Friday, December 30, 2011


I needed something to bring for Christmas Day lunch. I found a simple recipe for sweet potato gnocchi that I thought would be great with my creamy pesto sauce.

It seemed easy-mix flour, cooked sweet potato, and salt. Roll it into a log.

Cut into nuggets and crease with a fork so the gnocci could hold optimum sauce.

Boil the gnocci until they float....Obviously I did something wrong, because they came out mushy and sad.

It was disappointing, because HOW AWESOME DOES SWEET POTATO GNOCCI SOUND??!

The end of the year overwhelms me with work craziness and hustle bustle and I was feeling frazzled, so I needed a fast plan B. I packed up some sliced red and green bell peppers, onion, and garlic, and on Christmas day I sauteed them up with sliced Tofurky Italian Sausage. I mashed up half a sweet potato with a little Earth Balance and cumin, dished up some romaine/fennel/orange salad with balsamic and called it a holiday meal. I didn't get a picture. Whoops.

I now feel like I must conquer sweet potato gnocchi. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...and of course I made soup.

On Christmas Eve we headed north to spend the holiday with Mr. BB30's family. I wanted to bring a dish that I could share as well as ensure that I that I had something vegan friendly and filling to eat.

I had recently created a pear/turnip/parsnip puree that turned out well and went to a cooking party for my day job where my task was to make an apple/parsnip/leek soup, so I married the two ideas and the results were savory, sweet, and oh-so-merry!

Savory Pear Soup
2 Large parsnips, peeled and chopped (or several small skinny ones like I had)
2 Bosc Pears, peeled and chopped
2 (cleaned) Leeks, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1c Applesauce
1c Veggie Broth
Green Onion (for Garnish)

  • Sauté your veggies in a little olive oil until very tender, adding salt and pepper to taste
  • Add veggie broth and apple sauce (add in a little water if it seems dry)
  • Turn to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes
  • Cheat on your immersion blender and go for the food processor-you want this bad boy super silky!
  • Blend the soup in batches until it is smooth, adding water or plain almond milk as needed for your desired consistency.
  • Finely chop some green onion (or chives) with your kitchen scissors for garnish.
  • Drink in the sweet/savory goodness!
Here is a blurry camera phone pic that does it no justice.
This soup was a hit. I was so happy to be able to share a vegan friendly dish that pleased all palettes and warmed everyone up as they waited for Santa.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Squash It!

I should just have a separate soup blog, shouldn't I? Maybe one day...

In the meantime, behold a most excellent way to put a AMAZING sale on yellow squash to good use. (Seriously, I got six squash for .99!!) Smoky Squash Soup

Five yellow squash (two medium, three small), chopped
One medium Spanish onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup Bacos (bear with me)
1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
2 tsp Olive Oil
4 cups veggie broth
3 large cloves of garlic, grated
pinch of turmeric (optional)
pinch of curry powder (optional)

In a large pot, saute the squash and onions olive oil. (5 minutes)
Add frozen corn
Cook on medium until veggies soften

Add garlic, turmeric, and curry powder
Add veggie broth and simmer on low for 20 minutes
Add liquid smoke
Remove two cups of the soup, set aside
Add Bacos to the two cups you set aside and allow them to hydrate

Use your immersion blender to puree the remaining soup
Add the two cups back into the pot
Revel in the smoky goodness
Bacos and Liquid Smoke are vegan friendly and add such a rich country flavor to the always delicious combo of good ol' squash n' onions. The turmeric and curry powder are optional and used mainly to punch up the color. This makes about four large entree servings or eight starters. I really like taking out some of the veggies before blending because you get the best of both worlds with a smooth base and some hearty pieces. The corn kernels really pop. This would make a great little Christmas Eve dinner with a nice piece of crusty bread and a glass of your favorite wine.

I think next time I will blend in some white beans to add some protein. It should really thicken up the soup and make the texture even creamier!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And for My Next Trick...

......I will magically REAPPEAR!


Long story short, I have a lot of stuff going on. Things in Dayjobland are not good. Add in some various other life planning obstacles, my paralyzing fear of just sucking it up and taking a leap of faith, and starting rehearsals for a new play and you have a stressed out BB30 that is dizzy and tired. Thus, my absence.

On this journey, in times of stress I have turned to exercise, but I noticed that this time, as the stress thickens, sweating it out with burpees and mountain climbers isn't making me feel better. So, I've taken to little jogs and walks in the brisk air and only taking classes I enjoy like boxing.

On Friday I knew that I really needed to get a workout in and opted to try a rowing class. Rowing machines are the only machines at my gym (it's all class based), and this particular class was called Rowing Racing. You could race a partner or just challenge yourself. I was scared to go, because I'd only used the machines as a circuit of a class once, and didn't want to look dumb and make an idiot of myself. Perfect reason to make myself go, is it not? So I went. Guess what? No one else had signed up so I had the room all to myself, and they let me turn on Netflix and watch Limitless for my half hour. Awesome. See? I stood up to that little fear and it all worked out!
After rowing, I took a new class called Cardio Step Up. You use a chair as your step and go through several different exercises for a half hour. Holy burning thighs! This was a good'n! Strengthening and Balance in one! I'm glad I tried it, and it was nice to have something new to test out.

Today is strength boxing day. The normally one hour class will be longer today and will include a 15 minute pre-class technique refresher (Yay-I think this is sooo important, and I'll hopefully be able to pin point some things I must be doing wrong and causing hip pain) followed by an extra 10 minutes of class they are adding for extra calorie burn. I always feel good after kick boxing, so I'm looking forward to it.

Through the powers of Facebook, this post from has come into my life at the most perfect time, and I simply must share it:

30 Truths I've Learned in 30 Years

Now for some Christmas music-one of my favoirte ways to stay positive!

Today in gratitude I am thankful for Mariah Carey's song All I Want For Christmas Is You. My spirits instantly lift when I hear it and I don't care who knows it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Pie!!

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

I've never been a fan of cheesecake or creme brûlée. Frankly, something about the intense dairy tasted like snot to me. I think I was always a natural vegan who never knew it. However, several months ago I sampled some vegan cheesecake at Karyn's Cooked and really liked it's comforting consistency.  I remembered that my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone had a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake with cranberry topping on the Kind Life and suddenly I had to make it!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Cranberries from The Kind Life via The Vegetarian Times.
  • 2 cup(s) of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cup(s) of sugar substitute (either maple syrup or agave nectar, whichever you prefer)
  • Pre-made organic vegan graham-cracker crust (for ease)
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt

  • 12 ounce(s) of silken tofu

  • 8 ounce(s) of vegan cream cheese

  • 3/4 Whole Foods Organic Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1/4 cup(s) of agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon

  1. Prick each cranberry several times with straight pin.

  2. Bring sugar substitute and water to boil over medium heat.

  3. Cook until sugar reaches 230 F on candy thermometer.

  4. Add cranberries, and cook ten minutes or until syrup gels a bit.

  5. Remove berries with slotted spoon and lay out on plate.
  6. Save in refrigerator for adding to top of cheesecake later.

  7. Process crackers and salt into fine crumbs in food processor.
  8. Puree all ingredients in food processor until very smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

  9. Pour into crust and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes.

  10. Chill completely in refrigerator at least 3 hours, up to overnight.

  11. Garnish with candied cranberries, slice and serve.

  Nothing says gorgeous like fresh cranberries in my vintage marigold Tupperware!
The silken tofu made this so creamy and dreamy. It's such a wonderful ingredient for baking, sauces, and soup!!
The filling poured into the crust so beautifully!
It baked up so nicely. What perfect pumpkin-y golden color!
The finished product. It has a celestial glow about it, because this pie is HEAVENLY!
No doubt that I really loved this! The cranberry topping's tart and strong sweetness complimented the mild pumpkin filling so well. I will definitely make it again and would like to experiment with different fruit compotes on top. I think blackberry would be so incredible! I opted to put the topping on each piece as it was eaten rather than layer the whole pie with it. Mr. BB30 isn't a cranberry lover so he opted to eat his cranberry-free. For the record, he is also a traditional cheesecake lover and found this to be really delicious. Huzzah!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chestnut Soup or Daphne Oz Is My Hero

By chance I came upon a commercial for The Chew (aka What Replaced Erica Kane and My Friends in Pine Valley) and heard two magical words: CHESTNUT SOUP. Being from the swamps of East Texas I do not have any experience with chestnuts (roasting on an open fire or otherwise), so something sounded so magical and intriguing about this. Whilst on my weekly shopping trip to the produce store I spotted a big beautiful bin of fresh chestnuts. The food gods were speaking...

This is pretty simple simple to make and vegan substitutions were easy and minimal (just a swap for butter and milk using Earth Balance and Almond Milk). The hardest part about this is peeling the boiled chestnuts.

Recipe can be found here:
Daphne Oz's Chestnut Soup

Fresh chestnuts!
 When you boil and peel them, they look like this. The consistency is similar to a firm baked potato.
Cook up your herbs and veggies, deglaze, and add your broth and milk. Puree and voila!!
I skipped the cheesecloth/straining step. I was able to puree my soup finely enough that it didn't matter. 

This soup was the consistency of a potato soup. Really smooth and creamy with a lovely savory and nutty kick. It was so wintery and hearty and the flavor was new and exciting! Daphne Oz, I love you for bringing this into my life!

What new tastes have tickled you palette lately?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Souper Sunday: The Mother of All Carrot Gingers

Firstly, I went with The Fat Free Vegan's Eggplant Spread to use up my eggplants last week. It was a delight. I used her round 2 method of adding in chickpeas for protein. Such a great spread.

Secondly: Oh weekend, nothing can somewhat ease my insurmountable Sunday Blues like soup making. I love the thrill of searching the produce market for the day's awesome deal to reveal what veggie will be the star of my pot. I love chopping and peeling. I love the smell of onions and garlic cooking and all it's promise for a delightful, cozy meal. This week I have created one of my favorite batches of soup yet. I'm calling it The Mother of All Carrot Gingers.

It all started with a score on THREE pounds of carrots (purchased for a mere 99 cents total)........
....and chopped 'em up!
Look at that color!
Truly if you want a super easy veggie soup of any kind, all you really need to do is blend a vegetable, broth, salt/pepper. However, we know that this isn't how I roll. I wanted more depth of flavor! 

The Mother of All Carrot Gingers:
3lbs Carrots, chopped
1 large onion (I used Spanish), chopped
1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped (yellow would work too)
1/4 large sweet potato, pre cooked, chopped
1 large palm full of dill
1/4 palm full cinnamon
1/4 palm full fennel seed
1/2 palm full curry powder
1/2 palm full cumin
1/2 inch fresh grated ginger
4 cups veggie broth
2 cups water
1 Tbsp Earth Balance
3 giant garlic cloves (or six regular), grated

In a large stock pot, melt the Earth Balance and toss in your carrots. Stir and get your carrots coated.
(you may want to add a little splash of water)
Add your dill and let the carrots and dill have some alone time (approx 5 minutes)
Add onion and bell pepper
When onion is translucent add the sweet potato and seasonings
Add broth and water
Bring to a boil
Add ginger and garlic
Turned to low and simmer for 20 minutes 
Bust out the immersion blender and blend until your desired smooth consistency.

Not kidding about the giant garlic:
Look at that color!!
This is one of my favorite creations yet! The flavor is so layered and rich and the "next day" factor is off the charts! The bell pepper really makes a difference, and the fennel adds such a nice subtle licorice note! This would be such a "WOW" starter for your Thanksgiving table,  a great lunch on T-Day if you're waiting for a big dinner, or fabulous on Black Friday with a Leftovers Sandwich.

In my Thanksgiving news, Mama BB30 is taking on the challenge of creating some vegan dishes for me (even cookies!) It's so heart warming when people want to try their hand at kind cooking. I will definitely give a report!

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 11, 2011


Thanks to another awesome deal at my produce store, I recently acquired two large eggplants for only 99 cents. Yep. Awesome. Then what happens every time I buy eggplant happened, I wasn't using them. I can't stand to waste veggies, so I knew I needed to act! I've baked up those bad boys and now they are waiting for me in the fridge. I turned to one of my favorite recipe inspiration sites for help: Fat Free Vegan She did not disappoint with options.

Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

Curried Eggplant Soup

Eggplant Spread

Crockpot Eggplant and Tomato Stew

The Stew seems just like one of my own creations, so I know that one will be comforting and delightful. I am going to a play opening tonight, so dinner needs to be on the quick and easy side. The Eggplant Spread on a tortilla sounds awesome!!! I'm pretty sure it needs to grace my palette this very night!!
What are your favorite eggplant recipes?

Today in gratitude I am thankful for the wonderful dinner Mr. BB30 cooked for me last night. He has been making dinner for me on Thursdays and it's such a treat. Italian Stuffed Red Peppers anyone? So good. He incorporated tofu into his filling and used fennel seeds to give it a sausagey flavor for me. Yum!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


As an impatient person, one of the many wonderful things about this whole Internet thing is how easily we can get information. I love being able to look up most anything with a couple of clicks!

"Hmmm, I wonder if this restaurant's sandwich bread is vegan friendly?"
"Hmmm, I wonder how far it is to walk from my apartment to Wrigley Field?"
"Hmmm, I wonder what kind of yoga class would be good for me?"
"I have a cough, I wonder how many days I have left to live?" :)

There is a calculator, quiz, app, or web page devoted to everything, but it can be overwhelming.

One of my favorite go-to calculator sites is here at It's such a great source for, well, everything health, body, and soul. I try to shy away from calorie counting these days, but when I really needed help to jump start my journey I really enjoyed using
Are you a heavy online calculator user? What are your faves, any awesome ones I need to know about?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Delayed Vegas Recap

So, I am back from Vegas. Food options were tricky and my aversion to throwing away my money and wearing fanny packs and/or tight cheap polyester doesn't mesh well with The Strip (I anticipated as much). I took my smaller, less fancy camera and can't find the cord, so uploading pictures is delayed for now. Frown.

Teaser: I did see a certain show starring a certain former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner!

This week in workouts:
Monday: 500 Calorie workout
Tuesday: Strength Boxing
Thursday: Cardio Soaked

Friday, November 4, 2011

Let There Be Chili

As an autumn storm rolled in on Sunday, I decided that vegetable chili should be the star of Souper Sunday.

As you know, with me a lot of the fun of cooking is playing and not having a set recipe. Every soup I make will always be a little different. I love that.

Here is what happened on Sunday:

Haunted Veggie Chili
1/4 large jalapeno, finely chopped
3 giant garlic cloves (or six small), grated
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon*
2 palm fulls of cumin
1 palm full of chili powder
2 large zucchini
1c frozen corn kernels
2c cooked pinto beans* (mine were al dente)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes w/ garlic (juice included)
1 can tomato sauce
2 can fulls of water* (use your tomato sauce can)

In a large pot sautee all of your veggies (except the beans) until onions start to turn translucent.
Add seasoning and let the flavors marry
Add add fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water
Bring to a boil
Add beans
turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes

Eat it as-is or ladle it over brown rice, whole wheat elbow noodles, or  your grain of choice.
Taste=good, Picture= bad

Re: Cinnamon- This is the "haunted" part of the recipe. My Ground Cinnamon and Ground Cumin are the same brand and in identical containers. With all of those "c's" and "m's" and "grounds" it was bound to happen that I accidentally grabbed the wrong one and threw cinnamon into my pot. I scooped out the majority of it, but estimate that approx 1/4 teaspoon remained. This added a slightly sweet note in the background of the chili (aka "haunting" the chili) which is actually quite good. Needless to say, cinnamon is optional.

Re: Beans- I had cooked a bag of dry pinto beans last week and had oodles on hand, but you can use whatever bean (or mix of beans) you like. My pinto beans were slightly undercooked and finished cooking in the pot, so if you are using canned beans you may want to wait until simmer time to add them.

Re: Water- If you want a thicker chili, try using only one can of water.


Last week I opted out of Wednesday Strength Yoga. I was tired mentally and physically. I'm so glad I listened to my instincts, because the next day in my cardio class I felt like I had so much more strength and endurance. Rest on weeknights is important!

This week only left time for two workouts since I am traveling to Vegas and had a date with my wee nephew. While I hope to visit the fitness center at the hotel, I am not committing to anything!! It is a vacation after all.

Monday: 500 Calorie Workout
Tuesday: Strength Boxing followed by Abs and Butt Blast

Happy November!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Susan's 100 Best Ever Health Tips

Recently, while googling about I discovered Susan's 100 Best Ever Health Tips. I thought it was a wonderful list of good things to do for yourself and I thought I would share.

I really like almost all of these, but here are some of my favorites:

#3 Work on your emotional health – it is just as important if not more so, than your physical health

#14 Do less, live more – we are not here on earth to become more and more efficient

#23 Breathe deeply as often as you can

#25 Think more about what you can ADD to your diet first rather than focusing on what you want to take
away – this will minimize feelings of deprivation

#30 Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce

#38 Use your food as medicine

#43 Eat as much junk food as you like as long as you make it yourself

#84 For women, spending time with other women releases the stress-reducing oxytocin

I love that breathing is mentioned a few different times throughout the list. I would definitely add Create a mediation practice to the list.

What would you add?

I did not stay for Abs and Butt Blast yesterday. I think that despite my vitamin and zinc lozenge intake as well as living a healthy lifestyle in general, I cannot fight the jerks that come to work sick or people who insist on riding crowded trains whilst riddled with the plague. I'm feeling a little achy and sniffley and I knew pushing myself too hard would back fire and my upcoming trip to Vegas would be ruined. No thank you!! This girl needs some fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

To Tweet is to Motivate


Just a reminder that I began Tweeting at the end of May. I find it to be a great way to motivate myself to workout. Being able to give myself a virtual pat on the back while waiting for a class to start and possibly encouraging others to bust out the ol' sports bra has been very satisfying.

Follow me at:!/BikiniBy30

Earlier this month, Bestie was in town for a quick trip and celebrated with pumpkin carvin'. They molded in less than a week. One of the pumpkins didn't even survive in time for a photo.
Mine. She had hair. I think she looks better molded.
Mr. BB30's. He went traditional.
Bestie's. She had Pac Man ghosts on the brain all night.
Things are glum around my day job office lately. I didn't go all out like in years past (I was a prize winning Amy Winehouse in 2008), but I dusted off my cat ears.

2011 YAWN
Today in gratitude I am thankful for the morning ritual of my little dog swimming his way across my lap in hopes of a good stretch and some scratches while I put on make up. It's a part of my day that makes me feel super loved. I'm smitten.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Soup's On...Again

Last Sunday was a two-soup day for me. Typically what I make is based on what is on sale at my produce store. For the past two weeks, zucchini has been .69/lb. Amazing! I stocked up. I chopped several into disks, lightly sauteed them in a tad of olive oil, and put them in the freezer in batches to enjoy in dishes later.Then I got to soup making. I've made zucchini soup in the past, but here was this week's version. Anything green or white that needed to be used up got thrown in as well (I hate to waste produce!). The results were delicious and bursting with garden flavor!

October 23 Zucchini Soup
6 medium zucchini, chopped
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of water
1/4 of a cabbage, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion (I used Spanish, but any white or yellow one will do)
1/4 potato, chopped, skin on (I wish I'd added more for thickening)
3 giant cloves of garlic
1 can of a white bean (chick pea, navy, cannellini)

In a big pot, sautee everything up with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Add broth and water.
Bring to a boil.
Turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Bust out your immersion blender and blend until smooth.
Add whole beans. (I think I lightly drained the can.)

I added the beans after blending to add texture and protein, but the soup is good without them, and you could certainly blend in the beans (or even tofu) as well.
I call this phone camera shot:
Zuc Soup Riot

Today in gratitude I am thankful for the creative people in my life. I am surrounded by amazingly talented artists (who do awesome things like create brilliant live versions of Pruple Rain-no joke) who inspire me to get my creative juices flowing. I know I have imaginative feats inside beyond acting just aching to come out and I am so glad I have artists around me that remind me to think outside the box.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Simple Vegetable "Stew"

Sunday ended up being a two-soup day for me. First, I threw together a little vegetable "stew." I suppose if I were Rachael Ray I would call this a "stoup" since it's not quite as thick as a traditional stew. (This is mainly because I forgot to buy a potato.)

Simple Vegetable "Stew"
6 large carrots, sliced into thin disks
6 stalks of celery, chopped (including leafy tops)
1/4 green cabbage, chopped
1/4 Spanish onion (or your favorite white onion)
1 med/lg zucchini, chopped
1 tsp Dill
1 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Sage
3 giant cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of water
3/4 cup instant potato flakes
*1 can of beans, drained (I used black)

In a large pot, sautee your veggies and herbs in a tiny bit of olive oil (don't add the garlic yet). Give your carrots a three minute head start and sprinkle with dill (carrots and dill are lovers and need alone time together).
Add broth and water.
Let everything come to a boil.
Add garlic.
Add instant potato flakes
Add beans (no need to drain if you are using a white bean)
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Turn heat to low and let the "stew" simmer for about 15 minutes.

*You don't have to add beans if you aren't into them. I add beans to most of my soups to up the protein quotient.
My broth is a little dark because I didn't drain and rinse my black beans well. Doesn't effect the flavor, just the aesthetics :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mindful Snacking

Offices can be traps for mindless snacking.

"Hey look, a stressful email I don't want to deal with, let's go to the vending machine to procrastinate."
"I just had to talk to the meanest person in the office, let's go find something to munch on."

Even healthy snacks like almonds can be eaten mindlessly (and cause detriment to all of our hard work at the gym). Lately, I've become irresponsible with my snacks and find myself reaching for a nibble when I am not hungry at all. I decided to recommitt to being mindful and while day one was difficult, I feel like I am back in the saddle. What is the statistic? It takes about 21 days to form a habit. I'm on my way! I'm also being more diligent with hydrating and keeping my water cup filled!

Exercise line up for the week is:

Monday: 500 Calorie Work Out
Tuesday: Strength Boxing
Wednesday: Strength Yoga
Thursday: Cardio Soaked
Friday: Off (seeing a play)

In a perfect world, I would prefer not to have more than two days off in a row since it makes the return to class so much harder, but we do what we can.

The 500 Calorie Workout is a new one at the gym. Obviously it promises a 500 calorie or more burn per workout. One girl wore a monitor to class and she clocked over 500 calories, so it definitely held true to its promise. Of course, every one's calorie burn will be different and depends on height, weight, muscle, and number of other things. The class was made up of cardio (calisthenics, a little kick boxing), weight lifting (5lbs and 8lbs dumbbells) and some ab work. A good total body workout. Half of it was done tabata-style. (20 seconds of activity on, 10 seconds off for eight reps.) It makes my least favorite things like burpees and mountain climbers slightly more tolerable. I try not to let myself get caught up calories and numbers, it makes me crazy and crazy is not effective or healthy, but kudos to the instructor for good marketing with this title. The class was packed!

Today in gratitude: I am thankful for fall colors. Growing up in Texas, I never really had true seasons. In Chicago, I definitely do. I am thankful for all the beautiful natural colors that have come out over the past few weeks and the chance to kick fall leaves. For as rough as October has been emotionally (lots of blahs this month-more them later), the weather has gifted me with some lovely days and chances to take some big deep breaths of fresh fall air.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkins and Workouts and Gym Etiquette

First things first. Last week's sweaty line up included:

Monday: Off I had to work late since in the morning I saw a taping of The Rosie Show!!! I'm still giddy!
Tuesday: Strength Boxing followed by Abs and Butt Blast
Wednesday: Strength Yoga
Thursday: Cardio Soaked

Friday I was scheduled for Pilates Sculpting, but during Thursday's Cardio Soaked class my knee popped. That's the only way to describe it. It felt weird. I was able to finish class at a Level One intensity, but the instructor told me to be very careful and lay off for a few days. So I did just that.

Last week I noticed that my tolerance for bad gym etiquette was quite low. While I love my fitness center, they tend to allow too many people into classes and it gets very crowded. In the world of Bikram Yoga, crowds are fine. The practice is designed so that you only need the area of your mat. While it's not awesome to be in a jammed Bikram class mat to mat with a giant sweaty half naked 50 year old man with oodles of chest hair, it's manageable. In classes where there is punching and kicking it is dangerous. Both Bikram and traditional classes of most kinds involve the need for proper form and thus, a view of yourself in the mirror. Enter the concept of "windows." I learned about "windows" at age nine when I took my first dance class. This is the simple act of not standing directly in front of another person. Look at these cheerleaders. They are standing in "windows."
Easy, right? Apparently this concept blows the minds of some of the women at my gym. Walking in late and standing directly in front of someone in a class is bad form. Don't do it people. I went to the interwebs and found several articles that agreed. "Mirror hogging" falls under the same no-no category as not wiping down your machines or stealing extra time on coveted equipment. It can be awkward to speak up about these things and I really feel like instructors could take some advice from the world of Bikram and make a little announcement prior to class starting or even mark the floor with the proper places to stand. A bit like kindergarten? Yes. Necessary? Totally.

In other news, last week I practiced a simple pumpkin soup (canned pumpkin, veggie broth salt, pepper, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cinnamon), and it just doesn't work for me. I need fresh ingredients and a little butternut squash. I think for Thanksgiving I'll just be sending a recipe to my mom and having her freeze it and bring it. I like to manage my own cooking, but I think in this case I must relinquish control. Look at that there personal growth.

I realized that the main reason I don't update more is because I don't upload my personal pictures enough and I feel picture posts are always more effective. Then I sit on a recipe, event, or musing I want to write about and it never gets published. So in the spirit of trying to commit to updating more, here is a picture of some pumpkin and sweet potato soup that I didn't make (but sounds AMAZING):

Maybe one day I will get my act together and post the picture of my Halloween Pumpkin. She had hair.

Today in gratitude: I am thankful for my husband's generous leg and foot rubs. Many evenings Mr. BB30 devotes time to my aching muscles, because he know it makes me feel comforted and happy. I'm lucky.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh October

October has gotten off to a rough start. My Paw Paw passed away last week and we said goodbye to him on Friday, his 89th birthday. He was an avid farmer and no doubt my need to garden comes from him.

Tuesday when I got the news I opted to work from home and chose a nice long fall walk over my scheduled workout.

Last weeks workouts included:

Monday: Ultimate Conditioning Class (30 Minutes of cardio, strength, cross-conditioning exercises) and Zumba
Tuesday: Walk
Wednesday: Strength Yoga

This week's plan is:

Monday: Zumba and Cardio Barre Sculpting
Tuesday: Strength Boxing and Abs & Butt Blast
Wednesday: Strength Yoga
Thursday: Off (I have a fundraiser to attend- It's a costume party-I'm going as a disco queen!)
Friday: Pilates and 100s Cardio

Over the past few weeks I've noticed that my bum is really shaping up. I've always been in the Flat and Wide Club, but these seven months or so of hitting the gym regularly are starting to give me some tone back there. I'm happy because those kind of curves are hot!
Ain't no shame in that game Scarlett!!
It's time to start thinking over Thanksgiving menu options. This year I will be traveling home and will need something easy to assemble at my aunt's house. My plan as of now is to have my mom bring her crock pot and I will do a simplified pumpkin soup (pumpkin, veg broth, whatever seasoning is available, frozen pre-minced onion). It will be really flavorful, easy, and a great dish to share and show my family how deliciously I eat. I think they were all worried about me when all I ate at the post-funeral dinner was grapes. (Trust me-afterward I had a huge veggie sandwich, a big salad, and some cashews.) My mom is also going to bring some veggie sides as well. I plan to do a trial run of my soup soon and will be sure to share.
Are you planning your Thanksgiving dinner yet?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Week in Workouts

This week's line up includes:

Monday: Tabata Kickboxing
Tuesday: Off. I have too much on my mind and was wide awake from 2-5am this morning. Must sleep.
Wednesday: Strength Yoga
Thursday: Cardio Soaked followed by seeing a friend's play
Friday: 100s Cardio

Today in gratitude I am thankful for the lovely Penny who has shown me some amazing generosity. I will be sure to pay it forward however I can!

Now, hit me with your best tips for visiting LasVegas!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bells of the Garden Ball

Look at what I harvested yesterday morning:
Look at the color on these red bell peppers! Mr. BB30 and I have decided we will enjoy them in delicious simplicity and have plans to roast them and enjoy them as a bruchetta atop some toasty bread with garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Drool.....We have one more that is almost ready, but that'll be it for this summer's bells.

Other than our massive basil plants (helloooo winter pesto!), our garden has not been abundant. We've gotten several small tomatoes that are delicious, but they're just kind of puny, and many of them are still green and waiting to turn. Much to my dismay, my squash plant died. I think with such a little space and THREE different small plots going from different units in my building, we just depleted the soil of everything it had. I have always been drawn to planting. Not flowers. Vegetable gardening. Near the theater where I was performing there was a house overgrown with vines and the coolest sort of sunken garden space that the owners have let die and become infested with weeds. I have nothing against an ivy-covered house-it can be totally charming, but I wanted to issue them a personal citation for wasting such a wonderful plot. Next to it sits the most tragic garden travesty though. There is a lot next to the house that is completely unkept. It is in fact so overgrown that had I not looked closer I would have missed seeing a once beautiful wooden atrium with a bench sitting there abandoned and whispering, "Save me BB30!" Perhaps the owners of the house are not the owners of the lot, but rest assured if there was an AMAZING untouched, unused, uncared for lot next door to my apartment, I would absolutely volunteer my maintenance services in exchange for growing a lush summer garden there. I could grow and grow and then can and preserve! Oh the soups! Oh the herbs! I wish I had taken a picture to show you. Why hello, Google Maps Street View, won't you be my helper today? Oh yes, I am so passionate about this abused space that I have found a dark but useful picture of it for you.

My show has closed. What a fast but wonderful ride. I am so grateful for having worked on such a wonderful piece and the opportunity it provided me to stretch my actor muscles. I am bummed that it is over. However, in a wonderful coming-full-circle moment, during my final performance a message was left on my phone that I booked another show. Kind of softens the blow. I will begin rehearsals December 1st. It's so great to know I will have a little break but with another project lined up (a project where I play a ghost-eeep!). I anticipate that the time will fly with a wedding and several plays I need to attend as well as my trip to LasVegas and the Thanksgiving holiday. I plan to use it wisely and return to a nice full fitness schedule.

This week's line up includes:

Monday      Tabata Kick Boxing
Tuesday      Strength Boxing
Wednesday Strength Yoga
Thursday     Off (My day job BFF is leaving to pursue her art and we are celebrating her jail break)
Friday         100s Strength (Calisthetics) followed by SUSHI!!!

Happy Fall y'all!

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vegas, Baby

And it came to pass that Mr. BB30, his bestie and I would embark on a trip to LasVegas, which (because I am a dork) quickly became known as The Three Best Friends Trip.

Thus, new motivation was born. Since I do not gamble, my time will be spent walking about The Strip, window shopping, taking advantage of the hotel fitness center, and most importantly lounging poolside. While I know that most of my fellow Vegas tourists will be normal people and not super models, the notion that I will be required to sport a bikini again in just one month provides good incentive to get back on track. Additionally, The Three Best Friends Trip has expanded to include Mr. BB30s Bestie's new girlfriend type person who happens to be very young and painfully hot. Great. Awesome. Kill me. So hopefully knowing that I have to sport beach wear next to sexy youngster will keep me going to the gym when I can and keeping my eating and cocktailing in check. Hopefully.

This week I have shows Thursday-Sun so week day work outs are limited:

Tuesday: Strength Boxing followed by Abs and Butt Blast
Wednesday: Strength Yoga followed by a Cubs Game
Saturday: Zumba

As you know, I hate going all the way to my gym on the weekends. Due to the holiday on Monday I simply have no choice. I originally chose some type of calisthenics class for Saturday, but I am 99.34% sure I would cancel that in the end. I decided to go with Zumba because I think I can muster up the strength to get out the door if I can tell myself, "It's just a dance class, it's just a dance class." I definitely wouldn't go if I had to tell myself, "Go do planks and push ups, it will be so fun." Know thyself.

I've been a Snacky Snackerson lately. I think the issue lies with a couple of things:
1. My body is feeling the reduction in exercise and is trying to gain energy
2. I am tired, so my body wants to eat to gain energy
3. I am not getting in good regular meals and sometimes skip dinner on show nights and end up starving and snacking extra the next day.
4. I am already super sad my show is in its final two weeks. I am having the best theatrical experience I've had in a while and I know it could be a long time before I have this again. Makes me very sad. Thus, snacks.

I know what I need to do to get back on track, but it's sometimes easier said than done:

Water water water
Good balanced meals
No alcohol on the weekdays
Exercise any chance I get

Hmmm...I don't think they have kale at Wrigley Field. First challenge. Make sure to eat something between yoga and the ball game tonight...

Today's gratitude: I am thankful for the cool weather that's come to Chicago this week and the opportunity to wear some of my awesome newly thrifted fall clothes!

Monday, September 5, 2011

She Emerges

Hustle Bustle!

I've been busy. After four performances last weekend, I took off on a jet plane Sunday night to visit Bestieface in sunny Los Angeles for a few days.

LA is not a walking city for sure. I had high hopes of going to one of my fave places, Griffith Park, for soulful hiking, but alas, apparently when it's really warm and smoggy there are advisories to stay away from big hikes like that. Frown. However, we managed to fit in two great hilly walks around the Silverlake Reservoir, and I did some light work with hand weights one morning, so I snuck in some fitness. It was really important to me since I won't be back in an exercise class until Tuesday. Oy. Can't my fitness center open a location next door to my apartment so I can go to class anytime I want? Is that too much to ask? :) So it goes with a day job, a career and a life. However, Bestie said I had Michelle Obama arms which is one of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten. Michelle is such a fit sexy lady!

On Tuesday we lunched at Flore and as always with vegan restaurants it is so nice and somewhat overwhelming to be able to choose from ANYTHING on the menu. I had the tempeh meatloaf burger. It didn't taste like meatloaf at all, but it was SO GOOD. It was definitely house made and not overly processed, and full of protein packed tempeh and veggie goodness. I felt so satiated and content, but not weighed down or stuffed. There is a restaurant in the building of my day job that I often catch whiffs of and it mostly smells like melty monterrey jack chicken sandwiches. I always think it smells good, then I think about how sluggish and weighed down I would feel if I ate it. I know from experience that it would make me feel so overly full and short of breath and wanting to lay down. Ew. No thank you. Nothing tastes good enough to do that to myself. Ah personal growth. When I eat a nice clean meal I don't feel that way. Even if it's a caloric match to a melty chicken sandwich I feel so much more fueled and recharged. I have more energy after I eat instead of feeling zapped of energy by eating.

I also met my first bowl of Pho, a Vietnamese Noodle Soup. I think it's magical.

Here is a delightful recipe for Pho I want to try:

I wish you all the happiest and safest of Labor Days. I am off for some grilling with my in laws. 

Do you eat Pho? 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Oy vey.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back in the Game

Opening weekend went well, and other than a raging case of PMS, it couldn't have gone better. I wish I could perform this show everyday.

Like I mentioned, last week was a toughie as we were in crunch time with getting the show on its feet, so time for fitness was scarce.

I managed:

Sunday: Short Cardio Kickboxing followed by The Shred (Level 2)
Monday: The Shred (Level 3)
Friday: The Shred (Level 2)

Not great at all, but it was something to keep me afloat and I am proud of the little I made happen.

This week I am so excited to get back on track and in the gym!!!

The plan is:

Monday: Shredded: Full Body Focus

Tuesday: Strength Boxing followed by Abs N' Butt Blast

Wednesday: R.I.P.P.E.D followed by Body Band Pilates

I'm going to be careful not to push myself too hard since I've had such a scaled back couple of weeks, but I am confident my endurance will build back up quickly.

I leave you with this shot of my amazing brunch salad that Mr. BB30 treated me to yesterday. The Chicago Diner makes the best vegan gyros. So good. I typically just eat the seitan and veggies and have a little pita, and was thinking on our way over how wonderful it would be if they would just make a gyros salad. Lo and behold, it's happened. We hadn't been there in a long time and they changed up the menu. I want another one right now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Makin' It Work During the Busy Times

My new play opens this week. Such a fast and furious process! I definitely haven't been able to hit the gym as much, but have tried to combat the reduction is exercise with reducing my calorie intake a little, avoiding alcohol during the week, and not beating myself up (too much) about not being able to go. This week, I absolutely cannot get to the gym Mon-Fri so I must formulate a plan.

Yesterday after a rehearsal I decided I needed to get moving. Mr. BB30 wouldn't be home for a while (he is busy being famous with the play he wrote and is starring in that is selling out-woo hoo!) so I had some time at home to myself. As we know, I hate jogging with every fiber of my being, so I decided to hit up and download a cardio kickboxing workout. It's only about 23 minutes long, but very effective. $2 well spent. My heart rate was up for sure. (Although, I doubled up on repetitions since they were a little slower than what I am used to). It's going to be a great one to have on hand. I knew I needed to keep going so I went to my reliable go-to, The Shred (Level 2). I ended up breaking a mean sweat and feeling very proud that I chose exercising over my sofa and Drop Dead Diva (but seriously-how cute is this show!) I took a cool down walk around the block with my doggie where he hit on some neighbor girls (he loves the ladies). Then I discovered that I had put toothpaste on a zit to dry it up and didn't take it off. Neighborhood weirdo.
Thanks for the toning Jillian!
So, while the super ambitious part of me thinks I can attempt to squeeze in a 20 minute workout before I need to leave for rehearsals everyday this week, I have to stay realistic. Some nights I need to ARRIVE at 6:30pm. There just won't be time. But I will do my best to get in a few quick workouts to keep my bod in check. I can do that. I can make that happen. I have to choose to make that happen.

Today in gratitude I am grateful for my lovely fellow actor Tim and how enjoyable this crazy fast process has been all thanks to him. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to bond with him and have full trust in my fellow actor. Friend love!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Dame

My friend Shannon is one of the most confident, passionate and outstanding humans I know. She is in fact so fabulous that way back when she was dubbed, The Dame. There really is no other appropriate way to describe her. I met Shannon when we were freshman in college and we became fast friends. By our sophomore year it was time for her to leave for studies abroad in England and Spain. Through the powers of love, friendship, cell phones and the interwebs, we have remained friends ever since.

She has agreed to let me publicly brag about her recent accomplishment, because it's too inspiring and amazing not to be shared!
Here is Shannon last year braving the crowds at Lollapalooza. I love her smile:

 Here is Shannon this year:
SHE HAS LOST 100 LBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, 1-0-0 pounds!!! She took the bull by the horns and started making healthier food choices and committing to regular exercise every day after work. When she's out and about she consults Eat This Not That to help her make the best food decision she can. She also keeps in mind that every little bit helps. For example: Cheese doesn't do much for her. She doesn't love it so she leaves it out of meals and sandwiches. The calories aren't worth it to her. Those small changes really add up!

I am so proud of her and know how hard it is to make a lifestyle change. AND SHE'S STILL GOING!

You know what else burns calories? Bustin' a fierce move on the dance floor!  Looks at those muscles (and the shirt I am going to steal)!

I love this woman!

Now for the last installment in my week of gratitude:
Today I am grateful for a deep and relaxing meditation yesterday. I set my intention to relax and enjoy the positive things that are happening around me. I think I have been caught up in thinking about my future for so long I haven't been fully present NOW. I feel much more mellow now. I've decided that I should aim to give gratitude for something in all of my posts. It's really very helpful. Honestly I should really start a gratitude journal based on my day job so I can appreciate the good things that it provides me, but...meh....we'll see about that ;)