French Women Don’t Get Fat

Hiya!

Though it’s been a while since I’ve shared anything, Cat Hair in my Coffee has definitely been on my mind. In fact, over the past several months, not posting on here has helped me realize something: my posts gave me something to work toward each week. If I wanted content, I had to do something. I had to try a new workout, a new recipe, a new TV series to binge preventing me from moving from the couch! So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting back into the habit of documenting my meals and trying to better plan my activities so I could make this, my beloved blog, a part of my routine again. Without further adieu…

A few years ago, while Alex and I were in Mason, Ohio, at the Cincinnati Tennis Tournament, we decided to take an afternoon and tour the town. While not an exceptionally large town, Mason certainly has no shortage of great shopping and dining! We poked our heads in a great little discount bookstore and proceeded to fill our arms to the brim with our selection. One of my great finds was a cookbook titled “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. I believe I paid $2.75 for it and maybe flipped through it twice over the years. After all, how many ways can one serve leeks?

Last week, I decided to bust out ol’ Mireille’s cookbook and give a few recipes a try. In her book, she puts a lot of emphasis on how French cuisine contains little sugar and few ingredients, cutting down on a lot of the unnecessary garbage that we put in American food. She begins each chapter with a little bit about herself and the French culture. The first recipe I wanted to tackle was very basic. A simple ratatouille would be a great replacement to our usual take-out lunch on Saturday, I thought! So, I got busy chopping and dicing, but took several liberties with my version. (I had some CSA veggies looking so sad in my fridge, so I had to throw some of them in!) A traditional ratatouille recipe contains eggplant, zucchini/squash and tomatoes. The nice thing about this recipe is that no stock is needed; the vegetables create their own broth when cooked down. Here is my version of the super traditional and Pixar-inspired Ratatouille.

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 5 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of Swiss chard, chopped (from Round Right Farm)
  • 5 garlic scapes, diced (from Round Right Farm)
  • Olive oil, for coating the pot
  • Salt and pepper

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  1. Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Add the olive oil and garlic scapes and turn on medium to high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low after about 2 minutes.
  2. Add vegetables to pot and stir to coat veggies in the garlic oil mixture. Add a hearty dose of salt and pepper and let cook, covered on low heat, for about 1 hour. Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!

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I feel like this is one of those healthy and extremely easy recipes that you can have on hand that feels semi-fancy. I also like how versatile it is. Don’t have eggplant? Sub in whatever veggies you have on hand!

The next recipe I decided to try out was one for Madeleines. Mireille’s recipe is actually for a chocolate version of these classic French cookies and required minimal effort to bake. I didn’t have the adorable little shell molds that typically give Madeleine cookies their cute shape, so mine were simply round. Unfortunately, I ended up eating more dark chocolate while baking than I actually enjoyed the cookies fresh out of the oven. I digress.
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For more of Mireille’s recipes, check out her website, or pick up a copy of her book! I promise, it won’t disappoint.

PS: I’ll be sure to add my ratatouille recipe to the dinner section of my recipe tab.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: I brought my Brooks PureFlow shoes to work and actually put my orthopedic inserts in! BONUS: I actually walked in them for 20 minutes! I’m taking baby steps toward fixing my spinal alignment. Thanks Advantage Health and Wellness!

My Time Meltdown

My time-related mental meltdown started on Wednesday evening when I was waiting in one of the tiny massage therapy rooms at Advantage Health and Wellness. The room I was in was small and didn’t have a window. Instead, a big clock was hanging on the wall in my direct view. The office usually always has ambient music playing (think summer sounds and chimes), but for about 30 seconds, the music had stopped. Now, 30 seconds feels like nothing in a work day, but 30 seconds alone, in a tiny room, with only the sound of the ticking clock, can feel like forever.

I was staring at the clock, waiting for the music to return, when thoughts of how quickly time disappears started to creep into my head. I kept thinking about how we never get time back and how, no matter how much I wanted, I couldn’t stop that skinny, little hand on the clock from moving forward. Before I knew it, I was in full-blown panic mode. Suddenly I saw my life flashing before my eyes. My inner monologue started spinning out of control.

“I’m 23. I thought I was just 16. What happened? I’m done with college? I have a real job? Oh my God, I will never again be able to eat Poptarts for breakfast every morning.”

As I shifted into meltdown mode, my massage therapist walked in, jolting me back to reality. However, 30 minutes later, although with relaxed muscles, I left with the thoughts of that clock creeping back into my head.

To further confirm my hysteria, this morning I ran across a story on NASA’s homepage that I was surprised I had missed. On Wednesday, NASA published news of the discovery of a rare galaxy dating back 750 million years after the Big Bang created our universe. Bizarro coincidence that I was having these terrifying thoughts the same day this was published.

The discovery of the galaxy (now referred to as GN-108036) was made with the help of NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. GN-108036 is the brightest galaxy found to date and is 12.9 billion light years away.

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“Data from Spitzer and Hubble were used to measure the galaxy’s high star production rate, equivalent to about 100 suns per year. For reference, our Milky Way galaxy is about five times larger and 100 times more massive than GN-108036, but makes roughly 30 times fewer stars per year.”

We just keep moving further away from the beginning of it all, just like we move further away from our own beginnings. We can’t go back and we can’t change things. This is a nightmare for a type-A personality! So what can I do? Well, nothing. Ok, so maybe not nothing, but I certainly have realized that time is what I make it. I can’t stop it and I can’t change time I’ve already spent. I have to start utilizing the time I have, rather than worry about the time I don’t. I guess I’ll just chalk this up to a Cat Hair in my Coffee moment. Life happens and sometimes you just end up with a whisker in your cup.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Worry less.

It’s Official

Today I finished reading all of PB Fingers blog entries. Although I’m so happy I’m caught up, I really feel like I just finished a great book that doesn’t have a sequel. (Think, the end of the Harry Potter series.) However, the best part of following a blog is that it doesn’t actually end; I just have to start reading it in real time!

Another official moment in the day was when I decided to pop in Love Actually to better get in the Christmas spirit. Well, partly that and because I need to get my Rick fix from Walking Dead.

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God I’m pathetic.

Anyway, before I got home from my day at work, I had to stop by Advantage Health and Wellness for my usual Wednesday appointment with Brad, my physical therapist. I got adjusted, a very deep massage and had to do some serious strength exercises. Here is my usual routine.

  • 2 sets of planks for 30 seconds
  • 2 sets of side planks for 30 seconds
  • 10 hip lifts for 10 seconds each
  • 25 calf raises with 10lb weights (1 set toes out, toes in and toes straight forward)
  • 4 sets of ~6 sneaky lunges (small space to do these)
  • 10 leg raises with toes pointed down (1 set each leg)
  • 10 swinging hip things (called “hip 2” at the office)
  • 30-60 second split squats (2 each leg)
  • JUST ADDED: squats on the bosu ball
  • (chair position) intense pose of sun salutation (HORRIBLE)

After all of this, my back does feel stronger, but man are my legs sore! Now if I could only get back to my usual running routine…

I’m off to finish Love Actually, but let me leave you with this: I don’t think Love Actually is in any way realistic and I couldn’t imagine living in a world where Hugh Grant was Prime Minister, but once a year, I like to pop this movie and pretend that two people acting as body doubles on the set of a sex movie could actually meet and fall madly in love.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Try meringue cookies this Christmas season and save yourself some major calories!

Healthy Eating Plan Lifecycle

As a new member of the business world, I’m constantly learning new things about the way things operate. Sometimes I get stuck on certain topics and for the life of me can’t connect the dots. Today, I managed to relate one of these topics to an area of personal interest.

**A typical Project Lifecyle goes something like this: Idea –> Charter (or a document issued that formally authorizes the existence of a project)  –> Project Management Team  –> Statement  –> Plan  –> Baseline (time phased plan –> Progress –> Acceptance –> Approval –> Handover

Below demonstrates (with a few minor modifications) how this plan can be used for maintaining a healthier diet.

The Lifecycle of Healthy Eating

Idea: Maintenance of a healthy diet

Charter: N/A

Project Management Team: Yourself, family members, friends, and whoever else might be involved in your new effort.

Statement: Draft something in writing (a note on the fridge, or perhaps the first page in your brand new food journal) that holds you accountable for your new effort. This statement could come in the form of a mantra, a famous quote, or just something that keeps your eye on the prize. Just make sure it supports your overall goal.

Plan: Sit down and think about how you plan to stay on track. Start by tracking your usual meals in a food journal and then deconstruct your weak areas. If you are new to the world of healthy eating, refer to outside resources, such as Livestrong.com, or try an easy to follow plan in a health magazine. Most plans include a variety of low-calorie filling options that won’t leave you feeling deprived. Plus, planning meals weekly can help save on grocery bills and will free up the time you usually spend contemplating your next meal.

Baseline: Since healthy eating should become a lifestyle, not a temporary phase, only baseline the first few weeks or months of your plan. Start off by integrating healthier options into your diet before eliminating the bad stuff. This will make the transition much easier and again, won’t make you feel like you’re on a strict diet. Your plan should have an ultimate goal, so set a deadline for your total healthy eating transformation.

Progress: This is where the food journal will come in handy. By recording your meals, you’ll easily be able to see when you slip up, what could be your “trigger foods” and can help you better gauge when you can allow a high-calorie treat.

Acceptance/Approval: All those involved in your plan agree and accept your newfound lifestyle.

Handover: Since there really isn’t a “product”, your deadline established in the baseline step would act as your handover.

Apply this basic model to any goal (work or personal) and you’ll be amazed at how on-focus you’ll stay.

In other news…

Today was yummy food day for this girl. I started my day with one egg and one egg white and an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin toasted. For a snack, I had one of my coveted Luna bars. By the time lunch rolled around, I was starving again (the downside of eating five and six times a day). So I decided to load up on veggies, a piece of cheese, and dark chocolate!

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I love to get Wholly Guacamole in these packets. They are so great for dipping my veggies!

Seriously, are you seeing the size of those grapes? Let me put it in perspective for you.

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I have baby hands, but this is crazy.

A coworker of mine had similarly large grapes for a snack one day and declared they were so shot up with steroids that they had stretch marks. (Juice Head Gorilla grapes?) After my usual Wednesday rendezvous with the great staff at Advantage Health & Wellness (30 minute massage, workout, AND an adjustment) I came home to whip up a modified version of Happy Kat Soup.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to wait, so I whipped up this delicious Cooking Light recipe.

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I added tomatoes for a sweet flavor.

AMAZING. It’s now time to finish the night with the X Factor (Go Drew & Astro!!!) and American Horror Story.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Stretch every single day. I made the mistake of skipping my daily stretches Monday and Tuesday and now I’ve got the world’s tightest hamstrings and calves. Big mistake!

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**There are a variety of types of lifecycle models out there, but this is one that I find to be particularly easy to adjust.