Monday, September 30, 2013

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

My son and I were home alone on Sunday and had one of those super lazy days where we stayed in pajamas all day long and didn't leave the house.  What a nice treat complete with hard rainfall, cozy covers, and movies on t.v.  Around 11:00 a.m. I got up and threw together a simple slow cooker lentil soup and enjoyed the yummy aroma emanating from the crockpot throughout the afternoon.  It's really nice to know that dinner's cooking and you don't have to worry about it later- gives you more time in your day and something to look forward to that night.  


INGREDIENTS (from America's Test Kitchen)
  • 2 medium onions , minced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves 
  • 2 TBS Extra-virgin olive oil (for serving, optional)
  • 1TBS tomato paste 
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, rinsed and minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves , or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 slices of bacon 
  • 3 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks 
  • 12 ounces portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I used sliced bella mushrooms)
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils (1 cup), rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf (not pictured)
  • 8 oz. Swiss chard leaves only (I used collard greens) 

To maximize the flavor of the soup, I cooked the first few ingredients (onion, garlic, thyme, bacon, tomato sauce, porcini mushrooms) over the stove for about five minutes, but the recipe says you can have the same effect by microwaving those same ingredients for 5 minutes. 



Lentils are a great source of protein with about 3 grams of protein per tablespoon.


Stir both broths, bacon, carrots, fresh mushrooms, lentils and bay leaf into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until the soup is thickened and the lentils are tender, 9 to 11 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 5 to 7 hours.) 


When the soup has about 30 minutes left to cook, remove the bacon and bay leaf, and add in the chopped swiss chard (I used greens because my store was out of chard).  


At the end, season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle in a bit more olive oil.  I served ours with toasted French bread, but a healthier option would be to skip it or use whole wheat. 



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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baked Fish in Parchment Paper // Fish en Papillote

Fish isn't necessarily one of my go-to meals, but I eat it because it's good for me and is a change from my typical diet.  One of the easiest ways I know to bake fish is in parchment paper.  En Papillote  (pah-pee-YOHT) means to steam small portions of food in a wrapper.


Most recipes I've seen for Fish en Papillote combine onion, zucchini, carrot and garlic.  You chop the veggies, season with olive oil and salt and pepper, and arrange them on top of your fish with sliced lemon slices and sprigs of thyme or other aromatics.  

Place all the ingredients on the parchment paper and fold the paper tightly to create a seal for the food to steam while cooking. Put the package on a baking sheet and cook at 375 until the fish is cooked through about 12 minutes. Then cut open the packets and serve directly on the paper or remove onto a plate with a spatula.

I recently used this method to cook salmon, but instead of the veggies above, added asparagus.  Because I didn't chop the asparagus before putting it in the packet, it wasn't quite ready in 12 minutes and I finished it off in a skillet over medium-high heat.  I only seasoned the fish with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.  Pretty good even if I'm not crazy about fish!


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ASICS Running Shoe

I'm surprised I've had this blog so long and haven't talked athletic shoes with you!  My all-time favorite running/workout shoe is ASICS.  I've been wearing them for years because they are so well constructed, fit my foot perfectly, no weird arch, and plenty of cushion.   I'm crazy for this new design series (GT) in bright pink and orange. 


My current shoe is the ASICS Women's GT-1000 in silver, purple, and aqua.  I found mine at Academy, but they also sell them on Amazon.  At about $100 ($62.60 on Amazon with free shipping), I consider this type of shoe an investment because if my shoes are uncomfortable, don't fit well or wear out too easily, it affects my workout negatively.  I do run in these shoes, but I'm not training for any marathons (although I think you could with these shoes). 


What athletic shoe do you love?

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Faith

This blog began as a spin-off from my home decor/organization blog, Honey We're Home.  I wanted a place to write about health and fitness, and share with people how a busy, working mom attempts to live a healthy lifestyle.  But, there are more aspects than just clean eating and exercise that are critical to living really well.  It's a combination of relationships (with girlfriends, kids, parents, coworkers, and significant others), career, financial freedom, creativity, play, hobbies, and finding joy, being authentic.  We are physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual creatures.  For me, a major component of life includes my faith in God and my relationship with Him.  I went to church very infrequently as a kid, (we went typically at Easter and/or Christmas) but my parents always instilled in me the knowledge that there is a big God who knows me intimately and loves me very much.  

It's pretty difficult to manage to have all areas of your life gelling at once.  Your career and kids are doing good, but your marriage sucks.  Or your relationships are blossoming, but you are in debt.    Maybe career (be it at home or outside) are humming along but you have no energy and are out of shape.  Regardless of the hardships we endure, if our FAITH is strong, it seems to help hold us together.  Lets us know that, "this too, shall pass."

Jeremiah 29:11-12

In law school, I became actively involved in my church and choir and developed a deeper relationship with God.  After half a decade in the choir, and being newly married, I stepped down to devote my time to my new marriage.  The choir was a big time commitment and I felt that I should spend more time at home.  But I missed it terribly.  I recently came home to the choir.  When I returned to choir practice for the first time and we began worshipping, the very tangible presence of God filled the room and it was so beautiful I could cry.  I felt it immediately and am so THANKFUL.  I'm thankful that our rehearsal is a church service in and of itself. I'm thankful for the family of friends I've made, many of whom are still there and welcomed me back (after 5 years!) with warm, open arms. 


I still have to practice daily prayer- talking to God- and be mindful of His Word and His promises.  It's not necessarily second nature even after all of those years of being closely connected.  But I'm reminded that He is always there for us, always ready to receive our hearts, and will forgive our sins when we go to Him with a heartfelt confession.  I'm so humbled by that.

I get a lot of joy from encouraging you in the health and fitness arena, and I want to encourage you in your FAITH too.  I'll be sharing some inspiration from time to time on Sundays if you want to pop in, you are always welcome.  

I received a Bible from my law school boyfriend and it's been one of the best gifts I've ever been given. It's gotten tattered and worn over the years, and I've been given new Bibles since, but I always return to this one.  


and then I looked up Hebrews 4:12 -- I LOVE that it says God knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Doesn't that give such a sense of peace? He knows my heart.  He knows YOUR heart. 


I would love it if you felt compelled to leave a scripture in the comments.  Someone needs to hear it. 

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spin Class

Are y'all doing spin class?  I haven't done it in a really long time and miss it!  I've been doing most of my cardio on the stairmaster lately and was thinking of other cardio I could do for variety and spinning came to mind.  The only bad thing about spinning is that you usually have to be a member of a gym to take a class or go to a studio.  I'm going to find a class at my gym soon.  


I've found that the best classes are the ones with an instructor whose style you like the best and who plays the best music.  If you've never taken a spin class, just arrive a few minutes early and talk to the instructor.  They will help you adjust the bike to your height and explain how to dial up or down the intensity.  You can go at your own pace though and work as hard as you feel comfortable. 

Spinning is such an awesome workout and not just for your legs.  Some teachers have the participants do push-up motions on the handlebars, etc.  Unless you sneak out of the class early, you are pretty much guaranteed a good 45-minute workout.  Being in a class definitely helps you keep going, as opposed to when you're on your own, you might have quit earlier.  I've read that spin class burns between 400-600 calories and, depending on how fast you pedal, a 40 minute class is the equivalent to 15-20 road miles.  

My word of caution is definitely bring a large bottle of water with you to class- and a towel.  It gets pretty sweaty- in a good way!  Oh, and you might be pretty sore in the "crotch region" after the first couple of classes- sorry, no real way to avoid that, but you can buy padded shorts or a seat pad that actually does help.  I've used one before, but then forgot to take it off the bike seat/saddle and left it behind. You don't need special shoes, regular tennis shoes work fine, but if you get to liking the class so much and you're doing it often, they do make special shoes that clip into the pedals as opposed to your regular tennis shoe being strapped to the pedal.

One more thing, about group classes in general- if you find one you like and start going regularly, you'll end up seeing the other "regulars" and it gets to become kind of a connection-sharing thing.  You become friendly with the other members and get used to meeting up with them at class and that can be inspiring and fun to have a regular group of people to workout with.  You never know who you'll meet- just sayin.

So, do share- are you spinning, thinking of starting?? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You Can Do This

Most days I'm a very loving and kind person.  Sometimes I need tough love.  When I saw this quote on Pinterest it really resonated with me.



No sweet words of encouragement.  No gentle reminders to take care of yourself.  Just straight-up truth.   I needed that.  Maybe you do too. 


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Small Steps Everyday


via A House in the Hills

All those little, difficult, kickyourass steps are worth it.  Over time, they add up to a lot of distance.  And only you can take your steps so YOU OWN THEM.  No one can take your steps away.  Be proud of them.  I'm proud of you.  Today I am thankful for every woman who has written to me and trusted me with her story, her struggle and who has taken the time to encourage me too.  I think we need each other. 

I had a beautiful breakfast with my two close girlfriends this weekend and it was long overdue.  We used to do breakfast regularly at "our place" but now I can't remember the last time we were all together in the morning.  So, I'm thankful for those two women who give me strength and who appreciate me, flaws and all.  I always say there's nothing better in the world than a little baby, but girlfriends are pretty high up there too. 

I hope you have a great week!  Take a small step today.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Caprese Salad

Sometimes, like last night, all I wanted to eat was a big fresh bowl of caprese salad.  Tomatoes, mozzaralla, basil and olive oil.  Can it get any simpler or more beautiful?


I buy cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls in liquid, and fresh basil for the best tasting salad.


Slice the tomatoes in half with a serrated knife.


Then the cheese.  Try not to eat it all before it gets into the bowl.


Tear up some fresh basil and toss it all together.  Add a sprinkle of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. 


Enjoy!


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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Essential Daily Vitamins for Women

I think we all know it's important to take vitamins, but we don't always do it.  At least I didn't.  Part of the reason is because it feels like there is so much information on vitamins, I don't know what to take or where to start.  So, the easy thing to do is simply take a multivitamin and be done with it- if you remember to take it.  


I've been researching what Dr. Oz recommends because I trust his information and can understand what he's saying.  Here's what I found he suggests and what I'm currently taking.  

A Multivitamin

Dr. Oz says that we only need 100% of the daily value of the 12 essential vitamins and minerals, with iron for pre-menopausal women.  When purchasing your vitamins, check for bottles labeled 100% daily allowance on label. 

Multivitamins fulfill your nutritional needs for the day.  Multivitamins contain:

Vitamin A – critical for healthy vision and skin

Vitamin B – a metabolism booster

Vitamin C – keeps your immune system strong, especially important during cold and flu season.

Vitamin D – promotes healthy bones (and your immune system)

Vitamin E – for healthy development of muscles and brain function

The Dose
Take half in the morning and half at night to maximize absorption.

Calcium Cocktail (Calcium + Additional Vitamin D + Magnesium)

Calcium is a necessary supplement for strong, healthy muscles, bones and teeth. You need to take it in combination with magnesium (to prevent the negative side effects of calcium) and vitamin D (to help the body absorb calcium) in order to get the maxium benefit.  
It turns out that vitamin D is crucial when it comes to fighting off colds. An important part of Dr. Oz's anti-aging checklist, vitamin D plays a number of roles in our bodies, including:


 *Promoting absorption of calcium and bone health
 *Boosting immune function
 *Reducing inflammation
 *Healthy neuro-muscular function
 *Protecting against some forms of cancer


The Dose
Calcium (600mg) with Magnesium (400mg) and Vitamin D (1,000 IU)
Take dose with a full glass of water, 2 hours after eating.  Calcium can block the absorption of other supplements and prescriptions, so take it separately. 

Fish Oil (Omega 3’s)

To keep your brain, heart and eyes healthy, take Omega 3’s every day. 

The Dose
For women, the daily dose of Omega 3s is 1000 mg; for men, the dosage is 600 mg.

Astragalus

Although Astragalus isn't a vitamin, I take it daily for energy and anti-aging.

According to Dr. Oz, aging is the primary reason why your body feels depleted of energy. Add to that the boatload of daily tasks most of us face – work, household chores, childrearing – and it’s no wonder we're exhausted.

The supplement astragalus can help keep you going. This root, used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, contains a special chemical that research has shown may actually help slow the aging process. This chemical activates the enzyme telomerase, which works on a cellular level to protect DNA from breaking down, thus warding off exhaustion and a host of other age-related symptoms and diseases.

The Dose
Take 200 mg of astragalus twice a day, in the morning and at night. 




To help me remember to take my vitamins, and to keep me from asking, "Did I take that today?" I bought a daily vitamin holder at Target.  I love it because it's got a side for am and pm and each compartment is large enough to hold all my pills.  I take the calcium pill by itself in the afternoon. 



Are you taking vitamins?  Which ones?  Where are you finding your information about which vitamins to take?  

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