Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Orange cranberry rice recipe

Hey everyone!  I am super excited to share a tasty recipe I MADE ALL BY MYSELF.  That's right.  I rule.

Downside.  It was a last minute weeknight meal discovery, and I have no photos.  But I am sure you will do just fine.

Orange-cranberry rice with toasted almonds
1c almonds
1/2 c dried cranberries
2 c white jasmine rice (brown jasmine would work great too, but the cooking times will be different)
3 1/2 c water
1 orange

1) in a medium saucepan, combine the water and rice.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

2) Rinse the outside of the orange off and remove labels, etc.  Zest the entire orange over the pan.  Cut the orange in half, and use a citrus press or your hands to squeeze the juice of the orange into the pan.  Add cranberries and gently fold to combine everything, being careful not to bruise the grains of rice (over stirring will make the rice very sticky). Cover the pan and cook about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed.

3) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.  Coarsely chop the almonds with a knife.  I have not yet found an "easy" way to do this that keeps my fingers safe, so just chop each one, one at a time.  You don't need to cut them really finely, just into 3 or 4 pieces from each almond.  Bigger gives more crunch!  Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake the almonds about 7 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown and fragrant.

4) Fluff the cooked rice with a fork and scoop onto a plate.  Sprinkle the nuts on top of the rice and serve.

I made this VERY impromptu side with Caribean Jerk Chicken that my hubs grilled up along with some veggie kabobs.  The sweet rice went very well with the spicy chicken, and the smoky grilled flavor of the veggies.  I wouldn't pair it with anything bland as I think the flavor will be really off, but with something spicy, it is perfect.  Hope you like it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

30 second workout

Okay, okay, I admit.  I sensationalized the title in hopes of getting some extra interest.  But wait!  Don't leave!  You really can work out in 30 seconds!

Back story: I had a baby almost a year and a half ago.  I've since lost my baby weight and I fit in my clothes, but I feel like my body is not the same.  My abs look stretched out and I have really let myself get weak and have basically no tone.  Last spring and summer I was way too overwhelmed to do anything about it, so I got myself a one-piece swimsuit and called it a day.

I'm not pale, I'm porcelain...

Now I am not saying I ever want to show off my playboy bunny print bikini again since I am someone's MOM after all, but I'd like to avoid letting myself go just because I am "too busy" to care about my health and my figure.  I REALLY REALLY don't have time to work out.  I know lots of people use that as an excuse, but I see it more as a hurdle to be overcome than an excuse.  I have a lot of obstacles to doing traditional workouts: we only have one car, so during the day I can't get to a gym and at night I try to spend time with the family; we live in a climate that has seasons, so its often too hot or too cold to work out outside; we have a small condo, and I don't have room for exercise equipment or even much room to do regular floor workouts; I am very busy between caring for my family and running my small business, and I don't have large blocks of time in my day, so it has to be quick; I don't have money in the budget to pay for basically ANY equipment, even the cheap ones; and finally and probably the most "overcome-able" is the fact that I HATE HATE HATE working out in the traditional way.  I hate lifting weights, if you want to see me run, mention a treadmill and I will run AWAY from it, and just about every workout bores me to tears.  That was fine when hubby and I were ballroom dancing all the time and I could trick my body into working out, but now, well, no time, no sitters, etc etc etc.

So let's see. Has to be at home, preferably indoors, no large (or really even small) equipment, can be done in a small space, can be done quickly, and isn't mind numbing.

My answer is doing simple PE style workouts throughout the day.  It sounds silly, and to be honest it feels silly while I am doing it, but its the only way I could cram a real workout into my incredibly busy schedule.  I do things like lunges, squats, jumping jacks, planks, and something that is apparently called a burpee pushup (saw it on TV once and had to google it to figure out what it was called) randomly throughout the day.  I keep a list that I check off daily on Remember the Milk, a great little app that I use in general for to-do lists, and it automatically repeats for the number of sets I decide on every weekday - I take weekends off to rest and play.

The best part is, I don't do them all at the same time.  I don't do a solid 20 minute workout.  Its hard for me to carve 20 consecutive minutes out of my day, but it is remarkably easy to take 1 or 2 minutes here or there to do a set of lunges.  I do a 30 second plank while heating up my son's lunch in the microwave.  When the timer on the microwave goes off, I can get up.  Its super silly, but that is dead time in my day, anyway!  I do 50 jumping jacks during play time in the mornings and afternoons with little man, and he bounces up and down right along with me.  I feel like a good mom, setting the example of being active and not just being a couch potato.  We turn on some music and bounce to the beat!

By the end of the day I have anywhere from 5-20 minutes of workout under my belt, depending on how many sets I do.  Each set takes about one minute, and I am so out of shape, it usually is only about 10 reps, but over the course of the day I get in a decent amount of exercise.  Is it going to transform me into a bodybuilder? No.  Is it the ideal way to work out?  Probably not.  Is it better than nothing?  Man, I hope so!  Even though its not the fat burning, butt busting Insanity workout, its something realistic I can do and let me tell you, I really do feel the results.  I have sore abs the next day, I feel the strain in my legs, and the hubs swears I look better.  (I think he is just trying to get a little lovin, but I will take a compliment no matter what the motivation!)  It's several weeks in and I am actually sticking with it, although I do better some days than others.  I try not to feel guilty, and just keep making it a part of my routine.  As I go, I am increasing the reps per set and adding new exercises to the mix.  Wall sits are the next thing on the list!

Now I get to pick your brain.  What quickie exercises do you like that I can add to my routine?  I initially wanted to do something about my legs and abs, so I am pretty light on cardio and arms.  Any suggestions?  I'm looking for something that doesn't take any equipment so it fits in the budget and that can be done quickly so it fits in my day.  There are lots of great ideas out there, though, so keep them coming!