Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

This plus flour and egg=pancakes. For real.

 

This ranks right up there as on of the oddest recipes I have tried.  The great thing about Pinterest is that I can find so many good-looking recipes and read the comments before actually trying them. Back in the old days, we had to assume the finished product would be as easy and beautiful as what was pictured.  Through the internet we can hear from real people and learn from their mistakes!  This recipe had lots of positive comments and very little tweaking to the original so I gave it a shot.

I love pancakes but they are loaded with carbs (which I am not totally against) and calories so I have always been looking for an alternative.  I also dislike Greek yogurt (oh, stop looking shocked) but bought some when it was on sale.  Why?  I don’t know.  Perhaps I thought I would wake up one day and decide I liked it.  Imagine my delight when I saw a way to make healthier pancakes AND use up the Greek yogurt.

The recipe sounds bizarre and there is no way it should work, but it does.  Here is the link to the original post:

http://www.everydaybelle.com/2011/06/greek-yogurt-pancakes/

My comments are in parentheses.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 6 oz of your favorite Greek yogurt ( I used Chobani 0% vanilla/honey for the first batch, black cherry for the second batch )
  • 1 egg
  • scant 1/2 cup flour (I used white, might try whole grain next time)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • (I added a splash of vanilla but it’s optional)

Directions

  • Open the yogurt container and stir the yogurt until it’s smooth and creamy.  Crack an egg over the yogurt and stir to combine.   The resulting mixture should be pale yellow in color and have a few lumps here and there.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
  • Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and baking soda.  Stir to combine.  The batter will be extremely thick.
  • Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan heated to medium-high. I usually make four big pancakes, but you could also make 8 smaller ones. (I made 4 big pancakes)
  • Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble a bit on the surface. (I had trouble flipping so these weren’t pretty but they tasted good)   Cook until golden brown (mine were more dark brown) on both sides and serve with butter, syrup, fruit, Nutella….anything! Enjoy!

Seriously, that is the whole recipe.  I actually had everything on hand and it took all of 2 minutes to throw together.  The batter is pretty thick and not as easy to work with as regular batter but my second batch turned out better once I knew what to expect.  We topped it with sugar-free syrup.  Nutella is mentioned in the original recipe but take a look at the ingredient list.  You might as well melt a candy bar, most have more nutrition that Nutella.

So- is this crazy pancake healthier than the original?  You bet!

Each pancake:

Calories= 76

Fat=1.3 g

Cholesterol= 46 mg (you could lower this by using just egg whites but I like the whole egg)

Sodium=36 mg (awesome!)

Fiber- .2 g (whole grain flour or some flax seeds would increase this)

Sugar=3.3 g (watch it with the syrup to keep this sugar nice and low)

Protein=6.4 g (hurray for Greek yogurt!)

While recipes may vary, a standard buttermilk pancake has 175 calories, 7.2 g of fat a whopping 402 mg of sodium.

As you can see, the Greek pancake is WAY healthier and it also tastes great.

Try them and let me know what you think.  With this recipe you can even have some bacon on the side and not feel guilty.

This picture is from the original blog. My pancakes were flatter and darker but still really, really good. I also don’t put butter on my pancakes to save some saturated fat and calories for the bacon.

 

 

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Born To Run or Too Hot to Run?

I’m combining two earlier posts, Born to Run from June 2 and How Hot is Too Hot from June 27 because both collided for me this morning.

The good news- about 6 weeks ago I decided to take running seriously.  I could never run more that a minute or two at a time and I wanted to change that.  Well, I now run 3 miles (in a row!!)  and have run 5 miles (in a row!!) once.  I have averaged 9-10 minute miles but have done a few in 8 minutes.  I used a “couch to 5k” training regimen and it is working.  Never in my life did I think I would look forward to running and never did I think I would run a mile, let alone 5.  So- if you think you can’t do it, think again.

The bad news- it has been HOT here.  I like hot and I don’t mind humid but we are in the longest hot spell that I can remember.  I have advised against exercising in the heat because even the most physically fit people can succumb to heat stroke.  Perhaps I need to heed my own advice.  I was excited to go out for a Sunday run as I had plenty of time and could really push it.  However, the temp at 6:30 am was almost 80 and the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless sky.  This should have been a warning sign but I went out anyway.

 

Another warning sign- I ran into my friend Tracy out on the trail, she was on her way back from a long run.  This girl is an experienced marathoner and had her tool belt filled with water bottles.  We stopped for a 5 second chat and she basically said it was a really tough run and she was dying.  (not literally, but close!).  At that point I should have gone back home.  If Tracy is struggling, an amateur like me would be in trouble.

But, no, dammit.  This is my day off and I’m going to run.  I started off well but it didn’t take long for the heat and humidity to catch up.  At this point I was running downhill with the sun at my back.  Did I think about the return trip being uphill and into the blazing sun?  Of course not!  Did I bring water?  No, that would have been too smart.

I did make it 1.5 miles before I had to slow down and walk.  At that point, I started to get goosebumps which is a warning sign of heat stroke.  I did not heed the warning and started my run back home.  Up the hill, into the sun, panting and pushing.  Sweat does nothing to cool a body at such a high dew point so my body was just heating and heating.  I would like to be dramatic and say I passed out and handsome young EMT’s came to my rescue but I made it home alive with no real problems.  However, I was a bit dizzy and had a tough time cooling down.  The worst thing to do is jump into a cold shower so I just wiped down with a damp towel until I felt better.

What’s the takeaway?  Running is fun.  Running burns tons of calories.  Running helps clear your mind.  But- running in the heat and humidity is dumb.  Go to the gym or do an indoor cardio workout like jumping jacks, jump roping or high knee running in place.

Perhaps this week I will practice what I preach! Take it easy- triple digits are in the forecast.

 

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How Hot is Too Hot? Right Now it is TOO HOT!

DO NOT EXERCISE IN THIS HEAT!!!

 

 

I love hot weather and I love to workout but sometimes the two don’t mix.  A co-worker just went by my office and said he was going for a run. Now, I’m sitting in a freezing cold office so a run outside sounds good.  However, it is 92 degrees and we are under a heat advisory.  I don’t care how elite you are as an athlete, temps like that will kill you.  Seriously.  Go to the gym or take a day off from working out.  No matter how much you drink or how well you prepare- you could die.  It happens all the time.  As much as we love to sweat- this isn’t the right weather for it.

If you won’t listen to me, listen to the Mayo Clinic:

How heat affects your body

“Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don’t take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Heat-related illness “Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily and you don’t drink enough fluids. The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated.

Heat illnesses include: Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.

Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C) and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.

Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.”

 

There you have it.  It is just too damn hot to exercise outside.  I’m going to sit back with a bottle of Bud Light 55 and be thankful that I went out for a run at 5am!

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Is there anything other than water?

We all know that we need to stay hydrated but there are very few options that are good for you.  I’m a big fan of Diet Pepsi but the more I read, the more I realize that there could be some long-term side effects.  I used to have 1 can a day, which isn’t  much, but I’m trying to eliminate it completely.  I have recently started drinking coffee, I find it really does give me more energy when I drink it before a workout but it isn’t my beverage of choice.

I have a few beers a week, usually Bud Light 55, but it’s not like I can sit around drinking beer all day!  I have been drinking lots and lots of water.  So much water that I really need to find an alternative.  I like water, but it gets boring.  There are thousands of choices in beverages, most of them full of sugar and calories.  Luckily, the Nu val system came to the rescue and I found a couple of awesome choices!

I have always felt that Vitamin Water is a bit of a scam because the ingredients in order are: filtered water and crystalline fructose (sugar).  One bottle is 250 calories. Ouch.

But- Vitamin Water has now come out with a flavored water that is naturally sweetened with stevia.  Zero Calories.  Nu Val score of 56- pretty much unheard of in the world of beverages.  Also,  the three I have tried taste great!  I especially like the lemonade and the orange flavor contains electrolytes so it’s refreshing after a sweaty workout. (also good if you have the flu and are losing fluids).

You need to be careful, the full sugar variety of Vitamin Water looks just like it so read the label.  Or just look for the Nu Val score if you are lucky enough to shop at a store that uses this system!

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Born to Run…part 2

My new mantra!

 

A few weeks back I wrote about my struggle to run. Running has just not been my favorite thing to do but there are so many reasons to run that I just had to give it another shot.   Why run?

1- It’s Easy.  Well, by easy I mean that you don’t need to learn any rules or do something completely different.  We have all run at one point in our lives, some of us just quit doing it.

2- It’s Cheap.  The equipment needed for running can be pretty inexpensive compared to other sports.  A good pair of running shoes does not have cost $100+, in fact, many of the top rated shoes are much less than that.  I would suggest investing in some good moisture wicking socks with padding in the toe and heel.  Also- get a decent sports bra, one that holds you in place.  Any old t-shirt and shorts will do, although shorts with a built-in compression short or panty are super comfortable.  I also have a running skort that I love but still feel awkward when I wear it.  You don’t need to belong to a gym to run, there is no charge to run outside! (I know, for those of us in the snow belt this can get challenging in the winter).

3-It’s Not Easy- Wait…what?  Why would I want to do something that’s not easy? Didn’t I just say that it was easy?  You’re doing this for a variety of reasons- to lose weight, heart health, cardio health, etc.  Well, running torches more calories that pretty much anything else because it ain’t easy! Running also gives your ticker a world-class workout.  When your legs hit their stride they squeeze blood toward your heart, which in turn forces it to pump the blood right back. The faster you run, the harder your heart works and the stronger it gets.  And that ain’t easy!

4- It’s GOOD for your knees! Contrary to popular belief,  running doesn’t wreck your joints. Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage starts to break down.  The biggest osteoarthritis risk factor besides age? Body weight.  Runners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis.

Running also bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Hitting the trail also gives your bones a boost, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Though it’s important to treat all running injuries and to replace your shoes often, in the end, running will build your joints up, not tear them down.

5- You’ll stress less.  Running is a great way to get away from it all.  DON’T bring your phone!  If you feel more secure with it in case of emergency, leave it turned off.  Do you really think the world will end if no one can reach you for 30 minutes?  The world will be fine and you will be MUCH better.  Let your mind wander, play some tunes or just listen to your breathing and the birds.

6- You are only competing against yourself.  I’m not a very competitive person so beating someone else just isn’t that big of a deal.  However, running faster or longer or lifting more weight or doing more reps than I did before is very motivating.  I only have to defeat myself!


6- Running can prevent disease.  Most experts agree that regular exercise reduces the risk of many kinds of cancer, including some of the scariest: colon, breast, endometrial, and lung. Runners, joggers, and walkers also have a leg up against heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and running has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise good cholesterol, and boost immunity to colds and other viruses.

7- You’ll probably live longer- and probably live better! In perhaps the most surprising study done on the health benefits of running, a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine studied 538 runners and 423 healthy non-runners from 1984 until 2005. All of the subjects were over 50 and were asked to take a disability questionnaire each year measuring simple tasks like cutting meat, shampooing hair, and opening a milk carton.
Every year, the disability levels were significantly lower in the group of runners than in the non-runners, and they became more different as both groups aged.
Even more interesting (though admittedly morbid)?  At the end of the study, 85% of the runners were still alive, while only 66% of the non-runners were.

Ok, now that we know why we should run- how to we do it?  For me, it was signing up for a 5K so I had a goal.  I used to run a minute or two (if even that long) and stop because I just didn’t feel like running.  After I signed up for an official run, I knew there was no turning back.  There are loads of training articles on the internet- just search for 5k training to get started.  I like running to a beat so I went to jog.fm to check the minutes per mile on my favorite songs and set up a playlist.

I ran my first timed 5K this past weekend, my goal was to finish in 30 minutes but my music kept me going and I finished in 27.  But- I was sure happy to see that finish line.  10k’s will have to wait!

 

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Chilaquiles Casserole

I have written about Chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-lays) before as it is one of my favorite Mexican foods so I was excited to see this recipe on WebMD and made it last night.  Couple things- it is really tasty and you will never miss the meat.  But- it is not really Chilaquiles, I would say it is more like a Mexican lasagna.  No matter what you call it, call it both delicious and healthy!  I changed the recipe somewhat and used Nu Val scores to make this even more nutritious.  For those who don’t know- Nu Val is a scoring system in which products are labeled from 1 (least nutritious) to 100 (most nutritious).  There are a couple of items in this recipe that could either be really bad or really good and you wouldn’t know unless you studied the labels – or- just use Nu Val and take out the guesswork! The Nu Val scores are in parentheses behind the item, see below for more in-depth info.

Chilaquiles Casserole

Servings: 10

Total Time: 45

Prep Time: 20

Recipe Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil (24)

1 medium onion, diced (93)

1 medium zucchini, grated (99)

1 19-ounce can low-sodium black beans, rinsed (91)

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (42)

1 1/2 cups corn, frozen or fresh (91)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

12 corn tortillas, quartered (91)

1 19-ounce can mild red or green enchilada sauce (25)

1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese ( I used a Mexican blend,  same Nu Val score and cheaper!) (24)

I also added chopped garlic and chopped cilantro with the vegetables and hit it with some chili powder as well.

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.
  3. Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the pan. Top with half the vegetable mixture, half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.
  4. Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more

This is a quick and easy recipe and it makes a lot so the two of us will be eating this for a few days.  It actually tastes better as leftovers!

The only part of the nutritional info I feel comfortable about using is calories, which are approx. 240 in a serving.  I made some changes to to the original recipe that would change the info given on WebMD, my version will have less sodium, fat, and more fiber.  Overall, this is a darn healthy meal.

Let’s look at some choices you can make to eat healthier.

Black Beans are always a good choice.  High in fiber, low in calories.  But, once they are canned they can be quite high in sodium.  Let’s compare:

Regular canned black beans have a decent score of 55 but contain 400 mg of sodium.  Switching to no salt added raises the score to an awesome 91 and only 10 mg of sodium.  Look for reduced or no salt in everything you buy.  Your heart will thank you.

Tortillas were a real eye opener.  I prefer flour tortillas but corn tortillas score consistently higher.  I was so excited to find white corn tortillas with a score of 91!!!  The flour tortillas next to them on the shelf score a 2, which means a Snickers bar has more nutrition! This category has some extreme highs and extreme lows so shop smart. Also, the white corn tortillas are very similar to flour.  You really won’t notice a difference.

Wow- that is a HUGE difference in nutritional value!!

I had a big dilemma with the enchilada sauce because I prefer red and it seemed like it would work better with this recipe.  Nu Val was telling me that green was the wise choice but I went against it and bought red anyway.  The biggest difference I could see was that red has 1 g of saturated fat which would drive the score down.  It also has about 40 more calories per serving.

The scores are on the shelf tag. 50 for green, 25 for red. This is the only area that I did not go up in score.

This recipe called for diced tomatoes.  Do you know how many varieties of diced tomatoes are available?  A LOT!  I chose the kind with green chiles just to give a little more heat but you can use whatever you like.  Scores are pretty much the same except for low sodium which scores an 81.  You could also use plain tomato sauce (go for the low-sodium).

One of many varieties of canned tomatoes, choose what you like but low-sodium is best.

I also had some non-fat Greek yogurt on hand so I dolloped a bit on top.  I don’t like Greek yogurt by itself, but I like it as sour cream.  And, with a Nu Val core of 93, it is much healthier than sour cream (23).

If you don’t have Nu Val available where you shop and want to make better choices, compare the labels.  I compare saturated/trans fat, sodium and sugar and choose the lowest.  Look at fiber and choose the highest.  That’s really simplified but it will get you on the right track.

Enjoy the Chilaquiles!

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Hard Body- Soft Skin

We’re all working out to get toned, strong, hard bodies but no one wants their skin described as hard.  Or rough.  Or compared to a crocodile.  Sometimes a good ol’ exfoliation is what we need get rid of the dead skin and feel smooth as a baby’s butt.  Need more reasons?

90% of the dust in your home is dead skin cells.  And no, I didn’t make a typo.  So, now that you’re a tad bit unsettled, let’s talk about why it’s good for your skin.

We all want smooth soft skin, especially in the summer when we reveal more skin. Your body is covered in a layer of dead skin cells.  The lotion that you put on your skin has to work its way through layers of dead skin cells just to reach the top layer.  No matter how much body lotion you put on the dead skin cells, they still remain dead skin cells.  If you want healthy smooth skin, you must slough them off.  No better way that in the shower or bath with a body exfoliator. Yes- men have plenty of dead skin and contribute to the dust in the house so they need to scrub, too!

Exfoliants range in price but it seems like the good ones start at $15 and go up from there.  Really?  Sometimes I am just cheap and this is one of those times, there has to be a less expensive way to scrub dead skin off your body.

I love Google…a couple of clicks and I found LOADS of recipes for homemade exfoliants.  Some contained ingredients that would take some effort to find.  I chose one that had just 3 ingredients and I happened to have all three in the kitchen.

Easy Scrub

1/2 cup white sugar

3 tbl. olive oil

lemon juice

Mix the sugar and olive oil until mostly moistened, then add lemon juice until you get the desired consistency.  You don’t want it runny so be careful.   That’s all you do- your homemade exfoliator is done!

Shower with soap (or whatever you use), then exfoliate.  I like to turn off the shower so the exfoliant doesn’t wash off right away.  Use your fingers to rub it all over your body, being gentle on your face, neck and chest but really hitting those elbows, toes, and knees.  Turn on the shower and wash it all away!  Shave your legs (or whatever you shave) after doing this for the closest shave ever. My skin is not really rough, but it felt like silk after doing this!  Towel off and moisturize and you are good to go!  Experts recommend exfoliating 2-3 times per week, less often if you have sensitive skin.

What’s the cost?  Sugar approx. 23 cents, oil approx. 64 cents, lemon juice about 5 cents giving it a grand total of 92 cents.  Let’s call it a dollar if you use name brand products.  I used the whole container just because I was enjoying it, but you really could get 2 applications from this recipe.  Cheap and easy- it doesn’t get any better than that.  Like I said, there are loads of recipes that incorporate different oils and fragrances that you can try, but sugar, olive oil, and lemon juice did the trick for me!  Let me know if you come up with something that you like.

 

I support the store brand! This is all you need to get baby soft skin.

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What a Beautiful Sunday!

It is a beautiful day in Northeast Wisconsin- we don’t get many so we really take advantage of them.  I finished Rug Doctoring the rest of the house, pulled weeds, cleaned the kitchen, changed the sheets and then decided I had to stop this foolishness and get outside.  Yes, the weeds were outside but pulling them doesn’t count as fun.

I finally got the bike out of the basement, I cycle 3 times a week but I do it indoors so I never go anywhere!  How refreshing to actually get from Point A to Point B.  Except…Point B was McDonald’s.  Those darn chocolate chip cookies were calling to me and I couldn’t resist.  Have  you ever gone through the drive-thru on your bike?  I just did it for the first time- the kid at the first window said he rode his bike to work and couldn’t wait to ride home and the second kid…get this…said “I guess you are working these off before you eat them!”  Hahahahahaha….I love sassy teens.

I started thinking about working off these cookies and had to do some research.  I love wireless and a laptop- I can sit out on the deck and do this.  The only issue is my  legs are sweating and I’m sliding around on my plastic chairs, might have to get a towel!  Anyway, let’s get back on topic.

McDonald’s sells these horrible fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies- 3 for $1.  They really aren’t horrible, they are AWESOME.  Chewy and melty and perfect.  Except:

Calories (in EACH cookie)=160. Eat all three and it comes to… ALOT.  (I’m not even going to do the math)

Each cookie has 8 grams  of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 15 g of sugar (about 4 tsp.)  Take that times 3 and you also get ALOT!

So- to justify this wonderful treat, I went to my favorite calorie calculator at http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc.  I entered my weight, picked my activity and duration. 30 minutes of biking at 12 -14 mph burned 267 calories.  That seems like a lot of work to burn 1.5 cookies!  Calorie calculators are a great way to either congratulate yourself for a job well done or to give yourself a wake-up call.

Moral of the story- It’s a beautiful day, I burned some calories and really enjoyed my cookies.  Sometimes you just gotta treat yourself for all the hard work you do.  Just don’t do it too often!  Hope you are having a great day and are looking forward to a healthy week.

They baked these cookies just for me so I HAVE to eat them!

 

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Born To Run?

 

 

Today’s post is a bit more like reading a journal so bear with me.  I’m working on a goal here and need all of you to hold me accountable!

Ever since I have started seriously exercising (about 10 years ago), I have tried to run.  I run for a minute and give up in frustration because I just don’t enjoy it.  Where’s the runners high?  Where’s that feeling of exhilaration that I hear about from all my runner friends?  I just get cranky because I just can’t do it.  I know,” can’t means won'”t so I decided to give it one last shot.

If I was going to attempt to be a runner, I needed a goal.  I am taking this in baby-steps so my goal is a 5k.  (I have done one 5k before, but I don’t think the course was  that long and I ended up walking a lot of it.)  5k= 3 miles plus 188 yards.

There is a Packers 5k at Lambeau Field in July and that seemed to be a good way to start.  Run through Lambeau, get a free t-shirt…this will be fun.  I mentioned it to my boss who said “get 50 people together as a team and I’ll pay the entry fee.”  Well, this is getting serious!  If I organize a team, I have to run it.  In my excitement, I signed myself up for the 9-11 minute wave even though I had never actually run 1 whole mile in my life, let alone 3!  Whew- that’s what’s known as setting a goal.  I know, it can be called other things but I’m calling it a goal!

I first had to figure out why I can’t (won’t ) run.  My cardio endurance is good from cycling, my legs, knees, and hips are fine so there is no physical reason why I can’t run.  Shoot, that means it’s all in my head which is probably harder to fix than if it were a physical issue.

I bought some new shoes, cranked up the ipod and headed out for my first serious stab at running.  I read a few articles about running for a length of time vs running for distance and went with time.  How about 2 minutes?  haha…seriously, I am not kidding- 2 minutes and I was ready to stop.  But I didn’t, I made myself do 5.  I would like to say I kept going but I slowed to a brisk walk at 5 minutes.  I don’t want to be too crazy!

I’ve been going for a run almost daily for about 2 weeks now and am excited that I can now do 3 miles in just under 30 minutes without stopping.  This is on the treadmill in the gym, running outside is still a bit of a challenge with all the hills and wind and stuff.  (I love excuses).  I am getting outside more and pushing myself to run 15 minutes before taking a walk break.  I still haven’t experienced that running high, but it is very exciting to see the treadmill hit 3 miles. Small victories are awesome!  The next goal is to run 3 miles (in a row!) outside, and then see if I can maybe speed it up a bit.

I’m a big believer in setting reasonable goals and sticking to them.  Even if  you are in good shape, it’s fun to give yourself a challenge.  If you aren’t in such good shape, goals can help you get there.  Sometimes a goal is as easy as a walk around the block before dinner.  Then make it 2 blocks, then 3….you see where this is going.  We can’t be awesome right out of the gate–sometimes we need to build up to it!

 

What’s your goal?  Don’t have one?  Why not?

 

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Another Winning Recipe!

I have been testing new recipes all week and am quite surprised at how well they turned out.  I’m mostly surprised because almost all have been meatless, low calorie, high fiber, low sodium, and very few processed ingredients. AND–they taste awesome!  I have been a lifelong vegetable avoider and have finally decided to embrace the produce department.

I found the basic recipe on allrecipes.com and added my own twist.  Yes, I am taking recipes, adding a twist- and it works!

Stuffed Green Peppers- Greek Style

  •                     1/2 cup uncooked brown rice*
  •                      1 cup vegetable broth
  •                     2 green (or whatever color you want) bell peppers, halved and seeded (cut vertically, not just taking the top off)
  •                     1 tablespoon olive oil
  •                     1 small onion, minced
  •                      1 tbl. minced garlic
  •                     1 teaspoon dried basil
  •                     1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  •                     1 teaspoon salt
  •                     1 pinch ground black pepper
  •                     1 tomato, diced
  •                      1/2 cup sliced black olives
  •                     1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
 Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray or wipe with a bit of olive oil
-Prepare brown rice per recipe below.  Brown Rice can be difficult but it is worth it.  If you don’t have time, white rice will work, prepare according to directions on the box.
1.    Place the peppers cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender and skin starts to brown.
2.    While the peppers are roasting, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, and pepper in oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato and black olives,  cook for 5 minutes. Spoon in the cooked rice, and stir until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in the feta cheese, and spoon the mixture into the pepper halves.
 3. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Top with a bit more of the feta cheese and serve immediately.

*How to make Brown Rice

  • Put brown rice and vegetable broth (or water) together in a pot with a lid.
  • Set the heat to maximum, and bring the rice/water to a boil uncovered.  Then put the lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low/simmer.  If your lid has a steam valve, keep it closed.  Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, and let the rice sit in the covered pot for another 10 minutes.  It’s OK if you let the rice sit longer than 10 minutes (20 or 30 minutes is fine too), but don’t let it go any less.  I prefer my rice to be slightly chewy, not mushy, so I usually remove the lid after 10 minutes

Calories if you eat a whole pepper approximately 385.  I only ate one half and saved the other for lunch the next day.  I served it with a crusty parmesan tomato bread from the bakery topped with a bit of olive oil.  This added about 160 calories.  Total- 352!  Woo-hoo, that means I can have small cup of ice cream before bed!

Not mine, but similar

 

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