Monday, April 29, 2013

Veggie Mania

My husband's employer has this great wellness program that encourages you to set goals to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.  This last month we have focused on eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables-- not unrealistic, but not a cake walk either.  My problem: I kept forgetting to pull out the bag of carrots to munch on when I felt munchie... so here is my solution...


Each baggie contains 1-3 servings of vegetables in easy to grab glory.  Some bags are a mixture of veggies and some are just plain carrots or broccoli.

Check out the prime location of the veggie basket in the fridge (please ignore all the leftovers...)

FYI  One serving of veggies is equal to 9  baby carrots, 10 grape tomatoes, 2 ribs of celery, or 6 broccoli flowerettes.  Mix and match to make a cornucopia of vegetable fun and add a mini container of ranch or onion Greek yogurt dip and you are good to go!

Happy Healthy Eating

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Smart Phone-- Workout Wednesday

Hello, my name is Erica, and I just got my first smart phone/tablet/advanced technical device.  I have been working on figuring it out.  You know, how to do email from it, how to send and recieve texts, how to change ring tones, how to install applications (apps).  All this stuff I have seen people doing for years;  I feel like I have a huge learning curve ahead of me...

That said, the third app I downloaded (after LDS Tools & Library), was one I coveted the day Bill first downloaded it on his phone a few years ago.

Sit Ups
Sit Ups by Rittr Labs

The app is simple.  Decide how many sit ups you want to be able to do continuously, 100, 150, 200, or 250.  The app will ask how many sit ups you can complete before exhaustion.  Based on your input the Sit Ups determines a workout plan for you.  When you open the app, it will prompt you to complete 5 sets of sit ups-- the number in each set varies.  The app even includes specific rest time between sets and counts down that rest for you.  After each work out you tell the app if the sets were just right, too hard or too easy; the app then adjusts the level of difficulty.  The app recommends a rest day in between sessions.

Best part.  Sit Ups is free.  You can even opt out of the ads at the top of the screen.

Rittr Labs uses the same format to help you tone up with their Push Ups, Squats, and Pull Ups apps (all free).  I am doing the Push Ups on Sit Up rest days-- I thought I ought to wait to be able to do one pull up before trying the pull up app.

Now I need your help!  What are your ESSENTIAL apps-- you know the ones you use every day and can't imagine life without.  Or the best games you use to kill time...  Which apps help you monitor your progress towards fitness?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sweet Surrender

My not so little one anymore had a meltdown today.  The dilemma?  The lego the little one wanted was being used in another child's creation.  The meltdown began with crying and expressing frustration.  When an acceptable negotiated treaty could not be concluded, screaming commenced.  Visits to bedrooms for time outs only seemed to escalate the mood to hitting, kicking and general lashing out.  With property and personal safety in jeopardy, I scooped the little one up and held him/her close, rocking back and forth, humming a little song, hoping that the tune might help refocus her/his mind on something besides her/his anger.  Many minutes and songs later I could feel the little one's body relax as he/she began to hum and sing along.  Within a minute s/he was happily preparing for school, eating breakfast and rejoining general life.

What made the change?  Surrender to the reality of the situation.  Holding my little one today, I saw myself in my Heavenly Father's arms fighting the reality of life.  My stresses, my anger, my frustration at things or people not behaving the way I WANTED THEM TO!!!  Fighting the existence of problems in my "Happily Ever After," wishing and waiting for EVERYONE ELSE to GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER!!!  so I could be happy and have everything the way I want it to be-- the way it ought to be!

Isn't that what frustration is all about --  our inability to control our environment, ourselves and others.  Oprah taught,

"All stress comes from resisting what is." 

We spend our energy fighting with the reality of life around us instead of accepting reality for what it really is.  My little one wasted 40 minutes of her/his morning worrying, stressing and being angry about something s/he could not control.  How much of my life have I wasted stressing about something I can not control?

I am learning that the pathway to peace is not found in controlling, harnessing or even powering through my life (or workouts...) but in admitting that I do not have the power to change or complete life on my own.  This surrender allows me to create and exist in a new or different reality-- the reality I have fought against-- the one that really exists.  Surrender can really be positive.

Neal A Maxwell said, (I miss that guy...)

Consecration [giving yourself to God] is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from the raucous, overpopulated cell block of selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride. (emphasis added)

Thank you, little one, for your reminder today.  Sweet Surrender is what I can give.

Best Homemade BBQ Sauce Ever

And I know, because I have had too many failures to count!!!!!  I found this recipe and was amazed at the quality and the thickness of the end product.  It has a slightly fruity quality that I adored.  My family isn't huge on the smokey flavor, so I didn't use any.  If you love smoke, add 1 teaspoon liquid smoke to the ingredients.

Best BBQ Sauce-- (like K.C. Masterpiece...)
2 cups water
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup vinager
3 Tablespoons molasses
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika (in a pinch use chili powder)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredient in a small sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occationally, for 20-40 minutes or until reduced by half and thick.

Cool.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Chicken with Pasta Carbonara

I adapted the sauce for this recipe from a good friend's divine turkey meatball and broccoli pasta salad.  I ought to put that recipe up here too....  But I digress.  Pasta Carbonara was a hit at my house.  Who doesn't like a meal with BACON?     (Apparently child #4... who knew?)

Chicken with Pasta Carbonara
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
16 oz pasta, cooked, drained, water reserved
2 cups reserved pasta water, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl place cubed chicken, 2 Tablespoons salt, and Italian seasoning with enough water to cover the chicken.  Allow the chicken to marinate for 15 minutes.  Drain water.  (This would be a fantastic time to cook the pasta and chop some veggies for a side of steamed broccoli...)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Using a little oil at a time, brown the chicken on each side.  Cook most of the way through.  (It will have a chance to finish cooking later.)  Remove all chicken from the skillet.

Brown the red pepper and with the garlic, pepper flakes, and bacon in the remaining olive oil.  Deglaze the skillet with 1 cup of the pasta water stirring to release and dissolve all the drippings stuck to the pan.

In a seperate bowl, combine the two beaten eggs with the remaining 1 cup of pasta water.  Slowly pour the egg mixture into the skillet stirring to combine.  Toss in the chicken.  Cook stirring for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Pour the chicken & bacon sauce over your pasta.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Adrienne's Last Stand-- Wednesday Workout

photo credit: ericmcgregor via photopin
My good friend Adrienne organized a "Last Chance" workout for us today...  She will be spending the weekend on a white sand beach and needed a last minute sweat.  Why not torture all of us and all of you with her.  It was a full body smash-- in a good way.

You know those workouts we've done with 100 reps per body area.  Yep, that what this workout has too; and since it is a we were doing it on a  Wednesday not a Monday, we could add more leg work without burning out for the whole week.  Sounds like fun, yes?

Adrienne's Last Stand

Quads & Glutes 
Walking Lunges- Walk forward lunging down.  Step feet together.  Alternate legs.  25 each leg
Side Squats-- Place one foot on an elevated surface (step, low chair).  With feet slightly more than hip distance apart, squat down.  Chest lifted,  bum pressed out.  Squeeze your cheeks together and press the hips forward as you come up. 25 each leg
Low to High Lunges- Imagine you are picking up a weight off the floor and turning to put it on a shelf behind you.  That is the basic motion.  With chest lifted, lunge to pick up the weight. Stand up.  Turn the back foot and pivot 90 degrees lifting the weight to put in on the imaginary shelf above your head. 25 each side

Upper Cuts-- the basic punching move. Twist the upper body to add more force, while keeping the lower body still. 50 each side
Over the Head Punches with Speed Bags-  This works the front and back parts of the obliques.  While standing with feet hip width apart bum tucked under, lean to each side and pull your ribs toward the side of your hip.  As you lean to the right, punch with your left hand toward the ceiling.  When you lean to the left, punch with the right hand.  For fun add  some speed bags to the punches.  50

Shoulders & Back
Standard Push Ups-  50
Diamond Push Ups-  Hands together forming a diamond. 25
Tricep Push Ups-  These are easier to understand if you see them done.  Check out the video.  25 each side

Bicep Curls-  Standard 50
Lateral Bicep Curls-  Arms turned to the side 25
Hammer Curls-- Instead of having your palms toward the ceiling, turn them so they face each other.  Thumbs will be toward the ceiling.  25

Cardio/ Abs
Burpees-- Check out the video.  I don't do a full push up with each one.  I can dream of being that strong! 25
High Knees-- Yes like you are running and your knees are up to your belly button.  50 each leg
Plank Moguls-- I curse the person who developed this exercise.  It kills me every time.  I am out of breath just thinking about it.  Watch the Video.

Calves/ Hamstrings
Calf Raises-- 25 with toes pointing forward, 25 with toes pointing to the side, 25 with toes pointing together, Bonus 25 with weights for those who are tough enough.

Now that the workout is done, I will imagine myself at the beach with Adrienne... enjoying the sun and the surf.....

ccmikebaird via photopin cc>

Isn't that what you do at the beach???

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ode To Trader Joe's Cornbread

Many moons ago my brother Chris introduced me to Trader Joe.  He (Chris not Trader Joe) was living with us for a couple months to finish his degree at the university while his wife worked out of state.  On one of his visits he brought me a Trader Joe's Cornbread mix.  I WAS IN HEAVEN.  Trader Joe's cornbread was soft and sweet and irresistibly good.  I had to learn to duplicate it!!!  After a couple (ok many) failed attempts I got it right.  BEHOLD the joy of Trader Erica's Cornbread.  Note: now there is a Trader Joe's in state, but why pay for a mix when you can make it from scratch!
photo credit: jeff_w_brooktree via photopin cc

Trader Joe's Cornbread 
This is a sweet cornbread.  If it is being used in a savory application (ie being served with beans or having chili poured over it), reduce the sugar in half.  For serving with butter and jam use the original amount.  Makes a 9x9 pan-- I double it.
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup frozen or canned corn, drained
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup milk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a seperate bowl combine the vanilla, egg, corn, oil and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredinets.  Mix until just barely combined.  It is ok to have some dry bits.  Pour the batter into a greased 9x9 pan.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Future Picture Statement

In my never ending quest for self improvement (will I EVER arrive?),  I have been reading a book that encourages you to plan your life with future in mind. A picture in words of who you want to be in all aspects of your life.  The book encourages you to use this Picture to guide you in your daily choices.

The exercise had you include what you want to be like physically, emotionally, spiritually and in your relationships.  I tried it and it was powerful.  You might want to try it too.

Start by writing a paragraph in present tense about each aspect of your life (physically, emotionally, spiritually and in relationships).  How you intend to be.  Then take the best of each area to create a master picture statement.

I'll share with you my picture of myself physically....  Remember how I intend to be....

I am a strong, active woman.  I find joy exercising 5-6 days a week.  My muscles are strong and flexible.  I care for my body by choosing healthy foods that help me feel energetic.  I weigh 150 lbs.  I use my body to serve others.  I remember to rest sufficiently.  I challenge my body and mind and find my energy increasing as I embrace new adventures.  I show my body respect by grooming myself.  I exude love and confidence.  My eyes glow with the love of the Lord.
I wrote a similar paragraph for each area of my life.

Combining them was crazy hard.  I loved the vision of myself I had created and I didn't want to leave anything out!!!  Then it came to me.  I have always been inspired by the LDS Relief Society Declaration and the Young Women's Theme, so I modeled my Master Picture after those documents. Then I needed to make it beautiful.... 

Here is my end product:

Now to post it on my bathroom mirror.  The best part of doing this was begining to really see WHO I am.  Not who I believe I am.  Listen to yourself and find the best part of you hidden under the ugly images painted by others...

Love you guys tons!!!