Archive for the 'intervals' Category

25
Apr
11

grilled ratatouille, seared tuna, lentil Israeli salad, stuffed peppers.

It’s happened again. I’ve allowed so much time to lapse between posts that I’m no longer confident with all the spice I’ve been eating and the sweat I’ve been doing. And I’ve been consuming massive amounts of spice and sweating TONS, my friends. Remember that Physique 57 I spoke of not too long ago? I’m now in the intermediate class and going about four times a week. I’m also severely limiting carbs from my repertoire, cutting out processed anything, and moving towards a more protein-focused regimen. If that’s not progress, then I’m not sure what is? Aside from in-flight wifi. No one can deny the absurdity/brilliance of that. Remember when we had to fly without facebook? Shudder.

I could try and condense a month’s worth of meals into one post, but I choose to feature only the most colorful of what’s been sustaining me. I made this great Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Feta that I found on Epicurious. It came about when I was thinking of making ratatouille, and then instantly self voting against it due to the pasta.

grilled ratatouille salad

Ingredients:

1 12-14 oz. eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into strips
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
2 tbsp fresh basil, slivered
2 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil (I used garlic mixed with olive oil)
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2/3 c feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe is meant to be made on the barbecue, but I have neither a workable outdoor space (hello, bustling Avenue A? Don’t mind the charcoal) nor a barbecue (nevermind, Avenue A. Go on about your day), so I used my version of the indoor grill with my Panini Press. That thing is a sweatandspicy legend, right? It’s been along for this more than two year ride, and it still has shotgun.

Anyways, you start by drizzling the vegetables with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Since I made my olive oil garlic-infused, I started by mincing 2-3 cloves of garlic and letting them soak in the oil while the Panini Press heated up and I chopped all the vegetables. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies look all blackened and delicious, and then remove from grill. Drizzle with vinegar, sprinkle cheese and basil, and eat. It was ridiculously easy, delicious, and colorful. Winner.

Next, I made a Seared Tuna with Green Onion-Wasabi Sauce, also courtesy of Epi. Trader Joe’s is always good for $4 frozen Ahi tuna steaks, so it was actually a pretty cheap meal, too.

Seared Tuna with Green Onion Wasabi Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 c of water
3 tbsp wasabi powder (I used crushed peas)
1/3 c soy sauce
3 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp dry sherry (I used sherry vinegar)
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 6-oz ahi tuna steaks (I used two)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into matchstick-sized strips

You start by whisking water with the wasabi powder, which I made by putting a handful of wasabi peas into a plastic bag and taking a hammer to them on the floor. Such a good stress reliever, and it made the perfect crunchy consistency. Then, whisk in soy sauce, 2 tbsp peanut oil, Sherry, sesame oil and ginger. Stir in onions, and set aside.

Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper, heat skillet with 1 tbsp peanut oil over high heat, and sear tuna for about 3 minutes a side. Spoon cucumber on a plate, top with tuna, and spoon sauce on top. The recipe called for radish sprouts also, but Trader Joe’s had nothing of the sort, so I left them out. I served alongside sugar-snap peas, and it was so delicious. Highly recommended, if only for the fact that I got to hammer wasabi peas. Delightful.

I was getting relatively close to introducing meat back into my diet, but I had a temporary setback with some unwilling bacon grease consumption and a subsequent bout of food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty, and so I’ve decided to steer clear of meat and limit even the pescetarian side of me for a bit. It really was jarring when I went an entire day in which I consumed just one slice of toast (ah, so sorry Passover!) and about a 1/2 cup of yogurt. A little breaksie is necessary.

While I was midway between my cardio routine (30-45 minutes of a combo of interval treadmill running, elliptical or the bike) and my Physique-ing, I invented and devoured this little salad earlier today:

lentil "Israeli" salad

Ingredients:

1/2 c yellow lentils
1/4 c grape tomatoes, sliced
1 mini-cucumber, sliced
1 c arugula
1/8 c feta, crumbled
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cumin

I was inspired when I dug some long-forgotten lentils from my freezer immediately after the cardio side of my workout. I had been craving this chopped Israeli salad I get from this place, but I’m conserving the slight remainder of my monies for my sister’s visit this coming weekend. Armed with a bag of newly bought groceries, I decided to make my own take on the salad with lentils rather than chickpeas.

I started by boiling one cup of lentils in 2 1/2 cups of water, and then simmering for 5-10 minutes. I then chopped the tomatoes and cucumbers, and laid them atop my bed of arugula. Once the lentils were done, I drained in my handy Giada colander (shameless plug for my girl) and added about half to the top of the salad. I seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper, and then topped the whole salad with the feta, olive oil and vinegar. Easy and delicious, just like I like it.

After my salad, I headed to Phyqisue for some more body sculpting. I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in those studios doing moves like the one you see below, and it’s all in the hopes that I’ll get somewhere near Kelly Ripa-ripped. I mean, that’s the goal. It’s her preferred workout and they taunt you with press pieces all over the place that she swears by it. Any day now, I guess.

Staying with the whole originality thing, I made my own version of a stuffed bell pepper for dinner.

Physique

Ingredients:

3 large green bell peppers
1 c black eyed peas, pre-cooked
2 ears of corn, grilled and sliced off the cob
1/2 c grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 c feta, 3/4 mixed in and 1/4 on top
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, to finish
1/4 c dried cranberries to top (not pictured)

First, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees. I started by cutting the tops off the peppers and gutting the insides, removing the ribs and seeds. I par-boiled the peppers in water for about 5 minutes, and then I removed them to drain with their “business ends” in the air.

Meanwhile, I spent about 15 minutes grilling the corn on all sides with my Panini Press. Once that was done, I stood an ear up on a bowl and sliced the kernels right off. I learned that little trick from Rachael Ray, and it really does make it to where no kernels fly across the kitchen. Easy clean-up, my friends. I’m a fan.

I combined the onions, tomatoes, peas, corn and feta in a bowl. I mixed those ingredients together, and then added the salt, pepper, and cayenne. I filled each pepper with the mixture, and then topped with more feta. I put them on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and popped them in the oven for 30 minutes. I removed, cut one in half, and served with a squeeze of lemon juice for added flavoring. About midway through, I realized some dried cranberries would be a welcome addition to the party, so I added those as well. They know how to get the party started. Anyways, they were really good and pretty, in a Georgia O’Keefe kind of way:

stuffed bell pepper with black eyed peas, onions, tomatoes, corn and feta

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28
Feb
11

post-Mexico, curried squash and lentil soup, tofu.

This Winter has been quite the little bitch. She’s made me near antisocial with her ice storms, blizzards and general temperatures comparable to a witch’s teat as of late. It seems like she’ll start to warm, and suddenly we’re hit with more unsavory degrees. Everyone’s pretty pissed at her.

I got a few days of reprieve last weekend, when my friend got married in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The bride and groom are from outside Chicago, met in New York and currently live in London, but they thought Mexico would be the most reasonable climate for a February wedding. I had to tear myself away from the then-16 degree weather, but somehow I made it. Ohh, sarcasm. I’m a fan.

I spent several weeks trying to beat my lumpy post-holiday frame into submission, but it was resisting me pretty hard. I was spending, like, hours at the gym on the daily, getting to know the treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines better than any member of my family.  By the time I unwillingly shed my cover-up while poolside, I felt improved but far from satisfied. According to my beach read, Women’s Health magazine, I should try working out in intervals. I had a brief flirtation with interval training a few years ago, but I quickly abandoned it for being far too challenging. I prefer my workouts sweat-free and routine, thank you. I don’t care for results. Allow me to plug away for months and see absolutely no change in physique. That sounds productive.

Playa del Carmen

Beginning in the resort gym, I started doing intervals which look something like this: walk for one minute at 3.6 speed, increase to a speed of 8 for 30 seconds and run as if Nicholas Cage is chasing you, decrease back down to 3.6, and repeat. Do the whole sequence about 20 times. Hello, sweat? Yeah, you found me. Heart, I’m feeling the pound.

 

Interval training is also effective with hills, which I’ve done just once at this point because it’s so, well, intimidating. To run at a 5% incline while not tripping over one’s feet at a speed of 8 is deserving of a medal. I’ve been alternating the two for about a week now, and I think results are on their way.

I did not hold back whilst (go with it) in Mexico, and at a certain point there was more guacamole shooting through my veins than blood. That’s hardly an exaggeration. It was barely a three-day trip, but I left not being able to zip my pants. I am more motivated than ever, so I’ve decided to try this trendy workout that Kelly Ripa touts. I went to my first class Saturday, and I’m sold. It’s safe on the joints, geared towards woman, and I’m all kinds of sore today. Bring it, muscles. Let’s do this thing.

As the spicy goes, I made this great soup a few nights ago.

Ingredients:

butternut squash and lentil soup

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced peeled ginger
1 tbsp curry powder (I used cumin)
1 c red lentils (I used yellow)
2 quarts water
1 tsp lemon juice (I used a whole lemon)
1 tsp Greek yogurt (my addition)
chopped cilantro, to taste

 

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium high heat and then cook squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp salt for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cumin and ¼ tsp pepper, stirring for 2 minutes. Add lentils and water and simmer, covered, for 25-40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. I served atop this wild rice and quinoa mix, and topped with a little Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

I had to lay my immersion blender to rest a few weeks ago when it died mid-salsa blend, so I didn’t even have the option to puree. I’ve pureed nearly every soup I’ve made for months now, so it was an odd sensation eating soup with texture. The rice combined with the vegetables, lentils and dollop of yogurt was really tasty. I highly enjoyed.

Now back to the sweaty…I recently watched “Singin’ in the Rain” and became infatuated with tap dancing. I got myself pretty excited and decided to try an intro tap class at my dance studio. I’ve taken tap before, but my former dance studio transitioned you to clogging pretty rapidly. I never even got to wear the sexy heeled tap shoes and dance with a chair, and for that I’ve always been a little bitter.

Flash forward to present day, and I bought myself a pair of Mary Jane-style shoes and showed up ready to Time Step my face off. Unfortunately, no one else shared my determination, as I was the only one who came to class. As a result, I got a private lesson from the teacher, who had been studying tap for years and filled me in on the social and political reasons why tap stood so low in the already lowest discipline of the art world. Also, I learned the Sham-Sham, which is a totally fun staple known by all tap dancers. The teacher also told me how tap’s roots were intertwined with jazz. It was pretty fascinating, but I can’t decide if I want to actually pursue.

Now back to spicy…in keeping with my post-Mexican low-calorie consumption, I found this fun tofu dish on Epicurious:

randon tap pic

Ingredients:

1 14 oz package firm tofu
½ c whole grain Dijon mustard
4 tbsp vegetable oil
½ medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 bunch kale, sliced crosswise
1 small red-skinned sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced
2 tbsp lime juice
hot sauce, to taste (my addition)

 

You start by cutting the tofu into eight ½-inch slices. Drain on paper towels, and spread both sides with mustard. Heat two tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté one minute. Add kale, sweet potato and lime juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining two tbsp oil in another skillet, add the tofu, and cook for a few minutes on each side. Serve the tofu atop the vegetables, and devour. It really is the most low calorie dish I could imagine, and it had good flavor thanks to the mustard and hot sauce. See below:

mustard crusted tofu with kale and sweet potatoes.

 

 




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