Friday, July 30, 2010


This week, the wonderful people at POM were generous enough to send me some samples of their juice to try. I had only tried their iced teas before, but not the actual juice, so I was pretty excited when the package arrived yesterday! I'm not a huge juice drinker, but still enjoyed the flavor and became eager to experiment with some recipes. The result? POM Cake!

Pretty easy to make and full of great flavor. For the cake, I used:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 cup POM juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup no-sugar-added applesauce (in place of oil)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 TB flour (for those at high altitude)
  • several drops of red food coloring (optional; just for fun)
  • powdered sugar (optional; mostly for aesthetics)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer and bake according to the directions on the box. The platter decided to slip out as I was flipping the cake over, so I ended up with a crack in one side. Boo! I hate it when stuff like that happens. Oh well.

I also made a POM-orange glaze to drizzle on top:

For the glaze:

  • about 1 3/4 cup POM juice
  • zest and juice from one orange
  • 2 tsp honey

I simmered the juices and the zest and constantly whisked them for almost 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, I added the honey. After I reduced the liquids, I ended up with about 3/4 cup of glaze. I didn't pour it over the entire cake because I didn't want it to get soggy, so I stored it on the side, to pour on individual slices. If you're planning on serving the entire cake all at once though, go ahead and pour all of the glaze on.

Pretty much one of the best cakes I've ever made! I may/may not have had two slices back to back. I think next time I attempt this, I'll just replace all of the water with juice. It didn't seem to affect the texture of the cake and you can't go wrong with extra POM flavor! Between the cake baking and the juices reducing, our house smelled of cakey-orangey-pomegranate-y goodness. So, so good.

Later this evening, I plan on trying some POM cocktails! My mom brought me back a small bottle of champagne from her trip to California, so I'm pretty sure POM-pagne is in my future. Great way to kick off the weekend, eh?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Running back to where I used to be.

It became evident to me this week that my running has taken the backseat for far too long now. How did I know? Because I felt like this during my 3 mile run yesterday:

I haven't been running much at all the past couple of months and when I do, my attempts have been no more than 1-2 miles at a time, usually as a warm-up to another activity. That's better than nothing I suppose, but last year, I could bust out 4 or 5 miles at a time without feeling like I wanted to pass out and lie on the floor indefinitely (which is more or less what I ended up doing yesterday, post-3 miles).

It got me thinking about how I ran 10K on my birthday in March and how well I did at my first 5K race in April. Since then, my speed and endurance have gone to crap (by my own personal standards), but I'm ready to get back in the game.

I found an 8-week 10K training plan that looks like it'll guide me at just the right pace. I also found a 13-week plan, but I think the 8-week version is a better fit for me and my current fitness routine. I changed the start of the week to Sunday, making my rest day Thursday. I already tend to rest on Thursdays anyway and I figured it was best to make slight customizations where necessary, so I'm more likely to follow through and meet my goal.

Initially, my goal is primarily distance. Yes, down the road, I'd love to get back to running miles in the 9-minute range, but I've noticed that getting too caught up in speed sometimes sabotages my efforts and I give up all together. When I think back to the days when I first started running, distance always led to better speed eventually.

I don't have any specific plans for my cross-training; I'll just do whatever I feel like at the moment. Today, I did the Biggest Loser Last Chance Workout for a good mix of cardio and strength. I also foresee more Jari Love DVDs in the future as well, especially since I broke down and bought a 55 lbs. aerobic weight set:

I don't see myself going to the late-evening BodyPump class any time soon (even though I loved the preview class), but I've found that some of my Jari Love DVDs are the next best thing (particularly, Slim & Lean). She also uses this type of barbell, so it's perfect for taking my strength training to a new level.

Originally, I ordered the set on Friday and canceled it just a few minutes later, thinking I should wait. But after working out over the weekend, I found that my current variety of dumbbell weights are becoming easier to use. And my standard barbell set is too large, heavy and bulky for high-rep workouts, so yesterday, I went back to the site and re-ordered the 55 lbs set. It's a damn good price with cheap shipping and I'll obviously get a lot of use out of it, so no buyer's remorse for me. It's supposed to be delivered on Thursday, just in time for my weekend cross training! Pretty excited to do BodyPump-esque workouts in my living room. I also came across a couple of other Jari Love DVDs on Amazon where people said they make good BP alternatives, so I added them to my wish list. Hope to buy them both over the next few months. My wage decrease goes into effect this month, so I gotta be extra careful with my spending these days!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekend eats.

Friday, we made pizza for dinner. I found a pre-made pizza crust marked down in the bakery department, so we threw on some toppings for a quick, tasty meal:

We spread goat cheese on the bottom and then topped it with fresh spinach, tomatoes, bacon, artichoke hearts, oregano and olive oil.

Sprinkled on some mozzarella...

... And baked to bubbly perfection!

This was such a simple pie, but it turned out great. I'll have to keep my eye out for more of those crusts marked down in the future! Saves a lot of time and holds up well to a good amount of toppings.

For dessert, I decided to try a 3-ingredient ice cream recipe I came across on Serious Eats. Bananas, honey and peanut butter? Yes please!

Of course, I had to drizzle some chocolate syrup on mine. Sooo good. It was a great way to use up the last of my frozen bananas.

Pretty quiet weekend so far. Just hung around the house yesterday, did some chores here and there and then watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid (such a cute movie!) and Kick-Ass (quite the 180 after watching Wimpy Kid, but still recommended if you enjoyed the over-the-top choreographed death scenes in Kill Bill- I did!).

I was going to work out this morning, but slept in and woke up starving. Once my breakfast digests, I think I'll schedule another appointment with Jari Love. I can't get enough of her DVDs these days! Hope everyone's enjoying the weekend (or what's left of it).

P.S. Not food-related, but is anyone else stoked for the return of Mad Men tonight?!

Mmm... Don Draper *drools รก la Homer Simpson* Might have to buy some more booze so I can drink along, haha. Love that show!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not so hot, hot, hot.

Yesterday, I tried a new recipe: Ancho Honey Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins.

These tasted great and have a really unique flavor because of the ancho chiles, but I must admit, I was a little disappointed because they were not spicy at all. While I was boiling/chopping the chiles, they gave off a strong aroma, so I assumed there would be some heat, but not so much. I'd like to try this recipe again, but maybe add some cayenne? I dunno. I love the combination of sweet and spice and was hoping to get that from these muffins. Oh well. They'll still get eaten, though it will be a challenge; I ended up with 24 muffins PLUS a 9x9 pan that yielded 9 squares. Buh! Yes, I'm complaining about having too many chocolate chip muffins. Kinda like Don Knotts and the ostriches:

That's all of the excitement for today. Glad it's Friday, but I can already tell the day is gonna drag. Ah well. Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Return of the Mack.

It's been several days since my last post, but I've returned. And since I was singing this song the other night and Doug had no idea what/who I was talking about, here ya go:

Still a pretty smooth jam after all these years, no? Anywho. I'll start with some quick food re-caps:

This morning's breakfast:

Breakfast Banana Split, adapted from the Biggest Loser Family Cookbook. I didn't actually "split" the banana, I just diced it up. Added diced strawberries, Oikos plain yogurt (sweetened with just a tad of Splenda), about 1/3 cup Grape Nuts cereal, drizzle of light Hershey's chocolate syrup and a dab of almond butter.

This was ridiculously good. It really was like having a banana split for breakfast (der!). And of course, filling. The original recipe didn't call for Greek yogurt or almond butter, but they're obviously better sources of protein and healthy fat, both of which I needed after my workout this morning. Picking up more strawberries from the store soon so I can repeat this again later in the week.

Another great breakfast discovery (not pictured): Lemon Oatmeal! Also an idea I picked up from the BL Family Cookbook. It's pretty simple, really... Just add lemon juice and/or lemon zest to taste. I sweetened mine a bit and also added some egg whites and a scoop of vanilla protein powder for extra bulk. The lemon flavor makes the oats taste so clean and light- I love it!

Last night's dinner:

I threw together a chicken-veggie stir fry with peanut butter sauce and served it over spaghetti. In a pan, I cooked up:
  • diced chicken
  • onions
  • minced ginger
  • minced garlic
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • salt
  • pepper

For the sauce:
  • 2 TB creamy peanut butter (you could use crunchy instead)
  • 2 TB Hoisin sauce
  • about 2 or 3 TB of fresh lime juice
  • Sriracha to taste (I probably used almost a tablespoon)
  • about 2 TB fresh chopped cilantro

Whisk ingredients together in a separate bowl. Whisk in water until desired consistency is reached. Once the sauce thinned out, I added it to the stir fry after the meat and veggies were all cooked through.

I was really pleased with this dish! I really am becoming more and more confident in the kitchen with each meal I make. It's a good feeling. I have a much stronger sense of which spices and herbs to use and find myself experimenting more and more, instead of relying on recipes all of the time. I still have a lot to learn, but I've noticed these past few months that something has clicked and I'm a much better cook than I was several years ago.

Last pic I want to share is actually from a while ago (last week? the week before?):

This was an alfredo dish that Doug made. Chicken, broccoli and mushrooms over penne. For the sauce, he used a can of fat-free cream condensed soup; can't remember if it was cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, but either way, it turned out really nice. I can't remember what else he added to the sauce, but if he recalls, perhaps he'll be nice and share in the comments. *Wuh-ink*

Aside from lots of great food, I also finished reading a great book, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. Seriously, read this book now if you haven't already. I've read my share of autobiographies of women who have struggled being overweight and either lost the weight or didn't, but this book far surpasses all of them. I saw so much of myself in Shauna, it was almost hard to read at times. But she's incredibly funny, witty and driven. Whether or not you're trying to lose weight, this will still prove to be an excellent read.

And lastly, I've re-kindled my affair with Jari Love, specifically her first Get Ripped 1000 DVD. I hadn't used it since I first tried it back in March (!!!), but I've been addicted to it for the past 2 weeks, up through this morning. Crazy good workout. The cardio bursts jack my heart rate up and the strength moves make my muscles work hard. I always feel like crapping out at about 40 minutes in, but I keep pushing and finish out the last 20 minutes anyway. When I remind myself how I'm knocking out both high-intensity cardio and high-rep resistance training in one workout, I manage to push through, even though I just want to lay on the floor and die. I think deep down, it's the hot guy in the back row that keeps me going. Man. Super hot.

Seriously though, Jari Love has become my favorite trainer (sorry, Jillian!). Anyone who can get me to actually like strength training is nothing short of a miracle worker. Her workouts always leave me feeling strong and capable. (The physical results aren't too shabby either!) She has a great teaching style and she just seems so darn nice! I know I've talked about her on here before, but I just had to gush once more because I'm really happy I gave her DVDs a try. Totally changed my attitude about fitness.

I suppose that's all for today. Hope everyone has been doing well! Have a great week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finally Friday.

Well, well, well. A whole week since my last post. Which isn't that long of a gap, but just feels that way since life has been non-stop since last Saturday. Doug and I were social butterflies the majority of the week, in between regular life stuffs, so I'm a bit exhausted. Good times though, so I can't complain.

I was at the gym this morning and this song came up while I was getting whooped by the stair master:

It left me feeling too gangsta to blog most of the day, but here I am, finally giving in.

The Food:

I haven't been in a picture-taking mood lately, but I still wanted to share quite possibly the best breakfast I've had this year (well, almost. I have lots of good breakfasts, so it's hard to place one higher than the other): Blueberry Almond Maple Yogurt Oats. Yup. In a bowl, add the following and stir until blended:
  • sweetener of choice (I like my oatmeal a tad on the sweet side)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup cooked oats with blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
  • maple syrup of choice
Hubba, hubba. It was love in a bowl. I made blueberry pancakes for dinner last night (we have a surplus of blueberries going on right now, both fresh and frozen and I'm not sick of them yet), and decided to top them with maple-flavored Greek yogurt. It was so rad that I figured it would work just as well with oatmeal. Totally did. That said, I officially need more maple syrup. I feel a phase coming on.

The Doc:

I went to the doctor the other day for my annual physical. She wasn't happy that my weight was up from last year and I was kinda bummed that she wasn't more understanding about it since she's usually cool, laid back and supportive. But I totally understand her concern; I'm sure she's seen her share of people who lose a lot of weight and eventually gain it all back. I don't intend to be one of those people. But I also don't intend to make myself go crazy by trying to dazzle her with arbitrary numbers every year either. Yes, I intend to drop a few more pounds, but the BMI chart can suck it.

The Miscellaneous:

I bought some used DVDs the other day, one vinayasa yoga and one pilates. I also bought Guitar Hero 3 though, so I haven't quite gotten around to trying them out yet, ha. I'm looking forward to the yoga DVD, as I've been bored with the 3 I already have. And I've been meaning to give pilates another try; I had the whole Mari Winsor set on VHS at one point, ages ago. They may be hiding in a box somewhere, but there's no VCR in the living room anyway, so new DVD it is. Updates on those to follow.

AND, I'm finally reading The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. I started following her blog again and reserved a copy of the book at the library. It's great so far. Funny and witty but also quite painful to read at times because her experience is so relatable. It's sad that she, I and countless others have gone through the same exact struggles in being overweight. Knowing that so many people are (or have been) so miserable with the same issues is a bit of a downer. At the same time though, there's always the opportunity to change. Anywho, I can't put it down (picking up where I left off after this post!), so I think I'll be finished with it in a few more days.

That's all I can manage to ramble about today. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh sweet, delicious, 3 day weekend

Today is going to drag, I know it. But, I have Monday off, so no real complaints. Moving right along to food:

Threw together a quick veggie & shrimp stir fry. In the mix:
  • zucchini
  • carrot
  • red bell pepper
  • onion
  • minced garlic
  • minced ginger
  • mushrooms
  • salt/pepper
  • drizzle of Famous Dave's Sweet 'n' Zesty BBQ sauce
  • splash of teriyaki sauce

The BBQ sauce was a great addition; it brought out the sweetness of the carrot, bell pepper and shrimp.

Since I didn't want to wait for rice to cook, I figured it was a good opportunity to finally try the Savory Oats recipe I came across a few days ago on Cheap Healthy Good.

Not bad! I have to admit though, even after using soy sauce, I still found myself sprinkling on a little bit more salt because the flavor just seemed off. This is definitely a dish that I want to experiment with more in the future. I'm thinking a version with garlic, ginger and teriyaki might turn out better. It's so much faster (and more fool-proof) than rice or noodles, so I'd like to keep it in rotation.

As for fitness, I've been mixing things up and went back to an old favorite site of mine, Gym Junkies, for some inspiration. I pulled up a basic beginner's weight lifting program and went from there. Since I'm not quite a beginner anymore, I did add weights to all of the moves immediately. Oh, man. I was feeling it pretty bad this week. I even ended up skipping Zumba yesterday because the soreness was just a bit too much. I'm feeling good though. Hard to complain when my butt's getting tighter and my arms are more defined! I do need to get a pull up bar soon though. It's been on my list for over a year now because I keep finding routines that require pull ups and it's hard to find a suitable substitute. Luckily, there are a few different models out there and none of them are too expensive, so we'll see.

On the off-days of that program, I've been doing 2-3 mile runs with either sprints or incline intervals. Spin class tomorrow, and probably Monday too, since I have the day off.

That's about it. Tomorrow will be busy with spin, house cleaning and a party at my cousin's house. Then on Sunday, we're having a get together at our place. So glad I have Monday to relax and recuperate. Hope everyone enjoys the weekend!