Quick Grown-Up Meal

You’d think at 29 I’d have more quick meals in my repertoire. I’d be able to whip up a quiche for an impromptu dinner party in the blink of an eye. I’d have casseroles and speedy saute combinations at the ready. Instead, I find myself in the student lounge three nights each week with the same meal I ate in third grade: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, string cheese, baby carrots and a piece of fruit. Considering peanut butter is on my list of “Five Things You’d Take if You Were Stranded Eternally on a Deserted Island,” I grew alarmed when I found myself grimacing as I spread another slice of whole wheat bread with my favorite nut butter just the other day. Could it be? Was it actually possible for me to tire of the one invention I am certain is even better than sliced bread? (Honestly, we all know sliced bread is only as good as the tasty peanut butter which is spread upon it) Unwilling to fathom a world in which peanut butter could not heal all that ails me (yes I believe it can), I tucked the tub away and placed a moratorium on my favorite condiment for one week. Did I starve? Did I just eat jam sandwiches instead? Certainly not! In fact, I came up with some really delicious, and quick, meals that I’ve now happily added to my dinner rotation. In addition to a fabulous mixed greens salad with pecans, herbed goat cheese, dried cherries and homemade vinaigrette (with or without grilled chicken), I invented this little number. If you already have leftover brown rice, this can be ready in five minutes. For real!

Curried Rice with Vegetables and a Fried Egg

1/2 c. cooked brown rice
1 green onions, chopped
1/2 medium orange pepper, chopped
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic chili sauce
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add pepper and saute, with or without a splash of olive oil, for 4 minutes.

2. Add rice, curry powder, soy sauce and garlic chili sauce, stirring to coat. Heat thoroughly.

3. Remove rice and pepper from pan and place on serving plate.

4. Crack egg into pan, keeping edges as contained as possible. Cover pan with lid and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Or, cook just until white is set, flip and cook 3 more minutes.

5. Slide egg out of pan on top of rice and pepper. Top with green onion, if desired. Serve.

Serves 1.

What 5 things would you take if you were going to be stranded eternally on a deserted island?

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From Blah to Hoo-rah!

How do you make a breakfast go from blah:

to Hoo-rah? First, place about half a small container of Fage Total in your bowl. Then, tear open one of these raw crunch bars and sprinkle all over.

Hoo-rah, indeed!

Kathy sent me some of these amazing bars about a week ago and I’ve been eating them absolutely everywhere! They’re 150 calories, raw, vegan, soy free, dairy free, peanut free and wheat free. And they taste AMAZING too! They have just enough sweetness to be tasty, but don’t get my sweet tooth jonesing for a pint of ice cream the way lots of other granola bars do. Even the chocolate raw crunch bar has the perfect sweet : salt ratio to keep it clearly in the mealtime, not dessert time, category. I think my favorite bar, though, has been the cranberry flavor, which I enjoyed first as a rushed out the door to two midterms and only had time to eat during my taxi ride over to Chelsea!

Basically, all four flavors are pretty much the nutritional bomb, and it’s kind of amazing that they taste so good too. AND, they keep me full for, like, hours! No joke. I had my first bar (see frantic taxi ride above) after a 6 mile run and before a Pathology midterm. It was in my belly by 9:45 and I didn’t eat lunch until noon! And did it help me on my test? Let’s just say I won’t need those little frosted mini wheats guys around me to remind me that I’m focused anymore. Aced the run, aced the class, aced my breakfast! Hoorah!

You know what else makes this morning’s breakfast particularly hoorah-worthy? Today is the opening of registration for the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon! Nothing puts a little Hoorah! in my step like remembering the commitment and conviction, not to mention the sheer excitement, of running this marathon in 2009. It was a race that seemed doomed before it even began. Between moving away from friends in Boston and injuring myself at my new gym during my first week in NYC, training started out with a thud. But then I started blogging, meeting other writers, runners and foodies, and got my footholds in this Big Apple. In the end, I did run the marathon and, in spite of a few grouchy days right after (probably just withdrawal from the endorphins!), I have some really incredible memories of this race.

Is this all a way of saying I’m running MCM again this year? Well, no. This year I’m finishing school and keeping my fitness up with my alternative exercise class experiments. I’ve also logged some miles, but I can honestly say I haven’t been within 10 feet of a treadmill in months and I’m a-okay with that! Instead, this is my way of saying if you’re sitting inside, bundled up away from the wind, cursing the icy piles of snow that still cling to our sidewalks, maybe take a few minutes this week to think about your running (and other fitness goals) for the rest of this year. If you’re like me at all, you probably wrote down some goals during the holidays. Call them resolutions, goals, projects, whatever. They were little gold stars you wanted to get during this year and they were probably all you could think about as we rounded the holiday bend(er) into 2011.

Now that we’re approaching March, though, that list of goals may be buried under grocery lists, bills, or, if you really are like me, piles¬† and piles of notecards. Spend some time today reviewing that goal list. Maybe you wanted to read a few more books this year, or learn to sew, or travel to a new place. Or maybe you wanted to run a marathon! Whether it’s your first, or your hundred and first, I can’t say enough about the Marine Corps Marathon. Well, I probably can, and have!, so you can look through all those old posts if you’re actually interested. What I can say now, though, is think of a way to make the training exciting. Take the ‘blah’ out of your mindless running and put some Hoorah back into it. Try running with a friend, running in a new location (with a map), or try a new training plan! One of many wonders of the internet is the bevy of resources we have at the click of a mouse. For starters, check out some of the blogs I’ve listed in my blogroll, or stop by Runner’s World.

Taking this time for yourself, to show yourself that you appreciate YOU, will pay off tenfold. Whether you make new running friends, find a new class you love, or just happen upon an unbeatable breakfast combination, I hope you can take your blah to Hoorah! too. Have an awesome Wednesday and be well!

PS To get a jump start on some future breakfast awesomeness, Kathy is offering all of your beautiful readers a discount on her raw crunch bars! Just enter BLOG1 for the rest of this week to receive 10% off your order!

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Thigh Dancing, oh yea!

Hello lovelies! Thank you for the warm reception; it’s good to be back! Now if only I could be writing from a beach chair in the tropics, rather than a Starbucks in Manhattan as I hide from the cold. Ah well, I suppose there’s still something kind of wonderful about cozying up with a cup of decaf, my Shiatsu notes and all of you.

Originally I was just going to trudge to school, be a responsible student and hunker down in the library for 3 hours. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to indulge in little self care luxuries more often. Note I said “little” since my husband and I are still a young couple living in NYC on only one salary while paying for my education! In lieu of weekend trips to St. Maarten, I’m enjoying small treats like coffee (bought with a gift card) and some new exercise classes. Which classes you ask? Well, I started my alternative fitness mission about two weeks ago by trying the Physique 57 DVD suite at the suggestion of my dear friend, Diana!

For those who aren’t familiar, Physique 57 is a barre-based class inspired by the Lotte Berk Method. It incorporates light weights, a playground ball, and a whole lot of sweat and determination. The DVDs start with a brief warmup and an arms section using weights. Each section is followed by brief stretches for the muscles that were just worked and then you move right on to the next muscle group. Other sections include thighs (lots of plies and squats), seat (the torturous “pretzel”), and core. By the end of each section, my legs were shaking, my heart was pumping and, as Tanya says in the video, that is how we make muscle! I did the classic 57-minute workout every day for a week and capped it all off by attending one of the classes at the studio on 57th Street.¬†The class followed a format similar to the DVDs but was even harder! (I couldn’t finish the thigh or seat sections because I was afraid my legs were going to collapse under me).

And the signature “thigh dancing” section was practically impossible, but you’ll be happy to know I’m getting much better at the deep pelvic thrusts. Stephanie, the instructor for the class, was amazing though – so supportive, very attentive, and awesomely high energy considering class started at 8am on a Saturday!

Ever since that class I’ve been keeping up with the DVDs, especially since they’re significantly cheaper than paying $35 for classes. Not that I wouldn’t try to maximize a monthly membership at the studio (and I can only imagine the kind of results I’d see!!), but the $450 price tag is most definitely outside my budget. Thankfully the DVDs continue to be incredibly challenging and, to give myself a little variety, I’ve also started adding some other barre-style classes into my workouts. Stay tuned for my thoughts on these, and on what that means for the future of my fitness routine!

In the meantime, my coffee is almost gone, my school work is giving me ‘the look’ from my backpack, and I’ve got to go!

Talk soon :)

Have you ever taken a barre-style class? What do you think of workout DVDs? Any suggestions?

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Pure Joy

I was trudging through snow drifts and slush puddles today with a frown on my face, my hands jammed in my pockets and my shoulders hunched forward. As I crossed Park Avenue, I heard children laughing and squealing with excitement as they ran full tilt toward Central Park with their sleds tucked under their arms. As they passed me, I looked up and saw the sun shining and I started to smile. My shoulders relaxed, my frown melted away and I couldn’t help but laugh. Seeing this probably helped too!

The sight of those children and the tower of snow-covered cans reminded me to appreciate the little joys and to savor the pure happiness that can be felt while catching snowflakes on my tongue. Happy snow day!

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Hello, World!

Oh boy. Somehow restarting/reincarnating my blog seemed like it would be so easy and would happen so seamlessly. Does anything in life happen that way? Silly me. Besides, I think I pretty well exhausted my creative muscles after writing my new “About” section so why don’t you read that for now? In the meantime, I’m going to finish getting my thoughts organized, get some pictures cleaned up, and savor this comforting and delicious bowl of homemade chicken soup, courtesy of my father-in-law.

I’m so glad to be back and I hope you have a wonderful day!

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