Food Friday

This week’s post will be a discussion of food “failures.” This week was so weird – everything I tried to make had SOMETHING wrong with it, though in no cases was it a complete failure.

Monday: Attempted to make lasagna. I had planned to do this, as Kris randomly said “hey, why don’t we get ricotta cheese?” at the store and I realized we had all of the ingredients except zucchini, which I ran to buy. However, when I got home, I discovered that the “giant container” of lasagna noodles had only 6 noodles in it; parts of the top 2 layers were made with spaghetti instead.

Tuesday: Started making coconut-peanut Thai curry only to find that I was “out” of red curry paste. That’s ok – I’ll improvise – after all, I had all of the ingredients for curry paste on hand! After putting my half-ass curry paste mix into the sauce, I look over to see the curry paste. I had put it somewhere “clever” while preparing to cook. It turned out ok in the end, as there was only about 2 teaspoons of paste in the jar in the first place. The curry was a bit too spicy for Kris, though 😦

Random morning I don’t fully remember because it was pre-coffee: put 3/4 of a cup instead of half of a cup of liquid into my oatmeal and it was really really really gross 😦

The good news: I only had to cook 2 days since I made lasagna!

I actually had another relatively major fail this week: my first attempt to go to the company gym. Yesterday, it was very cold and windy and I had some errands to run after work, so I planned on heading back into work to use the treadmill. When I got there, I couldn’t find the locker room at first. Then, I decided to go change in the “bathroom” (note: the gym is not on my floor, so I am unfamiliar with this floor’s layout). For some inexplicable reason the “bathroom” had a secure entrance requiring me to scan my ID, which I thought was weird…until I walked in and discovered it was a completely unmarked locker room in a different hallway than the gym! The worst part: I couldn’t even work out at the gym because I forgot my sports bra and had to go home; I ended up just doing a workout video.

I guess I’ll try again next week! After all, next week is going to present a new challenge: balancing overtime and working out. My job is in a completely new division of the company, and very little of the work was being done before we arrived (due to lack of manpower); therefore, we are a few months behind where we need to be and will be working mandatory overtime until we are caught up. It looks like I’m going to have several nights of working until 7-9, meaning I will have to hit up the gym afterwards if I want to get a workout in. Let’s just hope I don’t resort to too much takeout and too many frappucinos in the meanwhile!

Oh – I do want to end today by noting a change of plans: I will not be running the 10 mile race I had planned to this weekend, despite my weeks of training (even in the ice and snow!). My grandfather is unfortunately very ill in the hospital, so I will be going out of town to visit my family. At least I hadn’t paid for the race yet, and it still had the positive side effect of forcing me to get my ass back outside and running! I’m not sure what my next race will be – the next one I had considered is a half on April 6, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that (the longest I’ve run this month was 9 miles, and I missed a run this week). A lot of the other races I had been thinking about aren’t until October; are too difficult/too soon; or they are sold out. I’m sure I’ll find something soon, though!


Liebster “Award”

My friend Amanda’s blog (check it out, it’s awesomely geeky) was recently nominated for a Liebster Award, and she chose to nominate me as well. Thanks, Amanda!

Her blog has a great description of how the award works, but the short version is that relatively new bloggers nominate other relatively new bloggers. The rules loosely state that you need to answer a set of questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you, then come up with a list of your own questions and pass those on to other bloggers who you nominate.

I’m not going to pass this along (which means I am breaking the rules for the award, hence the quotes in the title), mostly because I feel like the blogs I read are already pretty well established or I don’t feel like I interact with those who do have a small blog enough to be non-awkward about nominating them, but I thought it would be fun – and challenging – to answer the questions she passed on to me:

  1. If you were trapped inside a video game for the rest of your life, which game would you want it to be? Honestly, getting stuck in a video game doesn’t sound that appealing. The Sims? Someone would drown me or set me on fire! Civilization? Gandhi nukes me. These all sound way to much like things that could happen in the real world (i.e. random world leaders nuking you, not specifically Gandhi!) so I think I’d rather stay here where I at least won’t have my entire world cease to function because somebody left a plate on the floor.
  2. Which spaceship would you like to explore the universe in? I don’t know if I’m geeky enough to answer this question. I can only think of like, 4 spaceship names. I guess the Enterprise would be pretty cool so I could use the holodeck  (I am sure I spelled that wrong) and replicate myself tons of cookies.
  3. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your blog? How much work it is! I barely put any work into my blog – I just do it for my own enjoyment – and it still takes HOURS per week! I used to think that blogging was something anyone could pick up and do well at.
  4. If you could have any mythical animal as a friend/pet/companion, what would it be and why? The only mythical animal I can think of off the top of my head is a unicorn, so I am pleading with Kris for help with this question. He just brought me a stack of D&D books. I’m not sure whether to be amused or concerned. The first page had scary monsters. Now there are dragons. Dragons are pretty cool, I guess. A lot of these things aren’t even animals. Oh! A hippogriff! I know what that is from Harry Potter! I’ll pick it for nostalgic purposes. I also perked up at “pegasus,” so I guess I like flying things that I can ride.
  5. What fictional world is your home away from home? I think I would enjoy living in the Shire, as long as the rest of Middle Earth leaves it alone. I could live in a nice little hole in the ground and eat all day.
  6. If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would it be? This one is difficult for me, mostly because I don’t really have a favorite “character.” I really don’t know. Sorry for the cop-out on this question.
  7. What daily (or semi-daily) activity/chore do you wish you could get by without doing? It would be really nice if I didn’t have to constantly clean up pet hair.
  8. What is your number one pet peeve? HOW TO PICK?! Let’s go with watching people use computers differently than I do, even if the way they are using it isn’t really less efficient (and especially if it is).
  9. If you had to pick an apocalypse, which one would you pick? Everyone dies of a superbug. I almost never get sick, so I guess I get to live through this one. Also, no ongoing apocalypse to deal with (i.e. zombies, though I feel fairly prepared for that particular apocalypse). Once people die, it’s mostly done. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out like The Stand.
  10. What job did you want as a kid? What job would you want if you didn’t have to worry about making a living? As a kid I wanted to be a country music singer! Haha, I don’t even listen to country music at all now. If I didn’t have to worry about money I wouldn’t have a “job,” per se – I’d pursue passions instead. I’d travel around running races; I’d attempt to write a book; I’d study different subjects I was interested in; I’d work on improving my sewing skills. Yes, all of these can technically be jobs, but none of them are a dream job I’d dedicate myself to or anything.
  11. What is your favorite color, and what is your favorite nerdy thing corresponding to that color? Pink. Are there pink nerdy things? I’m honestly not sure.

Food Friday

It’s been a busy week adjusting to my new job! The position I am in is part of a completely new part of the organization and there has been A LOT of information to process. Unfortunately, I still have to work this weekend at the pizza place, so I won’t get much of a break, but after this weekend, I can look forward to a more predictable M-F schedule.

Don’t worry, I’ve still made time for exercise! The day of my “rest day” I made sure to go for two ten minute walks on my breaks; I have gone running after work two evenings this week (and did a workout video once); and I rode my bike to work today. I’m still adjusting a bit – I hope to get in more walks as the weather warms up, to bike in more often (I haven’t located the locker room yet), and to take advantage of the on-site gym.

Anyway, since this is Food Friday, I do want to focus a bit more on food.

Packing my lunch and continuing to cook healthy meals has gone well, overall – Kris even cooked once this week while I was on a run (I normally don’t let him near the kitchen)! I am going to experiment to see what sort of healthy fare I can find in the cafeteria today, as I am out of bread to make my normal PB&J sandwich. Hopefully I find something suitable and avoid the coffee shop – I’m not sure if I can, though – they have BOTH coffee and ice cream (in some of my favorite brands).

I would like to reflect a bit on what exactly I have been eating this week and what has/has not been working well for me:

  • Speaking of coffee, drinking coffee only at home is not going to work out. If I don’t actually want to spend half of my salary at the coffee shop, I should probably invest in a thermos. I have had a caffeine headache everyday!
  • My breakfasts have been holding me over – every morning I have been having a bowl of oatmeal (made with half water, half milk) with maple syrup, craisins, and cinnamon mixed in. I haven’t felt hungry until lunch time AT ALL. I’m honestly amazed. As it warms up I may switch to Greek yogurt; we will have to see how that compares.
  • My lunch so far has been a PB&J sandwich, carrots with hummus, a piece of cheese, and a piece of fruit. It seems small when I eat it, but I have felt pretty full. I usually only snack in the afternoon so that I’m not hungry later, not because I’m super hungry when I have the snack.
  • Working out at night might take some adjustment. I usually eat some sort of granola bar in the afternoon for a snack to give me energy for the workout, which works well, but then after the workout I am STARVING. I eat dinner and immediately feel hungry. I’m not going over my calories but I feel like I’m shoving all of them into a 2 hour post-workout period.
  • I need to plan better for nights I go out to eat. We went out for dinner on Tuesday, and I made it my rest day because I didn’t have time to do both. In theory, that was a good idea; in practice, my reasonable for a restaurant dinner (a falafel gyro with a side of fries and 2 beers) made me go WAY over my calorie limit for the day.

I also wanted to take this as a chance to talk up the Aldi brand granola bars I bought last week. They are amazing! I bought two kinds: a Clif and a KIND knockoff. Both taste pretty much as good as the originals (I might even prefer Aldi’s crunchy peanut butter Clif-type bars), and are significantly cheaper. My only complaint is that they don’t have more flavors. Hopefully people start buying more of my favorite flavors in the name brands so they trickle down to Aldi!


My Sedentary Job Plans

Today started out with pancakes, veggie sausage (side note: it is so much better than veggie bacon that Kris thought it was real sausage) and a NINE mile run! I haven’t run that far since before my half marathon in October so I was pleasantly impressed with myself. It wasn’t my best run ever nor my worst; I decided to go run the 5K loop at a local park three times for a change of scenery and to add in some hills, which made the run more difficult.

Kris and Belle came along to walk the path while I ran it, hoping that taking some time to go on extra trails would have them finishing up around the same time as me. Unfortunately, Belle hurt her paw somehow (it isn’t swollen and we cannot see any cuts or foreign objects, but she can’t walk on it), which put a bit of a damper on our outing. I am hoping she starts to feel better in a day or two!

Anyway, I mentioned in my last post that I am going to be starting a new job that is going to be far less active than my current one as a server at a restaurant. I am excited (but also nervous) to report that I am starting tomorrow at 8 am! Kris and I have been practicing getting up and getting ready for a 7:30ish departure time all week. I should submit this as evidence that I did not lie during my interview when I said that I am a person who always tries to plan ahead and be prepared!

The key pros: not smelling like grease, having regular hours, earning a regular income (instead of, you know, being subject to having random people act nice the whole meal and then leave you 16 cents), and actually making use of all that college I paid for. The main con: sitting on my ass all day long. I am trying to use the structured schedule to my advantage, though – it is going to be much easier to plan, plan, plan for all of my exercise and nutrition needs and not be subject to needing to randomly eat breadsticks due to imminent starvation after being asked to stay later than planned (totally not an exaggeration).

Here are my preliminary plans for staying active and healthy at my sedentary job:

  • Bike or walk to work as much as possible. This will actually be more convenient than driving as the office is less than 2 miles from my house and has a gym!
  • Take advantage of actually having breaks to go on walks, stretch, etc.
  • Pack healthy lunches and snacks! I stocked up on baby carrots, protein bars, fruit, and PB&J this weekend in preparation!
  • Stick to my normal exercise regimen – try not to let “I’m too busy” be an excuse, especially with a gym at the office.

Active Jobs and Weight Loss Maintenance

I had a fairly productive day today!

Kris and I have been practicing getting up early because… I start a new job next week! I’ll need to be there at 8 am everyday, and while I’m used to getting up to take Kris to work by 8:30, I’m not quite used to getting up early enough to get both of us ready and out the door half an hour earlier! The good news is that the weather is warming up so we should both be able to bike to work, cutting down on the inconvenience that will arise from having 1 car and slightly different hours. Today getting up early was necessary, because Kris had a doctor’s appointment in another town at 8:30. No worries, just some boring (because they were normal) bloodwork results.

After we got home, I had to really motivate myself to go for my run (the rest of this post will get more into why I was so demotivated), but I went out and got in 4 miles before our “100% chance of rain” weather started around lunchtime. Then, after I got home, I set to work making a lunchbox for my bike that I adapted from this tutorial (I lined mine and put in insulation so that I can keep things cold with an icepack). I have panniers, but liked the idea of a bag I could attach somewhere else if I needed more room in the panniers or if it was a more casual day and all I needed to bring along was my purse and a lunch! While constructing it went very well (I made Kris one for Christmas so I was practiced at all of the quirks of the project), I did run into a couple of obstacles:

Misty trying to help. She also tried to climb into my sewing machine case! Oh, and that cute shoe fabric is the lining.

The bag is bigger than the triangle below my top tube 😦 I told Kris I’ll just have to buy a second bike so that I can use the lunchbox 😉

After all of that I even made a “nice” dinner of lentil curry for us. Now I’m sitting at Panera Bread relaxing. Warning: they somehow put twice as many calories into their baked goods as other businesses. The carrot cake muffin I had was almost worth it, though. The cinnamon crunch bagel (which I should have had instead) is more than worth it.

Now, on to the topic of this day’s post. When I started working as a server, I knew it would be a more active job and was glad that might help to burn off some of my winter fluffiness I’d packed on. I soon realized, though, that I was insatiably hungry all of the time and regularly going over my calorie limits – and still going to bed hungry! I felt very guilty about all of the breadsticks, mozzarella sticks, and wings I was devouring at work on top of all of my other food, and, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago when I set myself some short-term goals for the month, was guessing rather than losing weight I had probably gained it.

When I weighed myself at the beginning of March, though, I hadn’t gained a pound – I had to ask myself “why?”

When I began to think about it more seriously, I considered the fact that most calorie counters have an adjustment for how active your job is. I’ve always put in “sedentary” even though my jobs (teacher, retail) could probably be classified as closer to “lightly active” because I did not believe that I was burning the 200 extra calories that MyFitnessPal claimed per day at those jobs – I figured an extra active day was just an added bonus.

When I began working at the pizza place, I operated under the same assumption: perhaps I’d burn a few extra calories, but I’d just consider it an added bonus. When I realized that I was maintaining my weight pretty well despite my terrible diet, I looked to see what MFP thought I should be eating in my new occupation, which it classifies as “active” and was at first surprised to see it was 400 calories! But then I thought about it – I burn about 60 calories on a 20 minute (1 mile) walk. If I am walking for, say, 3 hours out of my shift, that would be over 500 calories burned – plus I am usually carrying heavy things around while doing it! I haven’t made it a habit to add 400 extra calories in a day, but I’ve felt WAY less guilty about munching on a breadstick if I am truly hungry since making that realization.

I would say that there are cons to having a more active job, though. If one’s active job is at a restaurant or retail store (well, one were food will be available), the temptation to eat food that is “bad” for you will be high once the insatiable hunger hits. Now, a breadstick isn’t inherently “bad,” but it isn’t very filling so if I eat that instead of a more filling snack, I am more likely to be hungry and eat even more calories later. I am also more likely to eat things that are calorie bombs, sending me well over my calorie limit even with the extra calories I burnt at my job, such as multiple slices of deep dish pizza (that I don’t even like! I’m just starving!).

If one doesn’t work at a restaurant, I’m guessing the opposite problem occurs – you are starving, but are too busy at work to get food, and are therefore under-fueled, irritable, and likely to grab fast food on the way home. I’m guessing in either scenario you are also more likely to want to come home and relax with a glass (or two) of wine/beer! I am guessing that you can connect many of the goals I have set myself for March with these particular problems that arise from working an active job at a restaurant, such as allowing fewer calories to be “empty” calories and trying to eliminate eating without purpose while at work.

My main approaches to combating this have been to bring healthy snacks along with me and to make sure that if I have a calorie bomb at work, I use it to replace my dinner (usually it turns out I’m not hungry after eating something like half a stromboli and 4 mozzarella sticks anyway).

Another problem I have found is that burning all of those calories at work is physically exhausting. Often, when I head out for a run, my legs are tired, stiff, and painful the whole time. The tiredness in my legs really slows me down – on days they are fresher, I am much much closer to my old paces; days like yesterday and today, I’m struggling to stay under 10 minutes per mile. My legs aren’t the only part of me that is sore, either – I’ve found that simple workouts with 3 lb weights as part of workout videos are more difficult now, even though I’m stronger, because my arms are always worn out! In general, I think that trying to work out 6 days per week AND work such an active job has really taken a toll on me – I don’t get any “real” rest days, so I always feel a bit run down. My run yesterday was miserable – my legs were in pain the whole time, and I felt sick to my stomach, which made it hard to motivate myself today. I felt a bit better today, but my legs still felt like crap, so I might give myself some “rest” tomorrow (I have an 8 hour shift) by skipping my 45 minute home workout I had planned to see if that helps at all.

Now, the fun part of all of this reflection will be that I’m moving to what is going to be, at least in comparison, a very sedentary job next week. Don’t worry, I have some plans for that I am working on to stay active and healthy 🙂

My Grocery Outlet Experience

I mentioned yesterday that I was planning to try out a grocery outlet store for the first time today, and I thought I’d share my experience looking for and purchasing relatively healthy foods there. The grocery outlet was a local chain so unless you live in Central/SE PA the name probably doesn’t matter, but I’m sure most of these outlets follow a similar model.

I will begin by saying that I have never actually shopped for myself at a grocery outlet before – my parents sometimes took me with them when I was a kid, but for some reason they were just never really on my radar. I was at a party a few weeks ago, though, and someone mentioned that she got an incredible deal on coffee at one, which inspired me to see if one was near my house. Today was a good day to go because we did not need any major groceries, so I figured that if I had to leave empty-handed it would not be a big deal. They unfortunately did not have the same spectacular coffee deal ($2.99 for 1 lb bags of Starbucks!) but overall it was a positive experience.

$43.11 for everything pictured!

Best Deals:

  • Facial cleansing wipes. Half the price for twice as many as I usually get.
  • Freschetta pizza. Half off the sale price at my normal grocery store.
  • The hot and spicy pickles! I have not been able to find these in a normal grocery store in months (don’t worry, they aren’t expired) and I used to pay $1.50 more for them.
  • Bananas were $.12/lb cheaper than my normal grocery store and in better shape.
  • The green tea (hidden in the back). This was priced at the typical sale price for half gallons, 3/$5 (I got a full gallon).

Just Ok Deals:

  • All that shredded cheese. It was actually a really good deal, but it was like 1/3 of the price. I will have to assess later whether stocking up on it was worth it.
  • Most of the other items (i.e. string cheese, oatmeal, crackers) were only $.50-$1 off. Still savings, but I’m sure I could get them at that price with a coupon.

Worst Deal:

  • The dried cranberries. The price wasn’t marked and I intended to ask the clerk how much they were but got distracted because the register would not ring up the makeup wipes and forgot to ask. They were $2.99 for 12 oz., which is probably MORE than I would pay for Craisins if they were on sale and the same price I would pay normally.

Weirdest/Grossest Finds (note: almost nothing I picked up was expired or in super bad shape – most of it was boxes that were a little crumpled, and NOTHING was wrong with the produce – I just didn’t need much).

  • Expired Feta 😦
  • Cream cheese that said nothing but “cream cheese” on it in English. I had no way of knowing if it was flavored, expired, or anything!

One final addition: The store had a fairly decent sized natural/organic section (where I found the syrup, actually) and stocked several vegetarian/vegan items, such as Earth Balance Mayo and multiple brands of veggie burgers. I don’t buy these things but they were impressively good deals if you do!

Food Friday

I know I haven’t been posting much lately. Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything noteworthy enough to post about.

I run 4 times a week and do a workout video 2 times a week. Sometimes the weather is cold and unpleasant – the wind slowed me by over 1 minute per mile when running into it the other day; sometimes the weather is better – a 60 degree day is in the 5 day forecast! At least my new March goals have been going reasonably well. I’m not doing perfectly, especially at the 80/20 rule (Good “Fastnacht Day”), but I have been more mindful, especially about getting my workouts in and not eating without purpose at work. I’ve also been getting “back into shape” (not that I was really ever out of shape) and have been blasting out 5Ks in under 30 minutes (now let’s just get that back down to under 25 minutes…).

Short post for this Friday – I didn’t really cook too much this week. Mostly we chowed down on homemade veggie burgers and pizza (from various sources). I did want to do a Food Friday post to share my first experience making Thai style curry, though! I made this recipe, sans pineapple, and it was really simple and turned out great! Next time I might add some red pepper flakes and/or sriracha, though – I love spicy food but wasn’t sure how spicy the curry paste would be, so I wanted to try it plain, first. Of course it wasn’t spicy enough for me (I used to eat homemade horseradish for fun as a child…).

I’ve been making an Indian style lentil curry like, every week because it’s super easy and cheap (it’s onions, carrots, potatoes, and lentils….I’m not sure you could make something cheaper). Kris has always had this weird dislike of Indian food, though. I swear he is the only person who finds it “bland.” Maybe he has the equivalent of being tone-deaf to curry powder or something? He is very picky about which Indian restaurants we go to and so it comes as no surprise to me that my  Indian cooking talents (read: dump in copious amounts of curry powder) do not match those of the nicest India restaurants in town. I asked him for an honest opinion of the Indian lentil curry and he responded with “why can’t you try peanut curry like we get at the Thai place?” I’d be interested in trying that out anyway – any excuse to eat more peanut butter – so I gave it a shot.

The downside: it resembles Hamburger Helper while cooking. To be fair, I kind of love the cheeseburger macaroni kind…

In addition to being easy to make and quite yummy, I would like to add that the coconut-peanut curry was an incredibly healthy and filling vegetarian dish. I split mine into four servings which came to about 400 calories each, following the recipe exactly (with the exception of excluding pineapple, which just sounded weird with it). That means that with a whole serving of rice, this was a 650 calorie dinner, which is pretty reasonable. It also had several servings of veggies in it (a whole cup of broccoli in each serving!), which is good for me because although I LOVE veggies I basically just forget to eat enough of them. There are only 13g of protein in this version, but if you wanted to I am sure you could add in some tofu in place of some mushrooms or just use chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, and if you added that protein you could probably stretch this out to 6 servings to reduce calories. There is also a reduced-calorie recipe available on the website that I linked.

Sorry I haven’t been making more exciting food choices lately. There might be some changes in my life soon (hopefully good ones) so maybe they will change up my food routine a bit 🙂 I do plan on trying out a local grocery outlet tomorrow, so maybe I can at least write a bit about my cheap grocery finds…or my horror at everything being out of date.

Happy Friday! My parting gift to you is a picture of Belle trying to sleep in Misty’s bed and a picture of Misty sleeping on anything but her bed. Note: she has never used her bed.

There is a dog-sized bed in this room.

The pillow in the upper-right hand corner says “not tonight” on the other side. That was an embarrassing bridal shower gift to receive from one of Kris’s aunts!