Thursday, May 26, 2011

Exiting the Asylum - Review time

Not sure if when one completes the Asylum workout they are leaving the asylum or should be committed to one for putting themselves through such torture.

I can tell you what to do though if you want to bust your rear for 30 days and not have much to show for it. Wanna know that secret? Well, it's easy, eat like crap! Yup, my diet has been so poor and life so busy that it all just fell apart. I did every single workout for the 30 days but my lifestyle just kind of squashed any visible results.

This does not say anything about the program though. The program is awesome. Probably my favorite so far. Despite the lack of visible results, my core, legs and butt are hard as rocks and my stamina and coordination are much better than before. One of my favorite parts of this program is the focus on the lower back. This has always been a weak area for me (well, actually my entire back and shoulders), but Asylum has improved that by immeasurable amounts. I am beyond thrilled with that.

Where did the program fall short? I think there should have been at least one workout that was devoted to more ab work. Most of the moves do work the core, but I would've like just a bit more ab focus. That is my only complaint.

Also, each workout is under one hour. Thank you, thank you! Who has more time than that? Most of them hovered around 35 to 40 minutes which is really ideal. You'll work damn hard for those 40 minutes though.

Below are my before and afters. Not much difference, but I did promise them and here they are.  Day one is the blue top, Day 30 is the grey.
LOL - these look like I took them on the same day and just changed the top - even my hair looks the same!  There is a teeny bit of booty lift in the side view though at Day 30.
But, I hope that if you are on the fence about Asylum my results don't deter you from giving it a try. This really is a great workout that I plan to do again.

What's next? Another great thing about Asylum are the hybrid program schedules included. Your DVD set includes a 30 day schedule for a Asylum/P90X combo and one for Asylum/Insanity. I plan to do the Asylum/P90X combo followed by another round of straight Asylum. By August I plan to hit New Mexico with my bikini in hand!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'll be back...

Probably not the best time for Arnold jokes, huh?

Anyway, I am just apologizing for being absent from everyone's blogs lately. No apologies for my absense from my own blog as that's just silly, but I really do miss reading and commenting on all the wonderful blogs I follow.

But, after tomorrow I am putting my foot down about all this darn work business that has made me want to stay as far away from my computer when I'm not working as possible. So hopefully that will lead to more fun computer time. Plus, I'm in need of some new recipes. I admit to resorting to a bowl of cereal for dinner way too often lately. And don't even get me started on the bad snacking!

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone, and I'll be back to stalking you via blogger ASAP. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blast from the Past - Burger Season

Sick of all my workout posts yet?  Yeah, I know, it's a bit much.  I promise though that I've been cooking up a storm.  Just haven't had time to post the recipes yet.  But will do so soon.  We've had some seriously killer dishes from Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart lately.  Mmmm, so good!  So don't leave me just yet, they're a comin'.

For now, let's delve back into my first month of blogging and get our grill on.  Here's some yummy burgers from way back when.  Almost a year ago.  :)

One night - two burgers, a salsa burger with guac & radicchio and a surprise cheese slider with spinach & honey mustard.  Both of these burgers are Fab-u-lous!!

Recipes obtained from Clean Eating magazine and modified by me.

Amount of ingredients will vary depending on number and size of burgers you prefer:

lean ground beef (I used 97/3)
fresh tomato salsa
low-fat cheddar (cubed)
guacamole (store made or from recipe in separate post)
radicchio leaves
1 tbsp raw honey
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
fat-free greek yogurt
baby spinach leaves
ground pepper

Season ground beef with pepper and combine.  Roll into palm sized meatballs.  Make an indent with finger and insert one cheese cube.  Seal hole and form into patty.  Grill to desired doneness (I suggest medium as the lean beef will dry out beyond that - although you can just add more sauce if this occurs).  While burger is grilling, combine the honey and mustard in small bowl.  Spread on top (or bottom) of a whole wheat bun and add spinach leaves.  Top with hot, grilled burger.

Salsa burgers:
Season ground beef with pepper.  Add salsa to meat mixture and combine.  Shape into patties.  Grill to desired doneness.  While burger is grilling, spread bottom of whole wheat bun with yogurt and top with radicchio leaves.  Spread a generous amount of guacamole on top bun.  Add hot, grilled burger and enjoy.

Bun prep:

The finished product (I could not find whole wheat slider buns so please excuse the hiding burger):

Lean beef does NOT mean dry burgers.  Hello oozy cheesy goodness:

Full nutritional info unavailable as I modified the recipes somewhat.  BUT, 2 sliders will more than fill you and comes in at under 400 calories!  Both burgers are an excellent source of much needed protein and iron.  The salsa burger brings in just over 350 calories.  Using lean beef and avoiding processed condiments knocks the cholesterol content of each serving (1 salsa burger or 2 sliders) to about 60mgs.

Review: My husband and the kids LOVED these burgers.  I had a half of each burger and they were both equally delicious.  I really enjoyed the honey mustard sauce on the slider and will use this for other dishes and sandwiches (think chicken and spinach on crusty whole grain, yum).  I was unsure about the greek yogurt on the salsa burger as I don't typically like it, but oh my, what a good idea!  This one was pretty messy to eat but very much worth it.  Prep time was minimal.  We will be doing this again and again.  Who's coming over?

Would love some other ideas for healthy burger toppings.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Asylum Day 10 - Third of the Way to Done!

Well, today marks the 1/3rd point in my Asylum workout program.  Lucky for me, Day 10 is a stretch only day because I am sore today.  This workout is killing my upper back and shoulders but hopefully in a good way.

What I can say about this series so far is that it is probably great for athletes looking to improve their game.  For people with the will power to follow the diet plan that comes with it, you'll probably get very lean and strong.  I though cannot follow the diet, or any diet, so I take what results I can get from just doing the workouts alone and attempting to eat better.  Notice I say attempting.  We will not mention the 10 chocolate chip cookie emotional eating binge last night or the box of Samoas that disappeared over the weekend.

Results so far - well, I did wear a somewhat fitted tee shirt today with my jeans.  I do not usually do that because of those darn love handles.  So, I guess my mid section has gone down somewhat.  Other than that, any visible results will be hard for me to pinpoint right now as it's been a crappy week and I just feel icky, ugly and bloated.  But the workout is fun and has been keeping my attention so that's a good thing.

One thing I love about this is that the workouts are all under an hour, most between 38 and 45 minutes which is ideal.  There is one workout called Game Day which is the mother workout and it is about 60 minutes.  I will do that for the first time tomorrow on Day 11.  Eeek!  I also love that the program lasts only 30 days.  After that you can chose to repeat it or do one of the hybrid programs outlined in the package which combine Asylum with either P90X or Insanity or just move on to something new.  It's too soon to say for sure, but I think the 30 day Asylum/P90X workout may follow for me.

Pics to follow at Day 30.  Would love to hear if any of you have considered this workout or what you are doing these days!

You can follow my girl Laura for more in depth reviews and info about each of the workouts in Asylum at her blog, A Mom's Journey to Staying Fit & Fabulous.  Fit and Fabulous she is too.  Laura has been doing Beachbody workout programs back to back and in combination for over a year and looks rockin'!  Go check out her triceps.  :)

Have a great week.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Healthy Family - Take a Hike

My husband and I have decided to put a little more effort into doing things as a family.  From here on out, the weekends and holidays that the kids spend with us, we will carve out some time to do something active together.  Or at least something that stimulates the mind, body and/or spirit.

Our first attempt occurred this past weekend.  My kids were anxious to test out the gear we purchased for our New Mexico trip, so we decided to go hiking.  A quick google search for "Bergen County hiking" led us to the Palisades Park website and a list of moderate rated trails.  We chose Carpenter's Loop I - a 2.5 mile hike on even terrain with just one rocky descent - as our first official family hike.  All went really well and boy was I tired when we got home, the kids slept like rocks that night too. 

Packed some portable snacks in our Camelbacks and a cooler for the car where we would enjoy lunch afterwards.

Of course, I lugged my camera along.

My goofy tourists.
Some views.

The hikers.
The wildlife.
I'd love to use these posts as a way to inspire each other to try something new or to get out there and spend some time with the ones more dear to us.

Tell me, what are your family adventures like?  Do you have set times when your family does things together?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30 - Week 4

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30
Finally finished all four workouts and am putting this DVD to rest for now - I'm sure I'll revisit again when I am more committed.

Week 4 is the final week in this workout series and it did not disappoint.  Definitely a thigh and butt week for me.  I was feeling the burn!  The ab moves are more advanced this week as well.  Most of them I could not do due to a back issue but I was able to modify.  My only complaint with this workout is the actual ab work.  It is only 3 minutes a day.  Perhaps though if I was able to do the moves Jillian was doing I'd feel differently, but I really felt like adding in other ab work would've given me better results.

And speaking of results, how'd I do?  Well, I really didn't do this workout religiously week after week.  My mojo didn't come back until after I did the last workout.  For people doing the entire program 4-5 days a week and following the diet plan, I have no doubt there would be awesome results.  Even though I didn't follow all the rules and pretty much ate like crap, my butt and legs do feel tighter and my stamina has certainly increased (thank God).

I'd recommend this workout to anyone who's looking for a time saving, doable workout.  Looking to get into that bikini next month but don't have a ton of free time?  This is for you.  :)

What's next?  Well, my Asylum workout arrived last week and I couldn't ignore it.  I am presently on Day 5 of that workout and love it.  So far, no missed workouts and I feel great.  Stay tuned for more on Asylum.

Have a great weekend all!!  As always, I'd love to hear your workout stories.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yummy Steak Tacos

We are a taco lovin' household for sure.  Tell my son we are having steak tacos and he'll burn a trail to the dinner table.  This recipe, found in Bon Appetit, was delicious.  I loved the saucy steak and it made quite a mess while we were eating.  The messiest tacos are always the best.

Steak Tacos (slightly modified from the BA recipe)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 skirt steak
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
whole wheat & herb tortillas
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in large skillet.  Sprinkle steak with salt & pepper.  Add to skillet and saute 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate.  In same skillet, add bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Add canned tomatoes, raisins, tomato paste, cumin and allspice.  Simmer until sauce is thick, about 4 minutes.  Season to taste wiht salt & pepper.

Cut steak into diagonal slices.  Add steak and any juices to sauce.  Toss to blend.

Heat tortillas and stuff with filling.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with homemade guac.  Fresh, delicious and somewhat healthy!  1 large taco or 2 small corn tacos clocks in at 400 calories.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tag - Easter Party Menu

I'm a little late to the game here today but I was so graciously tagged by Lyndsey of The Tiny Skillet to participate in a dinner menu game and had to partake.  The process appears to be to choose 5-10 recipes from your past posts and create a dinner menu (including links to the past posts and a photo) then choose 10 other bloggers to do the same.

Since Easter is about half over, let's just make it a dinner party for any occasion.  I'm such a rule breaker.  :)

Here is my kid friendly dinner party menu.  Not sure these all flow together to make a nice meal, but then again, mine never do anyway:
Rum Cocktails (no rum for the kiddos of course, but they'll love the coconut "cup")
Lentil Soup with cornbread
Wasabi Tuna Rolls for the vegetarians
Creamy Peach Pie for dessert

Ten bloggers I'd love to see put together a menu:

Kristy from My Little Space
Bo from Bo's Bowl
Michael from Me, My Food & I
Little J from Whisk It Good
Julia from No Face Plate
Catherine from Living the Gourmet

Oops, I think that's 11.  Sorry for any double tagging.  I have about 300 more bloggers I'd love to tag as well.  :)  Thanks Lyndsey for including me in this fun project.  It was great to look back and some older posts.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Want Some Paprika Shrimp??

Well, if you do - and you should - head on over to Jenn's blog and check out my guest post.  In case you need a little more enticement, here's a little food porn.

Paprika Shrimp = sexy!
Thanks Jenn for the guest post opportunity!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shrimp & Halibut Curry

One of my most favorite meals in a while from my new fav recipe source! We did this a while back after my first Fresh Direct order came in. Thankfully, the seafood was a delicious and fresh as it looked. This dish is a great intro to curries. Perfect for those picky eaters (which sadly includes me). You can read more about my attempt to introduce more healthy ethnic cuisine into our repertoire tomorrow over at Jenn's place. So exciting!

For today though, why not try out a little mild curry. I promise, it's yummy (and good for you too).

Modified from a recipe found in Bon Appetit.

3 limes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
2 1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 13-14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
18 oz halibut, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped basil
salt & pepper, to taste
sriracha, to taste

Finely grate peel of 2 limes.  Juice same 2 limes and set aside.  Cut third lime into wedges.

Heat oil in large saucepan.  Add shallots, bell pepper and ginger.  Saute until shallots are tender and peppers are soft.  Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime peel and juice.  Simmer, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add to curry sauce.  Stir in a little sriracha at this point if you like.  Return to gentle simmer until fish are opaque in center, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Gently stir in cilantro and basil.  Serve with lime wedges and rice or noodles.
Under and hour, super wonderfully delicious and just over 300 calories?  Yes please.  Tastes even better the next day so make extra.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 - Week 3

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30
Sorry I'm a little late with the week 3 review.  Had a sore foot for a few days and needed to rest it.  But, week three is complete.  I'll be honest here and say Week 3 felt like a bit of a break.  Sure the moves were difficult and I did sweat, but they just didn't come together to result in a good enough workout for me.  Well, except for my triceps.  This is triceps week for sure!  So that I did like because those little guys are hard to work sometimes.  Shoulders and hips also come into play this week.

What I missed this week was all the core work.  I felt like Weeks 1 and 2 had a huge core focus (moreso in week 1) even during moves that weren't specifically defined "core" exercises.  Hopefully we'll see more core work in Week 4.

All in all though, still happy with the DVD.  There are some great workouts in here that I see myself using from time to time as a fill in or for a day where time is an issue.  I can't adequately comment on results as I have been pretty inconsistent (ok, very inconsistent) and my diet is still garbage.  But I do feel stronger and my core is getting tighter again which makes me happy.  With week three down the tubes, I can still wholeheartedly recommend Ripped in 30!  JM has a very good sense of what body parts cause the most trouble for women and how to work them well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Less Guilt Chocolate Lava Cakes

Hi Hi!!  Work has finally slowed down (for now) so I figured I'd reward you all for sticking with me with a delicious guilt-free (well, there may be some guilt) lava cake.  Easy to make so go ahead, you can be biting into this gooey deliciousness in less than a half hour!

From The Best of Clean Eating.

cooking spray
1/4 cup plus 1tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sucanat
3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar, to top (optional)

Heat oven to 400.  Spray 4 ramekins with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine cocoa and sucanat.  Whisk in applesauce and oil.

In a small bowl, whisk egg and egg white.  Add to cocoa mixture.  Whisk until smooth.  Stir in flour and vanilla until just completely combined.  No over mixing.

Pour into ramekins and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 9 minutes.  They will come out looking underdone.  They are not!  Let stand a few minutes before inverting on dessert plates.  Serve warm for the most warm yumminess.

Friday, April 15, 2011

And Now For the Birthday Girl

Right after the birthday cake for my son's third birthday, off we went to the hospital to await the arrival of the little princess.

Happy birthday to my little peanut.  I hope you have a fabulous day!!

Of course, another journey through pictures.  It's just what moms do.

Thoughtful enough to let her brother enjoy his birthday cake, a teeny little chicklet waited just long enough to come into the world so each sibling would have their own day.
Such a petite little flower, I am constantly in awe of your adventurous spirit and strength (clearly your mother's child).
 Most of the time super sweet,
 But sometimes a little sour,
She's just so cute that even her brother can't pass up the chance for a little hug.
You've got lots to smile about and have given us tons to smile about too.  Can't wait to see what the next year brings for you.  We love you munchkin.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Breaking the Silence for a VIP Happy B-Day

I know I haven't been around as work has been nuts, but I HAD to carve out a few minutes to wish my first born a very happy birthday.

I love you my little big man.  You have made me worry like I never thought I'd worry before, but we wouldn't change a thing.  You are turning into a wonderful and thoughtful fellow.

Life's journey in pictures (a/k/a mom's brag book):

Once upon a time, God granted me a cute and lovable little boy.
He was so wonderful, we decided to try for a playmate.  Sometimes she wants to kill him, but mostly, she loves him too.
We've had some seriously scary times but you are so strong, you pulled through with flying colors and have inspired and helped others going through the "Cranio Wars"
You are the family rock star in more ways than one. 
You are very much a boy but do clean up quite well.  :)
So keep on climbing.  The best is yet to come.
 We love you!  Peace out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 - Week 2

Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30

Managed to get this workout in 4 times this week which was great.  The fact that it is under 30 minutes has been my saving grace.

Week 2 left me surprisingly less sweaty than Week 1.  I also didn't feel too much post workout soreness.  This week focused a lot on the shoulders and back - which are my weakest links.  Lots of plank work here.  In fact, one of the 2 minute cardio segments has you holding plank the entire time.  30 seconds of plank jacks, 30 seconds of moutain climbers (so hate those), repeat.  Needless to say, I found myself on my knees more than a few times in that 2 minutes.  Ab work was also stepped up this week.  I had to modify most of the moves since a back issue prohibits me from raising my legs (extended straight) and shoulders off the floor at the same time.  But it still felt like a good workout and my husband did comment that my butt felt firmer.  :)

What I'm loving about Ripped in 30 is that even when you are not doing the ab segments, almost all of the moves work the core in one way or another.  A strong core = a happy Betty.

Still not seeing a ton of visible progress with my body but then again, I'm still not eating 100%.  We've gotten much better but the baked goods just keep calling and I'm unable to stop at one (or three).

See you next week with the Week 3 review!  Happy weekend.