28 Sep

Kickboxing Class #9 & #10

Boxing-Gloves_thumb_Cartoonizer_2_th

Bizarrely enough, I think kickboxing is helping with my running. While I have been president of the 10 minute mile club since at least January, all my runs in the last couple of weeks have been faster. My 8 mile run on Sunday was at a 9:36 pace and my 6 mile treadmill run today was 9:15. Yip Yip!

Also, I caught myself watching an MMA fight on TV while I was running that 6 miles. Who AM I?


Class #9

This class was heavy on the endurance work as well as practice blocking punches and kicks from a partner.

I partnered up with a huge Russian guy, we shall call him The Centaur because he wore a shirt that said “Half Man, Half Horse”. Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could make this shit up.

I felt really bad about partnering with since he was about a million times more experienced than I was. The guy literally blocked everything I threw at him while looking in the opposite direction. Seriously! He wasn’t even looking! It was ridiculous.

Move of the Day:

Jumping Jacks: Since we did about a million. I’m not a fan of this endurance stuff because I find it too easy. Sprints and and short bursts of energy on the other hand are much more challenging for me.

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– Jogging, shuffling

Cardio:

– Jumping Jacks x300

Combo Drills with a Partner (no pads)

– left jab/right kick combo – alternating offense and defense
– right power/left kick combo – alternating offense and defense
– any combination of punches and kicks – alternating offense and defense
– light sparring

Punching Bag Drills:

– shin conditioning: 20 kicks per leg
– endurance:
10 kicks per leg
20 kicks per leg
30 kicks per leg
40 kicks per leg
50 kicks per leg


Class #10

This was child’s play. Well, we jumped rope for 10 minutes and also swing across the chin-up bar as if it were monkey bars so, you know, child’s play in one sense of the term.

All we did in this class was upper body work, so it was pretty intense. I had trouble washing my hair in my post workout shower because my arms were so sore.

I also can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of how ridiculously sweaty I was. I wore grey and looked like I had just gone swimming in my workout gear.

Move of the Day:

Monkey Bars: We used our arms to carry ourselves across the 3+ metre long chin-up bar not shuffling from one end to the other but more like doing the monkey bars in grade school. We went there and back three times.
Following that up with 15 chin ups was not exactly easy since, at my current weight, I can’t even do one.

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– jumping rope for 10 minutes incl. 30 sec intervals of speed

Punching Bag Drills:

We spent the entire class on the punching bag doing 3 minute rounds:

– warm-up punching and kicking (x3 rounds)
– Upper Body Only (ie. no kicks) (x3 rounds)
– Upper Body Only, constantly punching with 30s intervals of all out power (x4)

Strength Drills:

– Monkey Bar (x6)
– Chin-Ups (x15)

28 Sep

Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

soft pillowy coconut cookies

While you’re decking your porches with mums and pumpkins I’m skipping fall and have my sights set straight on Christmas.

I’m taking apart in the 12 pounds to Samantha’s waistline more widely known as the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, again this year!

I will have one delightful cookie or candy recipe headed your way everything Thursday from now until December 15th (so that way you’ll have 10 days after it’s over to make all 12 recipes).

How stoked are you? Very. I know.

12 weeks of christmas graphic

These cookies were a bit of a mistake. I wanted to make a flat, chewy cookie with a little bit of crunch to the edges. But instead what I got was a very soft, dome-shaped cookie with little chew and no crunch.

I am not a fan of super soft cookies.

Matt tasted one. “It needs something.” He was right. The cookie just wasn’t complete as it was.

So, I frosted it.

soft pillowy coconut cookies

There was something about the soft texture that I immediately loved once I added the sweet coconut frosting. It reminded me of those really soft store-bought cookies with the crazy-coloured frosting. . . but, you know, way better.

Matt actually loved the resulting cookie (in fact he’s looking over my shoulder at my blog post right now – which is mildly annoying- saying “oh those cookies are so good!”) . I loved them too. Surprisingly, the failure turned into a success and I’m definitely going to be making these again. I love when that shit happens.


soft pillowy coconut cookies

Soft & Pillowy Coconut Frosted Cookies

(makes 18 large cookies)

  • Ingredients
  • Cookie
    ½ lb salted butter
    1½ c dark brown sugar
    2 eggs
    ½ tsp vanilla
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    pinch ground cardamom
    ½ tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp baking powder
    2 ½ c AP flour

    Frosting

    ½ c icing sugar
    2 tsp coconut milk
    1 T unsweetened shredded coconut

    Directions

    Melt the butter and allow to cool.

    Cream the butter and sugar together with a whisk. Whisk in the eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and spices. Add the baking soda, baking powder and flour.

    (Note: For the most accurate measurement of the flour, lightly spoon it from the container into the measuring cup and level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup using the back of a knife. Don’t use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container.)

    Mix until just incorporated – the dough will be wet and sticky.

    Scoop cookie dough and using wet hands form into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet (don’t press down on the balls, you want the cookies to have that pillowy dome shape).

    Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. The cookies should still be very soft and look underbaked. Let them cool on a rack before frosting.

    While the cookies are cooling combine the icing sugar in a small bowl with the coconut. Slowly add coconut milk 1 tsp at a time, making sure that the first tsp is fully incorporated before adding the next. The frosting should be thick and spreadable with a butter knife. If not, add more coconut milk (sparingly!) or icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

    Spread the frosting on the cooled cookie and allow it to harden before eating.


    This recipe is being linked up at Meal Planning Magic the lovely host blog of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.
26 Sep

High Rep Routine

I’ve started on a new weight training routine that is mostly based on lower resistance and higher repetitions (~10-12).

My goal here is just to change things up a bit since I’m addicted to my heavy lift routines. But I want to make sure that I’m lifting as heavy as possible for all 10 to 12 repetitions. No cheating.

I’m going to give it a go for at least 4 weeks (I already started the upper and full body exercises last week) and I’m going to track my progress. I’m usually pretty good about writing down my lifts, but these last 3 weeks or so I have just been winging it in the weight room.

I think this workout, which is a little more endurance-based, is a good complement to my kickboxing and “marathon training” (you know, for that Disney marathon that I still have yet to sign up for).

Weight Training Routine

– 3 Day Split: Lower Body, Upper Body, Full Body
– Method: 3 sets of 10-12 reps, unless otherwise indicated

Day 1 – Lower Body

Squat Jumps – 2 sets of 15
Back Squats – 5 sets of 5 (okay, I’m sticking with building my squat strength here)
Cleans
Plie Squats
Leg Press
Lying Leg Curl
Leg Extensions
Standing Calf Raises
Clam Crunches

Day 2 – Upper Body

Push Ups – 2 sets of 16
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
Cable Low Rows
Back Extensions on the ball
Bicycle Crunches

Day 3 – Full Body

One Legged Bridge -  2 sets of 15
Push Press
Deadlifts
Bent-Over Barbell Rows
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
Good Mornings
Dumbbell Rear Lunges

Running

In running news, I killed an 8.2 miler on Sunday afternoon.

The first mile started off slow and crampy but after that I ended up with a lot of energy throughout the whole run. I had a solid pace going, I maintained it, and I took very few walking breaks.

I think one thing that helped was swinging back around to my house at mile 5 to get a drink of water before heading out for the last 3 miles. I often forget how much being hydrated helps to get me through a run.

I also attribute it to the sugar cookies I ate pre-run.

DSCF7326

Just over a 9:30 pace. Which, for me, is pretty decent.

Bagigis helped me fold laundry today:

Bagigis

Good dog.

25 Sep

Polenta Fest

Saturnight (I meant to write Saturday night, but Saturnight came out instead, so I’m going with it) Matt and I headed to the pinnacle of all events for the Furlan community in Windsor:

polenta fest

Yes, my friends an entire day devoted to the creamy, dreamy, peasant food that’s a staple in every Furlan kitchen.

My father’s family is Furlan, which means that we’re from the lovely Friuli region of Italia. Or here, on the boot:

Friuli

Being Furlan means:

– speaking in a ridiculous dialect that no one else in Italy can understand
– eating copious amounts of friulano and montasio cheese
– drinking sambuca with your coffee (or maybe that’s just my uncle?)
– and, most importantly, eating polenta.

Polenta e tociu (polenta with stew) is actually my favourite food in the world. It is comfort food at its best.

So when I saw a sign for Polenta Fest a few weeks back I literally shouted “Polenta Fest?!?” and immediately made plans to be there.

I was disappointed that they were out of baccalà but went with the peperonata that did not disappoint. Matt had salami which was phenomenal. Furlans know their way around a salami 😉

Polenta Fest (3)

Polenta with salami:

Polenta Fest (5)

Polenta Fest (9)

Polenta with Peperonata:

Polenta Fest (7)

Polenta Fest (6)

The purpose of the festival was to get in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest polenta in the world. And it was a success!

The team at the Fogolar Furlan (the club that was hosting the event) made 6,150 lbs of polenta.

And by the time Matt and I got there, it was almost gone!

Polenta Fest (17)Polenta Fest

That’s a lotta polenta!


Matt and I capped off the evening with a bubble tea at one of our old university haunts, Waku Waku.

Red Bean + Coffee Jelly for her, Green Apple + Grape for him.

Polenta Fest (10)Polenta Fest (16)

Then when home to snuggle up to an episode of Top Chef: Just Desserts.

21 Sep

Kickboxing Class #7 & #8

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The instructor said to me today that I have a really powerful right punch. Apparently I could really hurt someone with this punch. …and by the sounds of it, he really wants me to hurt someone:

“When you need to really attack someone, use the heel of your palm instead of your fist when you punch. That way you can keep attacking without breaking your fist.”

That’s for self-defense, of course, and it’s a good tactic. It was just funny the way he said it, as if it is inevitable that I will one day need to break someone’s face.

But now I know I probably could break someone’s face if I tried.


Class #7

We did a lot of partner work in this class – punching and kicking each other a lot without pads. Luckily I had my new mouthguard so I could take some punches to the head and face.

Most of the other experienced kickboxers are really helpful. They give me pointers on how to block and how to punch and they will repeat the same moves multiple times to help me learn. I love getting advice because I clearly have no idea what I’m doing. Some people, though, were a little more aggressive than I would have hoped for and I think I might have bruises in certain places.

Move of the Day:

Defense: My offense is decent but my defense sucks BAD. I may or may not have punched myself in the face when trying to block punches.

My reaction time is slow, I can hardly “bob and weave”, and my two natural reactions to getting beat on are to stand there and take it or to run and hide. This needs work.

One defensive move that we learned was to block a front kick by pushing the opponents leg down and left with your hand while stepping to the right to get out of the way.

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– Jogging, shuffling, 2-legged jumps

Cardio:

Alternating Jabs with simultaneous high knees
– sprawls

Push-Ups (x30)

Punching Bag Drills:

– 2 min rounds of any combination of punches and kicks on the punching bag (x4)

Combo Drills with a Partner (no pads)

– left jab/right jab/left front kick combo – alternating offense and defense for 30 second intervals (x6)
– any combination of punches and kicks – alternating offense and defense for 30 second intervals (x12)


Class #8

Lost of work with partners and Thai pads today plus some good punching bag work. I was hoping for sparring, but that didn’t end up happening unfortunately.

Move of the Day

Flying Knee: We practiced this move with a partner holding Thai pads. It’s essentially a drop kick, but instead of kicking, you knee the person instead. Fake out with the right knee but knee the opponent with the left knee.

This is a good move to use when the opponent has their head down, because otherwise you are easily exposed to punches.

The Workout:

Warm-Up:

– Jogging, shuffling
– 2 minutes of sprinting (x2) – this actually felt easier than the last time we had to do it
– stretching

Kicking Drills (with partner holding thai pads):

– roundhouse kicks x15 per leg
– flying knee x10 per leg
– high roundhouse kicks x15 per leg

Punching Drills (with partner holding Thai pads):

– rotating backhand x7 per hand

Punching Bag Drills:

– 3 min rounds of combinations of punches and kicks called out by the instructor (x3)

20 Sep

New Squat Tips

After two brutally weak weightlifting workouts last week I was pleasantly surprised by my workout tonight.

I didn’t intend to weight lift, I wanted to run and do yoga instead, but I had the urge for a leg day. And I;m glad I did because my squats were strong and I PR’d my deadlifts!!

I started with a treadmill run to loosen up my muscles a bit before training.

Run

In spite of it being a nice night to run outside, I planned a run with hill intervals which is essentially impossible in Essex County, so I ran on the treadmill instead (while watching Food Network, natch)

4 miles – 36:30 incl 5:00 Total Uphill Time

This was a speedy run for me. I think the interval work I have been getting in via kickboxing has helped with my speed (or maybe it’s just in my head, I don’t really know exactly)

Weights

Back Squats: 125lbs x 10; 135lb x 6; 145lb x 5; 145lbs x 5
Deadlifts: 155lbs (!) x 4 reps (4 sets)
45 Degree Leg Press: 360lbs x 8 (3 sets); 450lbs x 4 (1 set)
Calf Raises: 300lbs x 10 (3 sets)
Plank: 1 minute (3 sets)
Crunches: x45

I learned a few new tips for squatting that I put into practice today for my Squat Improvement Strategy.

SIS

Squatting Tips

1) Rotate your elbows down so they point directly to the ground for the whole squat this will:

– Help you to lift your chest and head up naturally.
– Help to engage your lats, and speaking of which. . .

2) Create tension in your lats to add more strength to your squat.

– As you pull your elbows down, squeeze the bar very hard with your hands to create tension and engage your lat muscles. This will help stabilizing the core and spine so you can lift heavier with proper form.

So I tried out these two techniques and they were really helpful in getting me to lift heavier. I nixed the box squat that I had been doing and just went with a regular squat and got up to

5 reps at 145lbs with pretty good form!

19 Sep

Cracker Jack Soup

cracker jack soup

I really like peanut butter.

I also really like coconut milk.

Caramel corn makes me smile.

And soup is probably my favourite thing in the world to eat. Especially from September to May when I make a batch of soup on a weekly basis.

I love soup.

So I definitely didn’t object when Matt requested this soup while we were planning our dinners for the week. I made it right away on Sunday. . . I didn’t even wait for the week to start.

This recipe is similar to the Peanut Butter and Curried Squash Soup that I have made in the past but has a bit more of a mellow taste and a lighter texture (compared to the heavy curried flavour and thick creaminess of the curried pb soup). It’s simple, but it’s delicious.

I like the nutty peanut butter flavour mixed with the spicy cayenne and the sweet caramel corn.

All the flavours just seem to sing together. (I know, that line super cheesy but in my head I just picture an animated peanut, hot pepper, and caramel corn kernel holding song books and singing together. Like at the philharmonic or something . . . And they’re being directed by a coconut maestro . . .Okay this is getting out of hand)

cracker jack soup

Cracker Jack Soup

This recipe was adapted from the Bob Blumer book that I bought at Borders. It’s good even without the cracker jacks (or crunch ‘n munch, as I used here) but the addition of the sweet crunchy popcorn just gives it a little extra pop of flavour.

makes 8 cups (or so)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup all natural peanut butter
Salt
Cayenne pepper
Cracker Jacks or Crunch ‘n Munch, for garnish

Directions

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and sweet potato. Cook for 15 minutes until all the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.

Turn up the heat and add in the stock, coconut milk and peanut butter. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or puree in a standard blender, but allow it too cool slightly before doing so).

Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve topped with cracker jacks or crunch ‘n munch or whatever caramel corn you fancy.

cracker jack soup

18 Sep

Things I discovered this weekend.

Food

Wasabi Arugula. It’s amazing. It’s all the spicy, nasal-clearing properties of wasabi in a leafy green! It’s SO good that I might even pay regular price for it next time.

It makes delicious salads with a bit of salt and my favourite sweet and syrupy balsamic vinegar.

wasabi arugulawasabi arugulabalsamic vinegar bottle

Norwegian brown cheese is making a comeback. Matt found it a while back at the cheese shop at Market Square in Windsor.

This brunost is not as good as gudbrandsdalsost, but yet its supply is still slowly dwindling. It’s really good with German-style seed bread.

gudbrandsdalsost

Pupusas. Matt and I made the most delicious pupusas stuffed with black bean, cheese, and plantain for dinner on Saturday night.

I’ve never had pupusas before. They’re basically a stuffed and pan-fried corn tortilla. I can just think of all the delicious possible fillings that you could put inside! I’ll be making these again.

pupusapupusa

I also made cracker jack soup (I’m not kidding- see the photo for proof), a chocolate cake, and the most delicious chocolate ice cream ever. So it wasn’t exactly the healthiest of weekends.

cracker jack soup

Fitness

I finally bought a new pair of running shoes (Adidas Marathon 10s) with a super soft and comfortable upper, and a thin light sole. . .
Then I returned them after a brief run with them on the treadmill. They felt a bit too wide for my foot and I didn’t think there was enough cushion in the forefoot.

Too bad, because they were really cute, and my current running shoes are 2 years old. I’m not joking.

adidas marathon 10

I ran my first double digit miler since June – 10 miles in just under 2 hours. I wasn’t planning on running that far this weekend but I met up with my old high school friend Santina and Ken, a member of her running group, and they had a very long run planned.

I learned a few things on my group run:

1) It’s nice to run with other people
2) I need a fuel belt
3) I hate calculating distance in kilometres. It’s a psychological thing—I think kilometres are shorter than they really are.

16K splits

Splits courtesy of Santina who actually owns a Garmin (!). . . and a fuel belt. . . and new running shoes.

Department of Random

I can’t get this song out of my head.

when I say ‘Oo’, you say ‘long’. . .

…and I keep watching chap-hop youtube videos.

15 Sep

Raw Vegan Key Lime Pie

I bought a whole bunch of cashews on a Bulk Barn shopping spree a few weeks ago so that I could make a raw dessert. I see cashews used often in raw and vegan desserts because they have a neutral taste and a creamy texture so they can be used to mimic cream.

Cashews as a substitute for cream are not a calorie saver, but if you’re concerned about eating animal products or if you’re tryng to eat more raw foods then they’re a good option.

I completely forgot about my cashews until last night when I was looking for something to top a Chinese stir fry that I had made for dinner and remembered cashews (because aren’t cashews just the best part of stir fry?)

So I decided to whip up a raw pie right after dinner so I wouldn’t forget . . . but then the hydro went out.

I was unimpressed, primarily because there was no entertaining thunderstorm to accompany the power outage. That would have at least made the it all a bit more bearable.

Eventually, the power did come back on and I ended up pulling out the food processor and whipping up this bad boy at 11pm (which is basically my peak baking time anyhow, so no harm done).

It’s actually quite good. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from a raw dessert but this one is pretty tasty. Of course it doesn’t taste exactly like key lime pie, but you can taste the key lime pie influence on this dish. I definitely ate more of it than I should have– a very good sign.

The crust is sweet and a bit chewy and the filling is creamy and tart.

It was even Matt approved! I can tell that he wants me to make it again because his reaction was:
“Let me guess, you didn’t write down the recipe” (because this literally happens all the time)

But this time, I did.

Raw Vegan Key Lime Pie

makes one deep 5″ pie (which I made in a brie baker)

Ingredients

Crust

1 c. oats
1/2 c. dates
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp date molasses (This is my liquid sweetener of choice, you could also use agave or brown rice syrup)

Filling

1 c. raw cashews
1/4 c. raw almonds
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. date molasses (or agave or brown rice syrup)
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1/4 lemon
water as needed (~3 Tbsp)
coconut flakes (optional, for topping)

Directions

Process the oats in a food processor until they become a coarse flour.

Add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together. It will be crumbly but you should be able to form it into balls with your hands.

Press the crust into a greased 5″ round baking dish (I used a brie baker for this).

Next, process the cashews and almonds into a flour.

Add the coconut oil, vanilla, date molasses, and citrus juices to the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Add water as needed to get the mixture to a consistency of peanut butter.

Spread the filling onto the crust and top with shredded coconut if desired. Refrigerate overnight to allow the pie to set before cutting into it.

(The pie will hold its shape very well. I was able to remove it easily from the brie baker once it had set.)