Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week's Healthy Recipe

A few weeks ago I discovered this great blog, Gina's WW Recipes. Since finding this awesome site, I've made several of her recipes and they've all turned out so yummy. This particular pasta dish was so good it tasted like it came from an Italian restaurant yet it was super easy to make.

Angel Hair with Shrimp and Tomato Sauce

* 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
* 1/2 cup half and half
* oregano
* salt and fresh pepper
* 1 tsp lemon juice
* 1/4 cup chopped parsley
* 8 oz angel hair pasta (whole wheat, low carb or high fiber)

Boil water for pasta. Cook according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, season shrimp with salt and oregano. Cook shrimp and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper and cook an additional minute. Add half and half and cook 1 more minute. Add lemon juice and parsley and serve over pasta. Divide equally in 4 plates. Each serving is 8 WW points.

To make this something I could throw together quickly on a weeknight, I peeled and deveined the shrimp and cooked the pasta on the weekend. This saved me lots of time. Here's the finish product. Delicious!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Week's Healthy Recipe

I don't usually think of soup as a meal but this one is really good and surprisingly filling. With the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese, it tastes really hardy and delicious. This is another weight watchers recipe and has 6 points for a 1 and a half cup serving.

French Onion Soup

2 medium onion(s), thinly sliced
4 Tbsp dry sherry, or nonalcoholic wine
4 cup(s) fat-free beef broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 slice(s) French bread
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large saucepan, combine onions and sherry; sauté until onions are tender, about 6 minutes.

Add broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast bread in oven until golden brown.

Place one piece of toast into each of four bowls. Divide soup among bowls and top each with 1/2 tablespoon of grated cheese. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

This is so quick and simple that there is no need for any make ahead steps. You could slice the onions ahead of time but I find that stinks up my kitchen. If you really want to save some time on your week night, make this on the weekend and serve it up any night of the week. Here's how it turned out in my kitchen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Well Hello Old Friend

For me, running is like an old friend that I can always turn to. I get to think when I run and no matter what the situation, I always feel better after a run. Also, if it weren't for running, I would have never met my husband and Darwin would not exist. The thing I always loved about running was that it was fair. If I trained hard and was loyal to running, I was paid back with fast times. Anytime things weren't going so well, I could always figure out why. Maybe I hadn't trained enough or maybe I was pushing myself too much and I was over trained. Either way, running was usually predictable and I loved that.

When I got pregnant, it was hard for me to watch my old friend slip away. Even though I ran through all but the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy, things just weren't the same. This was the first time in my life that each run became harder than the one the day before and my times got slower, and slower and slower until I could hardly run at all. Sure, this was expected but I couldn't help but hate it even though I knew it was coming. I guess it is kind of like pregnancy weight gain. You know it will happen but it still hurts when you look in the mirror. I was able to get through these times by thinking about Darwin and how he was totally worth it. Also, I looked forward to running again after he was born. Boy was I shocked when running didn't go well after I delivered. This was never something I allowed myself to think about. I was going to run my entire pregnancy, give birth and get right back in there. My doctor cleared me to run 3 weeks post pregnancy. Even though I really didn't feel up to it, I forced myself to do it anyway. I mean the doc said it was ok, right? For about a month I kept at it but it felt like being pregnant all over again. Each run was harder than the one before and I certainly wasn't getting any faster. A 3 mile run would leave me feeling beat up and sore-like a 20 miler did back when I was marathon training. Finally, I came to my senses and took some additional time off. I had to reevaluate everything. I had plans to run a marathon when Darwin was a year old. For that to happen I basically needed to start training the second he was born. I realized that these type of goals were not realistic and were causing me stress. No new mom needs that. I took a step back and came up with a new goal. It was simply to enjoy running again. Sounds easy but that month of forcing myself through training runs was anything but enjoyable. I wasn't sure if this new, seemingly simple goal would happen. I took 3 weeks off and started running again on January 1st. I started with only a mile. It wasn't much but it felt good. Even though I was slow there was something familiar about it. It was pain free and I actually enjoyed myself. I've slowly added mileage since that day and I'm up to 20-25 miles per week. In the last couple of weeks, I've really noticed that I'm running faster and easier. Last night I put the shoes on that I wore in the Chicago marathon and went out for a tempo run. I was hoping to keep an 8:10 pace but ended up running more like 7:55 pace. Now I feel like I am definitely on my way back. I may never run the way I did before I became a mom, but that is ok. As long as my old friend running is in my life, I'm good with that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This Week's Healthy Recipe

Ok, so I haven't posted in a while. That doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking up some good healthy dinners. Brian and I directed a 15K last weekend and all my time went to that. As for this week, I guess I'll blame not posting on recovering from directing the 15K. Anyways, here's a great chicken dish I made a couple of weeks ago. This is another weight watchers recipe.

Orange Chinese Chicken

2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp orange zest, strips
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
15 oz Sunfresh Mandarin Oranges In Light Syrup, or similar item
1/2 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp orange zest, finely grated, or to taste
2 tsp cornstarch

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add zest strips and cook, stirring, until fragrant and slightly cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. When zest is finished, increase heat to medium-high; add chicken to skillet and cook until golden, flipping once, about 2 minutes per side.

Drain oranges and reserve 1/4 cup liquid. Add oranges with reserved liquid to skillet and simmer 2 minutes. Whisk together broth, soy sauce, finely grated zest and cornstarch in a small bowl; add mixture to pan and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Yields 1 piece of chicken and about 1/4 cup of sauce per serving.

Here's the finish product. This one was so quick and easy that I didn't need to do anything ahead of time. It was delicious! Enjoy! It has only 5 WW points per serving.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Feel Like a Runner Again

I hate speed work. There, I said it. I don't like tempo runs either. Both of these are some of the best things you can do to improve your running. I've done my share of both but I've hated every second. When I got pregnant I kept running but these intense workouts had to go. It just isn't safe to run like that when you are "with child". I have to admit that I was really glad to give them up-even if it was only temporary. Well, Darwin is 3.5 months old and I've been running well for a few weeks now. I've even done a race. I think my "no intense workouts" clause has expired.

With this in mind I set out to do my first set of post pregnancy intervals. I figured I'd start humbly. I could handle 6x400 meters right? Of course I could. So I ran an easy mile and went straight into the workout. I really wanted to get home to Darwin so instead of walking the recovery in between my quarters, I did a slow recovery run. The next thing I know, I'm on the last one. Were they hard? Yes! They sucked just like I remembered, but I did them. I even did them fairly fast-all of them were sub 7:30 pace. Slow by my old standards but smoking fast compared to any of the running I've done lately. Point is, I felt like a runner again and I liked it.