Monday, February 27, 2012

"Mary Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow?"

Well MY garden grows with veggies and herbs and flowers! I'm so grateful for the mild winter we've had in Missouri. I'm also grateful for the the Savvygardener newsletter because they tell me when I plant things based on our local climate. For example, a recent newsletter suggested some flower seeds that could be started in stages over the next month because it's been so warm. One of those was Snapdragon - which I had a packet of in my cabinet! All of my flower packets have seed starting either indoors before the last frost or outdoors a week after the last frost. If it weren't for Savvygardener, I wouldn't have realized I could start sowing now. So every Saturday through March, I'm going to sow another bit of Snapdragon. I really hope at least half of them turn out!

I planted garlic this season for the first time and it seems to be going well. I've never grown it before so I really won't know how well it's going until harvest time in July-ish. I have a friend who has had great results with his garlic and he's given me some awesome tips - none of which I applied this season. Sometimes even I don't understand myself.

A recent beautiful and sunny weekend had me outdoors sowing some Snow Peas and Snapdragon flower seeds. We're attempting edible landscaping in a large patch in front of the house. We established some pampas grass, lilies, and a sage bush last year. I started the garlic back in mid-October and they're in front of the tiger lily. I decided to plant the snow peas in a 3-ring circle between the garlic/lily & the pampas grass. I'll eventually need to put a teepee trellis up and thought it would look best near the back. The Snapdragon is in a row even with the back (behind the trellis if looking from the street). It's supposed to grow up to 3 feet tall so I'm hoping it will pull everything together in that area. I think I'll plant another 3-ring circle of peas in the opposite corner with Snapdragons behind it as well. Have a bit of symmetry going on.

I'm anxiously waiting for April, when I'll be starting a few seeds indoors which I will transplant to the garden in May. Here's my planting list for the 2012 season:

Tomato (cherry, grape, and large)
Green bell pepper
Jalapeno & Chili peppers (if I can find some seed for free)
Cucumber (both bush & trellis variety)
Snow Peas
Nasturtium (annual)
Alyssum as cover inbetween plants (annual)
Marigold (annual)
African Daisy (annual)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Healthy Cookie Dough Dip

I had posted previously about trying the "No Sugar Cookie Dough Dip"  from Chocolate Covered Katie. Today, I made the regular version Cookie Dough Dip with brown sugar. I also blended it longer. I came close to burning out the motor of our blender so I'd suggest others stick with Katie's recommendation to NOT use a blender!

cookie dough dip

The majority of this dip is beans. There's a titch of peanut butter, brown sugar, oats, milk and just a dash of baking soda, salt, and vanilla. I have read in the comments that someone prepared PB2 (the powdered peanut butter) according to package directions and it still turned out well - so that's an option if you want to cut the calories even further.

I strayed from the recipe on a few things. I had a bag of beans so instead of canned, I soaked & boiled 135g (the equivalent to 1 1/2 cups, which is what you get out of a 250g can). I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. I don't have a food processor but I do have a "handy chopper" so I pureed it in small batches and then blended it all in the blender on the "liquefy" setting while lightly tapping the top down with a spoon.

So how did it taste?

This batch was a lot less "beany" textured than last time because I took the extra step of liquefying in the blender. I really wish I had a food processor!

This batch also tasted more like cookie dough than the last batch. I didn't have any more graham crackers to eat it with so I just ate it with a spoon. Yup, it is that good! I ate 2/8 of the batch as soon as I finished portioning it out for the week. This will once again be my workweek 3:00 dessert and added bean intake.

Nutritional Info as entered on

Next week, I'm going to make Black Bean Flourless Cake
Sneak peak photo:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eating Beans As Dessert?!

A few weeks ago, my boss sent a newsletter from our health insurance and one of the featured articles was how certain beans can help lower cholesterol. I was intrigued so I did more research on it. High on the list of good cholesterol-lowering beans was kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea (garbanzo), or butter (lima). Only a cup of any of those beans a day is said to lower cholesterol by as much as 10 percent in 6 weeks!

So off I went to search Pinterest. Usually, I would just Google recipes but I've found that Pinterest is pretty good about showing me stuff that other people have already tried and liked without having to wade through pages of comments in multiple recipes. What I stumbled across multiple times was a  "No Sugar Cookie Dough Dip"  and a Cookie Dough Dip from Chocolate Covered Katie.

"No Sugar" Cookie Dough Dip cookie dough dip

The first few times I saw it, I figured someone had just mistyped when they pinned (which happens so irritatingly often). The third time though, the caption on the pin explained that the dip was made with chickpeas. What?! A dessert snack made with beans? I had to try it.

I decided to try the "No Sugar" version first. I was so happy when I read through the recipe to see that it didn't use Stevia or some other "sweetener". It used dates. The majority of this dip is beans, dates, and chocolate chips. There's a titch of peanut butter and just a dash of baking soda, salt, and vanilla.

I strayed from the recipe on a few things. I had a bag of beans so instead of canned, I soaked & boiled 135g (the equivalent to 1 1/2 cups, which is what you get out of a 250g can). I used regular chocolate chips instead of the sugar-free option of cocoa nibs. I also didn't add oats or milk. I don't have a food processor but I do have a "handy chopper" so I pureed it in small batches.

So how did it taste?

It does not taste like cookie dough but it is so sweet. The texture is a little "beany" but that is more than likely a result of not using the food processor (which she warned about). It was good though, and eaten with 2 graham cracker rectangles, satiated my 3:00 dessert craving every day. I ate 2/8 of the batch as soon as it was finished and had some pretty severe stomach cramps for a little bit. I entered the recipe into and found out I'd eaten 18 grams of fiber within 30 minutes. No wonder I had stomach cramps! I portioned the rest of the batch out to 6 servings for the rest of the week. It's an easy and delicious way to incorporate more beans into my daily intake!

Nutritional info as entered on

I'm going to make it again tonight for this week's dessert cravings. This time though, I'm making the other version which uses brown sugar as sweetener - and I'm thinking that will make it taste more like cookie dough. I think I'll go ahead and throw the oats & milk in there too. I'll be sure to post next week and let you know how it went!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Proper Crunch Technique

I finally got around to looking it up and found out that I'm doing them right! Yay :D

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Whoop Whoop!

I was sick off and on all last week. I would feel better and decide to hold off for a day to keep from relapsing - then I'd relapse anyway. It was so frustrating. Until last night, I had not exercised at all since Friday, February 10th!

I surprised myself yesterday! I ran in place at a pace of 4 footfalls per second for the entire 20 minutes and pushed a 9th round out on the 10 Minute Strength rotations. I had mentioned before that I didn't think I could do more than 8 rounds without compromising form. Well, I still can't be sure I'm doing the crunches right. I haven't looked it up. I can say with certainty that my abs were worked though - there was some noticeable burn today!

Tonight's targeted workout was Shoulders, Arms & Abs. The whole thing took me 30 minutes. I made sure to do each rep for a total of 8 counts (4 up / 4 down) and did them until I had trouble doing them instead of some arbitrary number. It felt great.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

4-minute workout

One of my grade-school classmates pinned a 4-minute workout image to their Pinterest the other day. I decided I would try it today since my current workout schedule gives me 2 rest days.

Here's the image she pinned:

I found a free timer online and set it to ding me for the 20 second and 10 second mark, for 8 rounds. I took video of myself for 2 reasons: I wanted to count the reps I'd completed and I wanted to check my form. After the first round (about 2 minutes in) I was having trouble catching my breath. I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish. My brain was saying, "Hey, it's only 2 more minutes - freaking push through!" and my chest was saying, "Hello? Can I get a good breath here?" I pushed through and you can totally see in the video where I lost steam. 

I noticed that when I did Squat Thrust (which when I looked up the how-to, saw that it's a burpee without the push-up), my back seems to dip so I'll be sure to focus on keeping stiff next time I do that sort of exercise. 

I also noticed I pigeon-toe during my jumping jacks, which made me chuckle since my mom worked so hard to correct that when I was a kid.

Finally, I noticed that I smile and chuckle to myself a lot when I get winded. 

I never noticed any of this in prior videos I've taken of myself but then, none of those workouts had pushed me like this one. 

In the end, my feelings about the 4-minute Workout are that it's heart-pumping and definitely tough. I find it hard to believe it burns as many calories as a 40-60 minute run, or that it increases metabolism for 36 hours, but that doesn't really matter to me anyway. It's quick, I definitely gave my heart and lungs a workout, and if push came to shove, I could do this on a day that was so full that I "didn't have time".

Friday, February 10, 2012

Personal Record!

I achieved a personal record on "strength exercises" in tonight's workout. 40 push-ups, 80 crunches, and 120 squats in 10 minutes! I'm pretty sure that's my limit without sacrificing form so my new goal is to maintain that. Maybe by March I'll have to modify to make it more difficult.

I also ran harder on the :20 jog/run. Still running in place but for the last 3 minutes I was going full out. I'd guess about 8 feet beats per second? Whew! So I've still got room for improvement on the run part. I can't wait for it to warm up again so I can see if I'm still at the 12-minute mile I was at before I quit or if I've gotten better!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Deck With Syd, Manny, & Diego

Last night was my once-a-week Deck of Cards Workout on the workout schedule. I got through the whole deck again, and pushed harder on some of the exercises (I'll explain below). I picked Ice Age as the dvd to accompany me. Although I was listening more than watching this time around. My head was so into completing the motions that I noticed I wasn't paying attention to the movie most of the time. It's still nice background noise.

I meant to update last night but I got online to update my log and got distracted by editing its layout to be more readable (and easier to update).

A few notes on the exercises I did:

Lunges - I counted each leg as a rep and completed each rep as 2 seconds down / 2 seconds up
Knee-to-elbow Planks - Also counted each leg as a rep and completed as 2 seconds in / 2 seconds back. I had to stop a few times when I'd flipped the Ace and King. Whew!
Jumping Jacks - I focused on making sure my feet were flat and knees soft when doing these. I don't feel like I get as much benefit when I bounce off the balls of my feet
Tricep Kickbacks - This is what I did instead of Chair Dips. I focused on slow and controlled movements, no faster than 2 seconds up/down. I used 5 pound dumbbells in each hand.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Targeted Workout

I was a little disappointed and "eh" about last night's Chest, Back & Abs strength exercises. It took a total of 17 minutes and I barely broke a sweat. The sweat that did break through was under the band of my sports bra which is a pretty thick material and probably more the cause of sweat than actual muscle-burning heat.

I found an exposed I-beam on the unfinished side of the basement and tried to do the chin-ups & pull-ups on that. My fingers weren't curled around anything and there wasn't a really good way to grab on. I wasn't able to successfully complete even one chin-up or pull-up. I'm not going to blame it on the grip though. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it even with a bar. I don't recall ever doing those in gym (in 1994-95). I do remember "the hang" but I'm thinking I started at the top. So, pull-ups are something to work toward! (As well as that project to put a pipe through the rafters)

Also, I don't feel like I really maxed out on the weight by any stretch. I guess I need to find some paint buckets or something for the next targeted workout.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

So Farro So Good!

Okay, now that I've settled down from laughing at my own punny joke, I can continue with posting.

I ran out of quinoa last week so I reluctantly pulled the farro out of the freezer for this week's lunches. I don't recall how I used it last time but I do remember being less than thrilled about it. It obviously had something to do with how I prepared it because this time it tastes great!

I followed the instructions on the bag to make what should have been 4 servings. It said to boil for 5-7 minutes or until 'al dente'.  Well, I boiled for 10, it was 'al dente', and there was still water. So I just drained off the water and divided the grain among my lunch containers. I only ended up with 3 1-cup servings. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be a cup? Maybe I should have waited until it absorbed the water? I obviously don't know, but it doesn't really matter now.

Then I divided up a bag of frozen carrots & peas among the 3 containers. And because garlic makes pretty much all veggies better, I divided 2 minced cloves among them as well.

At work (to the misfortune of my coworkers), I broiled fish in the toaster oven when I was ready to eat. It was very filling and Oh So Tasty! The farro isn't overwhelmingly earthy, but has enough to it that it has flavor (unlike rice, which doesn't really have a flavor when plain other than bleh). The garlic softened nicely when I heated the container in the microwave. And the veggies brightened everything up and just made it look pretty.

So the yummy dish, plated, was this:

Farro, peas, carrots, garlic, fish (tilapia, salmon, cod, whatever) seasoned appropriately

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pushing Through

Today was the 20 minute jog/run and then 10 minutes "total body" (rotation of 5 push-ups, 10 crunches, and 15 squats).

For the jog/run, I finished But I'm A Cheerleader. It was the last half which is the funniest. It made the 20 minutes fly by. I only quick-marched for about a minute.

I did 7 rotations total in the 10 minutes. That's a total of 35 push-ups, 70 crunches, and 105 squats. I felt a definite improvement on the push-ups. If I'd have had more than 10 minutes, I'm confident that I could have done at least a few more rounds!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Chest, Back & Abs strength exercises. 10 exercises of 15 reps each and 2 stretches. I'm guessing it will take around 15 minutes? It's considered an optional "targeted workout" which might be why it's so short. It's also intended to be difficult by using resistance bands or weights that push to failure by the end of reps. I won't be doing the chin ups because I don't have a bar to do them on. We do have exposed rafters on the unfinished side of the basement so maybe I could drill a hole and run a pipe through or something.

All in all, I'm feeling really great about this schedule and I'm pretty proud of my follow-through so far!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Workin' It!

Today was 20 minutes walk/jog/run and then 10 minutes "total body" which was a rotation of 5 push-ups, 10 crunches, and 15 squats.

I'm on my first day of feeling like I can breathe fully, my nose is dry and my head is clear(er). I decided to take it easy so I don't relapse just in time for another work week. So for the walk/jog/run, I put in a movie (But I'm A Cheerleader - total cheese and I LOVE it!), and fast marched/jogged in place.

I did 6 rotations total in the 10 minutes and wasn't pushing myself. That's a total of 30 push-ups, 60 crunches, and 90 squats. I think I have Beachbody programs to thank for this! I haven't done crunches since I was a sophomore in highschool (1994 to be more specific!) so I'm not entirely sure if I did those right. I seem to remember I'm not supposed to go all the way up. Basically, I laid my feet flat with bent knees, had my lower back against the floor but my shoulders off. I crossed my arms on my chest and basically curved my stomach in. Whether it was correct form or not, it definitely was working my abs. I was getting shaky on that last set. Squats were super easy. All of the Beachbody programs have been squat intensive so I'm pretty sure that's why. The push-ups have always been a weakness for me and I'm hoping to improve throughout this workout schedule! Those last 5 were pretty shaky but I got them done.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Last night I did 2 segments from "10 Minute Solution: Yoga" (linked to Amazon) on Netflix Instant. Max was very concerned and seemed stressed while I was doing this so Sweetie took him into the other room while I continued. This was my first time doing a 'real' yoga workout. My previous exposure was a few moves on Wii Fit, and apparently the Insanity workout.

I figured a good place to start would be with The Basics segment. I learned Mountain, Sun Salutation, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog, and Warrior. She moved pretty fast and didn't hold the stretches as long as I expected from what I'd heard about yoga - but then again, this was a 10-minute segment so that's probably why. I think there were 3 rounds of that cycle. By the 3rd time I almost had it down without watching her.

I didn't want to do any segments that were geared toward "toning" since my body was pretty tight from the Deck of Cards workout. I skipped to the end and did the Flexibility and Relaxation segment. This one felt good and I probably should have done it twice. It started with a butterfly stretch, lateral bend over left leg, twisting stretch to left, lateral bend over right leg, twisting stretch to right, bridge pose, ham string stretches by hooking my fingers over my big toe and trying to extend the leg (then also bring leg to side for inner thigh stretch), and finished with a lying spinal twist on both sides.

The segments I skipped were Buns & Thighs, Abs, and Burn.

I'm undecided whether I want to look for another Yoga workout or keep doing this one. Since I'm only scheduled to do it twice a month, I'll probably just stick with this one. Next time though, I think I'll do The Basics & Flexibility and Relaxation twice each instead of once.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Cold, A Deck Of Cards, And Me

I started my new workout schedule this evening. Today was the Deck of Cards Workout. I had mentioned before that I didn't think I was to the level yet of being able to get through the whole deck, because it would have meant I'd done 105 reps of each suit (lunges, knee-to-elbow planks, chair dips, and jumping jacks).

In addition to just guessing I wouldn't be able to do that, I also came down with a cold today. So far it's not in my chest and I don't have a fever so I went ahead with the workout. I really didn't think I'd be able to do much.

Oddly enough, I felt better while I was doing the exercises! The box of kleenex went untouched after about 3 cards. Before I knew it, there were no more cards in the deck. I checked the time and only 30 minutes had passed. I had completed the deck! I was shocked. I was so excited about it, I got on my computer to update my log before showering!

A few notes on the exercises I did:

Lunges - I counted each leg as a rep
Knee-to-elbow Planks - I counted each left/right pair as a rep
Jumping Jacks - I started doing a squat jack toward the end of the deck because it seemed too easy
Chair Dips - I didn't have any sturdy furniture to dip between so I just used my dumbbells. I basically got into the position of a bridge and dipped my body down and up from that. I don't think I worked my triceps at all. I have since looked at the proper form of a chair dip (using a chair) and I don't trust myself to do it right without supervision. I'm not in a hurry to mess up my shoulders or back so I think instead of chair dips, I'm going to do Tricep Kickbacks with my dumbbells.

Tomorrow is Yoga. I think I'll do the "10 Minute Solution: Yoga" (linked to Amazon) on Netflix Instant and just bring my laptop down with me. Or I'll do it upstairs if sweetie is okay watching me stretch and bend :-)