Dipping My Toe

I’ve been trying for days to figure out how to go about writing this, tinkering with what I’ve wanted to say and if I should even approach it. It’s tough because some personal writing that I did a number of years ago ended up being discovered by some close to me and even though there wasn’t anything hurtful directed at them, it still ended up causing some sour feelings, so I immediately shut it all down. That particular writing venture was a bit more public knowledge, and the person in question was far more internet savvy than I gave them credit for. Big oops. As such, while it’s certainly public and anyone could stumble upon it, I’ve chosen to keep this one a bit more discreet in an effort to keep it from being completely out there. My husband has full knowledge, but he supports and encourages my writing, and knows how much this means to me.

Now, you may be saying to yourself “Why are you worried about sporadic posts with recipes and fitness stuff?” To that I’ll respond that the intent behind this blog is meant to be so much more, I’ve just been working up the courage to put myself back out there, and it isn’t easy after the above noted discovery. It might seem ridiculous to some, but it felt like a violation of privacy, one that I had experienced over and over since I kept a childhood diary. That is a story for another time, but today, I am ready to dip my toe back into the water.

I’m probably known as a worrier to some people. Oh hell, I know I am a worrier. (That’s why my friends call me Whiskers, and if you’ve never seen Will Ferrell’s Harry Caray skit from SNL, you will have no idea what I’m referring to.) It’s always been a problem for me, although I think I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Lately, however, there is something that has been weighing very heavily on my mind, and for good reason. Given the struggling health of her husband, I am starting to have to face the thoughts of taking care of my mother. It is something that has crossed my mind in the past, but recently I’m realizing that I may have to deal with this possibility far sooner than I had ever anticipated. Believe me, I hope that this isn’t the case, but recent events have brought all of this to the forefront and my worrying is kicked into high gear. Is she financially prepared for this? Are we financially prepared? Is she emotionally capable of handling this? Am I capable? So many thoughts are stirring through my mind. But, as I write this, I find that I keep leaving the post and moving on to other distractions as I am afraid to put all of my true feelings about what this possibility really means out into the blogging world.

I’ve (barely) dipped my toe, and I’ll leave the plunge for another day.

Jar of Happy

I started a little project earlier this year called my jar of happy. The idea is to just write little notes to collect in the jar when something positive happens, or anything in general that makes me smile, and then I’ll open them at the end of the year. I forget about this little jar from time to time, so I’m going to take it out of the cabinet that it’s been hiding in and instead I’ll keep it on the counter as a constant reminder to take note of the joyful little moments – both figuratively and literally. Today such a moment occurred, and it had me smiling the whole way home from the airport, and still even now.

I left just this morning and said a hurried goodbye to my husband as I rushed out the door to make my way to the airport. It was just a day trip, but I was originally going to be on a late flight back home, while he was leaving for DC for a few days this afternoon. Instead, I finished up early and caught an early flight, only to arrive at the airport a just a few minutes before he was expected to board his plane. I worked my way through the crowds from the E concourse to C, and arrived at his gate to see him smiling and walking towards me. I had arrived just in time for a kiss and a proper goodbye. After 10 years of marriage, that man still makes me giddy.

This moment is definitely noteworthy, just never mind the fact that I shorted the word off by one f. Go home spelling, you’re drunk.

Jar of Happy

Coconut Lime Shrimp

I was looking for something light, healthy and easy to cook for dinner last night, and I found it in this delicious coconut shrimp dish. Modified slightly from the Badass Body Diet, this paleo meal has quickly made its way on the keeper list in our home. After a day of multiple workouts (Yes, I lost my mind yesterday and oh, by the way, this heat in NC is absolutely ridiculous!), I was in serious need of some well balanced fuel, and this gem did the trick. I hope you give it a try.

While setting up my prep station for the shrimp, the recipe called for unsweetened shredded coconut, but a bag full of limes sitting nearby prompted the thought that a bit of zest might brighten this dish up. Besides, lime and coconut are meant for each other, right?

Lime zest and coconut - perfection!

Lime zest and coconut – perfection!

The simple shrimp station required almond flour, egg whites and the shredded coconut. I added some pepper and a bit of salt to the almond flour, and while I used superfine flour in this case, heavier almond meal might work even better here.

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The only item that I might have done differently is my choice of shrimp. I picked this up at our local grocery store and while it was peeled and deveined, it was definitely previously frozen. The texture wasn’t exactly what I prefer. My husband thinks it might have even been precooked given the pink color, and I think he might be right, but the label at the fish counter didn’t say anything about that. Either way, it ended up tasting quite good, but next time I’ll make sure to get fresh shrimp, even if I have to peel and devein them myself. (I’ll never admit to saying that I’d take this task on.)

Shrimp

Cooked or not cooked? That was the question.

The original recipe called for spraying cooking spray on the pan and then also on top of the shrimp once they’ve been properly battered up, but to my surprise we were out of cooking spray. Although my dear husband offered to run to the store to grab some, I was hungry and couldn’t stand the thought of waiting, so I opted for coconut oil. After smearing it on the baking pan, I melted a bit and we drizzled it carefully over the prepared shrimp before popping it into the oven. While I can’t account for how the cooking spray might have turned out, the coconut oil worked just fine.

 

 

A quick 15 minutes in the oven on 400 degrees, right next to my roasting cauliflower, and voila! Well, before the “voila” I spiked up the heat and ran the broiler for less than a minute just to brown them up a bit more. Not only do they look great, there is nothing quite like the aroma of toasted coconut. My house smelled like a tropical dream last night.

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I’d say that this turned out to be the perfectly balanced fuel for what my body and belly needed yesterday. Not to mention my nose!

Coconut Lime Shrimp

  • 1 Pnd. shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Zest of 1/2 lime – or more, depending on your preference
  • 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coconut oil or cooking spray to grease the pan
  • 1 Tsp melted coconut oil OR you can use cooking spray to coat the shrimp

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil up a baking sheet either with cooking spray or coconut oil, your choice. Next, set up a shrimp dipping station by placing the almond flour, egg whites and coconut/lime in three separate dishes. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste in the almond flour. Dip each shrimp individually, first in the almond flour, then the egg whites, finally the coconut, and then place them on the baking sheet. Either lightly drizzle the melted coconut over the tops of the shrimp or spray them generously with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, turning each one over carefully about halfway through.

Bourbon Banana Blueberry Bread

This morning I pushed my way through a solid 45 minute bike ride for day 20 of the Oxygen Challenge with Christmas Abbott, which resulted in over 10 miles on the saddle, which is my longest ride, to date. I usually give in around 5 miles and call it a day, but this morning I stuck with the plan and let me just say that it feels amazing! However, after cooling down, I felt a craving for something starchy creeping up on me. While this isn’t exactly part of the Bad Ass Body Diet, I thought I’d share a delicious “nearly” paleo bread recipe, as it’s one of my favorites, super simple to make and holds up great for days after in the refrigerator. Enjoy…

Coffee Cup Optional

Coffee Cup Optional

This one has some simple, but tasty ingredients. I used superfine almond flour for this batch, which turned out great, but I have also used standard almond meal – it’s really your preference. As for the liquor, the Evan Williams bourbon is our house whiskey, but you could get creative here and use what suits your specific tastes. You won’t use much, so it’s more of a water replacement for the moisture, but with a little kick of flavor.

Bowl 2

The almond oil is also optional, you could go with your favorite oil here – but I prefer the flavor and lightness of the almond oil. It’s also my go-to product for salad dressings, even alone it’s delicious!

Parchment 2

Parchment paper is my friend!

Let’s talk about parchment paper. If you haven’t used it for baking, you might want to consider giving it a try. I’m in love with the ease of parchment paper. In this case, I line the pan with the paper, and pour in the batter. No greasing the pan, no mess, and easy clean up. When the bread is done you just lift up the paper to remove the loaf from the pan. Simply brilliant!

Bread 2

Bourbon Banana Blueberry Bread

Ingredients:

1 Cup Almond Flour
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
3 Eggs
1/4 Cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup
2 Tbs Almond Oil or Oil of your choice
2 Tbs Bourbon or Whiskey of your choice (substitute water for full paleo)
2 Very Ripe Bananas
3/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries – Use a bit more or less, depending on your preference

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl, mash your ripe bananas, then mix in the rest of your wet ingredients
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and use either a hand mixer or a whisk to blend together well
  • Slowly fold in the blueberries
  • Place parchment paper in a loaf pan and pour the batter into the center of the pan and distribute evenly
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick or fork come out clean
  • Grab opposite ends of the parchment paper to lift the bread out of the pan, set aside and allow to cool on the paper
  • Give it some time to cool as the blueberries will be very hot – then slice and enjoy!

 

Back At It

i_will_beat_her_posters

Up until about two weeks ago, healthy eating and exercise had really gotten away from me over the past 8 months or so. Not that I was some vision of a healthy lifestyle prior to that, but I was definitely doing better than I had for most of my life. During my twenties, I was just plain skinny. I struggled to put on weight, which led to consuming a ridiculous amount of junk food, and very little to no exercise. I hated being skinny because I was the subject of many snide remarks, but I really didn’t know how to change my body at that time. Looking back now, I was clearly going about it all wrong.

Then 30 came. I swear my metabolism slowed down the day of my birthday, but it felt great for a while.  I finally started putting on weight, and curves versus being built like a 12-year old boy felt amazing. In fact, the change in my breasts alone had several people actually asking me if I had a boob-job. But a couple of years into this, and my pant size kept going up, so I decided to give Weight Watchers a try. I couldn’t believe that I was in this position, having been a skinny girl for my whole life I never envisioned that I would need to lose weight, and I definitely didn’t know the right way to go about it. While Weight Watchers helped me drop a few annoying pounds, I wasn’t treating my body the right way. I was still eating the wrong foods and was pretty lost when it came to exercise and nutrition. I joined a gym several times, but it never lasted. I didn’t know what I was doing and usually just ended up walking on a treadmill after timidly trying out a few weight machines. The monotony always led to membership cancellation.

As I started to approach 40 I took serious notice that I was what is referred to as “skinny fat” and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life just being soft and immobile. My husband had been going to CrossFit for a couple of years at this point, and the one time I tried it when he first started, I was turned off. I didn’t think being surrounded by shirtless men and women grunting away in their sports bras and tiny shorts was for me. (To be clear, my husband always keeps his shirt on while at the gym.) It was intimidating and felt very cliquish, which reminded me too much of what high school felt like, so I ran from it. Instead, I spent the next couple of years sporadically attempting to work out with weights in the garage with my husband, but never fully committed to that, either. After a move to a new part of town and with 40 staring me down, I knew something had to change, and it had to be drastic. I decided to check out a new CrossFit gym (or box as they are many times called) in the neighborhood, and as terrified as I was, I found myself hooked. This place was so different than the first one I went to, they were incredibly friendly, supportive, and helpful. I signed up right after my first class and have been a member now for two years.

My eating habits changed, my body was feeling great and I was seeing some muscle definition – I was going strong until I had a pretty severe muscle spasm in my neck/upper back during the middle of a workout last October. I was laid out and had to take time off to recover, which I did, but then I kept taking time off. I quickly starting letting go of my good eating habits as well, and that, combined with limited exercise has been leading me right back to skinny fat. I needed something to kick start me back, and while I could have gone back to the gym, I found myself being afraid and nervous about it all over again, so I’ve taken another route in the meantime. I signed up for the 90-day Oxygen Challenge lead by Christmas Abbott, and I’m currently on day 16 and already feel spectacular again. My intent is to get back to CrossFit, but this challenge is exactly what I’ve needed. I have no desire to be some muscle bound chick, but I do want to feel strong, sexy and confident. So far, so good – but if you are reading this, I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

-T