Friday, December 31, 2010

Sing us a song you're the piano man...

One more day in 2010. WTF? I thought by 2011 we were supposed to be using flying cars, wearing space suits, and ordering around our robots named Rosie? Or maybe I just watched too much of The Jetsons when I was little. Either way it's still crazy that it's almost 2011.

My family had a Christmas/New Years party tonight because my brother came after Christmas, and is is going home tomorrow. Can I just warn you now, this post has NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING HEALTHY. In fact...It's quite the opposite, but I feel like this is just too good not to share.

My family likes our parties. Last year we had an Ugly Sweater Party, which was a huge success.
Cute huh? This year we decided to mix it up a bit. My dad has been telling me for a while that he wanted to buy all the little kiddie-o's harmonica's and teach them how to play the Billy Joel song, Piano Man. I don't really know why, but what isn't great about little kids performing? So, I went with it. Little did I know my dad actually purchased harmonica's for all of us and wanted us all to participate. What isn't cute about adults performing...a lot of things. You think I am kidding...I'm not. I have proof.
That's my guy. We weren't going to back down to the challenge, and nobody can say no to Papa Les, so, the Piano Man it was. Where this idea came from, I really don't know. Did I think at age 26 I'd be performing on a harmonica Von Trap family style? I did not.
 Nonetheless, there we are in all of our glory.
Next, came the doughnut on a string competition. (I told you this wasn't healthy. It gets worse.) I was glad to photograph. I'm not much of a doughnut gal. Although what do they bake them with?? The smell alone makes you want to run full force to the bakery and eat at least a dozen. Mean I tell you. Very mean.

 The competition was followed by a hot chocolate bar...
 Thank you for the sugar free hot chocolate for me mama's about the only healthy item in this post. We topped the hot chocolate with whipped cream, marshmallows, candy cane tidbits, and crushed graham crackers. It still gets worse...
We followed that up by roasting some marshmallows. These weren't your run of the mill s'mores. No sir. We like to mix it up...Reeses, cookies and cream bars, and milk chocolate; with strawberry, caramel, and regular marshmallows. Try it. (Except don't tell anyone I told you to.) I did however tell you that it got worse. You were warned.
 I made my nephew a PB cup s'more with a caramel marshmallow. It looked tasty if I do say so myself.
We then sent the babes to bed and spent the next hour and a half playing a game called Word On The Street. It is an amazingly fun game. We are all so competitive that we all just want to keep playing so nobody ends on the losing note. The whole night was so much fun. I feel like I need to go run like 50 miles.
That was definitely the least healthy post in Muncher Cruncher History, but you know what? I firmly believe that healthy relationships you have, and laughter is one of the biggest parts of having a healthy lifestyle. If you don't have the people you love, why does it matter if you can run for 5 hours at an insane speed, or look smokin' in a swimsuit. It doesn't. People are what matter. We should aim to be healthy for the people that we have in our lives.

Did you not believe me about this whole post? That an entire family would actually subject themselves to this type of public humiliation. Here's proof. Embarrassing, ear shattering, proof.
Told you...Oh, how I love my family. They are the best.
Do you do ridiculous things with your family, or is that just me? I hope you do because it's the best part of life. How do you feel about the smore's combo's? Do you know how to play the harmonica? I sure don't. As was made clear in the video...but does anyone really know how to play the harmonica? I mean come on...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

You wanna know who is awesome?

My sister Nichole. She lives here in AZ about a street away from my mom. One of the reasons I love to come and visit my M&D here so much is because it's a package deal. I get to hang out with my sister and her fam the whole time too. Love it. My sis has always been such a great example to me of living a well balanced life. She is an incredible mom/sister/aunt/daughter/niece/catsitter...she takes care of everyone basically. She is smart, spiritual, funny, and gorgeous. She has always lived an active, healthy lifestyle, and she teaches the importance of being healthy to her kids. Yep...if you knew her you'd probably want to hate her cause she's just so great, but it's impossible...because on top of all that she's one of the most genuinely nice people I know. 
This morning she made these whole wheat pancakes for all the kiddies running around here.
Nichole's Wheat Pancakes
(makes 16 pancakes)
1 cup skim milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp oil
2 eggs (or 1 egg/2 egg whites)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp agave

Mix all of these ingredients together in the blender and cook on a hot griddle or pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Nichole said she doubles this recipe and saves half of it in the fridge in a closed container for another quick easy breakfast later in the week. She also makes them with buttermilk sometimes.
 And of course, the stats (for one pancake)...what a great breakfast option. These pancakes are filling, and SUPER healthy. Top them with fruit, light syrup, honey, or peanut butter...yum. If your kids need a quick breakfast while they are running out the door, use two pancakes to make a PB&J.
Another reason my sister is the greatest...she lets me work out in her home gym whenever I come here. One day I will have a scchhhweeet set up like she does. One day.
 She has an elliptical, treadmill, smith machine, free weights, and a bench. Perfection.
She also has all sorts of shows on Tivo to keep me plenty entertained. This morning I opted for a little ABC Family featuring America's favorite cheese festival. Does everyone remember the Tanner's? Oh how I love Full House. If you think I am kidding about watching this while I worked out, I most definitely am not. I'm still a kid at heart. What can I say?
How about that flash huh? Yikes. The blackberry can't be controlled sometimes. Nichole also gave me those new shorts for Christmas...Thanks Nicky!! (Looks like someone's legs are ready for some summer sunshine.)

In a perfect world we would all have our own personal home gyms attached to our houses, right? BUT, in the mean time working out at home is COMPLETELY doable even if you don't. Get yourself a jump rope, some workout DVD's, a set of free weights, a medicine ball, a bike-trainer, a Garmin, a TRX trainer, or even just a pair of running shoes..etc. etc. etc. Not having access to a gym shouldn't be your excuse for not working out. The options are ENDLESS!! Click HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE for some workouts you can do at home that will burn a TON of calories! 

So, Do you workout at home? Does the thought of the gym or running on a treadmill make you want to gag, or do you have to workout at a gym? I like a good mixture. I LOVE running outside, but I actually enjoy going to the gym to workout. Is that weird? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Have it your way.

You probably think all my family does is eat. At least that is what all of my past posts have been about. Well, you are right. JK, I promise we do other things in between all the eating. What can I say? We like our food. Last night we decided to make omelets for dinner. Similar to the pizzas, these are a great healthy meal option that you can tailor to each persons taste buds. 
Toppings Included: 
 with some mushrooms, cilantro and cheese as well. 
My omelet turned into more of a scramble of sorts, but it was surely delicious. I wanted to nix some of the saturated fat so I did one whole egg and three egg whites. I threw in some Lowry's season salt, and a bit of fresh ground pepper. Yum. Add a side of whole wheat toast and you're happy as can be.
You know how I like my nutritional information.
The stats for my omelet... 142 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5.5 grams of carbohydrates, 1.7 grams of fiber, and 17.2 grams of protein. Hey yo! Using egg whites instead of whole eggs is a great way to increase your protein without increasing your saturated fat. One egg white only has 17 calories and 4 grams of protein. WORTH IT.

Now, I have a question for you...Are you guys Yoga people? My brother who is here with me visiting the fam is a total Yoga-er Yogi? Yogurt? Clearly I am not you can tell. I have always had the philosophy of; "If I am going to take an hour or an hour and a half to exercise I want to burn some calories. I want to sweat. I want to leave feeling ten pounds lighter, not more limber." Yoga is great for some people...but not for me.
Well this morning my darling brother, he really is, told me he wanted to try out a studio yoga class here in AZ and he was taking me with him. The end. He even paid for me. I told you, darling.
We were some of the first people there, as you can tell. It actually ended up being a pretty packed class. I wanted to sneak a photo to document this event, cause I didn't know if I was ever going to go back. The class was a level two flow yoga class. I danced all growing up, and in some of my ballet training and stretching we would do some yoga from time to time, so I have a miniature grasp on what yoga is all about, but I told my brother he was free to pretend like he didn't know me when I looked like a complete fool.
The verdict?
I actually really liked it! It felt really good to do something different. I still have no idea what was going on with the chanting and all of the talk about my heart center, but I kept up just fine. I'm really good at faking stuff like that...ommmmmmm....see? It was really relaxing and it felt good.

Now for my question. Do you do yoga? How do you fit it in? I feel like in order for me to add yoga into my workout regime it would require just adding more exercise into my routine, which is fine, but I know that time isn't always going to be available. Give me your feedback on this one...I really am curious!
p.s. Thank you bro. Lub you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Answers for you, because I just love you like that.

I love the questions. I say it, and I mean it. So, keep them coming.

Melissadishes asked for the recipe for my family's Baked Cornbread Stuffing Recipe from our Thanksgiving Menu

Baked Cornbread Stuffing
3 Jiffy cornbread mixes prepared (To lighten up the mix make it with skim milk and egg whites)
mix all three of these according to directions together and cook in a 9x13 pan

In a food processor combine: 
2 cups finely chopped celery
1/2 cup onion chopped (food processor) together

In a large bowl combine celery and onion mixture with 
1 cup melted butter (The original recipe called for 2 cups. GROSS. We cut it down to 1 cup of butter, but I think you could use 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup natural applesauce because the recipe has some sweetness to it.)
1 cup chicken broth (save the rest of the can in case you need some more liquid)
1 cup sugar free apricot jam
Add in crumbled corn bread, and toss lightly. If needed add more chicken broth you want it to be moist.
Spray two loaf pans. Cover them with foil and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes. This recipe feeds a LOT. It's super delicious!!

Holly asked about the applecore I got for Christmas.

Here are some closeup photos...
 The Applecore is a product that my dad found for me to keep my headphone cords manageable. I ran with it today and the jury is still out on my decision. Because of the jacket I was wearing I tucked it into part of my jacket, and I don't feel like I had the full effect. I need to give it some more test runs to decide...I'll let you know. 
I can tell your right now that these Skull Candy headphones from Target are my favorite things EVER. I like my music loud. (I know I'll be deaf in like 5 years...but it pumps me up!)

I also got an email about the way I lace my running shoes... Sorry for the repeat on the kankle-brace photo, but you asked for it...
The wonderful man at the running store that I get my shoes from laced them like this for me for the following reasons...
- By taking the tie pressure back to the ankle there it allows for more room in the toe box, which to me is more comfortable.
- Stops your toes from sliding forward. This is key for distance running. I've never had a problem with black toenails. I'm sorry if you have...yikes.
- More ankle support, which is real good for me right now.
- It looks really cool.

I don't know if it makes an HUGE amount of difference, but I've always tied mine like this, and I like it! Do you tie your shoes any special way, or am I just weird? Don't answer that if it's the latter. ;)

Meg asked how I get the words/descriptions on my photos. I use Photoshop! If you want more info on that email me and I can give you more of a step by step tutorial!!  

Hopefully that answers some of your questions! I love them, so keep them coming!I hope you're having an AWESOME week!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Dance. Seriously. And my exercise tip of the day.

Mondays are a lot easier when you know you get to sleep in, wake up to your favorite bowl of oatmeal, and head off to the gym with your mom. I'll take that as my regular Monday routine any day.  I knew time was going to be limited, and I wanted to get in my maximum calorie burn, so today's workout went a little something like this.

50 minute intervals on the Stairmill
10 minute intervals on the elliptical (I got reaaallly bored on the stairs. AKA nobody was doing anything very exciting around me making the people watching sub-par.)

30 minute full body multi-tasking weights routine
- 15 Squats with a shoulder press
- 24 Alternating reverse lunge with a rear DB row
- 15 Squats with a bicep curl
- 12 Single Leg squats down to a push up and back to single leg stand

I alternated through all of these twice. I normally like to lift weights 4 days per week, splitting up muscle groups. Back and biceps, legs and shoulders, chest and triceps, and legs and core. I do legs twice because they are my favorite. However, when I know that I may not be able to follow my lifting schedule I do full body workouts as many times as I can get in that week. I make sure to do multi-tasking movements, like I mentioned above.
When you do exercises that involve two, or more, muscle groups at once you will save yourself time. The workout above works every muscle in your body. It's quick and efficient when you don't have the time to spend doing a full workout.

Don't skip the weights! My mom and I had this conversation yesterday... Often times when we get busy and we have the choice of doing some cardio or lifting weights we opt for the cardio because it's an instant high calorie burner. What most people don't realize is that when you lift weights you may not burn as many calories per hour as your cardio may burn while you're performing the exercises, but lifting weights gives you what is called an "afterburn." Your metabolism is revved from lifting weights and will continue to burn more calories per hour after your workout. With cardio you burn what you burn while you're working out, and when that heart rate comes down, you go back to your normal burn rate. You are also increasing the amount of calories your body burns per hour when you add more lean muscle to your body. So, don't skip out on the weights!

Also...have you ever played the game on the Wii called, Just Dance? It's the best thing that ever happened to me, and obese kids everywhere. You can't help but shake your groove nieces and I had a great time with that one today. We really couldn't stop playing. It made me think of what a great option these new active games are for kids who love their video games, but aren't active.
Don't worry that my niece is only 15 and is like 4 inches taller than me. I am short. She is a knockout.

For dinner tonight we had a lot of picky kids to please. What pleases picky kids? DIY pizza's. My mom and I searched all over for pre-made whole wheat dough, and couldn't find any, so we had to settle with dough from a local pizza place here. The kids went CRAZY over these. They got to roll out their own dough and choose whatever toppings they'd like.
 I went for a thin crust, with a basil tomato sauce, spinach, green peppers, red peppers, sliced tomatoes, olives, pineapple, and some shredded chicken. With a little bit of part-skim mozzarella on top. My brother told me mine looked like more of a salad than a pizza. It was gooood.
 We had so much fun making different creations. Some of the favorites were a bbq chicken pizza with fresh cillantro on top, a pesto pizza with fresh sliced tomatoes, and a stuffed crust meat lovers pizza. It was a great family activity, and the pizza's were pretty healthy if you watch your cheesy-ness.

I have had a bunch of questions from you on some of my recent posts that I am going to try and get to tomorrow! 

Are you still enjoying vacation, or are you back at it already? I hope you're still vacationing! I get the rest of the week and it makes me so happy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Healthy Christmas Dinner

On Christmas Eve we feasted. I am so grateful for a mom that is health conscious, and is down with trying to make things as healthy as possible. I wanted to show you that it is possible to have an awesome meal that is healthy, contains a lot of traditional favorites, and can please everyone. Our dinner looked a little something like this...

A tossed winter salad with romaine lettuce, diced pears, raspberries, slivered almonds, feta cheese, and a light champagne dressing.We always keep the dressing on the side. Doing so saves you from overdoing it, and it also makes the salad savable for leftovers.
Roasted Vegetable Bake with baby carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, yellow squash, and sliced red peppers. This was topped with a little drizzle of olive oil, some garlic, onion powder, salt pepper, and a little dusting of brown sugar.
This Cornbread Stuffing is reeaaally good. I don't really like normal stuffing, but this stuff is divine. It is a lot better for you than regular stuffing, and it tastes a whole heck of a lot better too. 
My sister Nichole always makes the Mashed Potatoes, and if you were wondering why they look so legit, it's because they are.  She whips them up with a hand mixer. I believe she adds a little skim milk, salt and pepper as well. YUM.
Gravy is usually a huge scary calorie filled addition to your meal, but it doesn't have to be. My dad is actually the gravy and the turkey connoisseur at our house. When he bakes the turkey he includes some carrots, parsnips, celery and onions around the base of the bird. After the turkey is done he removes the vegetables and purees them, and adds them into the gravy. It is SO good, and a great way to add nutritional value to your gravy.
My mom and I have the same conversation about these rolls every year. Is there any way to "health-ify" them without ruining the recipe? We could make them wheat, but then they are wheat rolls and we're in a whole different ballpark. We've just accepted the conclusion; there is nothing healthy about these rolls, but man are they tasty. These rolls are the reason my brother-in-law and nephews  even come to dinner, so taking them away from them would be like stealing candy from a baby. It's just not right, so we leave them be. We force them to eat every other healthy concoction we come up with, so we have to be flexible sometimes. The rolls were actually my job this year, and they are super fun to make...and they smell like heaven. If only they weren't made with crisco and glazed with butter.
I love baked sweet potatoes. Yum. We were actually running low on time so my I suggested we cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave before slicing them and baking them with the brown sugar. My mom was a little apprehensive, but they turned out SO good. With these we just add a little salt, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar to glaze them before we bake them. Skipping the mounds of butter and marshmallows saves you a LOT of calories, and actually allows you to taste the great flavor sweet potatoes have.
 Dad did an excellent job on the turkey, as you can tell. He bakes it in the oven. He takes off the skin before he carves it which saves a ton of calories. Baking your turkey vs. using a turkey fryer is a much healthier option.
And Voila! My plate looked a little something like this. I have no idea WHAT happened to the lighting here, but you get the gist. Dinner was excellent!
I also had a piece of a roll and I wasn't able to finish all those potatoes. My eyes are bigger than my stomach sometimes. My mom has been telling me that since I was little...Do you guys make volcanoes with your mashed potatoes, or is that just my family? Mashed potatoes and gravy used to be the only thing I would have touched on this plate, so I'd make my whole plate one big volcano. Good times.

Dessert was English Trifle. Sadly, I couldn't eat more than a few bites because I was so dang full, but it tasted even better than it looks. Hard to believe because it looks like art. Well done Elaine. Well done.

If you would like any of these recipes in detail I'd love to post them or email them to you. Since there was such a collaboration of food I just wanted to give you the main gist of what our Healthy Christmas Dinner looked like, but I'd be more than willing to share the specifics!! 

p.s. Are you in a sugar coma?
  I was so hopped up on sugar from yesterday that I barely slept last night. I'm glad to be back to my sugarless-self today.

I. Feel. Sick.

Ugh. Does your house look like this...
or this...
or this? 
Right now, Mine does, and that is not even the half of it. I told you that I don't usually eat sugar. I also told you that I decided previously that Christmas Eve and Christmas were going to be my, "free days." I had a list of my favorites that I wanted to eat while I was home.

The list included...
- chocolate covered cinnamon bears (check)
- peanut m&m's (check)
- caramel popcorn (check. check. check. check.)
- York peppermint patty (check)
- Danish Pancakes with homemade Magelby's Syrup (check)
- Red Vines (check)
- Stomach Ache? (check.)

Clearly, I don't discriminate. My mom saw me eating some caramel popcorn and she said, "It's good to know you can actually be a normal person sometimes." I felt weird, and very out of my element. Would you like to know why there are four "checks" by the caramel popcorn? Because my family had chewy caramel popcorn, baked caramel popcorn, white chocolate popcorn, and cinnamon caramel popcorn. I am not kidding. I had some of all of them. It appears it's one of my favorite food groups. Gross.

I feel like I have accomplished and relearned a few things in these past two days....
- I am so excited to NOT eat crap again starting tomorrow.
- I really like feeling like I am in control of my diet.
- I am an all or nothing person. Saying that I'll just have a bite, doesn't work for me. If it's something I really love I just want more, but if I don't even start I'm a lot better off. I think it is important to know how you react to your own habits.
- I love the feeling that exercising and eating healthy gives me. When I compare that to how I feel right now, it is not even a question as to which I'd pick.
- I was definitely reminded how extra candy, treats, and snacks can add up to extra pounds. Snacking can be SCARY if you are trying to lose weight. Eating a little here and little there is exactly why people don't realize where extra calories are coming from. Be aware of your food. This is why food journaling is so important.
- I definitely enjoyed eating my favorite foods. They were all really good, but not worth it to me looking back. I take it back, it was worth it for me to get eating them out of my system. It also gave me a great, "restart," so to speak. Here I am after eating them, and all it's done is leave me feeling gross. I'm excited to get back into a good routine.
- I think there is a LOT to be said about moderation. If you can manage to keep yourself in control with a little bit of a treat here and there to let you mentally feel OK about eating healthy, like you aren't being deprived, good for you. I wish I was that strong ;)

I'm ready to go back to healthy foods and my indulgence being frozen yogurt. How did you do over the holidays? Did you eat too much?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I love this day. Love. Love. LOVE.

Merry Christmas!! I hope you are having an absolutely amazing holiday. I know I am! It is so much fun to get to be with family and enjoy celebrating the birth of the Savior.
Christmas Eve around here was AWESOME.
The day started off with a run outside with my sister Nichole. It was my first run outside since I fell, and it's amazing how much more exciting it is to run outside than on a treadmill. It could run and talk to my sis all day. It was SO much fun. She is so awesome and motivating. I was so glad to get some exercise in because I knew I was going to be eating some junk. I dedicated Christmas eve and Christmas day as my "free days" to indulging in my sugary fantasies. (More on that later...)

Please excuse the kankle-brace. One day that sucker will be gone. One day.

My family planned on going to see True Grit in the afternoon. We LOVE going to movies. It's just what we do. In preparation, my dad and brother-in-law decided we'd better rent and watch the old one first, so we could adequately compare. It was so much fun. Movies have come a long way people. We got to the theater early so we could get the best seats...the ones where you get the whole railing to put your feet on. Love that.
be careful not to look directly at my shoes...they may blind you

Little did we know just how action packed the movie was going to be, and it wasn't even because of the actual movie. Some ADULTS behind us got in a full on brawl during the middle of the movie. All of the sudden we hear people start to yell and curse...(lots of F-bombs.) Seriously people? It's Christmas Eve. Where is the love? Very Classy.

After the movie we went to Carrabas for Christmas Eve dinner. Dinner was DELICIOUS. I am in love with their minestrone soup, and their bread is like manna. To die for. Little did we know we were in for some more action at dinner.
me with my darling mama cita at dinner
Our table was right by the women's bathroom door where a girl passed out, hit her head, and had to get stitches. We had the paramedics going crazy, employees running a muck, and lots of chaos. For a family that loves people watching it was very entertaining. We purposely stayed until the action was over. The evening was complete with me eating my weight in caramel popcorn, (please do NOT follow that example, again I'll talk more about the free day indulgences later) and watching The Holiday. Oh Merry Christmas, Jude're beautiful.

Christmas morning is SO much fun. So much anticipation. Santa did a great job with my stocking this are some of the healthy delights I received. A lifetime supply of almonds, gum, Clif Bars, shampoo & conditioner (for the one time a week I decide to wash my hair), some cooking utensils, and an apple corer. (The apple corer is the thing that looks like  mini dumbbell to the right of my Clif bars. It is the awesome thing my dad found that keeps your headphones from flying all over the place. Awesome find Daddy-o!)
 My family knows me well...some of my fun fitness-related presents. They are awesome! (Both the presents and my family.)
The family had our traditional, Danish Pancakes for breakfast...definitely NOT posting that recipe, but super delicious, and then I played Nerf Gun assassins with my niece and nephews. Awesome. I won. Thank you.
I also able to get a run in today. It was awesome. 75 degrees, and I got sun burned. Boo yeah.

I've been helping my mom cook for our Christmas dinner. Cooking with my mom in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do! I am most excited for her dessert. It's healthy, light, and one of the most tasty treats EVER. Tasty treat with hardly any guilt. I think so.

English Trifle
1 angel food cake
1 pkg raspberry Danish Dessert
1 pkg frozen raspberries
bananas, strawberries, or kiwis (some to layer and some to decorate the top)
1 pkg fat free/sugar free vanilla pudding mix
1 container fat free Cool Whip

Isn't it fancy?
Directions: Break 1/2 of the cake in the bottom of your container. We use glass because it's so pretty. Make the Danish Dessert as instructed on the package. Omit the water because the raspberries will contain some water. Cool danish mixture slightly, and add frozen raspberries to the Danish mixture and spread 1/2 of the mixture over the broken cake. Make the pudding according to the package directions. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the Danish mixture. Slice bananas, strawberries, or kiwis over top of pudding. Cover with 1/2 Cool whip. Make sure you leave enough to cover the top. Repeat the layers above. Decorate the top with sliced kiwi and strawberries.
Oh it is SO good. You'll love it. Promise