Thursday, March 29, 2012

the eating slowly experiment: fork down method (results)

Another three weeks have elapsed during which time I have been using the 'fork down method', the second technique in the eating slowly experiment

Results. Placing down your eating utensil between bites turns out to be a great way to force a slower eating experience. Although at first I felt a bit awkward and unnatural using this method, eventually I came to appreciate the between-bite pause as a moment to really enjoy the food and flavors that I was consuming.

I'm going to give it to you straight - I wasn't always perfect at this method. Sometimes I forgot and sometimes I went a few bites before placing my fork down. There were a few times when I was so ravenous at meal time that I put my fork down for a microsecond between bites - I'm pretty sure this doesn't count. But, overall, this method was easy to do and successful at creating a slower eating experience.

Not only did this method force me to eat more slowly, it also made eating enjoyable. There is something really powerful and enlightening about experiencing a meal slowly and really focusing on what you putting in your body.

Based on my readers' feedback, those that already make habit of pausing between bites raved about this technique for its ability to slow you down and really allow you to savor each bite. They were right. Personally, I really want to work at making this technique second nature in my daily life. Savor the flavor, folks. Savor the flavor.

Did any of you try this method along with me or is this something you do already? If so, please comment on this post and/or e-mail me ( with your feedback. Look for an introduction post for eating slowly method three next week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

what i ate wednesday: issue 27

You'll want to make it the end of today's WIAW folks, for a little something extra about how a slightly OCD healthy living blogger prepares for a business trip...

 Figure 1. Breakfast: a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original, Special K Protein Plus, and Post Great Grains Raisin, Date, & Pecans cereals, 1/2 sliced banana, and almond milk. I also had 1/2 banana (un-pictured) before my morning run.

Figure 2. Lunch: a spinach and romaine salad with grape tomatoes, green peppers, a Morningstar chicken patty, and topped with white wine vinegar and ketchup. A piece of whole wheat toast on the side.

Figure 3. Afternoon snack: a Pink Lady apple and almonds.

Figure 4. Dinner, part 1 (i.e., craving #1): roasted broccoli and ketchup.

Figure 5. Dinner, part 2 (i.e., craving #2): the most perfect sandwich in the world - an ooey, gooey peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Figure 6. Dinner: side by side. An unlikely, yet delicious, pairing.

Figure 7. Dessert: a frozen whole fruit pineapple bar.

Figure 8. A little something extra that I prepared this evening: my two-day business trip snack stash might seem a bit excessive to some, but I call it being prepared. My stash includes thoughtful and pre-portioned snacks of: Pink Lady apple + almonds; Pink Lady apple + Fiber One bar; golden raisins + peanuts; golden raisins + almonds; popcorn + peanuts; green peppers (for mindless car munching); celery (for mindless car munching); a banana (for morning fueling); an extra granola and Fiber One bar (for snack emergencies); a bag of Post Great Grains Raisin, Date, & Pecans cereal (in case breakfast is lacking in whole grains); and two Skinny Cow peanut butter crisp bars (to satisfy my potentially unmet chocolate needs). Too much?

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Monday, March 26).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the unexpected color combination experiment: monochrome

Shades of One Color. No, it isn't the title of a new self-help book or cheesy romance novel. Shades of one color is the idea behind the monochromatic look, the next combination in the unexpected color combination experiment.

Results. Building a fashionable outfit by pairing similarly-colored items together creates a simple yet complex sophistication. Don't dress yourself from head to toe in just one color shade, unless you really want to look like a giant grape. Rather pull together pieces that are the same general color, but different enough that they contrast each other slightly. I would suggest choosing a few items and laying them out on your bed to see what they look like in combination. Some shades will work better than others.

Figure. Various shade choices for the pink/purple overall color choice.

In the outfit I have shared with you today, my base color was pink/purple (fuschia-ish). But, you could create a monochromatic look with any color. I've created a similar outfit before, for example, with varying shades of blue. The possibilities are endless.

Although I didn't receiving any direct reactions (unlike last time), I enjoyed wearing this monochromatic look. I felt unique, comfortable, and confident. Creating this outfit required a bit more effort than usual, but I think it worked well and hope to create more outfits with a monochromatic theme in the future.

In conclusion, a monochromatic look is an unexpected and chic combination worth exploring. Just pick your favorite color and go get your monochrome on.

Monday, March 26, 2012

weekend review: glazed

Figure 2. Saturday night's dinner: black bean and cheese enchiladas with ranchero sauce with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt served with spicy chile and garlic broccoli. This dish wasn't bad, but just like when I make my own Indian or Thai food, I feel like when I make Mexican food it just doesn't measure up to what you can get out at a restaurant. Does anyone else have this same problem? Any tips?

Figure 3. Sunday night's dinner: Madison's maple glazed grilled chicken, caramelized onion mashed potatoes, and oven-roasted green beans. This glaze is so good you could put it on your foot and it would be delicious. Go make it now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

my less serious day: Scooby Doo

I was pleased with the colors in my outfit choice until someone commented that I was dressed like Daphne from Scooby Doo. After mentally beating the crap out of said person, I hurried back to my office to google the cartoon. Turns out, they were right.


Purple top: The Limited; mint cardigan: J Crew; jeans: GAP; necklace: gifted via mom: shoes: Miz Mooz via Piperlime.


This morning's workout was a 35-minute stationary bike ride (ramp intervals) and a 15-minute walk with L. I took another 15-minute walk during lunch, and finished my day with a 60-minute Body Pump class after work.


Pre-workout I had 1/2 banana, 1/2 mug of black coffee, and 1 pint of water. For breakfast I had a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original mixed with Post Great Grains Raisin, Date, & Pecan cereal, chia seeds, 1/2 banana, and almond milk.

Lunch was 100% inspired by Kathleen at The Daily Crumb. A sweet potato (I cooked mine in the crock pot) topped with a 'baked' (microwaved for ~ 2 minutes) Pink Lady apple, plain Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup. It's like dessert, but it's lunch - and it's delicious.

My afternoon snack was golden raisins and almonds.

Dinner was a piece of whole wheat toast topped with chickpeas simmered in Seeds of Change Tikka Masala sauce served alongside roasted zucchini and squash with parsley.

Dessert was a leftover hint o' mint chocolate chip cookie.

Note: this post represents what happened in my world on Tuesday, March 21. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the fitness class experiment: Turbo Kick

I love watching movies with a strong female lead, who wears shiny black leather pants and simultaneously kicks ass while looking effortlessly beautiful. Turbo Kick, the next test case in the fitness class experiment, transforms you (sans leather pants) into that bad ass chick for one beautiful and sweaty hour of intense cardio.

Results. Turbo Kick is pre-choreographed class that combines an aerobic kickboxing workout and simple dance moves paired with fun dance music. All of this is packed into an hour with an estimated calorie burn of 1,000.

Here's what you can expect:
  • Warm-up. This section provides the warm-up your body needs as well as an introduction to the rhythm and type of moves to follow including the punches and kicks.
  • High-paced intervals. This section includes easy to follow combinations focusing sequentially on punches, kicks, and punch/kick combinations. Building from simple to more complicated combinations of dance and aerobic kickboxing, this section is tough, fast-paced, and fun!
  • Turbo. The turbo section (my favorite) is a minute or so of super-intense and fast-paced cardio pumping moves that is designed to put your body in an anaerobic phase and make your heart rate sky-rocket.
  • Recovery. This section takes it down a notch and, while you are still working, allows you to recover from the turbo section.
  • Power. The final working section focuses on power/strength kickboxing moves.
  • Abs.
  • Stretch & cool-down.

Not only does Turbo Kick make you feel like a bad ass, it is a flat out fantastic workout. You will be amazed when you find yourself easily doing combinations like shown in this video. I am not especially coordinated and I certainly don't have rhythm, but after attending Turbo Kick just a few times I can easily follow along with all of these moves. Watch out, Angelina Jolie.

Out of all the classes reviewed so far, Turbo Kick is the most intense workout. The first time attending this class it left me sore, sore, sore. In my world, this is the indicator of a great class. Although Turbo Kick requires a bit of rhythm and coordination - it is simple enough that you will be a pro in just a class or two. No special equipment, clothing, gear, or prior experience is necessary.

In conclusion, Turbo Kick is a fast-paced high-energy kickboxing-inspired workout that will leave you with a sweaty shirt, a smile on your face, and plans to go back for more.

(images 1, 2, 3)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

what i ate wednesday: issue 26

Figure 1. Breakfast: a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original mixed with Quaker Oatmeal Squares, 1/2 sliced banana, and almond milk. I also had 1/2 banana (un-pictured) before my morning run.

Figure 2. Lunch: a spinach and romaine salad with roasted Brussels sprouts, grape tomatoes, carrots, an over-easy egg, white wine vinegar, and Sriracha. A toasted whole wheat English muffin on the side.

Figure 3. An egg yolk close-up. A runny yolk mixed with vinegar makes a delicious and protein-packed salad dressing.

Figure 4. Afternoon snack #1: a Pink lady apple and salt and pepper cashews.

Figure 5. Afternoon snack #2: another banana before my evening cycling class.

Figure 6. Dinner: leftover chickpea pot pie with cornbread crust and roasted asparagus topped with leftover cheddar-beer sauce.

Figure 7. Dessert: a piece of dark chocolate filled with smooth ganache flavored with Rwandan origin coffee.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Tuesday, March 20).

Monday, March 19, 2012

weekend review: i love food

Last week I was sick and couldn't stomach much of anything, and was struck by the emptiness this created in my life. Food, it turns out, plays a exceptionally important role in my happiness. I, simply, love food. There is nothing more satisfying than creating, eating, and sharing delicious food. What others' look forward to every day, I have no idea.

This weekend I had plenty of time on my hands and a raging appetite back for revenge. Combined with my above stated adoration for food this meant that I spent most of my weekend in a blissful eating/cooking binge.

Figure 1. Friday night's dinner: pecan-crusted trout, asparagus with balsamic tomatoes, and 1/2 bakery-purchased olive ciabatta roll.

Figure 2. Before the oven: remarkable hint o' mint chocolate chip cookies. Yes, remarkable.

 Figure 3. Saturday afternoon baking: St. Patty's Day hint o' mint chocolate chip cookies.

Figure 4. Inside a chickpea potpie with cornbread crust. Filled with carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, peas, and chickpeas, and soon to be topped with a from-scratch cornbread topping - this pie was a perfectly delicious St. Patrick's Day shepherds pie stand-in.

My solo St. Patty's night took a pleasant turn when two friends joined me for dinner and brought along a St. Patty's day side dish, bubble and squeak (mashed potatoes and cabbage).

Figure 5. Saturday night's dinner: chickpea potpie with cornbread crust, broccoli with cheddar-beer sauce, and bubble and squeak with bacon and garlic.

Figure 6. In preparation: homemade goat cheese ravioli. These ravioli were made from scratch and filled with creamy goat cheese and sauteed shallots and garlic.

Figure 7. Sunday night's dinner: homemade goat cheese ravioli and roasted zucchini and squash with parsley. This was my first go at making pasta from scratch. Next time, I know to make the dough even thinner, but these were relatively easy and delicious!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

my less serious tips: on healthy evening snacking

I always have dessert, but during the work week I try to be especially mindful about my evening treats. Today's tips: how to create a sweet tooth-fulfilling and nutritious evening 'dessert'.

Figure 1. Greek yogurt, honey, and chocolate sprinkles.

Tip #1. Re-define sweet. Sweet doesn't have to mean a sugar-laden candy bar. Think natural sweeteners, like agave nectar, honey, fruit, or dark chocolate. These products won't send you running through the house in a mad sugar rush in your PJ's right before bedtime.

Tip #2. Add protein. Adding protein to your 'dessert' will help maintain your blood sugar to keep you satisfied and deter you from unnecessary splurges. My favorite dessert protein sources include: Greek yogurt, nut butter, and nuts.

Figure 2. Cereal and chocolate chips.

Tip #3. Keep calories in check. Unless I am notably hungry from a heavy day of exercise or light dinner, I try to keep my evening snacks around 200 calories.

Tip #4. Identify your craving before you hit the pantry. I always pause and think about what I really want and what my body needs before I get up to prepare my dessert. Usually I want sweet, but sometimes I want salty. Do I want crunchy or chewy? Does my body need carbs or protein or another serving of fruit? Make sure you identify this first and it will help avoid those moments where you end up on the floor with open and empty bags of Oreos and pretzels scattered on the floor and peanut butter smeared all over your face.

Figure 3. Chocolate pudding and almond butter.

Tip #5. It is okay to indulge. Let's face it. Sometimes I want a brownie on a Tuesday night and if, once I pause and evaluate my craving, I still want that brownie - that is what I'll eat. Read: healthy living is all about balance.

And finally, here are some of my favorite healthy 'dessert' combinations:

  • Cereal with chocolate chips or nuts
  • Popcorn with cinnamon (+ agave nectar, nuts, coconut, and/or chocolate chips)  
  • Greek yogurt with honey or agave nectar (+ cereal, chocolate chips, granola, and/or nuts) 
  • Chocolate pudding with almond butter 
  • Fiber One brownies or granola bars 
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Chocolate-covered or cocoa-dusted almonds
  • Apple and peanut butter 
  • Microwaved apples with cinnamon, oats, and peanut butter

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

what i ate wednesday: issue 25

Consider this my what I ate* 'I'm sick and I couldn't stomach any green veggies and instead apparently just carb-loaded for nothing more than sitting on the couch and watching Netflix movie after movie' edition.

Figure 1. Breakfast: a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original mixed with Cascadian Farm Organic French Vanilla Almond granola, 1/2 sliced banana, and almond milk. Note the relative small-ness of this bowl that I couldn't even manage to finish.

Figure 2. Lunch: a toasted whole wheat English muffin, one smeared with strawberry jam and one with grape jelly, both topped with chia seeds, and 1/2 sliced banana. All served on top of my favorite childhood plate, a small glimmer of happiness during a gloomy, sick day.

Figure 3. Afternoon snack: dry Quaker Oatmeal squares.

Figure 4. Dinner: two pieces of whole wheat toast topped with a smashed banana spiked with cinnamon and chopped dates.

Figure 5. Dessert: a pineapple frozen whole fruit bar.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Tuesday, March 13).

*Please note that this is not my usual diet and today's intake is lacking in calories, fat, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Trust me, the moment my stomach gets back to normal I'll be diving back into my normal eating routine.