Tuesday, August 31, 2010


What happens when you take the bull by the horns and dive head first into exercise and start rehearsals whilst working a day job? You get run down very quickly and catch the plague that's hit Chicago. I am feeling very whiney right now. It's hard to work so hard on yourself and try to be so good to your body and conscious of your health only to get knocked down, but it happens. Sunday night I had an eight hour sinus migraine-no bueno. I am snotty and congested and miserable. Wah! My aprtment is so hot it feels like a sauna. Alas, I can't leave to go walk around a cold store because as fate would have one of my side mirrors on my car broke and I can't drive.

Enough of that.

What am I doing to get better?

Lotsa water
Some G2 (for electrolytes)
My own concotion of healing soup:
Brown Miso Broth
A carrot
A little purple onion
Herbs (basil/sage/chives from my garden)
Lots of greens (collards)
It's very comforting and it's keeping my strength up as I try to work from home today. (of course I am eating it lukewarm since it's a sauna at my house.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taking the Bull By the Horns

This week I have taken the bull by the horns and got myself back on track:

Sunday: Bikram
Monday: Bikram
Tuesday: Bikram
Wednesday: 3 mile walk
Thursday: 3 mile walk

I've also made sure to stay aware of my calorie intake and have been evening cocktail-free all week.

In your face, scale!

Monday, August 23, 2010


So yesterday I boarded my scale after not checking for a couple of weeks, and it was a bit scary. I've gained some weight. There, I said it. It was hard to see, and I can maybe attribute a pound or two to muscle I'm gaining from Bikram (Ten classes so far-woohoo!), but I think really I've just been having too many calories. Even healthy foods can plump you up if you're not careful-I think I've been having too many nuts for snacks at work. I also need to lay off the wine and other cocktails and the chocolate chips. Although I am not downing any of these in crazy excess, they aren't calorie free. I had intended to skip Bikram yesterday, but after the news I promptly booked an afternoon class and headed to the grocery store to get salad fixins and lots of veggies for the week. I went to class and sweated out my toxins then went home and had some very lightly sauteed brocoli, carrots, onions, celery, basil and sage (from my very own garden)and tofu with a big ice berg and spinach salad full of daikon, tomatoes (from my very own garden) and cucumbers. I also had a slice of toasted soy flour bread rubbed with a garlic clove. I feel cleaner. I packed a big salad for lunch today at my day job along with an apple and a cucumber/tomato salad for snacks. The key is not necessarily eating less, just making better choices.
It's hard not to feel sorry for myself at a time like this and think, "It's no fair that I can't eat like a normal person without gaining weight! How can I come so far only to start destroying it? How can people complement me on my arms and say I've look like I've lost weight the day before, but the scale report crazy numbers? Wahhh it's not fair!" The answer is: Nope, it's not fair. It is not fair that I've had to struggle for so long, even when I've slimmed down so much. It's simply an issue I have to deal with. Some people have drug problems, some people have spending/money problems, I have food/weight problems. No sense in stressing out over this (even though it's hard, and I am admittedly shaken up). I know how to get back on track, and I will do just that. Lots of clean food this week and making sure to move daily. Wednesday my husband and I start rehearsals together for a show (hooray for getting to see each other) and the rehearsal space is a nice 1.5 mile walk each way, so we plan to take advantage of that.

I feel like it's important to share this little stumble, because this is a life long journey full of ups and downs. It happens to all of us.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Awesome Sauce

Have you heard people use the phrase "awesome sauce" before? Sometimes it is used in reference to something cool or awesome. Sometimes it is used for literal food items. Please refer to the Urban Dictionary for several hilarious definitions. Here is their top one today:
Awesome Sauce: A beautifully assonant phrase which can and should be used on any occasion where joy and elation are expressed. the origin of 'awesome sauce' is probably from Strong Bad, although in that case he refers to a cleaning product with the trade name of Awesome Sauce. 'awesome sauce' has been adapted for use both as an exclamation or reserved sign of approval.

chel: i just got a hired at Big Lots.
macgyver: awesome sauce.
My cube mate at work suggests that I am "experiencing an unjustified amount of pleasure" from how funny I think this phrase is, but I digress. I have come across actual awesome sauce thanks to the Vegan Planet cookbook.
Wednesday night I tackled another recipe: Turkish Style Stuffed Eggplant with Walnut Sauce. It came out well, but the sauce was star of the show for sure! It's sweet and balances out the eggplant so nicely. I want to use this sauce in other dishes over and over! My first order of business is to use it with soy crumbles, seitan, tempeh or tofu to make sloppy joe's!! My mouth just watered a little.

Vegan Planet has been on shelves for a while now (followed by several other cookbooks I would love to have), so hopefully the brilliant Robin Robertson will not mind if I post the recipe. If anything, make the sauce. If it doesn't sell you on the book or trying some animal product-free recipes, I don't know what will. One thing that drew me to this recipe was its call for pomegranate juice. Recently the folks at POMWonderful did a little blogger seeding. I was one of the lucky benefactors and was gifted with a case of their 100% pomegranate juice. (I felt famous). They have several recipes on their website as well. I haven't tried any of those yet.

Vegan Planet's Turkish-Style Stuffed Eggplant with Walnut Sauce
2 eggplants, halved lengthwise
3 TB olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 c ground walnuts (I used 2/3 c grounds almonds I had on hand and 1/3 c crushed walnuts)
1 c veggie stock (I used a half cube of veggie boullion)
salt and pepper
2 TB tomato paste
1/4 c brown sugar (I used 1/8 of Splenda Brown Sugar-sweeter than normal sugar so I used less)
1/4 c pomegranate juice (POMWonderful)
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 c cooked basmati rice (I didn't have any so I used 3/4 c Near East Wild Mushroom and Herb Rice Pilaf and 1/4 c whole wheat cous cous-I had them leftover in my fridge-easy peasy)
2 TB minced fresh mint leaves (from my verfy own garden!)
2 TB minced fresh parsley

Bake eggplant face down on an oiled baking sheet (or pizza sheet if you are me and don't have one) at 400 for about 15 min.
When eggplants are cool enough, scoop out the insides, leaving 1/4-in shells intact. Coarsely chop the eggplant flesh and reserve. (My trick to chopping this quickly? I used CLEAN kitchen scissors. You're welcome!)

(Awesome) Sauce:
Heat 1 TB olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add half of the onion, cook until softened. Add turmeric, half of the nuts, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer about 15 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.
In a separate bowl, combine tomato paste, sugar, and juices, and blend well.

Add to sauce and simmer on very low heat.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Saute remaining onion and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add eggplant and salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and combine with rice, remaining nuts, and herbs.
Place eggplant shells in an oiled baking dish and stuff the shells with the mixture. Bake about 15-20 minutes.
Top with walnut (awesome) sauce.
Freak Out. The ground nuts make this so meaty!

Please let me know if you try it!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Living On Vegan Planet

More Julie and Julia inspired cooking from Vegan Planet ensued last night....but first....

Tomatatosplosion has begun!

There's a Vitamin C party in my kitchen!
Last night was the most packed Bikram class I have ever attended. Mind you I have only attended seven classes now at this particular studio-but oh man, it was mat-to-mat packed! I kept a very positive attitude which always pays off. I've been repeating a little mantra to myself during class: I am having a great class. I am losing weight and feeling great. Laugh at me if you must (meany). I know it sounds cheesy, but it works. It was so crowded I couldn't see myself in the mirror, so I had to rely on feeling alone to make corrections and adjustments in the postures. It actually made me more focused. With a class that full it's very easy to absorb other people's crazy energy, especially when they are falling next to you or having trouble with the heat and moving around and laying down. I stayed strong though! I feel like I am improving each time. Here is my favorite quote from last night when the lovely instructor encouraged the class to let the sweat flow,"Stop wiping up your sweat. You are paying good money to come here and sweat out your toxins. This is how you get rid of the Twinkie you ate in 1986." Love it. Now I will always think about sweating out all of the gross food choices I have made in the past.

For dinner on Monday night I ate the rest of my stuffed poblanos with some sauteed zucchini, but last night I needed to make something new. I went with a quick recipe from the book:
Quinoa and Pan Fried Corn with Orange Zest and Chives (page 230).
This is so simple and quick and delightful. It is basically quinoa cooked in veggie stock combined with seared corn and scallions, kissed with orange zest and garnished with fresh chives (chives from my very own garden!) I added a big clove of garlic.

Let the scallion choppin' commence!
Oniony goodness!
The results: So simple. So delish.

How pretty is THAT?!

I ate this along side some mixed veggies and cannellini beans. So summery and light and perfect for a late post-workout dinner.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Because I Like Goals

Clearly, I like goals. I like plans. I like challenges.

Recently I got my hands on the library's copy of the cookbook Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson and promptly ordered a copy of my own.

I had been on the hunt for some cooking inspiration and was so glad to have found these 400 recipes! I decided that I wanted to go a little Julie and Julia and work my way through this cook book. Of course I know I can't get through every single recipe, but what a fun project.

Yesterday I chose about five recipes to try and bought ingredients after my Bikram class (I have six classes under my belt and am still going strong by the way!). I tried to choose some things with like ingredients and thanks to the cheap produce market near my class, I got everything I needed for under $25 (and this will make sooooo much food dinners and lunches!).

This evening I made two recipes while Mr. BB30 is off at a man's night : Sassy Vegetable Gumbo (page 90) and Poblanos Stuffed with Cumin and Orange Scented Rice (page 399). 

Scenes from my kitchen:
Gumbo Ingredients!

Mmmmmm...Orange Zest!

These poblanos were huge!!!!

My intention was to have the gumbo for lunches this week and eat the poblanos for dinner tonight, but I couldn't help but have a little of both for dinner instead!


Sassy Vegetable Gumbo:
As a Cajun girl, I am always on the quest to find a gumbo recipe that tastes like my MawMaw's. I was delighted that this gumbo recipe called for file powder, because frankly, it's not gumbo if there is no file powder in it!!! There will never be a gumbo that tastes like my MawMaw's (especially now that I am meat free), but I like this stew as whole. It's full of okra and tomatoes and corn and chipotle and green bell peppers! Although we've been reaching heat indexes of over 100 degrees in Chicago lately, my day job office is brutally frosty (as in I wear a sweater and have a blanket at my desk), so this will make for some much needed hot lunches this week!!

Poblanos Stuffed with Cumin and Orange Scented Rice:
I halved this recipe since I'm really only cooking for myself. I actually forgot to cut the cumin in half, but I love cumin in a big way so came out wonderfully in my book. Oranges and and onion and carrots and poblanos topped with almonds...mmmm. I am such a sweet and savory person that the orange paired with the salty cumin and spicy peppers was so dreamy. I think next time I will add some garlic. You can see that I tried one regular one and added Daiya Mozzarella to the other. I really liked the addition of the cheese. Daiya, you are my hero! I definitely would like to perfect this one for entertaining guests.

Wishing you all wonderful weeks!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gardenwatch: The Time Has Come...

....and Tomatosplosion 2010 is apon us!
This morning I counted 17 tomatoes that have some color!

There are also several green ones and some babies still coming up too! YAY!

In other Gardenwatch news: Squash is no more. I had to pull my plants up. The bases were rotting and the one squash we harvested was gross. Next year, next  year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Fear: A Follow Up

Last weekend I was a fear conquerer.

Wednesday afternoon I bit the bullet and booked my return to Bikram. Friday came, and it went something like this:
  • Nervous all day.
  • Running behind due to lack of appropriate shorts and subconscious fear of going.
  • Husband drives me since I am behind, but needlessly pushes me about being scared and upsets me.
  • Arrive.
  • I am greeted by two very nice and adorable yogis.
  • I tell them of my last bad experience and that I fear people being mean to me if I dry heave.
  • They assure me that they are not like the last place I went to.
  • I go put my stuff down.
  • I choose to celebrate how far I've come and do class in the standard sports bra and shorts.
  • I enter the room.
  • "Ok, this is a familiar smell (peace and sweat and carpet and tranquility)"
  • "Ok, this is a familiar heat, is it even hotter now? No, this is the same...ok..good..good..."
  • I find a place in the back (typical newbie courtesy)
  • No one throws up by looking at me in a sports bra and shorts...of course they didn't.
  • I lay on my back and "arrive" in the room and adjust to the heat.
  • "I will not push myself too hard, I will just do the best I can."
  • Class begins.
  • Teacher says, "If this is your first time or first time in a while, just do the best you can. Your only job is to be in this room." Much better experience already.
  • Standing serious (first half of class) going well...
  • Backwads in Half Moon.."don't push it..you'll get dizzy..take it easy...and I'm good."
  • Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose followed by Triangle Pose..."woah, little rush to the head....breathe..breathe...and I'm good."
  • "Is it cooling down in here?"
  • Floor series going well..
  • "Here comes Camel, I've never been good at this one, I get so dizzy, I am sure to barf or faint.......and I'm good.
  • We head into the final posture.
  • Class ends.
  • I am a warrior! A warrior who bent and stretched in front of others in just a sports bra and shorts!
  • I bid the adorable yogis farewell.
  • Mr. BB30 picks me up and apologizes for being mean to me and was only pushing because he belives in me.
I had obligations and much to do on Saturday (more on that below) and had the final day of shooting the indie film (10am-6pm youch) on Sunday, but I wet back on Monday. Still good. I was planning to go last night, but work got in the way (it always enrages me when my day job interferes with my life, especially my health), so I had to cancel, but I got a spot for a class tonight, in fact, I gotta go!

So far so good!

I also conquered another fear. The first official walk on a beach in my bikini. Holy Crap. It was a gorgeous afternoon. My friend's birthday bash home base was positioned away from the water. After a while Mr.BB30 and I walked down to the lake and I took "the walk." No one was blinded, no 12 year old boys barked mean whale taunts at me, no one even batted an eye lash. Mind you, the party goers were far away, so I haven't quite conquered the fear of being live and in person in front of my friends whilst sporting a bikini, but I am ok with baby steps. We got in a few commemerative pictures before my camera died.

I need a tan. Like the creepy pageant child said on Kathy Griffin, "If you can't tone it, tan it." Disturbingly hilarious!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maintenance Check

I forgot to do a maintenance check in July, so I wanted to make sure to get one in today.

Holding strong...

June 3rd Waist (at belly button): 29 inches
Aug 3rd Waist (at belly button): 29 inches

June 3rd Hips: 35.5 inches
Aug 3rd Hips: 35.5 inches

June 3rd Arm: 10.5 inches around
Aug 3rd Arm: 10.5 inches around

June 3rd Thigh: 21.5 inches around
Aug 3rd Thigh: 21.5 inches around

Phew. I wasn't so sure this would go so well, especially since my scale checks have been questionable the past two weeks (see-always best to stick to measurements). Three months of taking it easy diet and exercise-wise can be dangerous.