Archive | August, 2014

Recipe: Mini Turkey Meatloaf

29 Aug

meatloaf

Time: 30 minutes to prepare; 35 minutes to cook

Ingredients

  • 1 pound turkey burger
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. of herbs (any combination of thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, etc.)
  • 1 8-oz. can low-sodium tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Mixing with your hands is best, but a wooden spoon will also do.
  3. Form the mixture into 4-6 loaves.
  4. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 35 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
  5. While the loaves are baking, mix together the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar. Spoon over the loaves for another 10 minutes.

Verdict

Can I be honest with you? I actually really enjoy meatloaf. I love that it’s easy to make and that it’s comfort food. I’ve made no secret of my love for comfort food. This recipe is a combination of what I know of cooking and a few added tips from the Extreme Fat Smash Diet cookbook. If you like meatloaf, you’ll love this. It’s less fat than ground beef, and the portions are smaller because it’s individual loaves. I served mine with sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Allergy Sneezin’

27 Aug
You see the beautiful colors; I can't see anything because my eyes are watering.

You see the beautiful colors; I can’t see anything because my eyes are watering.

There are two type of people: spring people and fall people.

Spring people look forward to new life, fresh days and hopeful beginnings.

Fall people look forward to cold nights, extra clothes and dead, damp leaves.

If you can’t tell, I’m a spring person. I hate the fall. Usually, I’d say f— fall, but this is a family site.

One reason this is the worst time of the year is that it’s a harbinger of bad things to come, like the cold. It means winter is coming. There will be snow—black snow, poopy snow, yellow snow, rock salt, etc.

But the worst thing about fall is all of the allergens in the air. Some people who hate the spring hate it because of their allergy problems. I guess they have their issues, but ragweed in the fall makes me feel like my face is swelling.

I was a pretty bad asthmatic as a kid. I had inhalers everywhere: bookbag, bathroom, both parents’ cars, my grandparents’ house, etc. As i got older, my asthma became less and less of an issue.

One day in college, long after I’d given up my purple pump, I went to a fall festival across the street from my dorm. My friends said there were booths and a step show. Never one to miss out on a party, I crossed the street—straight into the land of allergic reactions. The second I stepped foot on the grass, my eyes watered up, my nose started running  and my throat tightened. I had to go to student health and have them issue me another inhaler and some allergy medicine.

It’s been that way for more than 15 years. But now that I’m more active, allergy season becomes a problem when breathing is a necessity during a workout. How can I still be able to burn calories without killing myself?

The one and only good thing about fall is that temperatures are ideal for running. But you can’t run if you can’t breathe. Mold from dead, damp leaves and kicked up dust mites from the dirt make it near impossible for me to pass air through my lungs. As much as I’d like to go out for a run in the 65-degree weather, I have to keep it indoors. The gym becomes my friend for a couple months during the fall.

It’s not all terrible. The fall was when I discovered spin class, Zumba and boot camp. It was when I started going to the gym with some regularity and became familiar with my friends Treadmill, Stationary Bike and Elliptical (hey, boos!). This season, I’m planning to make the free weights and kettle bells my bae. I can develop muscle tone while the soggy leaves are stirring up bad things in the air.

Even still, it’s during this time of year that I live for a good, hard rain. I will do my best to avoid running in it, but a downpour washes away a lot of the allergens. And as long as the parks department clears away the leaves pretty frequently, I can still get outside. The rain may cool things off too much, however, but that’s what running jackets are for.

No matter what your hangups, like the weather, don’t let it stop you from doing what needs to be done. If your nasal passages can’t handle the season’s change, try popping in an exercise video. Hit the gym and find a new workout. There are plenty of ways to burn calories, and sticking with one routine will only set you up for stagnation.

How do you deal with outdoor exercising when the weather gives you no chill?

photo credit: Douglas Brown via photopin cc

What I Learned From the MTV VMAs

25 Aug

beyonce_vmasLike the BET Awards, the VMAs offer amazing spectacle. So before I get to the main event, let’s discuss Mrs. Carter’s opening acts.

* I’m an old. Anything that I watch on MTV, I watch on demand or stream it. So I had no clue what channel MTV is anymore.

* I actually like Ariana Grande. I’d like her more if I could understand some of the things she’s saying

* Nicki’s anaconda actually bit someone. Well, not exactly her anaconda—her boa constrictor. I didn’t even know boa constrictors bit people. So it was safe to say her reptile was fired and we wouldn’t have a repeat of Britney’s snake dance. And that was OK because it wasn’t necessary. The dancers dressed as snakes and Nicki’s mesmerizing derrier did enough. Not enough to empress J.Lo, but enough.

* Jessie J is such a great singer and performer. I really hope “Bang Bang” does it for her. And it was cool to see different body types on on stage together. Sure, they’re all very small with waists snatched to the gods, but they’re still shaped differently and looked like they were having a ball. Even, Nicki, who couldn’t get her clothes right.

* Gwen Stefani has joined the list of people who has been bathing in unicorn tears and drying her hair with angel wings. The woman wakes up everyday and says, “I rebuke you, age!!”

* Katy Perry beat Beyonce with “Dark Horse.” I’m an admitted “Dark Horse” fan, but come on!

* About a half hour in, and I was already anxious for Beyonce’s performance. While Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande were fun, the three of them together are still no Beyonce.

* Taylor Swift performed, and I’m all, “Look! Goldfish crackers!” It’s not that I hate Tay-Tay (that’s too strong of an emotion). I’m over her. Plus, I liked the song better when it was 3LW singing it. (Shout out to Adrienne Bailon)

* By this time, it became apparent to me and several others on Twitter that the VMAs were much better when we were kids. *Busts out rocking chair* Back in my day, that Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels bit would have been hilarious. That kind of thing falls on the deaf ears of kids who were born after the first “Dumb and Dumber” was made.

* Kim Kardashian is friends with Sam Smith? I have questions. But…

* Common made sure we all took a moment of silence for Mike Brown and Ferguson. I’m nothing but appreciative of that.

* Apparently Drake couldn’t make it to the awards because he was still reeling from that hurt Nicki put on him in the “Anaconda” video.

nicki-minaj-drake

* Uzo Aduba smacking herself in the head was great! The smoothing out of the hair was even better. The ladies of Litchfield brought out Usher, who reminded us all that he works hard for a performance. Even if it means fake playing a bass guitar and sweating through his white clothes. And Nicki wore more clothes that don’t fit—a trend for her last night.

nicki_usher

* Lorde walked up to accept her award and did Lorde things. Because she’s Lorde and that’s just what she does.

* The Truth campaigners calling out all of Hollywood’s real-life smokers was an interesting tactic. No, it’s not healthy, but all the photos they showed were paparazzi shots. It wasn’t like they were at events promoting their bad habits. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending smoking, but I think it’s dirty to pick on people’s personal lives that way.

* A little more than an hour into the show: still no Beyonce, a butt-ton of commercials, and a ridiculously slow program that seems to have been produced by the same people who did the BET Awards because that sound system was trash.

* Did anyone else think that Robin Williams tribute was a poor afterthought?

* Jennifer Lopez exists to make the rest of us look bad. I mean…

jlo

* Iggy Azalea recovered nicely from her fall the other day. She and Rita Ora sang “Black Widow,” which is only growing on me because I like the hook.

* I’m a huge, huge fan of dental hygiene. But the Crest White Strips commercial gave me pause. The example they used was mustard-yellow teeth. If your chompers are the same color as a tart condiment, you need more than over-the-counter white strips. Message.

* By this time, it’s 18 minutes until Beyonce, and I’m getting antsy.

* Chanel Iman, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn, all from the “Yonce” video made an appearance on my feed dressed like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus.

* Essence took us on a nostalgia trip. Never forget.

* Miley Cyrus, who literally showed her ass last year, did a beautiful thing and let a young, homeless man take the stage to accept her award. He spoke about the hardships he faces and the charity that he and Miley are working with to bring awareness to the cause, My Friend’s Place.

* Some douchebag earlier IG’d Beyonce’s playlist, so it wasn’t a surprise and I was pissed. That frustration quickly dissipated when Queen Bey took the stage with her mimes and sang “Mine.” Beyonce, in a leotard full of mirror shards wrecked shop. She went through the entire “Beyonce” album (which bangs, I must say). Had I not seen the On The Run show, I might have enjoyed the performance more. There were a couple of songs (“Mine,” “No Angel,” “Rocket”) that she didn’t perform in Chicago, so those were good to see. And though I was a little miffed she didn’t perform my song, “Superpower,” the last medley of “***Flawless,” “Blue” and “XO” were everything. She got choked up at the end, a beautiful moment. But what set it off for, I think, everyone was when Jay and Blue came up on stage to give her the award. I’m not a cryer, but this didn’t move you then you might need some counseling.

jay_bey_blue

So, what did you think of the #BeyMAs? Was there a performance that stood out to you besides Beyonce’s?

Girls Can Play Baseball

22 Aug

moneI grew up around boys: one older cousin, my brother and two younger cousins. Add to that my father and his five brothers and you have a girl surrounded by testosterone.

My brother, cousins and I would play the typical childhood games: tag, hide and go seek, etc. But mostly we spent our time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. Let me rephrase: they spent most of their time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. I was relegated to ring girl.

“Why can’t I wrestle?,” I would ask.

“Because you’re a girl,” one of the boys would reply

“But there are girl wrestlers.”

“We don’t have anyone to wrestle with you. Just sit over there and look cute.”

And sit I would—until I got bored and told an adult they wouldn’t let me play. The options were either I play or nobody plays. I like to think that’s the way Mo’ne Davis is looking at her competitors.

Mo’ne, the Little League World Series pitching phenomenon, has taken the country by storm with her tremendous athleticism. I can’t help but look with awe and admiration as she continues to kill the game.

Let’s run down the laurels: the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history with a 70-mph fastball; the first girl to win a series game with her pitching prowess; and the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. While the rest of the world is having a crappy August, Mo’ne is shutting stuff down—literally.

Mo’ne is an amazing pitcher, not just for a girl, but because she just is. And she knows it.

“I throw my curve ball like Clayton Kershaw and my fast ball like Mo’ne Davis,” she told a reporter.

To have that kind of confidence under all the media attention added on top of the pressure of leading your team through the Little League World Series is astounding. We could all take a page from Mo’ne as we continue our journeys toward a healthy lifestyle.

This 5-foot-4, 100-pound 13 year old has been playing sports practically forever. She’s not just an awesome pitcher, she plays basketball and soccer. She challenges herself to do more, even with continuing pressure mounting up. For baseball players under the age of 13, this is as big as it gets. And Mo’ne is ready for it.

We can all challenge ourselves to do more and try harder, even when it seems like we can’t. We can take comfort in the fact that if we fail, we at least tried. We can learn from the things that tripped us up so that we can continue doing better.

Mo’ne has had to deal with hecklers in the stands who wondered what a girl was doing on the baseball field. (She’s only the 4th American girl to play in the Little League World Series since the competition began in 1947.) But instead of allowing that negativity into her head, she focused on her game.

You can do the same. Do a mental vs. physical check. Understand the difference between what your mind is telling you vs. what your body is telling you. The challenge will be completely worth it.

Mo’ne has done some excellent work for herself, her team and the Little League. However, she won’t continue to play in the tournament as her team lost on Thursday night. But we all know this isn’t the end of her. Basketball season is still coming up!

photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Bargaining Chips

20 Aug
If you saw this outside your window, would you stay in, or get in a couple miles?

If you saw this outside your window, would you stay in, or get in a couple miles?

One day when I was out for a run, it had started drizzling. I’m a G, so I thought this wouldn’t be a problem. It was supposed to rain that day, but I didn’t expect anything too heavy.

I was wrong.

Halfway through my run, the skies opened up and let out a downpour. Several us who were out sought cover in a nearby tunnel. I was pissed because I had to stop my timer and wait out the rain. So I did what anyone else does when they’re waiting: I checked my TwiBookGramBlr. While I’m wasting valuable running away minutes to stay dry and for FOMO, a runner comes through the tunnel to show us all up. Not only did she keep her pace through the puppies and kittens falling from the sky, she did it with one arm. Yes, Skinny People, I was shamed by the awesome amputee runner.

To her, the rain wasn’t anything more than an added challenge. To me, it was a no-no.

When I made the decision to start my weight-loss journey, I gave myself all kinds of reasons not to do things. I couldn’t work out in the morning because I hate waking up before the sunrise. I didn’t like going to the gym after work because I hated getting home late or possibly missing a night out with friends. The big kicker, though, was weather. I refused to walk/run in temperatures that did not fall within the 47- to 74-degree range (I like symmetry. Leave me alone .)

It wasn’t until then I realized that I was hampering my potential growth by limiting myself so tightly.

It’s easy to fall into those traps. Making the decision to begin the weight-loss journey is one of the hardest things you’ll do. Committing to that decision is the real test. Your body will fight you on it. You’re putting yourself through changes you’re used to. So you begin making bargains. Mentally, you want to do better. But you don’t want to scare yourself off the process. You tell yourself that you’ll work out, but only at certain times of the day. You’ll monitor your diet, but if someone offers you cake, you can’t be rude. And, if you’re me, you will NOT run in temps outside the approved temperature range.

Because this is all psychological, I can’t tell you what your turning point will be. There will just come a day when you realize the bargains you’re making with yourself aren’t doing you any good. I can tell you that, for me, I just wanted more of a challenge. The sidesteps I was taking weren’t getting me any closer to my goal.

So I began to loosen my restrictions. For a couple months, I would only walk the three miles around the trail. That got boring, so I began to walk 2/3 of a mile then run the last third. I would wake up early because the trail was less crowded. If the temp dipped below 45, I’d walk my dog to test out the weather. Just because The Weather Channel says it’s one temp doesn’t mean it feels that way. Now I can run nonstop for multiple miles. I’ve got warm gear for the cold days and loose gear for the warm days. I’m not an idiot: I go to the gym or pop in an exercise DVD in inclement weather. But I haven’t set hard-and-fast rules that will keep me from my goal.

The commitment to a health and fitness plan is confining enough. Don’t make it worse with the limitations of what you won’t do—much different from what you can’t do. You have no idea what you are capable of. You could one day be shamed by an awesome amputee into finishing your run in the rain. I like to think she kept going by thinking to herself, , “F— it! I’ve got to get it in.”

Have you ever placed arbitrary limits on yourself? If you broke them, how did you do it and how did it make you feel?

photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc