Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Yoga Highs and Tasty Foods

I don't think there is any high in my life right now that is equivalent to the mountain moment I feel when I nail a new yoga pose I never imagined I could do. One of the most empowering things I've discovered about yoga is that it's not all about flexibility- it's also very much about strength. I am not flexible. I am getting better (After 6 months of 2-3x weekly yoga I was finally able to touch my toes for the first time a year ago; now I can place my hands flat on the floor in front of me with straight legs, something I never imagined possible, even as a kid), but no one would ever call me bendy. But, thanks to swimming in my past and barre and Orangetheory in my present, I am strong. And when you're strong- and when you have a super strong core (barre! so much planking and barre), you can do just about anything upside down or inverted. It's amazing and it is SO POWERFUL. I spend a lot of time upside down. I love it, and it's also a great way to impress your increasingly hard to impress children.

I'm still loving CorePower with their dynamic, athletic heated classes and the Wednesday teacher in particular always has such great, creative flows. And she always gives me new challenges. Like today, we were building up to Hurdler's Pose, which I like very much and can do pretty solidly. Then she stood by me and said, hey LL, kick your leg up and find Chin Stand. What?? But I always try to please my teachers, so I kicked my leg up, ground my hands into the mat, tightened my core even more and I FOUND CHIN STAND! That would have been a line of nonsense to me a year ago, but now, it's a highlight of my year so far. Also maybe life. Here's a 15-second video of someone else doing it (I don't do the leg bendy part at the end... because I am not bendy):

I was wearing my favorite new Sweaty Band headband that James got me for my birthday, so I feel like that was part of the power. As I mentioned on the last post, I LOVE these head bands (affiliate link, because I reached out to them after falling in love and buying 6 at full price to ask if they had an instructor discount. If you use it, you get a coupon for 15% off when you click!) .

They stay put, even in a 95 degree yoga room with sweat pouring down my face and my head all over the place upside down and rightside up on my mat. I have tried all the bands- Under Armor, Adidas, Lululemon, C9 and everything other brand sold at Target. These don't move. And they're adorable. I also have this gold one that I wear out and about with regular clothes and Cora calls me a princess, with all due reverence in her voice, and I love it.

"Champagne Toast" aka "Princess Crown"

I had a lot of other random things to say, but somehow it's already 10:58 p.m. and I haven't been to bed before midnight since last Thursday, and I'm so tired. I'm determined to make it happen tonight. My yoga and running highs can only do so much at some point, so let's turn to food and call it a night. (Fail. Now I'm proof-reading and it's 11:23, so much for that)

It's been interesting coming off my no-eating-out for 30 days plan/credit card diet. I had a few moments of weakness, generally when a recipe I'd planned didn't work out or when our day had been crazy and I really really didn't want to cook, but I pushed through, and I was always glad I did. I didn't miss restaurant food nearly as much as I expected. And now that it's allowed again, and back with a vengeance over my birthday weekend, I found I truly desperately wanted to detox from it as soon as the weekend was over. I don't regret my tacos and nachos, but it also felt really good to have some nice crusted trout and kale salad at home Sunday night. My goal is to reduce our restaurant meals to 2x a month (previously we were probably 1-2x a week; generally Friday and Saturday nights). Still leaving room for financial and caloric indulgence with a side of frozen margaritas, but very much not an expected or regular thing.

Our menu this week (I have loved everything so far and highly recommend it all):

Sunday My favorite fish dish ever (this time we used Steelhead Trout instead of salmon and it was just as amazing), Avocado Salsa (from the fish recipe) Cilantro Rice (steamed brown rice tossed with a bunch of fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro), Roasted Cauliflower, Kale Caesar Salad. Love love love this fish recipe. I've made it 5 times in 6 weeks and I never do that. The rub is just so flavorful without being spicy (a constant problem for me; I hate spicy food- any level of spice is too much spice, but I love big flavors. This gives that to me.) and it creates such a great crust. The recipe says to grill, but I just broil it on high in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Absolutely perfect.

my plate; I skipped the rice. Also, yes, there is fish under that avocado

Monday Oven Roasted Chicken Schwarma, Tzatziki sauce (liked this one better than the sauce I made last time), pita bread, Greek salad (diced cucumber, tomato, orange pepper, red onion, feta, kalamata olives; no dressing because we used it with the tzatziki). Love this chicken recipe (from a reader, thank you!). I think next time I'll pair it with saffron rice and roasted veggies; I love Mediterranean flavors, but I'd rather the chicken just be left to shine with all its tasty (but non-spicy!) spices.

Tuesday: Turkey Lettuce Wraps, Fried Rice (Trader Joe's frozen bag of Veggie Fried Rice + scrambled egg + any other veggies in your vegetable drawer- Tues night's mix was sliced green onions, sugar snap peas, shredded carrots, frozen peas + little extra soy sauce). The wraps were great; everyone ate every bite and I'll definitely make again.

Wednesday: Creamy Rigatoni with Tomatoes and Sausage, Baked Parmesan Zucchini. SUPER good pasta recipe; I doubled it and used a cooked chicken sausage (I didn't double the sausage, just everything else; we're not big meat eaters). Everyone loved it.

Thursday: Naked Persian Turkey Burgers with Salad (recipe below), Crumbled Feta, Roasted Carrots, Pita. I made this recipe two weeks ago and everyone inhaled it, including Cora. I gave the recipe to a friend and the next day she raved, saying, "I don't know when I've ever made something more flavorful."

Friday: Gnocchi with Pesto and Tomatoes (just as it sounds: cook some gnocchi, toss it with pesto, sliced cherry tomatoes, and little balls of fresh mozzarella). Gnocchi cooks in about 3 minutes and whole meal takes less than 10 (slicing the cherry tomatoes being the most time consuming part). This is one of the kids top 5 favorite dishes and I don't know why I don't make it more often. Served with whatever vegetables I have left in the veggie drawer, raw or roasted depending on what's there.

Saturday: James is competing in a swim meet in Dallas all day and the kids and I have Claire's soccer game, so I don't know. Hopefully a home cooked meal. Possibly food somewhere that serves margaritas. We'll see how the day goes.

Naked Persian Turkey Burgers
lightly adapted from the Skinnytaste Cookbook


Persian Salad
2.5 cups English cucumber, chopped
1.5 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1.5 Tbl fresh lemon juice
1 Tbl oliver oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Mix well, cover, regrigerate at least an hour.
(Note: I ate the leftovers of this the next day tossed with quinoa, more lemon juice, and chunks of feta; SO good. My version also has more mint than the original recipe, so if you're not a big fan, you may want to take it down a tsp.)

3/4 cup grated zucchini
1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey (I used the 1.33 lb. packages from Costco)
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup unseasoned whole wheat bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbl fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
cooking spray or oil mister

5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
5 Tbl crumbled feta cheese

1. Squeeze liquid out of grated zucchini with paper towel. Place in a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients in list, through the black pepper. Mix gently.
2. Form into 5 equal, flattened patties about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, spray with oil. Cook burgers in pan on medium-low until browned, about 4 minutes each side (I ended up broiling mine in the oven, about 3-4 minutes each side and they turned out beautifully)
4. Serve with 1 cup lettuce underneath, with 3/4 cup of the salad on top. Top salad with crumbled feta.

And now it's 11:28, dammit. I have 32 minutes to put myself in bed, force myself to put down my book (currently engrossed in book 2 of the Red Rising series - Golden Son; it's good, but it doesn't have the heart of the Legend trilogy that I read so late into the night for 3 days last week that I nearly made myself into a zombie), and actually go to sleep (always a time-consuming thing for me). My midnight deadline is... unlikely. But there's always hope for tomorrow night!


  1. I know you're always looking for good books - have you read the Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard? It's probably geared to YA/fantasy, similar to hunger games but I still found it to be an enjoyable read. Plus the third book just came out last month!

    1. Oooh no! It's on my list! A friend is reading The Queen of Tearling trilogy and that's on my list now too. Have you read that one? The first is apparently being made into a movie with Emma Watson as the lead.

    2. I JUST finished the first Red Queen book. Was pondering starting number 2 immediately or reading some others I have in my queue first...

  2. I can't wait to try that burger recipe.

    Another book recommendation. I've spent the last two weeks reading everything Sarah Maas has written. The Court of Thorns and Roses series was a bit better than the Throne of Glass series (that one got better after the first book). The TOG series is more YA and the COTAR series is more (cough) adult.

    1. I already had Throne of Glass on my list! I think a reader recommended it in a past post. I love that there is also a more adult series option... I've been in YA land for a little while and I always need to pop out of the angst for a bit. Thanks for the recs!!

  3. that salmon recipe looks great. Since lent is in full gear, I'm always looking for some good fish dishes.

    1. It is SO good. I mean, it's simple, but something about the spice combo was just perfect for me- flavorful, not spicy, and not totally covering the taste of the fish.

  4. Here is a cherry tomato slicing tip to cut down time. Take two Tupperware lids (I have round Ziploc containers with screw top lids; you could use the lids of two yogurt containers, both lids needs to be the same size) and put as many cherry tomatoes that will fit between them on the counter. Hold down the top lid and run a knife through the gap between the two lids.

    1. So I have heard this and even watched a video, but apparently I don't have the right plates for this trick, though I have not tried the yogurt container lids- I bet that would be perfect. Next time!

  5. I'm glad you like the Shwarma. It is my all time favorite meal.

    We make this a lot in the summer. We usually grill shrimp for it and make it a full meal. It's SO GOOD and is a lot like the Persian Salad/quinoa mix you made.

    1. I love that salad! I actually prefer Ina Garten's greek salad dressing to Bobby's (and I don't like a few of his ingredients), so I sort of combine the two recipes together, using a double batch of Ina's dressing and lots of all the ingredients I love. SO so good. I think we ate it weekly last summer.

    2. You may have actually given us that recipe. I love it. We do the same - make a huge batch and eat off it for lunches in the summer. It's so good! I'll have to try her dressing next time I make it. I'm going to try your BBQ quinoa salad next week and the Persian burgers. YUM.

  6. Keep going with the Red Rising trilogy- Book 3 was, to me, one of the best conclusions of a series that I've read in a long, long time. What else are you reading? Need to stock up on books for a trip soon and I'd love any recs!

    1. I'm really enjoying it- it's dense, but in a good way. I'm about 20% into book 3. The opening few chapters nearly killed me. I'm assuming we're headed to some sort of a positive outcome or I'm going to be really depressed at the finish! I'm writing a post on books right now- looking forward to lots of new recs!

  7. One question: Where do you buy/borrow books from?
    A faithful reader

    1. Our public library! They belong to a national Overdrive system that gives you access to thousands of books, including every single one I've ever wanted to read. You check them out through Amazon, read on your kindle or phone or whatever and then they delete themselves from your device after 14 days.

      There are a few authors I always buy- Kresley Cole and Ilona Andrews being the main ones, but I now digitally check out and read 95% of my books. Since I read 2-4 a week, I think I've saved us hundreds since a friend told me about digital lending. Ask at your local library!

    2. thank you!

  8. I love the shawarma recipe! I'm so glad it's a winner for you.