25 Feb

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

Matt and I have been little homebodies lately. Given the option between dressing up and going out or staying home, making dinner and watching a movie, we tend to opt for the latter.

I’m not sure if this makes us lame. I’m not sure if I care.

Two weekends ago was Guardians of the Galaxy (Matt’s choice) and beef burgundy (my choice). Last weekend it was Gone Girl (my choice) and this pasta dish (Matt’s choice).

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

We actually have plans to go out this weekend and yet I’m yearning for a warm blanket and a home-cooked meal and a marathon of the new season of House of Cards. (Okay, okay, for me a TV marathon is watching a whole two episodes back-to-back). I would make a dish themed around the show, like ribs, and apple pie, and bourbon.

Or, I would just make this pasta dish again. I liked how fresh this dish was– the lemon and asparagus making it taste like spring– but the cheese made it indulgent at the same time.

 

Pasta with Asparagus, Sundried Tomatoes, and Boursin

serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

Ingredients

225g Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
14 Medium Asparagus Spears, cut into 2cm pieces
1 T. olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. drained, oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/3 c. Boursin cheese (garlic & fine herbs flavour)
1 T. chopped fresh dill
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Fill a large saucepan 3/4 full of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender (about 2 minutes shy of the package directions). Add the asparagus to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain the pasta and asparagus, reserving 3/4 cup of pasta water.

Set the pan over medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, 1-2 minutes. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pan and add the reserved cooking water. Stir in the sundried tomatoes, cheeses, dill, and lemon zest, then season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve immediately.

18 Feb

Fat Tuesday

I definitely got my share of fat in today. I started out with paczki at work then had bacon for dinner, and rounded off the day with homemade beignets!

I cheated and didn’t make the beignets from scratch.

Beignets (2)

Instead, I made it with Cafe du Monde beignet mix I got from my dad and his fiancee when they went to New Orleans last fall. I figured there probably could not be a better time to use it than Mardi Gras.

The beignets turned out really tender and fluffy but not as sweet as I was expecting (a liberal hand with the powdered sugar was a must, and a sprinkle of cinnamon was a nice touch).

Beignets

I think my oil was a little on the hot side, so next time I’ll have to do a better job of regulating the temperature. But next time won’t be for at least 40 days because I’m giving up sweets for Lent. Again.

I have a monster sweet tooth, so this will be tough as usual but I’ll do my best. It’ll just make Easter all that much sweeter.

15 Feb

Links for a Sunday Morning

Put on the Snowshoes – NY Times

Researchers in Vermont found that snowshoeing in powder at less than 3 miles per hour requires about the same exertion as jogging on level ground at more than twice that speed.

Why Sun News Failed – Maclean’s

It was Fox News without the budget or the talent, and it’s the budget and talent that makes Fox News what it is.

What Matters Survey Results – Infographic – Pathway to Potential

These are the things that are important to Windsor-Essex citizens.

Australia’s oldest man likes to knit mini sweaters for injured penguins – Mashable

Donations of the knitted penguin outfits were received from all over the world. The foundation says this “is not a fashion statement” but instead they help the little creatures if they are affected by an oil spill.

How older athletes can fight the effects of aging – Globe and Mail

Even trained athletes get less efficient as they age – and surprisingly, the secret to avoiding this fate lies not in the heart or lungs, but in the muscles.

‘We’re all fat again': More ‘Biggest Loser’ contestants reveal secrets – NY Post

“I’d wrap myself in garbage bags to sweat. We’d use the sauna for six hours a day. We stopped eating and drinking and would work out for four hours a day. People were passing out in the doctor’s office.”

Black and Latina women scientists sometimes mistaken for janitors - Washington Post

Given identical resumes of fictitious job applicants, science professors at six major universities favored the male applicant. If the woman was offered the job, her average starting salary was nearly $4,000 lower. Female scientists, the researchers found, were just as biased as the male scientists.

Everything you ever wanted to know about love, in 25 maps and charts – Washington Post

Nearly every U.S. city has too many single young men ages 20 to 34. Over the age of 35, however, the trend flops, with most cities having more single women.

What a Happy Cell Looks Like – The Atlantic

Mind-body practices, like meditation, “have been shown to cultivate positive and happy immune cells.” Research has linked meditation to reduced negative inflammatory activity, increased positive antiviral response, improved function of specific strains of immune cells, and higher antibody production. But perhaps the most striking theory posed of meditation is that it could alter genetic material.

14 Feb

MC Yogi Weekend in Windsor Review

Last weekend MC Yogi came to Windsor.

MC Yogi Windsor

Me and the MC

It was kind of a big deal because Windsor tends to get overlooked in tours like the one MC Yogi is currently doing to promote his new album Only Love is Real but with some kickstarter funding and some dedicated local yoga studios we got him here.

DSCF8379

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but had a pretty great time at the event. There were 3 two hour sessions of yoga practice over the course of the weekend, of which I did two.

Each session included story-telling, mantra, yoga, and music themed around a particular Hindu deity. While I’m not really into exploring Hinduism in my practice per se,  I can get behind the life lessons that we explored and I did appreciate how the theme was weaved throughout the practice in a fluid way.

The practices were led by MC Yogi and his wife Amanda who I think I liked better than the MC himself. Amanda exuded a personality that managed to be simultaneously calming and energizing. Plus she gave great adjustments.

Me and Amanda Giacomini

Me and Amanda Giacomini

As for the MC,  I was expecting him to perform some of his music, but he didn’t and I was expecting the music to be loud and energizing (he is an MC after all and I do love loud music), but it wasn’t. And when he first introduced himself wordlessly with a bow of the head and a glazed over look in his red eyes I thought “Really? Who is this stoner and why am I paying him to teach me yoga?” and started to feel vaguely like I was in an SNL sketch stereotyping yogis. But things did improve.

I liked a lot about the practice. I made a mental note of some of the bang-on cues MC Yogi used to get us into poses. Also, his use of humour in the practice made it light-hearted and enjoyable. (I love using humour when I teach, unfortunately I’m often the only one who finds me funny.)

What I liked most of all was nearly the entire Windsor yoga community coming to practice together. It doesn’t happen often because we’re all at our own studios, doing our own thing. But when it does it is sweet.

That’s what I love about the yoga community in Windsor. We collaborate. We come together. We know each other. We accept and respect each other’s preferences when it comes to practicing yoga and teaching yoga and know that no two of us have the same style. It’s a great bond that keeps the community strong.

Windsorites, what did you think of the MC Yogi weekend? Answer in the comments below.

08 Feb

Links for a Sunday Morning

A Tale of Two Plus Sized Models – Maclean’s

In all the hailing and congratulating [of the plus sized model in Sports Illustrated], it was easy to forget that what we were celebrating was an ad.

See How Much the “Perfect” Female Body Has Changed in 100 Years (It’s Crazy!) – Greatist

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing for this actress’s waist or that singer’s legs, remember this: The media’s concept of the ideal woman’s body isn’t static. It changes year over year, so the physical qualities we embrace today are often at odds with those from previous generations.

Defeating Depression with Yoga – Globe and Mail

In 2010, Harvard researchers noted that even a single yoga class increases the brain’s level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter with anti-anxiety properties.

Yoga can Boost your Brainpower – Daily Mail

The yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention.  The stretching-and-toning group saw no significant change in cognitive performance over time. 

Who Gets Paid More? – Behind the Numbers

If private sector compensation looked more like public sector compensation, the gender wage gap would narrow, discrimination against Aboriginal and visible minority workers would diminish, and CEOs would take a pay cut.

Smart phones are the new cigarettes – LinkedIn

In our culture, there is pressure to interact, to engage, to doeven if we are alone. To sit and just be feels deeply alienand faintly embarrassing. And maybe a great prop, be it a smart phone or a cigarette, helps us avoid doing just that. Being naked, facing the world as it really is in all its boredom and mundaneness.

27 Jan

Fit Chicks Fierce in 8 Giveaway!

Fierce in 8

I recently reviewed the Canadian based fitness company FIT CHICKS’ new 8 workout DVD set.
The workouts are all high intensity interval training, under 30 minutes, and inspired by a different form of exercise so there’s something for everyone. The boxset also comes with a meal plan and healthy recipes, providing a complete workout and nutrition plan.

Interested in trying the FIT CHICKS high intensity interval home workouts for yourself? You’re in luck! I’m offering a chance to win your own copy.

Enter to win by doing one or more of the following:

1. Comment on this post about how you work out at home.

2. Tweet “I want to win @FitChicks Fierce in 8 from @SamanthaYoga http://bit.ly/1uVoiy4″ from your twitter account.

3. Like this facebook post.

 

You can get up to three entries, one for each.

Contest Expires February 1st at Midnight EDT.

CONTEST CLOSED – Winner: Laura Ryan (Facebook)

24 Jan

Fit Chicks Fierce in 8

When it comes to workouts, anyone who has been following my blog knows that I tend to focus on lifting heavy weights, practicing yoga, and occasionally running.

I’m not really one to do fitness videos at home, though I have tried a few like Tracy Anderson Mat which was awful (Really. It was SO bad.) and One-on-One Training with Jackie Warner which I liked but didn’t stick with.

And yet the Canadian fitness company FIT CHICKS still seemed to think that I might be a good person to review their new workout DVD boxset and meal plan called FIERCE in 8. Naturally, I agreed.

Fit Chicks

The boxset contains 8 different HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts that combine short burst of cardio followed by strength training for recovery. Each workout is under 30 minutes and is inspired by a different form of exercise like tabatas, plyometrics, mixed martial arts, and bootcamp.

The exercises definitely got me to work up a sweat and increase my heart rate but I found that one video wasn’t really enough for me. So every time I popped a video in I would do two of the workouts back to back.

I liked the martial arts inspired workouts the best, like Fierce Fighter Chick and Boxing Babes, because I really like punching and kicking the shit out of nothing in particular (and sometimes people, but that’s a whole other story). No joke. They were energetic and tiring and a good way to release some general frustration.

The boxset also comes with a meal plan, healthy recipes, a green smoothie guide, and a 8 week schedule to plan out your FIT CHICKS workout days and rest days so you get a complete workout and nutrition plan.

Overall I thought the whole FIERCE in 8 system was ok. I’m not going to stick with it because home workouts aren’t really my thing but that’s not to say that I don’t think they’d be useful to other women who want a short workout that they can squeeze into their busy schedule without having to leave home.

If you think you might be interested in giving the program a try, I’ll be giving away the FIERCE in 8 boxset to one lucky reader in my next post. Stay tuned.

17 Jan

Links for a Sunday Morning

From Resolution to Ritual: Why People Start and Stick With Yoga – UConn

While most people reported starting yoga for purely physical reasons, the primary motivations for long-term practitioners were not just about the body. Participants listed stress relief, a sense of community, and self-discovery among the reasons they kept coming to yoga, with “spirituality” as the most common answer.

To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This – NY Times

A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married.

Green Bay’s Board-Game Obsession – WSJ

“At first we’re like, ‘What the hell is this? Brick? Wool? What kind of game is this?’” said starting center Corey Linsley. But that quickly faded. “We are completely addicted to it, we play it whenever we can,” said tight end Justin Perillo.

The biggest winter energy myth: That you need to idle your car before driving – Washington Post

Auto experts today say that you should warm up the car no more than 30 seconds before you start driving in winter. “The engine will warm up faster being driven.”

The World as 100 People Infographic – Jack Hagley

Most are Asian, Chinese-speaking, literate, and have a cellphone.

How Nonemployed Americans Spend Their Weekdays: Men vs. Women – NY Times

Nonworkers spend much more time doing housework. Men without jobs, in particular, spend more time watching television, while women without jobs spend more time taking care of others. And the nonemployed of both sexes spend more time sleeping than their employed counterparts.

How $40 Oil Prices Would Impact Canada’s Provinces – Globe and Mail

If plunging oil prices are writing a boom-to-bust story in provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, the narrative will be much different in other parts of the country.

How Exercise Keeps Us Young – NY Times

Many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us.

How Will You Work Out When CrossFit is No Longer Hip? – NPR

High-intensity interval training is the result of a lot of these infomercials. In five years, we’re not going to be talking about [it]. Part of the reason is because there’s a high probability of injuring yourself when doing aggressive exercises.

06 Jan

2015 Trade-Offs

The Best is Yet to Come

 

It’s 2015 and I haven’t set any resolutions for the new year.

There are a lot of things that I should do more of and a lot of things that I should do less of.

I should read more non-fiction and less fiction.
I should eat more salads and less cookies.
I should meditate more and use facebook less.
I should donate more often and shop less often.
I should floss my teeth more and eat candy less.
I should give more hugs and less criticisms.
I should keep a gratitude journal.
I should use conditioner.
I should slow down.
I should, should, should.

But these are all things that I know already before I make a choice.

Sometimes I regret my choices– like when I have to spend 20 minutes combing tangles out of my hair because I chose not to use conditioner– but mostly I can live with them and, would I do them again? Of course.

Life is about little trade-offs. It’s about giving in to guilty pleasures that bring you joy but only up until the trade-off point, the tipping point where they start to make you feel just plain guilty. No pleasure.
Like the point somewhere between mmmm, cookie dough! and oh god, why did I eat all that cookie dough? Or the point where alone time turns into neglected relationships. Or the balance between interested collector and hoarder.

Life is about finding that point where the least amount of guilty pleasure that can keep you happy without over indulging. The key being “keep you happy”.

Doing a juice cleanse and 7 days a week of boot camp, or giving up sugar for the rest of my life, or restricting my reading material to biographies of famous political figures, or whatever the hell else people resolve to do around this time of year will not keep me happy.

I don’t want to be a “new me”. I don’t want a fresh start. I want to embrace all those bad choices I’ve made and know I can make them just a little better next time if I want to.
I want to optimize my happiness with minimal indulgence

So, no, I’m not making resolutions. I’m making trade-offs.

31 Dec

Links for a New Year’s Day

Happy New Year

13 Food Trend Predictions for 2015 – Bon Appetit

Baccalà is old (yet tasty) news for this Furlan girl.
What is Nitro Coffee and where can I get some?
Please don’t put drugs in my food, kthanksbye.

The 40 Funniest Tweets of 2014 – The Telegraph

With such gems as: Wear only a towel around your waist and you can get into just about anywhere if you just repeat “so sorry so sorry” and keep moving forward.

20 Best Lists of 2014 – Rolling Stone

Sports’s Illustrated’s Fittest 50 is the most interesting on this list, though I do question their scoring model.

Longform Best of 2014 – Longform

Some great long read journalism from around the web that will keep you intrigued. Of course I haven’t read them all yet. Come back here and tell me your favourite.

2014 Search Trends – Google

I found the day-to-day life searches to be most interesting. Apparently,
this year we searched for ‘recipes’ less and ‘restaurant’ significantly more. If we do cook, we can’t get enough of pancakes, our top global recipe search in 2014.

Pancakes? Really?

The Year of Outrage – Slate

An interactive chart of a different thing that sparked outrage for every day of 2014. Some were absurd and some were legitimately outrageous.

Destinations to Watch in 2015 – CN Traveller

Toronto and Detroit both make the list. Nice.