I used to think I was incapable of a midday gym. I thought, “Oh, give me two hours after work when I’d want nothing more than some Seinfeld and a leisurely prepared meal to, rather, duke it out with the overly-chatty after-work crowd for some poorly matched free weights and a sliver of floor space.” Then, it dawned on me that more than 20 minutes of cardio at non-interval speeds is the cardio equivalent of white rice, in that it provides no legitimate value to my life and makes me resent sushi for favoring its kind. I used to think my high maintenance hair wouldn’t allow me to compress my routine into an effective half hour, but I found my way back to the oft-neglected ponytail of dance team performances past. I wear it these days without my puff painted hair ribbon with “GJHS” on one side and “Eagles” on the other, though. I’ve moved on.
So, I’ve embraced the midday gym these days. I’m sold on its ability to allow me some midday Cooking Channel and its non-compete policy with happy hour. Also, I realized all too late (several hundred dollars late!) that I was temporarily rendered insane by Physique 57’s feminist messaging and nostalgia-provoking ballet stretches. Nothing tones my body more than weights, and cardio allows for some fat burning and stress releasing. Period. No need to shell out hundreds for less-effective exercises and group motivation, no matter how fancy it makes me feel. And I DID feel fancy. Bring on the fuzzy high heeled slippers and ear plugs that double as chandelier earrings, please. I’m just CRAZY about Tiffany’s.
Since I’m all freed up with the cult-like group exercising, I decided I had some bandwidth to join a dietary cult. My office is kind of enamored with the Four Hour Body, which preaches a dramatic change in physique if one adopts a slow carb mentality. Meaning, you have to cut out all dairy, grains, sugar and fruit, and eat meals of just lean protein, legumes and vegetables. I turned my nose up at first, naturally, but I allowed myself to get sucked in. It’s somewhat challenging to make interesting meals on the diet, but I’ve been doing it for about two weeks and have made some delicious seafood-centric meals.
I made this spicy shrimp dish last week, which I based on this recipe from Epicurious:
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccolini, chopped (my addition)
1/4 c peanuts, chopped (my addition)
1/4 c black beans (my addition)
The recipe actually calls for pineapple and bok choy, but I’m off fruit for now and Whole Foods was out of bok choy, so I improvised. I used broccolini instead, mostly because I think it’s adorable. It’s baby broccoli! How cute is that? Also, it tastes good and adds some color.
You start by blending together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl. The original recipe wanted me to blend cornstarch and honey in there also, but neither are 4hb compliant, so I abstained. You then heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add 2 tsp vegetable oil, shrimp, garlic, ginger and pepper for about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and then add 2 more tsp of oil to the skillet. Add peppers, onions, and broccolini to the skillet and stir fry until wilted. Then add black beans, peanuts, and eventually recombine with the shrimp mixture in the skillet. It should only take about 5 minutes, and dinner is served.
I made mussels for dinner last night, and they came out pretty amazing. Emphasis on the pretty. Are they not the classiest shellfish around? That they are. My first run-in with a mussel happened just a month ago, and I had wrongly assumed that I had a mussel aversion since my mom is not a fan. It’s the same way I assumed that I, too, hated beets since they had always disgusted her. I temporarily remembered that I am a separate human with separate opinions, and I sat down to several buckets of mussels for dinner. It turns out, I’m a fan. Shocking.
I made this dish from Epicurious:
2 lbs mussels, cleaned
1/2 c dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped, and some extra for bouquet garni
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper (my addition)
1 tbsp balade butter (my addition)
You start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and adding the onions, celery, garlic, basil and bouquet garni, which I took to mean a bundle of un-chopped basil. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the mussels in a large skillet with the white wine and butter over high heat. Put the lid on to trap the heat, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The mussels will all open to reveal their innards, and those who haven’t are still alive and must be discarded. Pour the tomato sauce over the mussels, and sprinkle with chopped basil.
They were incredible. Seriously. This is one of the easiest and tastiest meals ever, and it looks so damn classy. Unfortunately, the picture quality is a little fuzzy due to the steam. I’m including a somewhat distorted picture of the finished product, since it was the best of the bunch. See below: