Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Now Roll It Out

West side roll it out
South side roll it out
East side roll it out
North side roll it out

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'm referring to this innocent looking cylinder:

That is my foam roller, and I'm in a dependent relationship with it.  And I think it's going to be long-term.  Let me start from the beginning.  A few weeks ago, I did the week 3 workout of the Fitnessista's Winter Shape Up program.  The thing is, I am NOT a runner.  I can do cardio classes back to back, walk for miles at a time, etc., but running and I do not get along.  This goes back to the first time we had to run "the Mile" in 5th grade - it was horrible and I just wanted to lie in the grass and sunbathe instead of run.

But the week 3 workout included a treadmill plan.  I could have done it on the elliptical or bike, but I wanted to give the treadmill a shot and challenge myself.  I definitely had to make modifications and take it at my own pace, but I felt awesome after completing the 30-minute routine.  Except for one little thing - a sharp pain on the outside of my lower left knee.

I had felt this pain before, at least since I was a teenager, but it was always fleeting and I didn't think much of it.  This time, though, the pain was much more intense and did not immediately go away. From reading other blogs and fitness articles, I had a feeling I knew what it was:  my IT band, which runs from the hip to the knee.  IT band injuries are common amongst runners, and while I would not consider myself a runner, I didn't think it was a coincidence that I felt the pain after running (and after being the most consistently active that I've ever been).  I did a little online self-diagnosing and found that my symptoms matched those of IT band injuries.

I really did not want to get a full-blown injury, so I elevated and iced my IT band (with a bag of frozen corn - classy!), ordered new tennis shoes (the ones I had been wearing were a couple of years old), and ordered the foam roller pictured above.  This video shows how to use a foam roller to release your IT band:

I had NO idea how painful this would be.  The first time I used the foam roller, I could barely put any weight on the outside of my thigh; my IT band was incredibly tight.  Tears came to my eyes as I was writhing in pain on the floor - lovely, right?  I've used it every day since, ideally before and after working out, and before bed, and I have noticed a huge difference.  Now I can put my full weight on my IT band on both thighs, and I only get a slight twinge of pain once in awhile.  Huge improvement.

This is another video that shows other ways to use the foam roller:

If you work out regularly, and especially if you run, I would highly recommend getting a foam roller - it allows you to release muscles in ways that cannot be achieved merely from stretching (but don't forget to stretch, too!).  Plus, using a foam roller is like an at-home massage!  Also, a lot of gyms have foam rollers if you want to try it out before getting one for yourself. 

On a sweeter note, I baked these lemon squares and brought them to school today for the Environmental Law Society's bake sale. 

This is not a healthy dessert in the slightest, but it sure is delicious.  As I was cutting them last night, the first square stuck to the pan and was difficult to get out - since it was falling apart and was not in any condition to be sold, I happily claimed it as my own and had it for a midnight snack while I was finishing up my school assignment.  I set two aside to take over to my neighbor (a cute old lady who lives across the hall from me and has been in the apartment building for 50 years!) and the rest will be sold for a contribution to the Ohio Environmental Council

After school I did the week 3 workout and am so glad that this time around I'm not having shooting pains like I did a few weeks ago.

Now it's time to shower, tackle my dish mountain, and get something to eat for dinner.  Have a great night!

When's the last time you had a bake sale?  Before I started law school, I heard it was a lot like high school, and that is so true - we have lockers, our class sizes are relatively small so you get to know each other pretty quickly (read: lots of gossip), we have bake sales...

Song of the day:

"Lonely Boy" by the Black Keys.  The Black Keys are from my hometown of Akron (!!!) and I love their gritty rock vibe.  And this is a pretty awesome music video, too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Want Fries With That Shake?

Yes please, and make them of the sweet potato variety.

Last night I had a burger and fries, healthified.  I heated up a veggie burger I made a couple of weeks ago and had frozen.  I followed this recipe and loved the result!  In the past I had always thought veggie burgers would be complicated to make myself, but they were very simple, and it was nice to be able to freeze some of the burgers to have on hand for quick dinners.  I just thawed the burger in the fridge during the day, sprayed a pan with olive oil from my misto, and heated it up for about 6 minute over medium heat, turning halfway through. 

For the sweet potato fries, I scrubbed the sweet potato with a stiff brush, then cut it up into fries.  Make sure to leave the skin on - it has good nutrients, plus tastes wonderful when it crisps up in the oven.  Then pour some olive oil and cinnamon on the fries and make sure they're evenly coated.  (I just use my hands to spread it all around.)  It's important to use enough olive oil to cover them, or else they will dry out in the oven; but don't use too much or they will be soggy.  Just enough to coat them.  (The amount will depend on the size of your sweet potato.)  And use lots of cinnamon :)  You could also experiment with other seasonings such as sea salt, chili powder, nutmeg... the possibilities are endless.  Pop them in the oven at 350* for about 35 - 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. 

I forgot to take a before picture, so this is after 20 minutes in the oven, before I flipped them. 

After 35 minutes, they're finished (and smell amazing).  You can also put them under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp them up a bit more, if you like.

I put the veggie burger on wheat sandwich thins and added some ketchup, sweet potato fries on the side. 

Close-up!  A very delicious and satisfying meal.  Not much color, but I considered my green monster smoothie my salad :)

A clear view of all the fun salad fixin's.
And for a real salad, I had this baby for lunch today.  It was absolutely packed full of goodies: spinach, broccoli, grape tomatoes, edamame, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts (divine!), a hard-boiled egg, roasted red pepper hummus, balsamic vinegar, sunflower seeds, and couscous.  Yummm.

Topped with multi-colored couscous.
This morning I went to the gym for cardio (elliptical and stairstepper), and when I turned to Live! with Kelly, there was a breaking news segment on instead of the show.  There was a very tragic school shooting this morning in Chardon, Ohio, which is about 40 minutes east of where I live.  The most recent reports say that 1 student was killed and 4 students were injured.  I just wanted to say that I'm thinking and praying for the students, their families, and friends.  I can't imagine having to go through something like that.

As Ellen says after all of her shows, "be kind to one another."  Simple words, but something that we can constantly improve upon.

Clearly a lot of my inspiration and knowledge comes from watching TV... on that note, 2 Broke Girls and Hart of Dixie make me glad it's Monday.  Time for some TV, and working on an assignment that's due tomorrow.  

Song of the day:

"Junebug" by Robert Francis.  I've seen him perform a couple of times with his band and really love his intensity and the emotion in his songs.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Toy

This morning I slept in a bit because last night I baby-sat 8, yes, as in 4 + 4 = 8, kids.  They ranged in age from 1 to 11, so it was a full house!  I didn't lose anyone (thanks to frequent head counts throughout the night) so I consider it a success.  My grandma was 1 of 8 kids, and I have NO idea how her parents managed.  Especially without DVDs and Pandora!  While the older kids were watching a DVD and the 1 year old was screaming his lungs out in protest of bedtime, I luckily thought to put on Pandora's lullaby station, which was actually pretty awesome.  I was expecting nursery rhymes and kids' songs, but it actually played artists like Jack Johnson, Fleetwood Mac, and the Mamas & the Papas, along with some classic Disney songs.  Plus it did the trick and put the baby to sleep!  Thanks, Pandora.

Since I took an unintentional rest day on Friday after sleeping through yoga, I went to the gym for cardio this morning instead of my usual Sunday yoga/ rest day.  I did the Fitnessista's "My biscuits are burning!" elliptical workout, the stairstepper, stationary bike, and stretched.  I still wanted to have a leisurely brunch like I've started doing on Sundays, so I had an apple with almond butter, a hard-boiled egg, and a seed and raisin ball before going to the gym with plans for brunch instead of lunch after I worked out.

So when I got my new boots and shorts the other day, I actually had 2 other packages waiting for me as well.  Yeah, definitely had a prolonged shopping spree.  Anyways, one of the boxes contained Sun Warrior protein powder.

I've never bought protein powder before, but after reading about it on a lot of blogs for awhile, and the Fitnessista raving about this particular kind, I decided to give it a try after it went on sale in the Fitnessista's Open Sky shop.  

Since I wanted to try out the Sun Warrior and make a brunch food, I decided to make the Fitnessista's Perfect Protein Pancakes.   I used some almond milk and some rice milk because I didn't have a full 1/4 cup of almond milk, and I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of gluten-free baking mix.  I also did not add any stevia or sweetener because the Sun Warrior already contains stevia and I figured it would be sweet enough with my toppings.

Unfortunately, I thought they were too dry.  I much preferred the "hot apple pie" pancakes I made last week.  I might play around with the protein pancake recipe and add some yogurt or applesauce to see if I could make them less dry.

I topped them with sunflower seed butter and banana which I heated up in a skillet with a little coconut oil.  Oh, and a hefty dusting of cinnamon, of course.  Even though they weren't my favorite, I cleaned my plate and they did fill me up for a long time. 

The other box I got contained a new toy:

A blender!  I love my food processor to death and use it almost every day, but I've been wishing I had a blender, too.  After I ordered the Sun Warrior, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a blender so that I could make smoothies with the protein powder (and smoothies sans protein powder, too).  

My first smoothie was a huge success!  I made a Classic Green Monster from Angela at Oh She Glows (amazing vegan blog).   I added 1 cup rice milk, 1 T chia seeds, 1 T natural peanut butter, 2 handfuls spinach, a frozen banana, and 2 ice cubes, which was the perfect amount to fill up my glass!

It was absolutely delicious and tasted like a peanut butter and banana smoothie.  Packed full of nutrients and delicious to boot - not too shabby!  I have a feeling my new toy will be getting lots of use.

Now I've got to do some reading for school and work on an assignment, plus watch the Amazing Race :)  Anyone else watching the Amazing Race, or is everyone opting for the Oscars instead?

Have a great night!

My view of the sunset tonight.  I love when I can see a couple of the tall buildings in downtown Cleveland.
Song of the day:

"Brand New Shoes" by She & Him.  She & Him is made up of Zooey Deschanel (does anyone watch "New Girl" on Fox?  SO funny!) and M. Ward.  This video is pretty adorable, too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grow Your Own 'Shrooms

For Christmas, I got my dad speakers for his iPhone.  Unfortunately, they didn't work with the 4GS, so I ordered him some new speakers.  Over a month later I still hadn't gotten them, and I ended up getting a refund.  Speakers were not in the cards, so I went in a different direction:

Grow your own 'shrooms!

Amaze your kids dads.  I can't wait to see how it works!  (Found this at Whole Foods.)

The shopping bug really did bite me last week because in addition to my mall finds and new earrings, I ordered a couple of things from Madewell.  I first discovered Madewell at Tyson's Corner in Virginia (my all-time favorite mall) while I was living in DC, and it was love at first site.  Madewell is owned by J. Crew and only has women's clothing.  I've visited stores in NYC and Columbus, too, but there aren't any close to my apartment in Cleveland Heights.

Luckily, both the shoes and shorts fit!  I've had my eye on those shoes for SUCH a long time now, and even had them in my online shopping cart a few times and then decided against getting them.  But this time they were on sale AND there was free shipping, and I couldn't resist any longer.  The shorts were on sale, too, and I really did need a new pair.  I love the cuffs and the dark wash.  Per usual, I already wore the boots and love them just as much as I thought I would.  If it weren't 40 degrees outside, I probably would have already worn the shorts, too!

I'm so bummed because this morning I overslept and missed the yoga class I was planning to take.  I absolutely love the teacher for the Friday Ashtanga yoga class at the gym where my parents belong and was really excited to take advantage of being in the area today, but alas, I turned off my alarm in my sleep and woke up 2 hours later than I wanted to. 

My activity consisted of walking around a craft show with my mom, grandma, and a family friend (then having lunch - not so active), and then trolling the mall with my friend who is in town from DC.  I only bought a fresh-squeezed juice (carrots, oranges, ginger) while I was there, though - I definitely didn't need anything after my prolonged shopping spree last week. 

I'm spending one more night with the family, then back to my place tomorrow.  Hope everyone's ready for the weekend!  Any fun plans?  Or any recent purchases/ splurges lately?

Just for fun, you should watch this video of Jennifer Aniston on Ellen; Jennifer is wearing an ear piece and Ellen is telling her what to say to an unsuspecting delivery guy.  (Ellen has also done this with other celebrities like David Beckham, Dennis Quaid, and Sofia Vergara - they are all SO hilarious!  Definitely check them out if you get a chance.)

Song of the day:

"The Cave" by Mumford & Sons.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snack Attack

I'm a big snacker, and it's especially important for me to be able to pack snacks to take with me for long days on the go and at school.  I always keep a little container of raw nuts (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.) in my bag, and if I know I'm going to be gone for awhile, I'll pack a granola bar, too.  I eat throughout the day to keep my energy up - and to stop my stomach from growling - and I would rather have something with me than be tempted by vending machines and other unhealthy options.  Plus, it's cheaper!

However, for awhile now I've been wanting to find something I could make myself to replace store-bought granola bars.  The ingredient lists of the granola bars I've always eaten are extremely long and disconcerting - I wanted a better option.  But for awhile, all of the recipes I came across had a lot of sugar or other ingredients I didn't want to add, and were pretty calorically dense.  Recently I was really excited to finally find a recipe I could use to replace my granola bars - seed and raisin balls.

There's only 4 ingredients:  sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and sea salt.  And since seeds and raisins are generally less expensive than nuts and dates, it's a pretty budget-friendly recipe.  Tip - all of the ingredients can usually be found in the bulk bins at the grocery store, which makes them even more affordable!

Put all of the ingredients in the food processor.  

Turn on the food processor and let the mixture come together until if forms a sticky ball, which only takes about a minute.  

Then roll into balls - you can make them whatever size you want.  I got 23 balls out of the recipe.  Put them on a plate and into the refrigerator to chill.   

After they've chilled, I transfer them to a container with wax paper between the layers so they don't stick together, and store the container in the fridge.  There were 3 less before I went to bed last night - these things are delicious.  They taste like PB&J!  I'll usually grab 3 and put in a little baggie to take with me.  They're a great and healthy replacement for my store-bought granola bars.

My best friend is visiting her family this weekend, so I drove down to our hometown (about an hour south of where I live now) after my last class today.  I hit up the gym where my parents belong and did the week 2 workout again.  This one is tough, but I felt great afterwards.  My grandma is spending the night again, so I'm getting in some quality family bonding time tonight.  We're watching Big Bang Theory now - such a hilarious show.

What's your favorite snack to take with you on the go?

Song of the day:

"Raw Sugar" by Metric.  It just keeps getting better the more you listen to it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Have A Confession to Make

I'm addicted to magazines.

I have a backlog of magazines on the bookshelf in my living room.

And another pile on the bookshelf in my bedroom....  See, I got one free subscription from my sister because she got a promotion with something she bought.  And then I had airline miles that were going to expire, and they weren't enough to really do anything with except get magazine subscriptions.  So I got a lot.  Oh, and I got a few from Groupon and/or LivingSocial.  And I never have enough time to read them.  Hence the hoarding problem. 

If you have lots of magazines, too, here's a little tip: I love to cut out the perfume samples and put them in my drawers and closets - they make my clothes and sheets/ towels smell good, and it's also a great way to see whether you really like a new scent if you're looking for a new one.

So today when I got home from school, my mailbox was bursting at the seams.  I have a pretty standard apartment-style mailbox, so it's not very big.  I can't believe the mailman was able to even get all of those magazines and the envelope in there today!

But I'm glad he did, because I got some earrings I ordered online recently.  I've been looking at JewelMint's jewelry since last year, but had yet to buy anything.  Usually all of the jewelry is 29.99 (with free shipping!) but I got a promo code for 70% off and couldn't resist getting a pair of earrings that I'd had my eye on for awhile.  

I'm a HUGE sucker for pretty packaging.  How fancy is that box and velvety bag?  I definitely felt like I paid more than $8.99 for that. 

Ta-da, new earrings!  They were designed by Rachel Bilson, which makes them even cooler, in my opinion.  I think she has such amazing style (plus she's on Hart of Dixie now, one of my favorite Monday night TV shows!). 

Rachel Bilson
While we're on the topic, I have another confession to make.  Sometimes I wait too long to do my dishes.

Make that way too long.

Whew.  Feels good to get that off my chest.

I'm going to watch Modern Family and do some stretching because I'm sore from the gym yesterday.  Not too sore, but enough to make me feel like I got a good workout in.  I did some cardio machines while I watched Live! with Kelly this morning, and they're broadcasting from Hawaii this week - it looks amazing!  I would love a tropical vacation right about now.  Hope you're all having a good night!  We're more than halfway through the week, yay!

Do you have any "confessions" to make?

Song of the day:

"My Body" by Young the Giant.  Very catchy and upbeat, and the band is not too shabby-looking.  Wouldn't mind seeing them in concert!