What is Steff-stainability?

Living sustainably, my way. It's thinking about what you are putting into your body and how it affects you. But it's also indulging in a brownie cheesecake every now and then. It's making your body look the way you want it to and being proud of it. But it's not spending half of the day working out. It's about making small changes in your life to benefit the great earth on which we live. But it's also running your A/C in the summer and driving your car. It's about setting goals and living up to them. It's trying to make the world a better place. And as I am ever-learning and ever-changing, so is this definition.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Big News and a Swim Workout

I have been in limbo for almost a year now. No place I've lived in since I've been married has been permanent, nowhere seems like home. And I haven't even thought about applying for jobs anywhere because no job I would enjoy would only employ me for 6 months.

Limbo is drawing to a close. I have exactly 49 days until we leave Lawton and head to the land of milk and honey (as they called California in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath). I've been looking at houses online and suddenly I have the need to find a place that feels homey. But the daunting task that lies ahead of me of finding a job is looming. I can't be a housewife forever. I would go crazy, and if we live in the type of house I want, I would have to work to make ends meet. It's a little scary thinking about it. I mean, sure, I could be an "administrative assistant" with no problem, I did that all the way through college. But it's so BORING. I need to feel like I'm making a difference.

Teaching is out of the question for the next year. Even if there were social science teaching jobs in southern California, I would be getting there too late in the school year to teach. So what can I possibly do? An idea popped in my head when, ironically enough, I was on my way to the gym.

I should be a personal trainer! I love to exercise, I love to teach people, and I need to feel like I'm making a difference. It would be a great source for my blog and give me the chance to share more workouts with you! So I am currently on the hunt for a personal training certification course, and I think I've found one. I just need to buckle down and do it! I wanted to share it with all of you because I'm excited!

Now, I'm pretty sure I have shared with you my hatred of running. Let me reiterate. I. Hate. Running. Even after 20 minutes, I want more than anything to quit and even throw away my running shoes so I have an excuse to never do it again. But I push through it, because running is a great source of cardio.

I usually run about once or twice a week, because I find other ways to get cardio in without the dreaded run. After all, this blog is about getting fit WITHOUT torturing yourself. I want people to realize that working out can be fun, not torture. So I'm constantly seeking new ways to get people interested in working out. One of my favorites, particularly in the hot summer, is swimming. Swimming is great cardio work and it's great for toning too. It's low impact, so if you have shin splints or arthritis, you can still get a great workout in. I researched a few swim workouts so I'm not just running laps, and I came across a sprint workout I really fell in love with on active.com.

Warm-up: 500 Freestyle at your own pace
Get out of the pool and stretch your legs, arms, and shoulders

8 sets of 50 yards/meters at a slow/medium pace at 1 minute intervals. (Time yourself, when you finish your 50 yds, you have the remainder of the minute to rest)
8 sets of 50 yd/m at a medium/fast pace at 1 minute intervals
8 sets of 100 yd/m at a descending pace (Each set should be faster than the last, so start slow and speed up each set)
8 sets of 100 yd/m - 75 yd/m fast, 10 second rest, then 25 sprint
8 sets of 50 yd/m - 25 fast, 10 second rest, 25 sprint

Cool down: 300 yards

Now, I realize this is a lot. In fact, you have to work up to this workout. If you're not a really strong swimmer, it's nearly impossible to complete this workout full out the first time. I greatly modified this workout and added a bit more each time. My first time looked like this:

Warm-up: 300 yards
4 sets of 50 yards at a slow/med pace at 1:15 intervals
4 sets of 50 yards at a med/fast pace at 1:15 intervals
4 sets of 50 yards at a descending pace
4 sets of 100 yards - 75 fast, 10 second rest, 25 sprint
4 sets of 50 yards - 25 fast, 10 second rest, 25 sprint

Cool down - 150 yards

Each week I did the workout, I added one set to each drill. So in 4 weeks you can do the full workout!
If you haven't been formally trained to swim, seek a lifeguard or swim instructor to learn the correct method of freestyle. It makes a HUGE difference. Doing freestyle correctly will help you swim more efficiently and get more out of your workout.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Capitalist's Plea for Sustainable Food

I hate 24-hour network news. In fact, I hate most media outlets in general. I find them all so disgustingly dripping with partisanship it literally makes me sick to read/watch it. If this country comes crashing down, which I doubt but so many seem sure that we need to "take our country back" (from whom, I wonder?), I'm blaming it on the Glenn Becks and Keith Olbermanns.

I thought this was a blog about sustainability? I apologize for the digression, but I swear it ties into what I'm about to say. The one media outlet source I absolutely enjoy reading (but don't fully trust) is Fox News.

Just kidding. (that was for my father-in-law)

... is the Daily Beast. It's a conglomeration of bloggers and many of them are as fed up with partisanship in the media as I am. That is not to say that they aren't biased; one of the most important things I learned from my history education is that nothing is ever objective. But they are only moderately biased and I don't think they are pushing any political agenda on their readers. So today I was browsing the website and came across these two articles:

Think your kids are safe if you order from the kids menu? Feeling like being healthy so you'll "just have a salad" when you are out for dinner? Think again. One problem about the expansion of sustainability is that businesses try to exploit the idea without actually following through. Think: BP's "Gas Friendly to Gas Free" slogan... yeah right. Be on the lookout for calorie-filled meals that are disguised as healthy!

Now, on to what I planned on writing about today before I had to share those articles.

I, like most Americans, am a capitalist. Now, in case you aren't like me and don't get excited when someone starts a theoretical discussion about economics, let me refresh your memory. People have been throwing around terms like "capitalist" "communist" and "socialist" in order to scare people about our economic climate. Since most people nowadays haven't taken an American civics course since 12th grade when they were probably daydreaming in the back of the classroom, the vast majority of the public doesn't really know what these mean anymore.

Capitalism - The form of economy (NOT government) in which ownership of companies is in the hands of the people. Like, Joe's Movie Theater is actually owned by Joe, and he makes the decisions for his company. Supply is determined by the demand of the consumer; if there is no demand for a product, the company will go out of business.

Socialism - The form of economy in which ownership of companies is in the hands of the government. Joe's Movie Theater is actually owned by the government, who pays Joe to manage the facility. But everything, from what is being shown at the theater, to how much popcorn is being sold, (supply and demand) is determined by the government.

Communism - is actually not an economic theory but a social theory, in which no one owns property, but is controlled by the community. Therefore, there are no social classes and everyone is equal. In fact, in true communism, there is no government at all.

Now that we have that boring stuff out of the way (which actually really excites me), let me get to my point. I am a capitalist. Private corporations and businesses have the right to determine their means of production and their products, and if the public doesn't like it, then their products aren't purchased and they go out of business. In a perfect world, that's how capitalism works.

But this isn't a perfect world, because corporations with less-than-ethical business practices and less-than-acceptable products make millions of dollars by "duping" their fellow Americans, or simply selling faulty products without realizing it. That's why we have things like the Food and Drug Administration; they prevent us from buying tainted meat or cereal with bugs in it.

However, there are many business practices, especially ones that go into our food, that are simply beyond the reach of the FDA. Like I said, I'm a capitalist. I don't want the government controlling every single aspect of how our food is made. First of all, there are always loopholes, no matter how hard the government tries. Second, my husband works for the government. I know exactly how screwed up bureaucracy is and how government regulation can just add pages and pages of paperwork (and we all know that isn't good for the environment!!).

But the problem remains. The big food corporations are trying to produce as much food as cheaply as possible. This means using pesticides that are harmful to the environment. This means packing chickens into an undersized, crowded room where disease spreads like wildfire. This means injecting chickens with hormones to make their breasts bigger while the rest of their body doesn't grow, making it impossible for them to have the strength to support themselves to take more than a few steps at a time. This means feeding animals cheap, massed-produced food, making them actually unhealthy. Animals standing ankle-deep in their own feces. Packing chickens and pigs into cages where they don't even have enough room to stand up and turn around. Having cows, who instinctually are supposed to be eating and living in grass, living in dirt-covered, barren dairies eating mass-produced corn. (All of this information comes from the film Food, Inc.) Going off on a quick tangent, mass-produced corn itself goes against the laws of capitalism. Corn is subsidized by the government; farmers are paid by the government to cheaply produce corn. Therefore, the price of corn is not determined by the market, as it should in a capitalist economy. The price of corn is determined by how much the government is willing to pay for it. By buying meat that comes from an animal who was fed mass-produced corn, you are supporting government subsidies and going against the laws of capitalism.

And it's not just the animals who are getting screwed here. The slaughterhouses are dirty and unsafe. Employees are underpaid to work in unsatisfactory conditions. The farmers who care for the animals we eat are underpaid from the corporations. In fact, according to Food, Inc., the average chicken farmer gets paid $17,000 a year to raise the chickens, but the upkeep and equipment to do so costs much more than that, which the farmers must pay out of pocket. Of course, the corporations don't tell them this before they sign their contract with them. And they make millions of dollars off of this.

This trickles all the way down to us, the consumer. Because of the dirty conditions in the slaughterhouses, it's very easy for tainted meat to reach the general public. Even if the meat isn't tainted, it's packed with hormones and steroids that get into our bodies, and according to some studies, can give us cancer. (See here) The antibiotics given to the animals (because they live in such close quarters) are still present when we buy the meat. Over time, the animals become resistant to the antibiotics, and since only traces of it are left in the food we eat, we become resistant as well. So when we get sick, the antibiotics prescribed to us won't work anymore (See PBS).

And to go against the basis of capitalism, we are paying for a product that isn't good! It doesn't even taste good. Try eating fresh, and I mean FRESH, meat instead of what you buy at the store. It's not just meat, either. A freshly-picked strawberry tastes eons better than the ones you buy at the store. And tomatoes? Go to your local farmers market and buy a fresh tomato. They are in season. Then go to the grocery store and buy a tomato. Eat them side by side. NO COMPARISON. You know why? Because tomatoes you buy in the store are picked when they are green and then injected with chemicals to ripen (See here). Even fresh onions taste better than store-bought. And the chemical-free, organic produce? It tastes even better.

My point is that our food production system goes agains the laws of capitalism. We are buying a substandard product that is based off of unethical business practices. Any true believer in capitalism should be against this. Does this mean the government should get involved? Honestly, I don't fully know the answer to that. The government is already involved, conservatives won't agree to more government regulation, and recently any kind of government "reform" has been ineffective, only creating hoops and red tape without actually getting to the root of the problem. But I also think that these businesses shouldn't be allowed to do what they are doing.

So what do we do? Spread the word! One of the reasons capitalism fails here is because people aren't educated on how their food is produced, so how could they know not to buy bad food? The capitalist way to solve this is to not buy the food yourself, and tell others not to buy the food as well. Encourage your friends and family to go to the farmers market and buy products that are in season. Spread the word about my blog (Did I just shamelessly advertise? Maybe.). Don't buy meat from mass-produced meat corporations such as Tyson or Perdue. I'm in the process of compiling a list of unethical meat producers, and a list of ethical ones.

I know for a fact that Harvestland products are organic. You can buy them at Walmart. *gasp* I know. Walmart doesn't seem to fit into the picture of sustainability. But it actually really does. They sell quite a few sustainable, organic products that frequent my shelves and fridge. Harvestland chicken are cage-free, steroid-free, and humanely raised. They also sell Stonyfield organic yogurt. Be on the lookout for more organic, safe, sustainable food producers. I'll be posting a list soon.

We can change this without, as I say, being a complete and total hippie. Use word of mouth, instead of the hand of the government, to fix this problem. It's problems like this one that make people search for alternatives to capitalism, which, in my opinion, are dangerous to our freedoms. Don't give people that chance. Change in a capitalist society has to come from the consumer. That's you and me. It's up to us to change this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unexpected Awesomeness and another Farmer's Market favorite - Zucchini Pasta

Today was full of pleasant surprises! After a great total body workout at the gym and lunch out with the girls, I got a text message from Kara who said "There's a Prius outside with sustainable1000.com written on it." So I looked it up to learn more about it! Turns out a man named Shane Snipes is traveling the country in his Prius in 250 days, and he's set out to do 1,000 interviews about sustainability. How cool is that?! AND he showed up in Lawton and is staying with a friend in my apartment complex! I was really excited to find this guy in my apartment complex, and I really wanted to talk to him. So of course I went stalker-status and walked by his car about 10 times, hoping he would come outside. The 100-degree heat was getting to me, so I ended up leaving him a note on his car, saying that I wanted to talk to him, and I left him my phone number and blog address. He called me about an hour later, and we walked around my apartment complex while we talked about sustainability! He even took a little video interview of me that will *hopefully* end up on his YouTube site, which you can access on his website.

It was so cool to meet him! I think it's really awesome that he has set out on such a prestigious project in an effort to define sustainability on a wider scale and show that it's not difficult to be sustainable! He has been traveling around the country since April 2, and Oklahoma was his 17th state he has visited. Check out his website and become a fan on Facebook; help get the word out there that he is doing this!

On to a new recipe! If you've noticed, I've been using a lot of zucchini and squash in my recipes. That's because it's a great summer vegetable, it's really healthy for you, and it's so versatile. You can make so many different dishes with zucchini and squash. Also, it's very popular at the farmers market; everybody has it and they are really cheap. I usually buy 3 or 4 zucchini or squash every week!

This recipe is a quick and easy favorite of mine. I think I mentioned it a few posts ago in passing, so I wanted to share it with you. This is great for a quick dinner or even lunch, and it's healthy and very tasty!

Zucchini and Whole Wheat Pasta

Extra virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small zucchini, chopped into half-moon slices
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Lemon juice
Whole wheat penne pasta (I use about half a box for my husband and myself for dinner)
Fresh Parsley, minced
Fresh Basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese
Optional: fresh mint (I tend to leave it out because the mint is never really fresh here and it doesn't taste very good)

1. Boil water in a pot and add pasta.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, and for the pasta to cook, heat the oil over med-high heat in a large frying pan.
3. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring and turning from time to time for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until the garlic starts to brown.
5. Remove pan from heat. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top and stir.
6. Add the pasta, parsley, basil, and parmesan cheese and stir until thoroughly mixed. The amount of parmesan cheese is up to you, I personally can't use self-restraint when it comes to parm!
One great thing about this meal is that if you have other vegetables you need to get rid of, you can add them in. Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, or onions would all be great additions to this recipe. I had a half of a tomato I needed to get rid of, so I diced that and threw it in at the very end. It turned out great!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sustainable Tips and a Little Bragging

I know that I've been MIA for about a week, and I'm sure that all (seven) of my readers (two of which are my mother and mother-in-law) are sitting at the edge of their computer chairs/couch/bed to find out where I've been. Worry no more, I am back!

Today is Ryan's and my first wedding anniversary. We decided to go all out for this anniversary, after all, you only get your first anniversary once, and we don't know if Ryan will even be in the country for the next one. So I've spent the last week prepping for the occasion. Anyone who knows Ryan knows that he LOVES Mustangs, and I was supposed to buy him a model Bullitt that he had found on the internet. Of course by the time I got around to ordering it, it was out of stock. So I decided to go with the traditional wedding gift, paper and clocks. I made him a model Bullitt out of paper and painted it myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT crafty, so this endeavor created quite a headache for me! I also framed one of our wedding pictures, and bought him a USMC wall clock.

Ryan went above and beyond! He planned an entire weekend in Dallas at the wonderful Palomar Hotel and the most delicious dinner at Stephan Pyles restaurant. It was amazing! We went shopping yesterday and checked out the Dallas World Aquarium today, which was completely awesome. But what really blew me away was my gift:
When we first got engaged, we were both poor college students and he didn't have a lot of money to spend on a ring. Not that my ring was cheap, but he has said ever since that he wanted to get me a bigger, better one. So that's what he got me for our anniversary! I wasn't expecting it so soon; I thought a few years down the road I would get an upgrade so this was completely unexpected! At any rate, I don't mean to brag a bit, but I seriously am so lucky to have my husband. I have gone through a lot this year and I couldn't have done it without his unconditional love and support.

Now for the actual purpose of this blog. Aside from advocating farmers markets and the random rant about the guy who left his car running, I haven't spent much time talking about how to protect the environment. I promise, I'm making up for that today. Here are a few tips to be a little friendlier to our planet. These tips don't inconvenience you, they don't cost you more money, and you don't have to change your life just to follow them. It is VERY easy to follow these tips.
  • Buy reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags never decompose, so try to limit your usage of them! For years, I used the old "Oh I'll buy them but I would never remember to take them with me, so I just won't get them" excuse. Shame on me! It's very easy to get into the habit of remembering to bring them with you once you own them. No excuses! They are cheap, and if you buy one every 2 weeks or so, you can build up quite the arsenal.
  • For your other shopping bags, ask for paper, every time. Paper is easily recycled. In fact, I use my paper bags to hold all of my recyclables.
  • Recycle!! Growing up in the California suburbs, I took recycling for granted. It was so easy to just throw all my recyclables in a bin and have them picked up. Little did I know, that is not the way the rest of the country operates! But recycling centers are everywhere, and it doesn't take a whole lot of effort just to separate your recyclables and drive to the recycling center once a week. You can even make it a routine, and finish it off by rewarding yourself with your favorite treat.
  • I never thought I would have to say this, but clearly, it needs to be said. Don't leave your car running while you run in to get a sandwich. Seriously.
  • While on the subject of cars, refrain from using drive-thrus whenever possible. Especially when there is a long line.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated to optimize gas mileage.
  • If you have the time, bike to the grocery store/movie store. I know weather, distance, and time constraints can prevent you from doing this, but if it's within reason, there's no reason not to! You can even get a trailer to put behind your bike for your groceries. It can even be a fun family activity. Last weekend I saw a whole family walking to the grocery store together in the Oklahoma heat.
  • Use natural light during the day. It will save you money and it's better for the environment.
  • Shut off lights when you're not using them. Get in the habit of shutting the light off when you leave the room.
  • Buy flourescent lights. They last longer and use less electricity.
  • Unplug stuff you aren't using. If you are leaving town for a few days, even unplug your TV, microwave, stereo, etc.
  • If you are running your A/C or heat, make sure all windows and doors are closed. Shut vents in rooms you don't frequent or are not being used.
  • Only do full loads of dishes/laundry
  • Skip the dry cycle/dryer and air dry your dishes or clothes.
  • When rinsing or washing dishes by hand, don't turn the water on all the way. You can get the water you need at a low trickle instead of blasting it at full capacity.
  • Take shorter showers. No one, and I mean NO ONE, needs longer than a 15 minute shower. I may seem rude with this one, but seriously. Stop being so high-maintenance.
  • Use the microwave/toaster oven to reheat things. It uses less electricity than the stove and oven
  • Instead of driving to the gym to use the treadmill (and more electricity), run outside if weather permits.
  • Use recycled or biodegradable products. As more people are becoming concerned for the environment, recycled or biodegradable products are generally advertised by their labels.
  • Don't buy individually wrapped candies... it's not like you need the sugar anyway!
  • Buy domestic products. This includes water, coffee, alcohol, clothing, leather, cars (that are actually assembled in the US!), toys, and I'm sure there are more.
  • This may seem silly, but limit your toilet paper consumption! Two or three squares per use should cover it.
  • Replace disposable with reusable. Diapers, razors, batteries, ink cartridges, plates and silverware...
Alright, that is quite enough for one day. I want to thank my husband for sharing the last year of our lives, and all our years ahead, being married to me. =)
Photos courtesy of our wonderful photographer, Beth Armsheimer

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Answers and Awesome Stuffed Zucchini

My dear friend Sonya at Sonya Ruth Photography left a comment the other day, asking if it's ok to work out twice a day. After some research, I finally have an answer.

You can work out twice a day, as long as you pace yourself and it's not every day. Your body will be too worn out for you to effectively exercise if you keep it up for too long. According to Kristie Leong, M.D., and Jeff Bayer, fitness specialist, if you work out twice in one day, you should take the next day off. If you don't, your muscles won't have enough time to rebuild themselves to get an effective workout. Leong also recommends doing a 20-30 minute cardio session in the morning and 20-30 min resistance training/weights/toning in the afternoon or evening. For more on twice-a-day workouts, see askmen.com or ehow.com

Now! Onto my super yummy stuffed zucchini recipe. I got the idea for this recipe when I went to the farmers market a few weeks ago; someone I bought some zucchini from handed out recipes, and they handed me one for stuffed zucchini. This recipe, in my opinion, looked bland and boring, but it put the idea in my head that I could stuff zucchini with something wonderful! Then I checked allrecipes.com and found a recipe that had some more elements to it I could use. The one major flaw with this recipe is that it didn't use and herbs or seasonings, which can make it quite boring. So after reading what some people did to spice up the recipe, I came up with my own version of stuffed zucchini. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you can make it super healthy if you want, or you can make it a little indulgent. Enjoy!

One very large zucchini
1.5 lbs of ground meat - I like to do half 93% lean ground beef and half spicy italian sausage. You can still get the flavor of the sausage if you do less, and be more healthy
Two fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh Parsley, thoroughly chopped
Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 egg
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350
1. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds. DO NOT DISCARD THE SEEDS!
2. Brown the meat in a frying pan. I also sprinkle some dried parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper over the meat as it's browning. Especially do this if you are using more ground beef than sausage.
3. Transfer the meat to a large mixing bowl. If you used sausage, make sure to drain the fat off the meat in a strainer or with a slotted spoon before transferring it.
4. Saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of vegetable oil until the onion starts to become translucent, then transfer to the bowl as well.
5. Chop the zucchini insides you saved in step one. Transfer to bowl along with the tomatoes, basil, and parsley.
in this picture, you can see (starting at the top and going clockwise) the chopped zucchini insides, minced garlic, red onion, and chopped tomato.

6. Add the egg and tomato sauce to the bowl, along with some salt and pepper, and a few dashes of the parmesan cheese. (If you are going healthier, you can omit the cheese from this step)
7. Mix everything up until all the ingredients are covered in the tomato sauce and egg, and everything is thoroughly mixed together.
8. Place the zucchini halves onto a baking sheet covered in foil. Scoop the contents of the bowl into the zucchini halves. It will probably run over onto the foil.
9. Sprinkle some mozzarella, parmesan, and breadcrumbs on top.
10. Place in oven and cook for 35-40 minutes, until zucchini is soft and cheese starts to brown. Be sure to let it cool for a few minutes before eating it!

This is big enough to feed 4 people. I hope you try this one, it's my favorite recipe I've posted so far!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stephen Colbert goes Steffstainable!!

Below is a link to a clip from The Colbert Report last night. In his typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, Stephen advocates being healthy and eating sustainable seafood!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eating and Working Out

I don't know about you all, but I sure love to EAT, especially after working out!! In fact, it's a tradition of mine to come home from the gym, pig out, and veg on the couch for at least an hour. Ahh, the upsides of being a housewife... (the downside? 3 words: dirty. toilet. bowl.)

Anyway, the timing of eating and working out is VERY important. Your body needs ample energy both before and after your workout to maximize its effects. I've done a little research (as in, while stuffing my face after hitting the gym today, I needed some justification for my 4th lunch course) and came up with some tips for eating to maximize your workout.

#1 - You ABSOLUTELY need to eat before you work out, especially if you do so in the morning. According to Martica Heaner, a Health and Fitness columnist for MSN, the average person burns about 100 calories per hour just by being alive. Which means that between dinner and breakfast, you've burned up to 1200 calories. You need to replenish yourself if you are going to do a strenuous workout (which, in my opinion, is the only kind you should do under normal circumstances. Why waste your time?). If you don't, you can force your body into starvation mode, which actually stores more food in your body, and makes you feel less hungry. This can lead to binge eating later, which will completely undo everything you did at the gym.

#2 - Don't stuff yourself, and give yourself enough time between eating and working out. The timing is something you can play with; some people I know can eat a good-sized breakfast and then go on a run an hour later. I need at least an hour and a half, and two hours is better, with a light breakfast. Now, what to eat? Pop Tarts are not acceptable. (hah) A light, healthy breakfast can be just as easy as sticking a pop tart in the toaster. Here are few ideas:
  • My favorite: vanilla yogurt with strawberries and bananas mixed in. Sometimes I crumble up half of a Nature Valley granola bar for an extra crunch
  • Smoothies - ice, and any kind of fruit you have on hand. Strawberries, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, and peaches have all been a part of my smoothie at one time! Add a little bit of juice (my favorite is Dole's Orange Strawberry Banana) and a scoop of yogurt to make it creamy. Yum!
  • Toast with peanut butter. Good source of protein!
  • Milk and cereal. I tend to avoid this because it makes my tummy uncomfortable.
  • Eggs - but I like to save those for after the workout
  • Lots of water! Be hydrated!
Try to stay away from greasy breakfast meats and big meals. You know your body, if there is something that upsets your stomach or takes long for you to digest, don't eat it!

#3 - Eat after working out, but eat healthy! You need to eat foods that are high in carbs and protein. Within one hour after working out, your body needs to replenish your muscles with carbs and protein. That means everything you eat will automatically go to that instead of storing it as fat. According to Heaner, it's called a "metabolic window", where your body replenishes with carbs 50% faster, and with protein 80% faster.

#4 - Don't eat fatty foods! Foods such as cheeseburgers, potato chips, and sweets will slow down your digestive system and actually prevent the carbs and protein from getting to your muscles, meaning you could miss that crucial "metabolic window."

#5 - So what do you eat? Foods that are high in protein and carbs! Here are a few:
  • Eggs - I like mine hard-boiled
  • Peanut butter sandwich... I skip the jelly to cut down on the sugar
  • Low fat chocolate milk
  • Salads
  • Rice cakes
My post-exercise lunch includes 2 hard boiled eggs, a slice of wheat bread with peanut butter on it, a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers (both of which I buy from farmers market!!), and black olives (my favorite) topped with some balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil, and whatever fruit I have in the fridge. Sometimes I snack on Sun Chips and later in the day I like to indulge in something sweet! If I was actually trying to lose a large amount of weight, I would cut out the snacking for sure, just as a disclaimer to those of you who are trying to slim down.

So, to recap.
Step 1: Eat breakfast.
Step 2: Work out like crazy.
Step 3: Pig out!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chicken Tenders and Zucchini Gratin

I was flipping through my favorite issue of Fine Cooking (the May issue of quick and healthy meals) that my mother-in-law gave to me to find an exciting new recipe to try. I came across one of my favorite go-to pasta meals, whole wheat penne with zucchini and fresh herbs, and along the side were quick and easy ways to prepare zucchini. One of the recipes I came across was a gratin with zucchini, and a lightbulb went off in my head! I could use the vegetables that I got from farmers market. I decided to try it, but since Ryan almost always has to have meat in his meal, I thought I would add some chicken to the recipe. So here you have it, Chicken Tenders and Zucchini Gratin, a la Steffani!

Thinly sliced chicken breasts, or chicken tenders (about 3 per person)
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil
2 tomatoes*
1 zucchini*
1 yellow squash*
1/2 red onion*
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

*if cooking for more than 3 people, increase the amount

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet over med-high heat, and brown the chicken.
4. While the chicken is browning, chop the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and herbs. Be careful to keep an eye on the chicken, though!
5. When the chicken is browned, remove from heat and spread over a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.
6. Top the chicken with the zucchini, and then sprinkle a little bit of basil, parsley, onion, and salt and pepper. Then layer the squash on top of it, topping it with the onion, herbs and seasonings. Last, layer the tomatoes.
7. Top the tomatoes with the rest of the herbs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
8. Put in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown and the squash is soft.