Today is day 19 of my challenge to be in the best shape ever by the 4th of July and I have 141 days to go. So far, I am feeling really great. I am still sore every day. I wonder if that goes away? It feels good though because it reminds me that I am working really hard. Here is my article for the New Ulm Journal and a recipe for a really easy and delicious†salmon salad. There is a video at the end of the post where I show you how to make this salad.
ďEternal spring in your heartĒ
You are probably tired of hearing how much I appreciate the cold or even how I keep writing about the weather. But, I write these articles about what is happening in my life and right now, it is winter. Winter is happening.† I have only lived through a few Minnesota winters and this one seems to be the coldest, the whitest, and the longest. The snow pushed up alongside my driveway is higher than I ever remember seeing. My front steps are missing completely. Oh, logic tells me they are down there somewhere nestled in their snowy blanket; but, I canít see them. I was so excited for the first, the second, even the third snow day. Now, they are getting a bit commonplace.
Victor Hugo (French poet, 1802-1885) wrote, ďWinter is on my head but eternal spring is in my heart.Ē I still look out at the frozen branches glistening in the sunlight and smile. The stark contrast of the bright red cardinals against the white backdrop takes my breath away. The powdery untouched snow covering the fields where no farmer has been in months looks smooth and peaceful. The most impressive winter sight I have been blessed with is the sunrise as I take my children to the bus. Some days we wait in the dark but on other magical days, the sun is beginning to rise and the sky is a cascade of blues, pinks and oranges. Last week, my car broke down at the bus stop and I had to walk home. It was this gorgeous sunrise which made me feel happy with each step.
Donít get me wrong, I long for spring. I love the sunlight and the warmth from the sun. Iím dying to work in the garden. Our heating bill is killing us this winter. My kids little faces look red and chapped from the harsh winter wind. My entry way is never clean due to the snowy muddy boots traipsing in and out.† I donít enjoy driving in the night with icy roads beneath my tires. I donít look forward to having to push up on my icy garage door because it has frozen closed overnight. Iíd like to stop having to take vitamin D pills daily due to my lack of sun.
But, even in the winter, itís important to keep spring in your heart. Itís necessary to appreciate the good that is around you no matter what season you are living in. I laughed out loud the other day when I locked myself out of the house and had to walk around to the back door to make my way in. I tucked my jeans into my boots and began trekking through the snow. Before I knew it, the snow was past my knees. I looked ridiculous. There was no need to have tucked in my jeans as the snow was caked inside my boots by then. All I can say is that this is what winter is supposed to be. This is what you read about when you read about winter. I just have to love it. Think about ice skating, hot cocoa, warm fires, hot coffee in the late afternoon just to warm your bones, happy squirrels and rabbits when you leave some food out for them, snow ball fights, hot tasty soup, stews, and chili, hot bubble baths at the end of a long cold day, snow days when you donít have to leave the house, sledding, tubing, and icicles. I have never seen such huge icicles before this winter.† Decide that the snow and ice doesnít affect your mood in a negative way and you will feel the difference. And remember, there are only thirty two days until spring. We are in the home stretch. It is almost over. I know Punxsautawney Phil says there will be six more weeks of winter; but, we canít believe everything that groundhog says. He doesnít even really speak.
In the meantime, we can eat like itís spring just to get us ready. Go out and find yourself some delicious wild caught salmon filets and make a hearty and appetizing salad.
A reader reminded me recently of the importance in buying wild caught salmon versus farmed. Doing so will benefit your health as well as the environment. Furthermore, it has been said that the nutrients in salmon my boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression. Salmon may assist in creating eternal spring in your heart. I already knew that salmon was a low fat food. However, looking into the nutrients found in salmon and other fish with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acid, I realize itís crazy not to eat more of it. Not only may it lower your risk of heart disease, salmon can reduce blood clotting which may lead to strokes and it could lower your chance of getting cognitive problems such as Alzheimerís disease. Itís like a miracle food. A food which may make me happier, healthier, smarter and slimmer? Yes please!
Salmon salad with balsamic glaze dressing:
Time: 30 minutes
4 salmon filets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 head of Romaine lettuce
2 lemons, quartered
Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium high. Sautť onion and garlic in pan until onion is clear. Set the onion and garlic aside. Place the salmon in the skillet and sear for four minutes on each side (until opaque in the center and brown on outside). Set salmon aside. Pour vinegar and honey in skillet and heat on high until reduced to glaze. Tear up the lettuce and place on plates. Set the salmon on the bed of lettuce. Put the sautťed onion and garlic on the salmon. Drizzle the glaze over everything. Add lemon wedges to squeeze.
It is day 18 of my challenge to be in the best possible shape by the 4th of July. I have 142 days to go. So far so good. I found a new dvd which I love. It is called Red Hot Salsa II. At first, it was way to fast and I was very uncoordinated. But, I discovered a portion of the dvd which slows down the steps and teaches you what they are doing. This was so helpful. Now, I have completed the dvd about five times and I am getting really good. I don’t think I have rhythm quite like the ladies in the movie, but I am getting better every day. It’s really fun and it really makes you sweat.
Also, I found an amazing app for the iphone which is called lose it. It’s a free app. It allows you to input your goals and then it sets up a plan for you to reach the goal based on calories. You punch in what exercises you are doing and what you eat and it keeps you on track on a daily basis. I really love it and believe it is helping me. It also motivates me to complete all three of my exercises daily so I can eat more food and drink more wine.
I taught another cooking class this week. My students learned how to make salmon in foil.
Click here for the recipe. It was a lot of fun. I also made† a couple of low fat appetizers: bean dip and cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes. Here are those recipes:
Time: 15 minutes
2 C. cherry tomatoes, cut in half and remove pulp
1 C. fat free cream cheese
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
ľ C. parmesan cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Set cherry tomato halves aside. Combine all other ingredients in a food processor and mix well. Spoon into the tomatoes. Chill until ready to serve.
Pinto Bean Dip:
4 C. pinto beans
Ĺ C. jalapeŮo peppers
ľ tsp. salt
ľ tsp sugar
1/4 C. onion, finely chopped
ľ tsp. cayenne pepper
ľ tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients into the food processor and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.
I had my first cooking class on Thursday. I had the best time. This one was held at my house. I served cocktails and wine with bruschetta and quacamole with chips as people arrived.
I think there were about ten people who attended and we made beef bourguignon. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE
I let them choose ahead of time which recipe they would like to make.
It was surprisingly easy and fun. At the end we all sat together and enjoyed the meal which I prepared ahead of time. Next week, I will be teaching how to cook salmon in foil at the high school Home Ec room. So, no wine will be consumed in that class. I wonder if it will be as much fun?
Also, today is day 13 and I have 147 days until the 4th of July to be in the very best shape I have ever before been in. I can’t say that I have noticed a physical change in my appearance, however, there is a definite change in my energy. I feel fantastic. My mood may also be attributed to adding vitiman D to my diet. I think the lack of sunshine here in Minnesota may have been draining my energy and this vitiman has really helped. I have not missed a day of working out in 13 days and that in itself is a miracle.
It is now day 6 and I have 154 days to complete my getting in the best shape ever by the 4th of July. I am well on my way. I have uncovered a lot of great workout dvds to get me going. My next post will have links to the dvds I am using. I wanted to get a bunch so I wouldn’t get bored. I can’t wait until it is warm enough to go on a walk. Today, it is seriously snowing. I am aslo really amazed at how easily I have stuck with my drinking less wine. I admit I had more than one glass last night while watching the Grammys. Here is my article for the Journal which comes out tomorrow:
“Be fit by the 4th of July, starting with quiche”
I blame these articles for my new unwanted pounds. My jeans are not fitting right. Iím bulging out in all the wrong places. I got on a scale the other day and couldnít believe the weight. I do know why this is happening. I have been cooking and eating everything in sight. Then, I spend most of my day writing and researching on the computer. What did I expect?
Then, yesterday, Claud told me his entire family will be flying here from England to spend the summer with us. I was really excited about having everyone visit. Until I thought, I could be huge by then if I donít do something drastic.† I found a calendar and decided that I will be in the shape I am comfortable with by the Fourth of July. Thatís 153 days away.
My plan is detailed on my blog (www.yovia.com/blogs/simplyfood). I even posted a before picture. I thought if I told everyone I was doing this, I would have to stick with it. The plan is to eat a light breakfast and a salad for lunch. However, dinner is going to be my treat. Iím no expert on keeping fit, but, common sense tells me that if I cut my calories and move my body more than I have been, I should expect some results. I am adding three small workouts into my day. Iím going to cut the calories before dinner but keep dinner as my special treat for me and my family. I love our big dinners together at the dining room table. I canít give that up. That would be like giving up love or happiness or joy. Besides, my dinners arenít ALWAYS fattening. If you are interested, you can follow my progress on my blog and join me if you are feeling like a change is needed. I believe we can still enjoy delicious food and get in shape.
I have never made a quiche before. My mom makes them. She makes them with bacon and goat cheese, with sun dried tomatoes and feta or with mushrooms and spinach. I wished I could make quiches myself. I was afraid. They look too difficult and French. Why is it that I always think anything French will be difficult to cook? I am learning that French cuisine is actually very simple. Furthermore, quiche is not even French. Quiche originated in medieval Germany in Lothringen which the French later named Lorraine. The word quiche comes from the German word kuchen meaning cake. Who knew?
I called my mom and we discussed quiche making. She assured me I could do it. I was extremely brave and made my first quiche to bring to my friends Dan and Kathyís house. That first quiche was the Lorraine. I made that crust with a low fat recipe I found online which didnít taste exactly right. However, the creamy eggs mixed with the smoky bacon made up for it. It was still pretty tasty. I talked to my mom again and asked her to send me detailed information on how to make the crust the way she always makes it. She obliged and this is the recipe I am presenting you with today. I made a mushroom and onion quiche with this delicious buttery crust and it was so much better than the low fat version.
Sure, you can buy a store bought crust. If you do, this recipe becomes almost as easy as scrambled eggs; although, if you do have time, making the crust yourself will create a far superior dish. Have a look at my blog to see a movie of me making the crust and the filling. †If you arenít a fan of mushrooms or onions, be creative. You can use any vegetable and cheese combination you prefer. Enjoy!
Quiche crust (pate brisee):
1 ľ C. flour
8 Tbsp . (1 stick butter), cut into small cubes and very cold
Ĺ tsp. salt
Ĺ tsp. sugar
5 Tbsp ice cold water
Place the small Ĺ inch cubes of butter into the freezer for at least fifteen minutes. Mix the flour, salt and sugar together. Add the butter and pulse a few times in the food processor. Add in water one Tbsp. at a time and pulse. It should look like bread crumbs.
If it clumps together, pour it out on a counter and form it into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for an hour.
Take it out and roll it out. I find that it doesnít roll out into one sheet. †You can place pieces into the quiche dish (9 inch round) and mold it in to where you want it to be.
Once you have the dough in the dish, place back in the refrigerator for a half an hour. Place a piece of wax paper over the dough and fill the dish with beans to weigh the dough down.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Take beans and wax paper out. Place a few holes with fork in dough and return to oven for ten more minutes. Remove and let cool while you make the filling.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Cups mushrooms
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 C. heavy cream
2 C. gruyere cheese (or cheese of your choice), shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat on high. Add onions and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions until clear and slightly brown. Add sugar and continue to cook for five minutes more. Add the mushrooms and sautť them for another five minutes. Spread 1 C. cheese into bottom of quiche crust. Add the mushrooms and onions over cheese. Beat together the eggs and cream. Add salt and pepper and beat some more. Pour egg mixture over the mushrooms. Add last cup of cheese. Place in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
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It’s 7 pm on day two and I am really tired. My muscles are sore. I had a lot to do today with my writing and then running my kids around. However, I still stuck to my schedule. Even though I wanted to plop on the couch after walking in the door, I didn’t. I finished my third workout instead. I am really proud of myself but know it’s only day two. 157 more days to go. I can do it. I know I can. Tomorrow, I will post the workout dvds I am using with links to buy them, in case anybody out there wants to join me in my quest. I am also going to write the recipe for my homemade salad dressing I have been using because it is really good. I will have the best night of sleep tonight…that I know for certain.
Okay, I have been talking about changing my lifestyle. Maybe I’d take a daily walk (which hasn’t happened), maybe I would eat lighter meals (a little less cheese and butter), and maybe I would drink less wine. Well, I haven’t changed much since January 1st. Now, I have some really good incentive. Yesterday, I learned that my relatives in England (my in-laws) are coming out here this summer to visit. So, I thought to myself, it would be great to have this new lifestyle I so desperately wish to adopt in full force by the time they arrive. Maybe I can knock off those extra pounds by then?
Well, I am pretty sure they won’t be here until after the fourth of July because school in England doesn’t end until late in July. The 4th sounds like a good goal to be completely emerged into my new lifestyle and looking great. Who knows? Maybe I will be comfortable in a bikini? At this point, I’d settle for feeling great in shorts. The other day, I realized I have gained 25 pounds since I met my husband. I think I can get back close to the shape I was in thirteen years ago with a little effort.
It seems like a long time until the 4th. It is exactly 159 days away. Starting today, I will eat a healthy breakfast and practice one hour of yoga in the morning. Then, I have a 20 minute core workout routine on DVD which I will do in the afternoon (before or after my salad for lunch). Finally, in the evening, I will walk or follow my cardio DVD I have.
The walk has been out of the question with blizzard-like weather. Although, I have seen my neighbor walking. Man, she has stamina. I also saw her cross country skiing the other day. But, she did not look like she†was having any fun at all. †I don’t understand cross country skiing.
I am going to have whatever I want for dinner because I don’t want to skimp on dinner or my food articles. I am going to try to limit myself to one glass of wine per night (on week nights) and two or three (weekends). I have noticed that any more than one glass on the week nights makes that 6:00 am alarm seem way too early.
This†is day one of one hundred fifty nine days to a complete healthy overhaul. I ate scrambled eggs on toast (CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE), practiced yoga, ate a salad for lunch, did the core DVD, and now I am making a quiche (mushroom and onion) for dinner with a salad on the side. I still have to do the walk or cardio DVD before bed. I will do it! Here is a picture of how I look today. I am very embarrassed to do this; but, I want to see the results. I figured if anyone out there is going to follow along with my progress, you’d be interested in the results too. I will update it as we go. Wish me luck and join me if you want to.