January 2013 archive
New here? Check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, of our 12 Week Running Challenge!
Happy almost February! Can you believe the first month of the year is almost over?
Time for a check-in! We are 1/3 of the way through our 12 weeks. Are you still hanging in there? It takes 21-days for something new to become a habit so I hope you have found that with your running! As always, let me know if you need more information from me: workout ideas, meal ideas, ect. That’s my job.
I’d love to know how your progress is going- tell me in the comments!
Today’s post is all about CORE strength.
I’m talking specifically about the muscles of your stomach, back & hips. If you’ve been running with us these past few weeks, you’ve probably already noticed a stronger heart and stronger legs, but core strength could be what’s missing! Weak core muscles can lead to injuries; a strong core improves your performance and helps with distance runs. The stronger your core, the more stable you are as you hit the ground. A well-balanced core also improves your running economy. Result: faster times.
(Plus, don’t we all secretly aim for a tight tummy?)
This is my favorite core routine and one that helps build a strong and stable core. To start, try doing the exercises below, spending 45-60 seconds on each. Rest 10 seconds before going on to the next one. Can’t do 45 seconds? Don’t worry! We are all starting from different fitness levels. Do what works for YOU. Don’t compromise form for time. If you can only do a move for 5 seconds, start there. After your done, take a 5 minute break and then repeat the whole series 2-3 times. Try to do this routine three times a week.
You know how everyone says that you should work out while watching TV? Well, this really is the perfect routine to do while watching TV! There’s no equipment involved and very little space needed.
If you have time for Modern Family, you have time for this. Sometimes getting fit is all about challenging your excuses.
Everyone loves planks, no? I love planks and make my body sculpt classes do them every since day! Why? Well, for one, most everyone can do some modification of it and it’s always a challenge- no matter what your fitness level.
Start by lying onto your stomach and push yourself up to a modified pushup position. You can come to your toes or onto your knees. The goal is to be in as straight of a line as possible, using your abdominal muscles to pull you in and hold. Watch your pelvis. If you feel weight in your low back, make sure you aren’t arching or rounding you back.
Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine to prevent your hips from pressing toward the ceiling.
Do your shoulders hurt in the above versions? Try doing the modified pushup version instead! Drop to your knees and bring your hands underneath your shoulders. Focus your eyes on a spot midway between your hands and slightly forward to keep spine in neutral alignment. Hold abdominal tight so the back remains supported, and keep that straight line from knees to head.
Another goodie. Don’t I look so happy to be demonstrating core moves for you?
This one is a little more advanced, so modify if needed.
Start in a side plank position: Elbow under your shoulder, pressed up onto your toes and forearm. Starting with the bottom leg, pull it in towards your chest while still maintaining your side plank pose. Hold for 5 seconds, place it down and repeat 6 times. Don’t lose your side-plank form. If you notice your hip dropping to the floor, pull it back up. If you can’t hold your hip up, or if your chest falls forward, stop, take a break and try again. Warm up to how many repetitions is right for you.
Repeat, but now with the top leg. Same as before, try keeping your side plank form as you bring your leg up. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 6 times, if able.
Plank with Diagonal Arm Reach
Think back to how you did your earlier plank. If you were on your knees for that one, start on your knees here. If you could hold plank on your toes, do the same for this move as well.
The goal of this move it to stabilize your core as you balance on one arm. Starting with your right arm, extend it out in front of you, at a diagonal. Hold for up to 60 seconds. If your hips start to drop, drop your arm, rest and repeat. Switch to the left arm and repeat.
Plank with Alternating Leg Lifts
Start in the same plank position as you did in exercise 1. Slowly raise one leg off the floor. (Because of the BOSU position, it looks like my toe is resting on it. Whoops! It’s not.) Count to two and slowly lower your leg to the floor. Switch legs and repeat. Build your way up to doing this for 60 seconds.
Plank to Push-Up
My ‘Oh baby’ move!
Start in a pushup position, either on your knees or toes. Your back should be fairly straight and your butt down, in line with the rest of your body.
Moving one arm at a time, come down towards the floor into a fore-arm plank position. Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight.
Once you reach the plank position, move one arm at a time back into the starting pushup position. Again, try working up to repeating these moves for 60 seconds.
That’s it! A quick, 5 series workout guaranteed to improve your core strength, whatever your level. Need less? Try doing all 5 moves, holding for as long as form allows, and then stopping. Need more? Try repeating the moves 4-5 times, with little rest in between.
I’ve got a few more strength and stretch routines coming your way, so be on the lookout for those! What’s your favorite core exercise?
It’s quite the understatement to say that I love chocolate.
I need chocolate.
And I’m not picky: brownies, ice cream, cookies, cake, pie- it all works. I’ll even take a little unsweetened cocoa powder mixed into my morning smoothie or oatmeal.
But. I’m not immune to the fact that most of the chocolate I enjoy also comes with lots of saturated fat &calories.(I’m looking at you Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Blueberries. Why must you be so amazing? ) Not exactly an every-day food and certainly discounts some of the health benefits of chocolate.
Seeing as though I am not giving up my love for chocolate anytime soon, enter this dessert.
Chocolate, orange zest, walnuts and… avocado.
No, that’s not a typo. The secret to making this creamy, decedent dessert is by whipping everyone’s favorite
vegetable fruit, the avocado. (Don’t worry. You will never know it’s there!)
Remember those big chocolate oranges that came wrapped in the pretty foil? I used to love those as a kid and wanted to recreate the same pairing here.
The only problem with this dessert? Knowing that at any moment, you can whip up chocolate mousse that rivals any restaurant or store-bought variety. You probably already have most of these ingredients in your house already.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chocolate Orange Mousse
Ingredients: (for 2)
1 ripe avocado, peel & pit removed
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup fresh orange juice from 1 orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 an orange
pinch of salt
Optional toppings: coconut creme, walnuts, chocolate chips
Using a hand-mixer or food processor, mix avocado until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, juice, extract, and zest. Continue to whip or mix until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes more. Taste. If you want a sweeter mousse, add more sugar.
Divide the mousse into two small bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. Top however you prefer.
Spoon feed to your sweetie.
Looking for the perfect entree to go with this dessert? How about Pappardelle in Saffron Cream?
I love going out to dinner as much as the next person, but most of the time I enjoy our date nights at home over dinner out.
Since Bryan and I are both vegetarian, it can be more than a little challenge to find fun, trendy restaurant that offer more than pasta primavera for an entree. We are pretty fortunate to live in a veg-friendly city like Sacramento, but it does add some extra creativity when searching for a fun night out.
Enter date night at home. It’s a win-win for me. I get to test out new recipes while enjoying our favorite local wine & appetizers. We have an unspoken routine for the weekends: Friday night is dinner out, usually because I am too tired to cook and Saturday is date night in.
When we moved into our new place, a great location close to parks, shops & restaurant, I knew I would be sacrificing space. Sure, our 100+ year old house has character but it clearly wasn’t built with a chef in mind. I remember when BL told me that we wouldn’t be able to fit a dining room table into the eating nook.
You mean to tell me that our kitchen chairs are bar stools?
It was almost the breaking point of choosing another place, but eventually I gave in. I only hate it when I want to set a nice table, there is barely enough room to put two dinner plates and our glasses of wine!
I tried. And I think it’s nice to set the table in a way that makes you want to sit for hours, even if that’s not going to happen in our bar stools. We can move to the couch for that.
So, table set. Music on. Wine poured. Let’s get to the menu.
Yes, saffron is expensive but you only need a pinch. Plus, it’s date night so splurge a little to make an extra special meal for you and your Valentine.
Check back tomorrow for the dessert: Chocolate Orange Mousse- a decedent, dairy free perfect end to this meal!
Pappardelle in Saffron Cream Sauce
Ingredients: (for 2)
8 oz. pappardelle pasta
8 oz. green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic gloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
2 pinches saffron threads
2 cups cashew cream (recipe below)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt/pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups water at least 1 hour.
Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. This can take up to 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Add the green beans to the pot of water and cook for 3-4 minutes until al-dente. Transfer the beans to the ice water bath and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain and set the beans aside. Keep the water boiling for adding the pasta to later.
Make the sauce:
In a large saute’ pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook another 1 minute. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the wine and cook until wine evaporates, about 3-5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cashew cream and pinch of saffron. Stir often, letting the sauce cook for 10 more minutes. The sauce will become thick and reduce by almost half. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water, broth, or more wine. Add the green beans the last 5 minutes of cooking.
While you simmer the sauce. add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
To serve: remove the pasta from the water, toss with the saffron cream sauce and serve.
Enjoy your evening! Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow to see the amazing dessert to go along with this!
What are you planning on making for V’Day? Do you go out, celebrate in?
There’s a few things that are more of a luxury than a necessity when in comes to DIY food.
Homemade hummus: Often. I rarely buy store hummus unless I am in a major pinch and need something to spread on my carrots like yesterday.
Homemade bread: Rarely.There’s just not enough time in the day.
Homemade jam: Twice a year. Ideally I make enough to last us through the year. PB&J is an easy pantry staple, especially when I don’t want to go grocery shopping.
Homemade peanut butter: Always. Few store-peanut butters are peanut only and the one’s that are typically cost about $5 a jar. It’s a simple no brainer. In less than 10 minutes I can have enough peanut butter to feed a small family, without the added expense, salt, sugar and/or hydrogenated oils.
Peanut butter and apples is one of my favorite snacks. I keep a bag of apples and small jar of PB in my office for days when I need something to tide me over until after kickboxing or until I make it home.
My other favorite snack? Peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bagels. It’s my absolute favorite post-workout breakfast.
As I got to making my batch of peanut butter this week, I thought about combining those flavors into one.
Genius might the appropriate word here.
Fresh peanut butter mixed with raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla.
How did I not think of this sooner?
4 cups peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place 4 cups peanuts into a high-powered blender or food processor.
Puree for at least 5 minutes until very smooth. The consistency should be like creamy peanut butter.
Add raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
Puree for 2-3 more minutes.
Spread on toast, apples, or just eat it by the spoonful!
Have you ever made your own nut butters before? I hope I’ve convinced you to start! It’s very simple and taste a ton better than store-bought peanut butters.