makes 6 cups)
1. Heat 6 cups of 2% milk on the stove over medium heat until it reaches 180˚F, or until it’s hot and bubbling but not boiling.
2. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of no-sugar-necessary pectin in your blender.
3. Once the milk is at the necessary temperature, pour about 1 cup of it into the blender with the pectin and pour the rest into your storage container. Blend on low until mixed and pour into the container with the rest of your milk, scraping the sides into the milk.
4. Cover and allow the milk temperature to drop between 110˚F and 120˚F, or until it’s still hot but you could leave your (very clean) finger in it without burning you.
5. With a bowl, scoop out about a cup of the milk. Add 3/4 cup of your favorite brand of Whole Milk Plain Yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm). The end product will taste most-similar to whatever yogurt you use. Stir well and pour back into your container.
6. Cover with 2 dish cloths and allow to sit for 7 hours on the warmest part of your counter without disturbing it.
7. Refrigerate after 7 hours and serve when cold!
You will get this:
Blurry picture, but can you see how globular and non-liquid it is?!?!
I used it in my cocoa-peanut flour-cereal-stevia-yogurt concoction:
It tasted just like Stonyfield Farm Low Fat Yogurt!
OK so real quick (gotta make it to the gym before work!) the other awesome gain in my life is this:
Fresh, home-grown Romaine Lettuce!

My mom made a garden this year, and this is its first yield! I’ve been using it in my salads mixed with other stuff so that it lasts longer. I’m looking forward to enjoying (and posting about) all sorts of goodies from her garden this Summer! 😀

The End.

Keeping Promises AKA Lentil "Pasta" Sauce

So if you recall two posts ago I promised to give you the recipe for the Lentil “Pasta” sauce that I tempted you with via photograph. (Just pretend you were tempted) 
In case you forgot…

Lentil “Pasta” Sauce Recipe
Ingredients
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 cup chopped mushroom
1/2 cup chopped onion                              
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup lentils
– 4 cups water                                              
– 14.5 oz can diced no-salt-added tomatoes
– 2 tbsp tomato paste
– 2 splashes dry sherry
– 1-2 cups frozen chopped spinach
– 1/2 tbsp dried basil
– 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
– 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper
– 1 tsp dried marjoram
– fresh ground black pepper
– fresh ground sea salt
Directions
1. Heat oil in large sauce pan over medium. Add onion and mushroom and cook until tender.
tender.

2. Add minced garlic, lentils, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes.

3. Remove cover and add the remaining ingredients. (tomatoes, tomato paste, sherry, spinach, and spices) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes (or longer).
This shall turn into…
This.
You can serve this delicious (my boyfriend said it was probably his favorite thing I’ve cooked) sauce over pasta, OR if you’re like me and enjoy other alternatives (or have allergies) you can serve it over spaghetti squash!
Easiest way to prepare spaghetti squash:
– Preheat oven to 375˚F.
– Pierce squash in several places and place on a baking sheet.
– Bake until softened, turning midway through. (about 30-45 minutes total I think?)
Once the squash is cooked it’s way easier to cut in half. Simply scoop the strands out and serve under your favorite sauce.
yummm
I added parmesan cheese (because it’s delicious), but if you’re dairy-free you can easily add nutritional yeast or eat it as-is.
And now I shall leave you with This (past) Week in Workouts:
Sa – 3.15 mile jog – 28 minutes 45 seconds (Clearly not real a runner.)
Su – Off
M – my Circuit Strength Training Routine (closest to this one)
T – 45 minutes on elliptical (with a good magazine 🙂 )
W – 45 minutes Cycle class
Tr – my Circuit Strength Training Routine (closest to this one)
F – 3.15 mile jog – 27 minutes 37 seconds (this is a personal record for me – under 9 min/mile!)
On a side note, I got some disappointing news. My job placement changed and I now am going to be working from 12-8 for the next 6 weeks :-/ … but I’m reasoning that at least I’ll be able to workout in the morning still.