29 Aug

Kickboxing Class Recap

So I decided to sign up for the kickboxing classes for 3 months. After trying out two classes and getting some positive feedback from the instructors and other students I figure this is something that I will really enjoy and maybe even be good at.

The classes are pretty demanding and I do like a good challenge. Plus it’s something that will keep me occupied during football season while Matt is busy coaching.

I’ll try to recap most of the classes so that you can get an idea of what goes down in a kickboxing gym.

Move of the Day:

Sprawl: When the instructor calls sprawl, you get down to the ground then jump up again. It’s a bit like doing a burpee without the push-ups

… funny story about the sprawl. When we were working with the punching bags I jabbed the bag twice, hard and then the instructor called “SPRAWL!”. When I got down to the ground, the punching bag swung back and hit me square in the head, knocking me down. Talk about embarrassing moments!

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– Jogging
– Shuffling
– Skipping

Cardio:

– 10 High Knee Jumps + Sprint to other end of the mats (x9)
– 8 frog jumps across the mats (x5)

Kickboxing Exercises:

punching bag: 1 min intervals of performing the punches/kicks called out by the instructor

alternating roundhouse kicks: 2 min intervals of roundhouse kicks- kick pads held by your partner

high and low roundhouse kicks: 2 min intervals of high roundhouse kicks and low roundhouse kicks – kick pads held by your partner

knee/kick combo: 2 min intervals of knee and roundhouse kick (with the same leg) – kick pads held by your partner

Cool-Down:

– Chin-Ups- pyramid reps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
– Pull-Ups- pyramid reps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1


Squat Improvement Strategy

In other fitness updates with my squat improvement strategy I am up to 145lbs for 5 sets of 3 reps.

I’m going to need to stay at this weight for a while until I can get up to 5 reps with good form. By the 3rd rep I find myself looking sloppy and my core isn’t engaged enough to keep myself in safe squatting form.

29 Aug

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

I won a subscription to Everyday Food magazine in a blog giveaway. Since I don’t have a US address I sent it to my sister and she just brought me the first copy this weekend.

Generally, I find food magazines overwhelming because there are more recipes than you can possibly make month after month (and I’m not keen on stockpiling back issues of magazines). Everyday food is probably the most overwhelming food magazine ever because it’s essentially a magazine-sized cookbook. But the recipes are great ideas for quick and simple dishes and the food styling is easy on the eyes so it’s nice to flip through.

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

I made this recipe which was inspired by a frittata recipe from the magazine. I think my version is better because I added herbs and garlic to the mix, plus I make my frittatas with milk for extra volume.

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

I made the roasted vegetables last night so that tonight all I had to do was whish together some eggs. I had Matt pop it into the oven while I was at Kickboxing and I had a nice high protein dinner ready when I got home. Per-fect

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Roasted Vegetables

1 large red onion, cut into 1” pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
2 c. mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on their size)
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2” slices
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the cut vegetables with oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a large cookie sheet.
Roast the vegetables for 35-40 minutes or until softened and browned.

Eat half of the vegetables . . . they’re delicious. Make the frittata with the leftovers.

Frittata

6 large eggs
1/4 c. egg whites
1/2 c. milk
2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 t dried lavender
1/2 t salt
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prepare a pie dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the roasted veggies in the bottom of pie dish.

Whisk together the eggs, whites, and milk. Stir in the oregano, thyme, lavender, salt, and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and bake for 30 minutes or until it is set.

25 Aug

food blog friday: Falafel Loaf

Falafel Loaf

It’s Food Blog Friday!

Today’s recipe comes courtesy of my favourite Lebanese food blog Taste of Beirut. Joumana’s, the blogger at Taste of Beirut, share a repertoire of recipes that includes traditional Lebanese dishes and Lebanese inspired dishes. The blog showcases the healthiness and variety of Lebanese cuisine.

I was really excited to try this recipe for a falafel loaf. One of my favourite dishes to order at a Lebanese restaurants is falafel because my Lebanese family never makes it and I hate deep frying food (I feel like it’s such a waste of oil!) This baked version seemed like a really good variation on the traditional deep fried balls of deliciousness.

The only changes that I made to this recipe are that I omitted the bunch of Italian parsley and I included 2 chopped jalapeno peppers for a bit of heat. The rest of the recipe I kept the same.

I took the loaf out of the oven after 45 minutes and a toothpick came out of it clean but when I took the loaf out of the pan it started to fall apart and the centre was still too wet. I left it in for another 10 minutes. . . then another 10 minutes. . . then another 5. By this point it still looked uncooked but I was hungry so I said "”fuck it” and cut into it anyway.

The slices pretty much fell apart when I cut them but I realized later that I should have probably left the loaf to cool to about room temperature (which is the recommended serving temperature) before trying to cut it because it firmed up quite a bit once it cooled.

DSCF7049
My falafel loaf in pieces

In spite of the poor aesthetic of the dish once it fell apart, the taste was unbelievable. The loaf is very fluffy and very moist and just melts in your mouth. It doesn’t have the outer crispiness of a deep fried falafel but I think I liked it even better this way.

I served it on a plate with tahini/lemon sauce. The recipe says that it serves 8 but it is very filling so I’d say more like 10-12.

Falafel Loaf

Falafel Loaf

8 very filling servings, recipe adapted from Taste of Beirut

This moist baked loaf inspired by falafel is delicious when eaten with some tarator sauce drizzled on top.

Ingredients

2 cans of cooked chickpea, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped
1 Large white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, mashed with a dash of salt till pasty
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, chopped
3 Large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2  teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Put the chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor with the eggs, baking powder, chopped onions, salt, spices, and process till mixture starts to become a paste.
  2. Add the cilantro, garlic, hot peppers, and olive oil and process till mixture is smooth like a hummus and all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake in a 375F oven for 1h 10min. Let cool before slicing (otherwise it might fall apart!). Serve at room temperature with tarator sauce (recipe to follow).

Tarator sauce:

Ingredients

1/4 cup of  tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup of water
dash of salt

Directions

Pour the lemon juice into a small bowl containing tahini while stirring constantly. The sauce will start to curdle.

Slowly add enough water to smooth out the sauce and get a nice loose consistency.

Salt to taste.

Falafel Loaf

Because of the fact that the cooking time was way off and the loaf fell apart, I give this recipe. . .

2 Spoons!

The amazing taste and texture really redeemed this recipe. I want to make it again soon.


Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect.

See Other Food Blog Friday Recipe Reviews here.

24 Aug

My First Kickboxing Class

I’m in pretty good shape, right? I mean, I weightlift all the time, and do yoga, and I just ran a marathon. But it always takes an entirely new exercise to humble that opinion and today kickboxing class roundhouse-kicked me right off my high fitness horse.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was planning on trying out a kickboxing class at a local fight club . . . I’m going to break the first rule of fight club and talk about it.

“This place isn’t a country club,” the instructor said to me when I first came in. And it sure isn’t. There’s a lingering smell of sweat in the air and the whole place seems rugged. It was perfect. I wasn’t looking for a fancy gym; I’m already a member at another fancy gym.

I took off my shoes and socks and joined in with the class of about 30 boys who were warming up by running circles around the gym. I was the only female in the class but felt comfortable with the fact that many of the boys were high school or post-secondary students. In my opinion high school boys are about as intimidating as a fluffy bunny, unless of course you’re a high school girl. Later, two girls joined in the class and their experience was much more intimidating.

After the warm up jog we attempted to make our arms fall out of the shoulder sockets by making circles with our arms for what felt like half an hour (but was probably more like 2-3 minutes).

Then we frog hopped our way across the gym multiple times. This is by far my favourite exercise. . . I feel like I’m 5 years old doing it.

After that we proceeded to do the world’s fastest recorded push-ups. ‘Drop and give me 10’ meant I was on push up #5 when all the boys were getting up to their feet. I never actually got a chance to see any one else do a push-up but I was getting the sneaking suspicion that they weren’t doing a full range of motion. So, I started to fire off half push-ups rapidly so that I wouldn’t look like I was lagging.

Then came the real meat and potatoes of the class.

Part One: 4 rounds of the following circuit; 1 min/ exercise

– jumping lunges while holding a medicine ball above our heads
– burpees
– punching and wildly kicking the punching bag
– chin-ups (which was more of me jumping than actually pulling myself up)
– rest

I was pretty sure that I was going to vomit by the fourth round and my skin was turning the most lovely shade of green. Eating a snack before the class was definitely not the best idea.

Part Two: 4 rounds of the following circuit; 2 min/ exercise

– more punching and kicking of the punching bag
– shadow boxing; ie. punching and kicking at my reflection in the mirror

Kick_boxing
I look nothing like this photo (source)

I know nothing about boxing form besides what I learned in BodyCombat, which isn’t exactly real boxing is it? Although it should be. Think about how much more entertaining a boxing match would be if it were expertly choreographed to music. Just think about it for a minute. … awesome right?

Basically my inexperience coupled with the fact that my shoulders were so sore I could hardly hold my arms up to punch meant I must have looked like a total doofus when I was “punching” and “kicking”.

And that was the end of the class. I was kind of expecting a cool-down of some sort but we just all low fived each other and went on our merry way.

I’m thinking that I’ll probably keep going back because the class was exhausting and for my over-achieving perfectionist self that means that I have to keep going back until it’s at least not very tiring any more.

23 Aug

Relief for Tennis Elbow

I have Tennis Elbow. That means that tears have formed in the tendons that attach my forearm muscles to my elbow due to repetitive use.

Unfortunately I didn’t get it from playing tennis. It’s actually a symptom of my bizarre way of holding a computer mouse. . . and, oh yeah, using my computer too much. I need a new job.

I went to the physiotherapist today after the pain in my arm from using my mouse at work escalated from only occurring when I was at work to occurring all the bloody time. I’m not too impressed.

I am, however, impressed with myself for catching it early enough for it to be ‘not so bad’ according to the physio who assessed me. If you’re wondering why that’s impressive, it’s because of my high tolerance for pain and unlikeliness to seek medical attention for even the worst symptoms. So it shouldn’t be too long before it heals.

In the meantime, I have to:

1. Ice 2 times per day for 15 minutes each, and then

2. Stretch.

DSCF7045

Holding my right arm out straight and flexing my wrist to point my knuckles forward and right fingers toward the ground, I push on my right hand with my left hand. 3 set of 30 seconds each.

3. Get ultrasound therapy on my elbow twice a week to strengthen and heal the torn tendons.

4. Use my left hand to manoeuvre my mouse …my job just got a lot harder.

5. Wear a Band-It on my right arm just below my elbow.

Band-It for Tennis Elbow

Band-It for Tennis Elbow

This band puts pressure on the forearm which sort of tricks the forearm muscles into thinking that they are connected to the bone where the band is located instead of at the elbow where my tendons are torn. This frees up my tendons to heal.

I’ve always seen people wear band-its and wondered what they were for. I suppose there were easier ways to find out.

In the meantime I can still do all my regular stuff and hopefully since the Tennis Elbow isn’t that bad it will heal relatively quickly

22 Aug

Squat Improvement Strategy

I haven’t been able to post for a while since my computer has been on the fritz. …or maybe that’s just my excuse for not having much to write about lately.

There’s a bit of news on the fitness front:

I’m thinking of taking kickboxing classes. I dropped in to a boxing club today to learn more about their schedule and pricing and what the classes are like. I’m going back on Wednesday to try out a class and see how I like it. Is it normal to be excited to kick someone’s ass? I don’t think there’s any actual ass-kicking that goes down, but I will find out and report back.

Another thing: I’ve been spending a lot of time squatting. Yup. I’m trying to perfect my squats. I have an issue with short ankle tendons combined with tight anterior tibialis that makes it uncomfortable for me to squat without my heels raised up a bit. I’ve been relegating me to half squats all the time. So my plan is to start back with deeper squats and low weight and work my way up again.

Here’s a breakdown of my SIS

SIS (ie. Squat Improvement Strategy):

1. Sit your ass down, girl.

I put a step with 5 risers on each end perpendicular to the bar.

I prep for my squat—get the weight on my back, stand with my feet on opposite sides of the step, get psyched up, and maybe grunt a bit for good measure. (My feet are slightly wider than hip width which makes the movement easier on my shins and ankles)

I squat down until my bum touches the step, then I press back up into standing position.

It looks a lot like this video except maybe with 125lb less weight, nbd.

2. Take 5 . . . by 5

I’m doing squats every time I weight train and using the 5×5 method to build up my strength.

The idea behind the 5×5 method is simple– do 5 sets of 5 reps of the exercise and increase the load by 5lbs every time I train.

If I can’t do 5 sets of 5 reps in proper form then I keep the load the same the every time I train until I finally can.

5 sets; 5 reps; 5 pounds. Simple, simple method.

So far I’m up to 135lbs which is not too shabby, but definitely can use improvement. Matt said I probably won’t be able to get up to 200lb. I beg to differ… It’s going to happen.


Any squatting tips? Please share!

17 Aug

Fresh Corn Polenta

Fried Green Tomatoes

Tonight I made fried green tomatoes for the first time. I’ve never eaten them before so I’m not exactly sure what they’re supposed to taste like. They were good, tasty. But I couldn’t help but thinking they were a waste of all the potential the tomato had to be something phenomenal when fully ripened.

We get the best of the best tomatoes here in Essex County where the sandy soil is prime for tomato growing. So eating unripened tomatoes may take some getting used to. I guess I just prefer to eat my tomatoes bright red, sweet, and straight from the garden.

Fresh Corn Polenta

On the side, I made corn polenta (or grits if you will) This isn’t your nonna’s polenta though, this was polenta made with fresh local sweet corn that I picked up in Kingsville last week and it was to die for. The sweetness, the smoothness, and the simplicity of the dish made me fall in love with it immediately. The basic process involves heating up grated corn with butter until it becomes thick and creamy and all the sweet corn flavours concentrate. I want to eat this every night until corn season is over.

Please make this and thank me later, I promise you’ll love it.

Fresh Corn Polenta


  • Fresh Corn Polenta

Ingredients

  • 6 ears of fresh Ontario corn, husked
  • 2 T salted butter
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

  1. Directions
  2. Using a box grater, grate the kernels right off of the corn cob onto a large plate or cutting board. The kernels will become mushy and wet.
  3. Pour the grated corn into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, salt, and pepper. Cook the corn over medium-low and stir frequently until the juices start to evaporate and the mixture starts to thicken. (Time may vary depending on the season as fresh corn from the peak of the season will be juicier and take longer to reduce. It took me about 15 minutes with very fresh corn.)
  4. I served this with fried green tomatoes but I can think of countless ways to eat it (not unlike polenta) although my favourite way to eat it would probably be on its own. It’s that good.
16 Aug

Winning a 5K at 65 Years Old

I was recently thinking about winning a 5K in my age division. Not running a 5K, mind you, actually winning a 5K. It’s a long term goal (and I mean loooooong)

I think most recreational runners focus on personal bests rather than actually winning a 5K. I’m usually one of those people too. But my goal isn’t to win a race that will come any time soon it’s actually to win my age division of a race when I’m a senior citizen.

I’ve been telling myself: “You’re going to win a 5K when you’re 65”. I’m completely convinced that this is going to happen and that nothing in the next 40 years will prevent it.

There are a few reasons why I want to win a 5K at 65. First of all, I think it will be easier to win my age division if most people my age are playing shuffle board in Boca. I like to set attainable goals where statistics are on my side; I’m practical like that.

Secondly, running a 5K at 65 means that I’ll still be in shape at that age. I see my active lifestyle continuing into the future. I want to be able to bench press my 15 year old grandkids and teach them to run 5Ks too.

Also, and most importantly, old women who are active kick ass. Knowing that I’m going to win a 5K at 65 keeps me hopeful and inspired that I too will kick ass one day. Seriously. I just read this story about a 98 year old who became the first woman to become a 10th-degree black belt in Judo. At 98 years old!

image (source)

Earlier today, I saw a story on TV about the world’s oldest synchronized swim team of 80 to 90 year olds kicking their legs in the air like women a quarter their age.

image

Right now when I’m at the cusp of my quarter life crisis wondering what direction my life should take and if I’ll ever find fulfillment in the monotony of daily life, it’s refreshing and exciting to think that I could still be so full of life and accomplishment when I’m a senior citizen. It makes me feel like I have all the time in the world to do some amazing things in my life.

Who knows, maybe I shouldn’t set my sights only on winning that 5K. Maybe I can take up some entirely new activity. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty positive I’ll be the oldest performer in Cirque de Soleil sometime in the distant future.

11 Aug

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

I love August. That’s when all the best Ontario fruits and vegetables are out. Blueberries, peaches, corn, zucchini, celery, cucumbers, peppers, and my favourite, field tomatoes, are taking over the veggie stands and I couldn’t be more excited. Seriously.

It’s kind of pathetic in a way that the thing I look forward to the most during summer is vegetables, but they’re that good.This is the time of year when the fruits and vegetables actually taste like something. It’s all very exciting.

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

My fridge is currently packed with produce from the veggie stands in the county and from friends’ gardens. This is the time of year that I really like making dishes that showcase vegetables and herbs rather than hiding them under a tonne of spices (we eat a lot of Indian dishes in the winter time).

Last night I made an array of stuffed vegetables for diner. This dish is really good. The stuffing is phenomenal and could easily be eaten on its own (in fact, I might just make the stuffing next time!). You can really stuff any vegetables that you like. Here I used tomatoes, zucchini, and green peppers– the tomatoes were my favourite by far (surprise, surprise).

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

2 T olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 green pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds and veins removed
1 c cooked rice
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 T capers
sea salt & pepper to taste

1/4 c. grated parmesan combined with 1/4 c. bread crumbs
olive oil to drizzle

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and celery and cook until they are softened and fragrant ~8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the tops off of the tomatoes. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds, flesh, and juice from the inside of the tomatoes (chop up any really big chunks of flesh) and set it aside in a bowl. Similarly, use a spoon to hollow out the zucchini halves. Chop the insides of the zucchini into a fine dice and set aside.

When the onions and celery are softened, add the minced garlic, chopped zucchini, and the tomato insides to the pan. Cook for about 5 more minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Add the cooked rice, parsley, basil, capers, salt and pepper and leave the pan on the heat just long enough to heat everything through.

Place the green pepper halves, the hollowed tomatoes, and the hollowed zucchini into a baking dish. Stuff each of the vegetables with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the rice mixture. Top with a tablespoon of the cheese and bread crumb mix and drizzle everything with olive oil.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and the breadcrumbs are browned.


Because I’m awesome, I also made dessert with some blueberries I got from Klassen’s last weekend (Klassen’s, if you don’t know, is a local blueberry farm that is an Essex County institution). I made a crumble because it requires little to no precision and about 30 seconds of prep time.

I macerated some blueberries with a bit of lime juice and sugar and topped it with a crumble of butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon. It was a little on the sweet side, so I’ll try making it again with less sugar next time around.

Blueberry Crisp

09 Aug

Upper Body Burn Workout

I had planned to go for a run outside today seeing as the weather was gorgeous all afternoon (not the infernal sweat lodge it’s been like around these parts lately). But almost as soon as I got home from work I heard the loud clapping of thunder and new that a run wasn’t in the cards.

I could have gone to the gym but I find it tough to leave the house so soon after coming home so I stayed in instead and decided to do some at-home strength training.

I’ve been focussing on major muscle groups doing 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight and gradually increasing my weight load each week to build up my strength. I’ve also been interspersing this with some circuit training. Since I was working out at home today, I went with a circuit routine for upper body that uses only body weight.

This workout was one I guest posted on Trading Up Downtown and it is unbelievably intense. I had to modify almost all of the exercises to make them easier as I got closer to the 30 second mark.

My tip: Modify the exercises if you need to (and you probably will!) but don’t stop. Keep going. You can do anything for 30 seconds!

Upper Body Burn Workout

Workout breakdown: 35 min, 5-exercise circuit, 5 rounds

Method: Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible for 30 seconds then rest 30 seconds. Rest 2 minutes after the circuit is complete. Repeat the entire circuit 4 more times for a total of 5 rounds.

1) Burpees

A. burpee  B.burpee2

D. burpee3

A. Start in a deep squat. Place your hands on the floor in front of you.
B. Jump both feet back at the same time so you are in an upper push-up position
C. Immediately jump back into the squat position
D. From the squat, jump vertically as high as possible then return to position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modification: Walk your feet rather than jumping them from one position to the next

2) Hindu Pushups

A. hindu push ups 1 B.hindu push ups 2

C. hindu push ups 3

A. Begin in downward dog position.
B. Flare your elbows outward and lower your nose toward the ground, arching your back slightly as if you are trying to slide under an imaginary bar.
C. Keep your hips close to the ground and push your elbows straight so your upper body is in an upward dog position.
D. Press your hips back into position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: From position A. place your knees on the ground and complete the move on your knees instead of toes.

3) Plyometric Push Ups

A. plyo push ups 1 C. plyo push ups 2

A. Begin in upper push up position (on knees or toes).
B. Bend your elbows and lower your body to the ground as in a standard push up.
C. Push up using enough explosive force so that your hands leave the ground. (Warning: This force will be so explosive it will be impossible to capture it in a photograph)
D. When your hands touch down again, repeat.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: Complete the push-ups while on your knees.
Even Simpler Modification: Complete the push-ups while on your knees in table position
(the closer your knees are to your chest the easier it is. Think torque!)

4) Push Ups with Tuck

A. Push Ups w Tuck 1 C.Push Ups w Tuck 2

A. Begin in upper push up position on your toes.
B. Perform a standard push up, return to position A.
C. With both feet together, jump both feet toward your hands
D. Jump your feet back into position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds

Modification: Complete the push-ups on your knees and get into plank position before jumping your feet toward your hands.

5) Tricep Dips

B. tricep dips 1

A. Place your hands shoulder width apart on a chair with your feet out as far out in front of you as possible.
B. Slowly lower your upper body down towards the floor, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides and your back as close to the chair as possible.
C. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, slowly push yourself back up to position A.
Repeat for 30 seconds.

Modification: Bend your knees and move your feet closer to you. The closer your feet are to your body the easier this is to do.