Friday, October 31, 2014

Chai-Spice Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins (2014:37)

This is one of those recipes - when I saw it, I had to make it ASAP.  Chai, pumpkin, oatmeal, not much sugar.....these muffins sounded delicious.

I decided to make them on a Sunday to take to work on Monday.  As delicious as they sounded, I did not want them in the house for too long.  Ha!  I had no almond milk or quick oats so I bought those ahead of time.  The glaze was just not going to happen; I'm not buying a vanilla bean!

These muffins were relatively easy to whip up and they smelled amazing while in the oven.  I took them out, let them cool, and then made an easy glaze of 3 Tbsp powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla extract.  

When I finally tasted one....they were alright.  They are definitely not sweet and I guess that's why they didn't blow me over.  If I ever make them again, I'll add a bit of real sugar.  That being said, Mr. Higgins and my co-workers ate them and like them.  So maybe I'm just weird.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lentil Chili (2014:36)

Until recently, I had never tried a lentil.  Growing up, we never ate them and I, therefore, never saw them or tasted them.  A co-worker, though, was talking about them several months ago and I was intrigued.  I made a batch - simply spiced and with onion - and I liked them.  Mr. Higgins liked them!  And so I started pinning lentil recipes.

Considering how much I love chili, you know Lentil Chili caught my eye.  This recipe, especially, since it has beans (so many of them omit the beans).  Last weekend, wishing it felt more like fall, I made this chili recipe.

I had to change a few things…  For the beans, I used one can of Ranch Style Beans (the best beans) and one can of red beans.  Another tablespoon of chili powder was required, as was red pepper flakes - we like things hot and spicy here.  When it came time to serve the chili, it was super thick, so I added another cup of water.  I omitted the cheese and tortilla chips; we don't need the calories.  

The chili turned out great!  It definitely satisfied my chili craving and impressed Mr. Higgins, who is not so easily impressed by chili.  It made the 12 servings it said, so I had tons for the freezer and lunches.  Yay!  I love finding great new recipes!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week Seven: Peak 10 Challenge #2

This is going to be a rough week as far as eating goes.  It's my birthday week which means too much food all the way around. 

But I'm excited to get in some good workouts.  I know it sounds weird but I genuinely enjoy working out.  It makes me feel great - and productive! 

Monday: Ilyse Baker's Easy to Follow Dance Moves + Amy Dixon's Kickboxing Skills and Drills

I'm really trying to balance out my workouts this week and so I wanted something a bit lighter today after a weekend of tough Peak workouts.  This combination fit the bill.  I did 25 minutes of each workout.  Ilyse is my new favorite on Glo and I'm finally learning that the one type of workout that I like from Amy is kickboxing.  So, this was a fun morning workout!

Tuesday: Cardio Strength 1 on Glo + weights

Trying to figure out when to add in this additional workout, which becomes necessary in the latter half of the Peak 10 Challenge, has been difficult since I'm doing weights at work.  I decided to do it today instead of tomorrow, so I would have tomorrow as a break from weights.  Thankfully, the CSs are not intense weight training.  I did four sections of this workout, having to skip the last one due to my morning time constraints.  But I did it at 5:30 with peaks and all - a first!  Weights at lunch was not necessarily fun but it was productive and I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + yoga

Anticipating a lot of bad eating today, on my birthday, I woke up and did AA.  As you know, it's my least favorite of the Peak Fit workouts.  It's definitely effective, though, which keeps me coming back.  It was nice to go yoga at lunch, to let my muscles re-group.  Ah!  The instructor basically just stretched us out, which was lovely.

Thursday: Pure Cardio + weights

This morning was tough after eating too much last night.  But I got into this cardio relatively well, given the circumstances.  I think I'll try a different cardio next week to give this one a break.  Weights at lunch....well, I was still aching from Tuesday so this was a bit painful.  But I got through everything I was supposed to, which takes about 35 minutes.  Yay!

Friday:  Michelle's Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles on Glo

This was my second time through this Glo workout by Michelle and wow, it's tougher than it seems.  It's essentially another BodyFit 360 - on the surface it looks easy but you work hard.  I was spent after this "light" workout.  And for some reason, I was exhausted today so I decided it was best to skip hard yoga at lunch.  My body clearly was trying to tell me something and I listened.

Saturday:  Peak Fit Cardio Strength 2 + Michelle's Strength Lower Body + Strength Upper Body on Glo

My energy was back this morning so I decided to get some serious work in.  I went through CS 2, which always leaves me exhausted.  But since I had the weights out, I decided to do two 15-minute strength workouts from Michelle on Glo.  The arm one wasn't too bad but the legs - ouch!  That got me.  I followed all of this with a good, nice 10-minute stretch.  

Sunday: Cardio Interval Burn Remix

I still love this one….and I always forget how difficult it is!  Wow!  I rewarded myself with a nice stretch, and then five minutes of core work.  Ha!

Calorie Counts:

We're just not going to go there this week.  It's been bad.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ellen Barrett: Grace and Gusto (Review)

I loved Ellen Barrett's Crunch videos back in the day (those are ten years old now!) so it was exciting to see that she recently released some new videos.  I received Grace and Gusto for my birthday.


Like her older Crunch videos, Ellen sticks to low-impact moves.  You move in many directions but never vigorously.  This workout is live and is done on a mat and barefoot. 

Many of Ellen's moves are recycled from her previous workouts: side arm/leg lifts, plies, ballet legs and feet...  One new move in the workout is an arm twist that Ellen does several times throughout - and though it isn't difficult, you begin to feel it after a while! 

This fusion flow workout barely made me break a sweat but it was a lovely alternative to the more rigorouls fusion/barre workouts in my rotation.  Ellen's style is truly unique and can be done by women of all ages. 


Bottom Line: If you're a beginner or have trouble with high-impact moves, Ellen is for you.  She's also great for those recovery days when you just need a break.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

That Time Again

Another year down, another year to ponder life's lessons.  Today marks my 33rd year of being in this world.  

Last year was a big year.  I finally found a new job, a real career, and learned about happiness and fulfillment in the workplace.  This was incredible!  At this time last year, I was interviewing for that job, not knowing what would happen.  I'm so thankful my boss decided to choose me over the other candidates.

And it's interesting to reflect on last year when I had my first real health issue.  Thankfully, my new, wonderful co-workers supported me when I had to stay home for a week because I was radioactive.  But that entire process reminded me of just how fragile our place truly is in this world.  

But looking at 33 from a different angle, Mr. Higgins was this age when we met.  Ha!  That's too funny!  I am so grateful that we found each other and no matter what the next year brings, I know he will make me happy, as always.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week Six: Peak 10 Challenge #2

I'm back into my challenge - no more health restrictions! 

There's going to be a change this week, though.  Instead of the Pure Strength workouts, I'm going to utilize my free time with a trainer at the rec center.  This should be interesting!  I don't like working out in public but a co-worker has volunteered to go with me.  We'll see how this goes!


I'm still trying to keep my protein up as well!

Monday:  Ilyse Baker's Dance Intervals 101 + Michelle's HIIT - Breathless and Energized


I was excited to do something different this morning.  I started off with the lighter of the workouts, Ilyse's dance workout (30 minutes).  Last week was my first attempt at this one and it's fun - definitely more cardio than dance.  I like it!  I then went on to Michelle's short, 15 minute HIIT workout.  I like this kind of HIIT...  Two moves put together rather than one move over and over.  I finished off my 50 minutes with some lunges and a stretch.

32% protein - wow!

Tuesday: Ellen Barrett's Grace and Gusto + weights

A dear friend of mine just gave me Ellen Barrett's Grace and Gusto DVD and I couldn't wait to try it!  Today seemed the perfect day since I knew that weights were in my future at lunch.  Ellen's style hasn't changed much since her earlier Crunch DVDs but that's alright.  Her workouts are always unique and light for days when you need a break.  I'll post a review of her DVD soon.  At lunch, I met with the trainer to learn how to do all these fancy weight machines.  We didn't get through them all but my arms and legs were shaking after 35 minutes.  Wow!  I'll go back for more torture on Thursday.

27% protein

Wednesday: Pure Cardio + yoga

I was ready to get in some good cardio this morning and also ready to get back into my Peak 10 Challenge schedule.  Pure Cardio was so nice and familiar - especially welcome since I hardly slept last night.  Yoga at lunch was fun after a two week break.  I always enjoy the Mon/Wed class - which is lighter - and the friendly teacher.

27% protein

Thursday:  Alex McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits + weights

I'm finding myself faced with a dilemma on days I do weights at lunch, like today....  I can't do weights any other time during that week at home, if I'm doing them at work, so that means more cardio at home.  Yay, in a way, but I also miss my weighted work outs.  Sigh.  I also, amazingly, miss all the Pure Strengths.  This was my third time through McLean's HIIT workout and it's not any easier.  Thirty mintues of HIIT + tabata, a cool down, some low-impact moves, and some core work finish out my 50 minute workout.  Whew!  I added more machines to my weight circuit at lunch.  Ouch!  35 minutes of torture!  Even more to come next week.

27% protein

Friday:  McLean's Unless Your Inner Strength + Dixon's Skills and Drills + yoga

Once again in search of cardio, I wanted something not quite so intense this morning, after three mornings this week of high impact work.  I settled on two workouts which I did for 23  minutes (each ran for 30) each and finished with my own cool downs and stretch.  Both workouts were a level 2 (out of 3) - but I still sweated and worked hard.  McLean is always tough, even in a level 2 which consisted of burpies and lots of running.  Dixon's workout was a kickboxing one, but between kicks and punches, she had jumping rope and jack intervals to keep up the heart rate.  These two were a great combo and I'll probably do them again!  At lunch, I went to the rec center for hard yoga.  Wow.  The one thing I love about it is the great stretch, which always feels good after a long week of hard workouts.

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Strength

This was my very first Peak 10 workout so I know it well.  But it still kicks my rear-end every time!  Whew!

Sunday:  Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn


Every time I do this CIB, I really enjoy it.  It's one of the tougher ones as far as non-stop high-impact moves, but it feels great.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1398
Tuesday - 1345
Wednesday - 1365
Thursday - 1345

Friday - bad
Saturday - bad!
Sunday - bad!

We celebrated my birthday with my parents over the weekend - and also celebrated my dad's belated birthday.  So there wasn't much healthy at all this weekend - but at least I got in some good workouts.  That's something, at least!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Skinny Pumpkin Spice Bars (2014:35)

Fall is finally - finally - in the air here in Texas. What that means is that the highs are now in the upper 80s most days. Ha! Gotta love the Lone Star State.

I've been yearning to make all things pumpkin and when Boss' Day came around, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new pumpkin recipe! When I was browsing Sally's Baking Addiction, I noticed her Skinny Pumpkin Spice Bars and pinned the recipe. Since it was easy, it was perfect to make on a weekday to take to work - for Boss' Day!

I made the recipe as is, though I used egg substitute instead of real eggs. Alarmingly, I almost forgot the brown sugar since I was so enthralled with the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Ha! But I got the sugar in on time and spread the mixture into the pan.

Once in the oven, I set the timer for 25 minutes. At the halfway mark, I turned on the oven light and was distressed to see no change in the batter. I tried not to panic. By the 25 minute mark, the cake was looking good but needed a bit longer. Next time, I will bake these for 30 minutes. I let them cool and cut them into 12 squares. That makes them 133 calories each.

I split one of the bars with Mr. Higgins - wanting to make sure they were good for work. And they were delicious - spicy, moist, and full of pumpkiny goodness! Mr. Higgins promptly wanted to know when we could have our own batch! Yay! Success!!