Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.

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Green goodness

Kelley's Rescued Favas

Fava beans are yummy. Ever have any? Problem is they’re a pain to prepare.

Traditionally, before you can eat a fava you have to shuck the green goodness from the pod, blanch them in boiling water and then shock ‘em in an ice bath.  After that you strip the tough outer skin off the bean, reducing it to the size of flat a kidney bean. I’ve always found this to be way too much work for a few beans.  You’d have to shuck for hours to get enough beans to feed more than a couple of people.

In Sunday’s Chronicle Food section there was an article about roasting fava beans. The article stated, that by roasting the beans you’re able to cut way down on the prep time. This sounded like a dream come true to me so off I ran to the farmers market where I filled my bag with favas.

Basically roasting a fava bean is just like roasting any other bean. You toss the clean beans (whole bean/pod) in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven at 450 degrees until tender.  According to the article you can eat the entire fava like you would a green bean, or you can treat them like you would edamame and shuck the bean from the pod post roast.

My review — Well, I did exactly as the recipe directed. I roasted the beans for 25 minutes, which turned out to be a bit too long.  A little disappointed but still excited I bit into one of the favas as if it were a green bean. Uck! I found the fibrous shell to be stringy and mushy so I scraped the notion of eating the pod/bean combo and took matters into my own hands.  I stripped beans from their mushy pods, tossed them on a plate, drizzled them with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. Saved! They were pretty good. Not as good as the blanched ones that take forever to prepare, but good. Certainly worth a try.  I’ll prepare favas this way again for certain.  The roasting method would be especially good if you wanted to mush the beans up with some garlic and spread the mixture on crostini with a little dusting of cheese.  When in doubt, add bread and cheese, you can’t go wrong.

P.s. According to the National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked fava beans contain about 187 calories, 13g protein and 9g of fiber and are an excellent source of iron, among other things.  Pretty good for a little bean.


Spears of green

Asparagus Season

I figured I should talk about something less shocking today with all the butt crack business yesterday, so I decided to chat about Asparagus.

Asparagus is not my favorite vegetable but and after looking into it I found that there are some pretty interesting things about asparagus that I bet you don’t know.

The basics — Asparagus is in season from mid April through June and is mostly grown in Michigan, California and Washington State. It is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence and leads nearly all other produce in a wide array of nutrients. Asparagus contains only 20 calories per 5.3 oz serving and 3 grams of fiber. It’s very low in sodium and an excellent source of potassium, vitamin B6 and folacin (folic acid).

Did you know — Asparagus is a member of the Lily family? So are onions, leeks and garlic.

Strange but true — An asparagus spear can grow as much as one inch (or more) in an hour, and can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period, when weather conditions are just right. Not that’s crazy!

White asparagus — Is achieved by growing the stalks under mounds of earth so the sun does not strike them to produce chlorophyll. White asparagus is considered to be slightly milder in flavor and a bit more tender than green asparagus.

Why does your pee smell funny after you consume asparagus? — From my research, nobody seems to be able to agree on this.  All you need to know is that if your pee smells after eating asparagus (and not everyone can smell it) you are not alone and it’s natural so don’t fret.

How to store it — To maintain freshness, trim the ends and wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water and cover with plastic. Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days.

How to pick the best asparagus — 
Look for firm, fresh, spears with closed, compact tips. Larger diameter spears are more tender according to my research but I always found the skinny spears to be better. You can decide for yourself.

Cooking asparagus — Trim stem ends slightly and cook fresh asparagus for about 5 minutes in boiling water for a crisp and tender result. Or, trim ‘em toss ‘em in olive oil and roast in the oven for a few minutes till tender. That’s Kelley Style.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus — (Now this sounds hella good!)

1-pound fresh asparagus
8 to 10 strips bacon

Wash and trim asparagus spears. Cut bacon strips in half crosswise. Wrap one-half strip bacon around each asparagus spear, leaving tip and end exposed. Lay on a cookie sheet with sides. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bacon is cooked. Serve warm or at room temperature.

There you have it, the low-down on asparagus. Enjoy…

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How many colors is it?

Good eats!

I love Rainbow Chard! Okay so it’s not pizza, but you can put it on pizza if you we’re so inclined. I’ve done it. No sauce just sauté the chard in olive oil, add lots of garlic and lay tons of chard on a Gruyere covered pizza crust with a few pine nuts on top. Yum-a-saris!

I’m talking about Rainbow Chard today because it occurred to me that since it’s “rainbow” it might cover more than just the “green” vegetable color category. You know how I’m always telling you to eat 5 colors a day? Well, I wondered if Rainbow Chard got to claim more than one color. While I couldn’t find any hard, written evidence that “Yes, Rainbow Chard is allowed to claim a rainbow of colors” I’m guessing it can.

Here’s why — Because each color category represents different nutrients and antioxidants. That’s how each piece of fruit or vegetable gets its color. So, it would make sense that the yellow-stemmed pieces would be high in carotenoids and flavonoids (good sources of vitamin A), and the red & pink pieces would contain more Lycopene, like in tomatoes. While all pieces get to claim green which contains lutein, a substance that can maintain healthy vision. The different colored pieces can’t be the color they are, sans the above chemicals, or phytonutrients. Hence my conclusion that Rainbow Chard counts for 3 colors. Green, yellow/orange and red/pink.

Either way it’s yummy, Rainbow Chard’s pink, orange, yellow, and red stalks are sweeter than light or white varieties. Pick a bunch with deep green, crisp leaves and you have just chalked 3 colors off your list for the day (in my world anyway).

Here’s how I like to prepare my Rainbow Chard

  • 2 bunches Rainbow Chard
  • Lots of olive oil (I probably used 1/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Lemon zest (I used about 1/2 lemon)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Sauté chopped chard in olive oil and garlic till tender. Garnish with lemon zest, S&P. Serve as a side dish as is, or my fav — toss into pasta or gnocchi with a little pecorino cheese on top.

Like I said, yum-a-saris!

P.s. Chard is in season through April so now’s the time!

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Egg me

Best source o’ protein

You already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (you do know that right?). Did you also know, current studies show that you should eat 25- 30 grams of protein for breakfast? Protein first thing in the morning not only will jump start your metabolism, it’s more filling and takes longer to digest, so in theory, you’ll eat less as the day goes on.

Here are my suggestions for some mighty fine high protein breakfasts.

Oatmeal – 1 cup only has 6 grams of protein but it’s full of fiber. You’ll need to add some nuts and milk to get closer to your 30 grams.

Brick of dough – if you are not willing to give up that bagel remember the average bagel has about 350 calories and 13 grams of protein. Replace the cream cheese and top with cottage cheese. It’s not that bad! Toss some tomato slices on top for color. (I’m talkin’ to you Mike!)

Greek yogurt – add low fat granola and fresh berries. Try blue berries and raspberries that way you get two of your daily colors taken care of.

Breakfast Burrito – Whole-wheat tortilla, 2 eggs, veggies of choice (remember your colors!), a bit of cheese and salsa. Yum!

Protein FYI’a

  • 1-cup milk 8 grams protein
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese is 16 grams
  • 1 cup non fat yogurt 13 grams
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt 20 grams
  • 1 egg 6 grams
  • 1 oz cheddar cheese 7 grams
  • ½ cup tofu 10 grams
  • ½ cup most beans 7.5 grams
  • 6 grams per 1-cup soymilk
  • 14 walnut halves 4 grams for
  • 20 Almonds 6 grams
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter 8 grams

Don’t forget to have some fiber with your protein to keep it moving along its path. You know how I feel about that.

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Have your pizza and eat it too

Kelley's kitchen sink pizza

I love pizza. With that, one of my goals in life is to figure out how to eat as much as I want for the least amount of devastation. The suggestions below are a way to eat more pizza than would normally be acceptable.

Here’s how it works.

  • First, make your own pizza. I think of my pizza as a canvas on which I am able to express my culinary imagination, there are no limits to what might show up on my pie. Everything is good with bread and cheese. However, I always make my pizzas mindful of calorie, fiber and nutritional smarts.
  • Start with good quality whole-wheat pizza dough.  I like Trader Joe’s as I’m too lazy to make my own.
  • Next, I pile many many vegetables on my pizza so I bake it on a cookie sheet. If you use a screen or stone the pizza will fall apart (trust me!) make a mess and you’ll go hungry.
  • Roll out your dough on whole-wheat flour or corn meal and lay it on the cookie sheet. Preheat the oven at 450 degrees. Sprinkle dough with cheese. (I don’t use “sauce” as it just adds calories/sodium and in this case you don’t need it.)
  • What to put on your pizza?  I like to use as many vegetables as possible. In my mind lots of veggies cancel out the cheese that they ‘re laying on top of.  And, the fibrous veggies bind with the cheese (in your stomach) to help move the fat out before it can cling to your arteries (I learned that on Dr. Oz).

Here are some of my favorite pizza toppers (remember lots of veggies!)

  • Chard – lightly sauté with lots of garlic, you’ll need at least 6 cups of sautéed chard. Try Gruyere cheese and a little Mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan when it comes out of the oven.
  • Spinach – With all leafy greens you should lightly sauté them as to lessen their water content. Sauté with a little olive oil and lots of garlic down to 6 cups. Mix in ¼ cup golden raisins and some pine nuts. I like to use Fontina and mozzarella cheese on this version.
  • Left Overs – Last night I used every veggie left in the frig. The photo above is, 1 cup chopped (not sautéed) spinach, 3 cups yellow squash sliced about ¼ inch thick, 3 cups broccoli flowerlets, 9 asparagus spears and one red onion on a bed of pepper jack and mozzarella cheese. Prior to baking, I drizzled the veggies/pie with 2 tbsp’s of olive oil. I sprinkled red pepper flakes and Parmesan on top after baking.

Rules of thumb

  • Use 6-8 cups of veggies and no more than 2 cups of cheese.
  • Use an average of 3 tbsp’s of olive oil per pie to either sauté or drizzle on top of the veggies before baking.
  • Use nuts, seeds, organic meats and even beans when possible to add fiber and/or protein.

Some good things to know

  • If you use tomatoes lightly squeeze the water out of them. Cut in half and gently smush so that the liquid and seeds come out (then you can slice or chop them). Too much water on your pizza makes it mushy.
  • Feta cheese has half the calories as most other cheeses. Use that to your advantage!

According to my calculations, 1 piece of these pizzas (1/8th of the pie) will cost you about 200 calories and give you 4 grams of fiber. Obviously those numbers depend on exactly what you build your pizza with but this is a pretty good, general calculation.

Bake your pie for about 20 minutes according to my experience.  The directions on the dough might say it takes 10 minutes but if you load it up, you’ll need longer. Keep an eye on your masterpiece and bake it till the crust is deep golden brown.

Have at it!

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The Guinea Pig 2011 Project – Meet GP

Meet GP

When GP and I first met, our idea of exercise was to flex our pectorals (squish our breasts together) and work our core by using the Xerox machine as a prop (we made copies of our D cups for the purpose of bartering for beverages later in the evening). We were two chubbsters looking for love and lots of fun. At the time GP was referred to as Fuoco (means “Fire” in Italian) and I was know as Bad Skël. Need I say more?

The first real exercise commitment GP and I ever made together was to sign ourselves up for a charity 100 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe. We did this not for the cause, but because we thought that we would drop massive amounts of weight and meet hot young men.  In the end we barely managed to drag ourselves around the lake and not an ounce of weight was lost. Additionally, all the hot guys rode past us like we were standing still.  Maybe that’s because we fueled our training with french fries and beer. The only thing interested in spending any time with us were the flies that taunted us with their constant buzzing and would land on our sweaty limbs traveling with us for miles. After the ride was over GP parked her bike and it didn’t move again until it was stolen from her garage years later.

Now, many years later GP is a wife and mother of two who has agreed to join me on another fitness challenge.  The Guinea Pig 2011 Project.

During the GP 2011 Project we will follow GP through the steps and suggestions I have made and will continue to make here on this blog. GP’s goal is to lose her tummy and tone up her entire body allowing her to don a two-piece swim suit during her family vacation in Hawaii, in May of this year.  Wearing a two-piece suit is something that GP has not had the privilege of in her entire adult life.

Step 1 – Post Holiday Detox. Since the New Year, GP has done as prescribed and upped her water intake. As suggested she is adding lemon slices and has decided to focus on water most evenings rather than the usual class or two of wine. GP is keeping her wine drinking to two – three evenings per week as that is something she can sustain. With that she is already noticing that she’s sleeping better, has more energy and her “mommy belly” is definitely going down (I could see it myself!) and she says she feels less blotted.  My other suggestion for detox was to consume more fiber and while she’s working on this admits that she is not meeting the minimum 30 grams per day. I have given her some additional food suggestions, which you will find by clicking on this link.

So, we are off to a great start. GP has made some small adjustments to her lifestyle and admits that it’s not been all that hard. She claims that you just need to get to the point where you see or feel a difference.  With the added sleep and lessened bounce in her belly GP is feeling encouraged and excited to see what comes next.

Next week, GP goes for a run and finds that her old running shoes are not her friend. Looks like we need to talk about shoe fit and look at her form.

Stay tuned…

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Okra and brown rice = nature’s broom

Okra Curry

As promised, my Okra Curry recipe. Now, before your turn up your nose, remember what I said yesterday about trying new things and pushing your limits. This recipe is very easy to make, very low in calorie, full of vitamins and contains more fiber than you can imagine. Trust me. It’s really good. Not as good as pizza, but good.

EZ Okra Curry – serves 4 (unless you eat like me, then it serves 3)

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 ¾ tsp curry powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 ½ lb fresh or frozen okra, chopped (I use frozen, not thawed)

1-2 green chilies, finely chopped and seeds removed

1 tbsp lemon juice

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add curry powder and cayenne pepper, sauté 1 minute. Add green chili and okra, cook for about 3 minutes, stirring. Reduce heat to medium low. Add ¼ cup water and cover until okra is tender. About 5 minutes. Remove cover, continue on med low for about 2 more minutes, toss in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown rice and garnish with chopped organic tomato bits.

Tomorrow I’ll share some ideas for fun, new things to try over the weekend. Stay tuned for that…

Coming in the next weeks The GP-2011 Project (Guinea Pig 2011). I’ll be leading a husband and wife team trough the suggestions I make on this blog and following them through their progress. You, as readers will receive the benefit of hearing the stories of their results for better or for worse. We’ll be finding out not only what they’re made of, but also just how much I really know about fitness. Amusing for sure!

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It’s the Sunday before the big Monday

If you’re like most of us you’ll be starting your New Years diet & exercise program tomorrow. The said beginning of the New You. It happens at the beginning of every year and lots of Mondays throughout each year. We chow down on Sunday and start big on Monday. I’ve been there. I’ve tried every diet, exercise and over the counter aid known to man. I’ve lost thousands of pounds since my first diet at age 10 and gained most of those pounds back. In all my years, I’ve gone from looking great, to looking like a massive farm animal and back to looking great again, over and over. Same thing happens to most of us (even those folks on The Biggest Looser). What’s become clear to me is that you must find a solution to your fitness needs that you can live with every day, forever. It needs to be fun, reasonable and adaptable.

Here’s what I suggest. Start with a washing out of your insides. Use the terms detox or cleanse if you prefer. Sure, there are lots of things you can do and kits you can buy to help eliminate the havoc wreaked upon your body during the holidays. Some of those products even promise to cleanse your system of things that have been stuck in there for years. Remember those crayons you ate as a kid? They may still be in there. I’ve tried some of these products, they’re fun but they’re a bit of a commitment.

Why not start with these simple detox ideas…

First – drink water, drink lots of water. Water helps ease your digestion and clear your system of all the fat, alcohol and sponge like carbs you’ve been sucking down. For better taste, place lemon, cucumber, orange or grapefruit slices in a pitcher of water and keep it chilled. Also pour yourself some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice instead of that martini. Grapefruit juice is said to help detoxify your liver. Whatever…just drink up!

Second – Fiber, eat lots of it. Every meal. Same as with the water, fiber helps smooth the flow of digestion and scrub out all that stuff you don’t want in there anymore. Get my meaning…? It makes you feel fuller too which helps with that post holiday diet you’re working on. Great sources of fiber are: beans, lentils, Okra, pears, whole-wheat products. Remember you need 30 grams a day.

Third – Get your sweat on! Go outside, go to the gym, clean your house. Do whatever it takes but make it something you actually like. I’m going on a guided hike (in the rain) along the coast in search of shipwreck remains today. Sounds fun right? Here’s your plan…Warm up for 5-10 minutes, then start doing some serious moving. Make sure you’re sweating. Sweat for at least 20 minutes, cool down 5-10 minutes with some stretching and drink some of that yummy water.

Forth – Repeat daily. Try it for a week and see how you feel. Can’t hurt. Just one week and then we can reevaluate.

More on this tomorrow, recipe ideas too…