Present and Accounted For

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I made some rough draft New You Solutions. I thought that if I reframed the way that I thought and lived, that I would see a positive change. Unfortunately, life got in the way, as usual. I wanted to make a whole list of things I wanted to accomplish, but to be honest, I’m not in the right mindset yet. It’s a struggle for me to find an hour or two to frequent the gym a few times a week, let alone try to go rock climbing or make tiramisu from scratch (two things I’d eventually like to do).  I have been actively trying to stay on top of my exercise routine and eat what makes me feel good, but something still felt a little off. Enter: the moleskine wellness journal.

photo cred: mojolondon.co.uk

My birthday was last week, and this was one of the fantastic gifts that Marissa gave me. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. The journal is divided into sections: Personal Goals, Execise Log, Diet, General Health, Games/Sports, and Inspirations. There are another 6 sections with blank labels, so that you can create your own! I know the importance of writing things down so that they’re concrete, but now that I have something a little more “professional,” I find that keeping track of what I do is much easier. Another important aspect of writing down your goals/activities/diet etc is that it makes you accountable. For example, I got home from my internship on Monday night and began snacking away on some dark chocolate. I wrote it down in my journal and saw that I had quite a bit of sweets that day. The next day, I labeled my diet “Low Sugar Day” in an attempt to cut back on the refined sugars. Did I feel guilty that I ate sugar and chocolate the day before? Not really- it was delicious. Did I learn from my journaling and make changes accordingly? Absolutely. So expect some weekly updates about the goals that I’ve set for the week, and how I’m progressing!

What are some ways that you stay on track?

–Ariel

Ginger Kid

For the first time ever, I called in sick to my internship. I have been feeling pretty crappy for the past two days, but I was convinced that I would get better. Before I actually called it, I’m pretty sure I went through the 5 Stages of Grief. I denied up and down that I was sick. I even got out of bed this morning and went to the gym, only to feel exhausted and gross 5 minutes into my run. Then I got angry. I wanted to blame everyone with a sniffle for getting their tainted germs on me. I tried bargaining. “Maybe I’ll only go in to the hospital for a few hours and then ask my supervisor if I can leave early. Or maybe I can pump myself with DayQuil and come in late.” Depression came next- you know the whole “woe is me, I don’t feel well” whining. Lastly, I accepted that I have a nasty cold. And with acceptance, comes smoothies.

photo cred: the abundant life online


Last night, Mike was nice enough to drive my whiny butt to Trader Joe’s so that I could get some uncrystallized ginger. Whenever I was sick growing up, my mom would make me tea using freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, and honey. I wanted to try making the tea with uncrystallized ginger, but according to a Trader Joe’s employee, there is a ginger “shortage” and they aren’t sure when they’ll have it in stock. Crankyness ensued. I became frustrated with all chain stores, and decided that going to the tiny Oriental Grocery was our only option. While they were out of crystallized ginger, they sold fresh ginger for much less than the supermarket, so I grabbed about a pound. While I was waiting on line, a petite Chinese woman started chatting me up about all the ways I could use ginger. She told me that she usually makes tea with ginger and brown sugar as soon as she comes inside from the cold. She also said that she likes to add vinegar to help with digestion. As soon as I got home, I peeled and grated a small knob of ginger into a mug, added the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of honey, and a little bit of cider vinegar. I then filled the mug with boiling water and muddled the ingredients a little.

After I made about 3 large cups of this concoction, I looked at the leftover ginger in the bottom of my mug. I didn’t want to just throw it away, but what could I use it for? Mike and I had already eaten dinner, so a marinade was out. Then it hit me. I’m going to use it in a smoothie.

Feel Better Smoothie – a Positive Regard Original
1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger (you can use less to suit your taste)
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
2/3 cup orange juice
6 frozen strawberries (that’s all I had left)
1/3 cup water
1 T cider vinegar
1 handful spinach
1 glug maple syrup or honey
Throw everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth! Or you can follow Alton Brown’s tips on smoothie making
When I first tasted this, I didn’t think it tasted like anything, so I asked Mike to taste it. One sip and his face perked up. I then realized that I had to blow my nose in order to taste anything.  This smoothie packs a lot of punch, especially from the ginger. Mike said that it really woke him up and gave him energy, and I certainly agree. I can see making this again as a great jump start to the day.
What are some of your home remedies?
–Ariel

Stir Fryday

Happy Friday, everyone! Is anyone else sick of the snow? Another day shoveling, slipping and sliding outside, plus work and dragging myself to the gym left me craving a massive meal. I had a craving for stir fry with a spicy sauce, and luckily had all the ingredients.

Marissa introduced me to Daily Garnish and told me to check out the post on peanut flour. If you haven’t already, read Emily’s post on peanut flours. I too am a nut butter lover and I think that this is a great alternative. Peanut flour has significantly less fat and calories per serving than peanut butter, while still containing a lot of protein.  Mike was nice enough to pick some up for me when he ventured out to Trader Joe’s the other day, and I must say, I am a big fan. I don’t count calories on a regular basis, but I am conscious of what and how much I put in my body. My running has decreased slightly due to my crazy schedule and because of the mass amounts of icy grossness outside. Using peanut flour allows me to get the satisfying taste of peanut butter with the benefits of protein, without the high calories. Win!

 

To make the sauce, measure out 2 tablespoons of peanut flour (or use 2 T of peanut butter). To hydrate the peanut flour, I added a few sprinkles of salt and 2 T of water

Ta-da! To the peanut butter, add 1 1/2 T soy sauce, 1 T warm water, a few drops of sriracha, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 T rice vinegar

 

oh! And 1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

Use the good stuff- it really makes a difference

 

Stir all the ingredients until combined.

I was worried that the sauce might not turn out as well as it might with peanut butter, but this out perfectly!

 

For the main meal, I chose the lazy microwave route. First I made some brown rice (1 part brown rice:3 parts water, microwave for 30 minutes), then chopped up kale, carrots, brussel sprouts, and peppers. For protein, I threw on a little tofu and a handful of edamame. Into the microwave for 6 minutes, and we’re good to go


 

Top with scallions if you like, and drizzle the peanut sauce on top.

 

This was very filling, fast, and delicious.

 

Peanut Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 T peanut flour or peanut butter

1 1/2 T soy sauce

1 T warm water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 t garlic powder

1 T rice vinegar

1 t maple syrup

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or sriracha

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until incorporated. Drizzle over your favorite stir fry, chicken, or anything else you want to make more delicious!

 

Have you revamped any of your favorite recipes lately? We’d love to hear your new recipes!

 

–Ariel

Make Like An Onion!

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “make like a banana and split!” Today, I made up my own saying that I’m sure will catch like wildfire as well. “Make like an onion and layer.” Anyone that’s seen Shrek will remember the scene in which Shrek explains to Donkey that ogres, like onions, have layers. Then, of course, Donkey says that instead of an onion, the analogy should be with parfait instead because “everybody loves parfait!” So if you don’t like onions, “make like a parfait and layer.” Maybe it needs some work…Its lack of a punchline might not make you chuckle, but it will serve as a reminder of how you can enjoy the outdoor sports that go hand in hand with the winter weather.

I’m finally home on a two week winter break! I have plans to cook, bake, clean, read, knit, reunite with friends, and SLEEP. I also want to exercise in order to maintain the strength and stamina I’ve worked to achieve. At school, it was easy- the gym is a 10 minute walk from my apartment, so I was able to set aside an hour and a half 3-4 times per week to get some running in. Given that I’m only home for a short period of time, I want to try to branch out from my gym routine to enjoy the colder weather. I know that enjoying the cold weather may seem like an oxymoron, but as long as you have the right “tools,” being outside can be refreshing and invigorating.

I will admit that at first, I was hesitant to run outside. It’s cold, windy, and grey, and completely outside of my comfort zone. Then I realized, that this was the perfect excuse for me to venture outside. Instead of New Year Resolutions, I’ve decided to set some New You Solutions for myself (more on that later!). One of my solutions is to try some activities outside of my comfort zone. So I layered up, grabbed my iPod and I was out the door. Running in the colder weather is just like anything else- the hardest part is getting started. I stood at the top of my driveway for about 30 seconds, and then I was off, and didn’t look back. Believe it or not, I took off my mittens about 15 minutes into the run.

Having proper tools is important, as is their quality.  I wear wool socks because they are comfortable and will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. I also wear 2 pairs of pants- a pair of spandex leggings underneath, and a pair of long underwear from EMS. On top, a short-sleeved wicking shirt from TJ Maxx, a long-sleeved thermal from The North Face Outlet, and a fleece vest.

Again, wool is your best friend for outdoor activities. A headband and gloves are vital when temperatures are low. Even though I know I’ll probably end up taking my gloves off, I never leave home without them. This is one of those “more is more” cases.

If putting on all the layers doesn’t get me amped up to run, I think about how great I’m going to feel at the end. If THAT doesn’t help, upbeat music is always the answer.

 

Does your exercise regime change during the winter months? What do you do to motivate yourself? Email us at apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

–Ariel

No Business Like Snow Business

I must say that out of all the seasons, winter is not my favorite (even though it is my birthday season). I don’t really mind the cold, but the harsh wind and potential dangerous driving conditions are what gets me. That, and the fact that the 12+ inches of snow we got last night is inhibiting my ability to go out for a run. In the kitchen, I use the “use what you have” mentality, and I think the same applies for the winter weather. So while I may not be able to get my usual exercise by running, I have alternative methods.

That’s right, snowshoeing. My parents have had snowshoes for as long as I can remember, and although I don’t look forward to the snow, when it comes, I always look forward to snowshoeing. Yes, you can go walking or hiking in the snow without snowshoes, just make sure that you wear gaiters and boots with a good tread. The great thing about snowshoeing is that if you can walk, you can snowshoe. They even make shorter snowshoes that are meant for running. My family likes to race.

Shoveling is another great way to get a little exercise in. It may seem like a chore, but if you have some company, or some great music on your iPod, it will go by quickly. Make sure that you lift with your legs, not your back, and you’ll feel the burn in your arms and legs. Another great arm workout? Baking. Put away the stand or hand mixer for the day and use some of your muscle power to whip up a recipe or two. My arms got a great workout mixing up Alice Medrich’s chocolate chip biscotti recipe. If you haven’t already, borrow her new book “Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies” from your local library, or go out and buy it. There are some really stellar recipes in there. After a day of snowshoeing or hiking in the cold, there is nothing more satisfying than a big cup of chai or coffee. I thought that biscotti would make for a perfect afternoon snack.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Combine 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl and whisk together.

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar, 1/4 plus 2 T packed brown sugar,  and 1 tsp vanilla extract until well combined

Like so!

Add in the flour mixture, and then add 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nut you like. Don’t like nuts? Add more chocolate! Don’t like chocolate! Try some dried fruit!). I found that the easiest way to incorporate the flour mixture and the nuts and chocolate was to use your hands. They are your best tools!

The dough will be very thick. Scrape the dough onto a greased baking sheet into 2 skinny strips 16-17 inches long and at least 3 inches apart.

Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Let the biscotti cool for 15 minutes, leaving the oven on

Transfer the loaves to a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to slice the loaves into 1/2-inches slices. Stand the cookies up on the baking sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!

How do all of you deal with the inclement weather?  We’d love to hear from you at apostiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

 

–Ariel

A Partridge in a Pear (Cider Sorbet) Tree

I spent this weekend cursing up a storm working on my last paper of the semester. Let’s just say that I saved the worst for last. The paper was daunting and tedious, and the only way that I was going to get it done was by telling myself that I would get a reward at the end. That reward was sorbet.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had cider sorbet on the mind. I found a recipe on The Kitchn and was going to follow it exactly, until Mike snagged some of this pear cinnamon cider from Trader Joe’s.

As I said I would last time, I decreased the sugar in this recipe from 2/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Add 1 1/2 cups of cider to the sugar, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. I just popped the thing in the microwave for 10 minutes.

Then whisk in another 3/4 cup cider and 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened applesauce

2 T of our old friend tequila

2 T triple sec. I’m starting to think these two are the new power couple

Stir together until ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate overnight. I know, this is the hardest part. If I hadn’t heated the cider and the sugar I probably wouldn’t have refrigerated it.

I waited about 24 hours, but that’s just because that’s how long it took me to write this stupid paper.

Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze for 20-25 minutes

Warning: you will have an intense urge to dip your spoon into the machine 15 minutes in. This is common, and is best remedied by succumbing to said urge.

After 25 minutes, the sorbet should be nice and thick and ready for eating.

Oh man.

This was phenomenal.  I know that I said the mango sorbet was great, and it was, but if I could only eat one sorbet for a year, it would be this. Mike said that there were 3 layers of flavor. At first, you get a taste of the applesauce, then the pear and cinnamon, and lastly, an aftertaste of tequila. Seriously unbelievable. I didn’t add any spices because the cider was spiced, but this would be great with some nutmeg, ginger, and maybe cloves.

 

Pear Cinnamon Cider Sorbet

Adapted from The Kitchn

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup pear cinnamon cider

1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup pear cinnamon cider

2 T tequila

2 T triple sec

Stir together cider and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat , stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Whisk in applesauce, cider, tequila, and triple sec. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Freeze as directed in the instructions for your particular ice cream maker.

 

Make this sorbet. Right now. What are you waiting for?

–Ariel

Midweek Ramblings

Pro and con time:

PRO: I finally get to write up everything that I’ve been wanting to over the past few days!

CON: I had to take a half day from work because I’m a coughing sneezing mucus-y mess. Did I mention that my voice is so nasal I sound like The Nanny?

Onto the ramblings! Marissa came to visit me this weekend and there was much galavanting around! We had every intention of going thrifting on Saturday, but the majority of the reviews we read online said that the stores smelled like mildew and cats. Since mildew and cats aren’t some of our favorite scents, we opted to go to the outlets instead.

After walking around the outlets for hoouuursss, Marissa suggested that we travel along in search of good farm stands. It was a beautiful day so it was fitting to find some delicious fresh produce.

I believe we stopped at 3 farm stands, and all of them were great. Just check out the butternut squash Marissa is holding! There was a plethora of squash and zucchini of all varieties, enormous heads of cauliflower and broccoli, and apples for miles. I ended up bringing home a few of my favorite apples, winesapps, and they were a pound each!

And check out those turnips! I kind of wanted to get some but I’ve never cooked turnips before. I don’t think I can even remember the last time I ate one. I think some recipe research is necessary before I splurge.

One of the farm stands also had peacocks. I don’t think I’ve written about my immense love for peacocks, but believe me when I say that I LOVE them.

Lots of walking and not a lot of eating left us famished. We made a quick stop at Whole Foods to pick up a schmorgasboard of food and to look for ingredients to make dessert. You see, when Marissa first got to my apartment on Friday night, she put the bowl to her ice cream maker in the freezer.

I found a recipe for chocolate sorbet here, but we of course made it our own. We used 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate with chili, omitted the vanilla extract, and added about 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon.

The process of chocolate sorbet isn’t wildly photogenic. Oh, and we’re easily amused

Oh, you want to see the sorbet anyway? Well okay, if you insist.

Photogenic? No. Delicious? You better believe it. Words cannot describe how good the sorbet turned out. It tasted like a dark, rich brownie batter. The spice from the cinnamon and chili wasn’t apparent at first, but after you let the sorbet melt on your tongue, you were left with a tingling of heat. We didn’t eat the sorbet by itself either.

We paired it with my newest obsession. The people at Edy’s are bringing their A game with this flavor. Not only does it have fewer calories and fat than regular ice cream, the flavor is beyond good (I know I sound like a spokesperson, but I am in no way affiliated with Edy’s- I just eat copious amounts of their ice cream).

The dense chocolate and the mellow pumpkin paired perfectly together. I imagine that any variety of infused chocolate would work well in the sorbet recipe, or you could substitute in any flavor extract that tickles your fancy. If you wanted to make it completely fat free, you could also experiment with just using cocoa powder, although I would recommend a high quality powder.

Ok lovelies, I am off to use the best invention ever, the neti pot. As always, we would love to hear your imput and feedback!

apositiveregard (at) gmail (dot) com

–Ariel

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