When I created the menu for this week of meals, before writing out the grocery list, I thought the shopping list would keep me stuck at the grocery store for two hours and explode my budget, because there were a lot of ingredients and a lot of dishes, especially taking into account the pot luck party snacks I was making for Super Bowl festivities. Don’t be intimidated, though! I was pleasantly surprised at the overlap of ingredients between meals, from vegetables to rice (prepared on Monday for the whole week) to spices. Pantry staples abound as well–if you have a decently well-stocked baking supply, you won’t need many additional ingredients to make these rich (and tipsy) brownies.
Well hello, Balancing Active—long time, no see! We just got back from vacation and I’m finally getting my bearings to get back on the blog train. It’s been way too long, and I have lots of posts swirling around in my brain (and on random Post-It notes everywhere), so look for more to come soon.
To start, I wanted to share the results of what was kind of a forced experiment in eating while on vacation. I say forced because we were “confined” (poor us) to a cruise ship for about five of our days away, which limits the options as far as what to eat, even more so than vacation normally would. You hear stories of cruise-goers gaining a pound a day on vacation, and I really did not want that to be me, especially given the amount of time I’d spend in a bikini. My workouts would also be limited, as I wanted to focus on enjoying an action-packed music festival style ship, rather than on getting to a (crowded and hot) gym everyday. Running on the treadmill while trying to get my sea legs and going from 15 to 75 degree weather? No thanks. Continue reading
If “buck” = time. Prior to June 2013, I was as much a cardio loyalist as most girls in the gym. The rise of crossfit is changing the landscape, but I think many women, if they need or want to lose weight, still turn to running, the elliptical, spin, Zumba, etc. My bum knee has continued to not cooperate, however, so I’ve been involuntarily experimenting with more lifting and less traditional cardio in my fitness regimen to stay fit and toned without subjecting myself to a diet of lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce (which, by the way, I do not recommend no matter what your workout routine is or isn’t). And guess what. It’s working.
Recipe writing is a tricky thing. I used to wonder how so-called amateurs could actually produce original recipes, especially for baked goods which require specific proportions to turn out correct, if not delicious. As I become a better, more experienced home cook, though, I’ve begun to take liberties with recipes and now have a couple that I can truly call original. It’s easiest to create originals for items that I’ve sampled in many variations. A couple examples of true recipes like these (not just assembly of ingredients, as in a salad or taco) are risotto and veggie burgers. I’ve sampled them both in restaurants, out of a package, and homemade from a recipe. I know the general formula and the key elements that make it work, regardless of the other inputs, and I know what I like in them.
I’ve been hoarding this recipe, in all its gluten free (GF) goodness, for a few weeks now. One lazy (or as lazy as it gets for a Type A like me) weekend morning, I laid in bed Googling for a GF pastry recipe for which I had all the ingredients. My approach, usually, is because I’m eating GF by choice, rather than necessity, I shouldn’t be indulging in flour-filled replacements such as pizza crust, scones, crackers, and the like, but it was a chilly morning, and a brisk run, hot shower, and fluffy, buttered muffin sounded too good to be true. I decided to make it a reality.
Sometimes I wish I was a doctor. Or a McDonald’s employee. Or…a Catholic schoolgirl? Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly, and I don’t really want to work 36 hour shifts or try to convince you to supersize your order. However, it would be nice to wake up in the morning and, like the characters above, not have to think about what I’m going to wear.
Fashion can be a fun diversion, but it definitely does not help simplify life. I’m trying to think as little about it as possible these days, while still “expressing myself” somewhat through my style. That means critically assessing every piece in my closet, and breaking the unexplainable attachment to, say, that dress I only wear once a year (or less).
It’s time to get practical. As much as I enjoy putting my personal aspirations and thoughts into writing, as I’ve done over the last couple posts, the overriding purpose of Balancing Active is documenting ways to reduce stress and free up time for my important goals—the things I don’t want to get to the end of the month or year and wonder what I was so busy doing that I couldn’t get to them.
My new blogging buddy (and childhood neighbor), Brittany, recently wrote a post reminding me of the benefits of sitting down to a planned family dinner. Not of spending three hours in the kitchen creating the perfect, complex, gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian dish, but of the act of actually sitting down and eating together. If you’re alone, never fear. Invite a friend over, or sit down for a meditative meal alone—no TV, phone, iPad, magazine, work, etc. I started this practice when I had my own apartment in Minneapolis, and I still try to sit down to eat consciously if I’m home alone. While reading during a meal alone can be productive, I’ve found that even a book or magazine detracts from primal appreciation for my food and some time to just take a breather.
To help increase the chances of enjoying a sit-down dinner by reducing the time spent planning and cooking said dinner, I’ve laid out a week of meals, complete with shopping list, the vitals for each meal, photos of how the food turned out for me, and what I learned testing the recipe. This will become a regular feature on the blog. I figure I’m doing all the planning anyway, so why not post the method and results here, to save someone else the work or enable me to repeat the process?
That is the question.
If you’re living in 201314, it’s obvious that I’m talking about Pinterest. Some people (like myself) are or were late to the party, but examples abound of real-life Pinterest weddings, Pinterest dinners, Pinterest crafts, Pinterest workouts, and, of course, Pinterest fails.
It seems innocent enough, but as I simplify in 2014, I’m not so sure that’s the case. I wanted to articulate both sides of the coin, because it really is a dilemma, considering all the factors below. Ultimately, I don’t plan on shutting down my Pinterest account (and you may even see a Balancing Active Pinterest in the future), but I will continue, as I’ve already begun, to monitor my use and especially idle browsing .
Happy New Year!
And so begins the month of writing the wrong date on everything. I remember this phenomenon growing up—writing in my journal, dating homework assignments, getting my first checkbook. Then I realized that I rarely write, or even type, the date on anything these days. I write one check a month for rent, and dating files during my stint in public accounting is a thing of the past. It’s kind of a shame. I miss the little giggle I got every time I had to void a check, reach for the white out, backspace relentlessly.
Never one for new year’s resolutions, the prospect of putting them into writing this year excites me like never before. Continue reading