Definitely Not a Cat Hair in my Lap

A few nights ago, Karen hopped up on my lap after I had returned home from a long day of work and errands. We had just settled in when the dreaded cat gagging sound started up. Maybe I was too tired or maybe I’m just truly no longer repulsed by anything gross my cats may do, but I had absolutely no reaction to her vomiting in my lap. I stood up, took the blanket to the bathroom to clean and tossed it in the washing machine. Minutes later, she was running around with Grace as if nothing had happened. I returned to the couch only to hear her gagging once again, only this time, on my beautiful dining room table cloth runner. Again, little to no reaction. I cleaned that up, tossed it in with the blanket and realized that I had really become a “grown-up.”

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Poor Karen!

I always thought it was amazing that adults/parents could wipe our spit up off their clothes and continue on with the day like it was no biggie. A few years ago, I would have cried (my reaction when I get really grossed out) at the thought of something hurling in my lap, but now I’m the one shrugging it off. Maybe it isn’t about being a grown-up, but rather about truly being a devoted cat guardian (I’m trying not to use the word ‘owner’ anymore). Anyway, it was a nice moment to realize that skipping a work out or having a piece of cake really doesn’t mean anything. Just like having a little cat vomit on you doesn’t ruin your night.

I say all of this because I’m about a week behind on my Jillian Michaels workout. I have two weeks until the wedding, but really don’t feel that terrible that I’ve been spending my evenings celebrating birthdays, having dinners and enjoying life. That being said, I am going to get my butt back in gear as soon as the race is over this weekend. My energy levels have been way down from my lack of cardio! Oh and before I forget…let me recap the first week of Ripped in 30.

At first, I felt like I was going to die. I was sweating more than I do when I run, but after day three, I felt amazing. I felt my legs getting stronger and my arms leaner. Week two should be interesting considering I took some time off in between! I’ll keep you posted.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you have a desk job where you sit in front of a computer all day, set a time every hour to get up and stretch or walk around for five or ten minutes. You could even get creative do something like the Weather Channel and move around on the 8s. I get up at every :30 mark. I even find myself getting antsy a few minutes before!

Yamburgers!

Have you ever heard of a Yamburger? No? Well you’re seriously missing out.

Today for lunch a vegan coworker brought in yamburgers, a recipe I had picked up from Foodbuzz and sent her way, for us to share. They were 100% vegan and gluten-free (except for the buns), but would impress the pants off any meat eater who dared to try one. The sweetness from the sweet potatoes and corn mixed with the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes put this dish high on my list of faves. The sauce, which was a chipotle/cilantro cream, made me realize just how little I missed mayonnaise. Taste aside, this recipe is packed full of good-for-you ingredients.

  • Black beans – great for nervous system health, cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, and fighting off cancers
  • Sweet potatoes – high in iron, vitamin D, C, and B6, great source of magnesium, and also a cancer fighting veggie
  • Quinoa – helps with cleaning the digestive tract, great source of calcium, terrific for boosting blood flow to the brain, and chocked full of protein
  • Cumin – full of antioxidants, good source of iron and great for metabolism
  • Garlic – helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, can prevent blood clots, can help improve the immune system, and can prevent

Top this recipe with any vegetable, but I’d recommend sticking with a creamy avocado. Mmm.

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Yamburgers with Chipotle Cilantro Cream 
(Vegan and gluten-free – makes 8-10 patties)

2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
15 oz. black beans, drained
1 cup sweet corn
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup rolled oats (or almonds)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or cayenne (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Oil for pan frying.

Method:

  1. Cube your potatoes (leaving the skin on) and either oven roast (400f.), steam, or microwave in a large heat-safe bowl with a couple TBSP water until tender – I find the microwave to be a real time saver, and takes about 6-8 minutes. Stop to give them a stir every minute or two, until mashably soft.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your quinoa. A 1/2 cup of dry will make enough for the burgers, but feel free to make extra. Add the quinoa to a small pot over medium heat, and let it toast for a minute or two. Add double the amount of water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Let cook 12-13 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it sit without removing the lid for another 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, meanwhile… Add your oats (or almonds) to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it looks like very coarse flour. About 30-40 pulses.
  4. In a large bowl, combine about 2/3rds of the beans, and 2/3rds of the sweet potato. Mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky and not quite smooth. Add in the rest of the beans, sweet potato and all of the seasonings. Give it another mash or two, keeping some of the texture.
  5. Add all the other ingredients, and stir to combine.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium-high, and add a drizzle of oil. Form about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a tight ball, then press it between your hands into a patty. Place patties in the hot skillet and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate in the oven to keep warm, and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Add oil and adjust the heat on the pan as needed.

For the chipotle/cilantro cream:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water (can be replaced with 1.5 cups vegan sour cream or mayonnaise)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 limes, juiced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, packed
Pinch of salt

If you’re using vegan sour cream or mayo, simply combine all ingredients in your food processor.
If not, drain the cashews and dump them to the food processor. Add the juice of both limes, and blend until smooth. Slowly add 3/4 – 1 cup water, until the cashews are about the consistency of a thick sour cream.
Add the peppers and garlic, blend until smooth, and then add the cilantro. Pulse a few times to combine, and season with a pinch of salt to taste.

Grace’s Healthy Tip of the Day: Eat more Weight Watcher’s Giant Latte bars.

Hummus and Fish

This morning when I got in to work, I sat down, spent about 10 minutes archiving some email and took a giant chug of my coffee. Bet you can’t guess what I got in that first sip.

Cat Hair From Grace

The funny thing is that even though I work 30 minutes away from her during the day, I know she sensed that I had to spend 30 seconds doing that annoying grabbing at the tongue maneuver in a sad attempt to peel her hair out of my mouth…and she laughed the entire time. Touché Grace.

Let’s move on to something a bit more pleasant: last night’s dinner. As promised, I completed my weekly goal of cooking at least twice this week. Last night’s dish was completely easy and completely delicious. I made roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed zucchini and hummus crusted tilapia. I actually got the idea for the fish dish from the local restaurant The Richwood Grille. Although a diehard hummus fan, I worried this would be a weird combination. Luckily, I was wrong. It was completely fantastic. (Sorry no pictures.)

The dish doesn’t warrant a recipe, as I simply took two frozen tilapia filets, thawed them, topped them with a generous helping of traditional hummus, and dusted with cracked pepper and bread crumbs. I followed the baking directions on the fish container and had a delicious meal within 30 minutes.

In the spirit of home cooked meals, I’ll leave you with a very bad-for-you recipe that one of my coworkers decided to share. Cook this up when you need some good old fashioned comfort food.

Panera Bread’s Signature Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted by Head Chef Dan Kish
Ingredients
1 (16-ounce) package of rigati pasta (or other small pasta shells)
¼ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups 2% reduced fat milk (or cream)
6 slices white American cheese, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
Directions
1.Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2.Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
3.Gradually whisk in milk (or cream); cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
4.Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
5.Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).
Serves 4 to 6