Monday, June 25, 2012

Busy weekend

It's been an eventful few days since my last post. We try to pack a lot of fun things into the weekend in between the cleaning/chores, so it's hard to also write a blog post!

On Thursday I went to our campus gym (finally) to get my orientation that will let me use the facilities. I had a great conversation with the student who gave me the orientation. She's lost a significant amount of weight too, and it was nice to meet someone else on a similar journey. I didn't have a lot of time to stay and chat, so I'm hoping she'll stop by to see me soon. The gym is small but really nice. I'm planning to do my cardio there this afternoon. I miss doing more outdoor cardio, but it's been over 90 every day for the last week!

On Friday, even though it was over 90, I decided to go to Crowders Mountain for an after work hike. I usually go up & down the Backside trail, which is .9 mile each way and is a pretty straight shot to the top. On Friday since I had more time, I took the Tower trail to the top which is 2 miles but still took the Backside trail down. It was a great workout, and I'm thinking about going back tomorrow after work. Hiking is absolutely my favorite workout and I'm hoping to explore more mountains in the area.

Me at the top of Crowder's Mountain

Saturday was a packed day. We went to our local farmer's market in the morning to get produce for the week and then headed toward Charlotte. We had planned to go to a natural foods store we hadn't been to yet to check out selection and prices. On the way there we stopped at a wine/beer store to get Carly's favorite summer beer (Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema from Anderson Valley Brewing Company) and we also picked up some wines. It was almost lunch time by then so we drove by the natural market and found a place for lunch. The shopping area where we had lunch had a farmer's market and we checked that out first. They had a lot of small vendors selling goods and a few produce vendors. We picked up some kimchi and almonds with wasabi peas.

Cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market

We had lunch at a restaurant called Luna's Living Kitchen which is a mostly raw vegan restaurant. It was delicious! We split a ginger kombucha and each had a variation on their grain burger. I also had an amazing lemon cookie for dessert. Our experience there helped me feel more ready to try cutting out dairy and eggs. After lunch we went to the natural market and it has the best bulk food section I've seen, but the prices for everything else were higher than I'd like. I think we'll only go back if we need to stock up on bulk items. It seems like Trader Joes is the winner in terms of selection and price, if only they had bulk bins! When we got home I did my favorite Yoga/Pilates workout to burn calories before dinner.

My grain burger at Luna's Living Kitchen

Saturday night we were lucky enough to be taken out to dinner in uptown Charlotte by a co-worker of Carly's. We got there early and walked around for a bit. That area is perfect for drink & appetizer hopping! We had dinner at Harvest Moon Grille, a place we've wanted to try since we learned about it. The chef is co-owner of a farm and everything on the menu except seafood is sourced from within 100 miles of the restaurant. The food was excellent but the service was terrible. We waited 20 minutes for a server to come to the table!

Carly and I split an appetizer that was outstanding hummus, pan seared cheese & pilsner naan bread. I had the vegetarian dish which was quinoa with smoked tofu and caramelized cauliflower. Carly had a meatloaf that she said was excellent. My dinner was good. The cauliflower was the best part, but the tofu had a weird breading that was gooey. It still tasted good once I peeled that off.

Quinoa with caramelized cauliflower and smoked tofu at Harvest Moon Grille

Sunday morning I mowed the lawn as soon as I finished breakfast. We have a push reel mower, so that in itself is a workout! I still wanted to go to the gym because Sunday's are the quietest days at the gym and my favorite for doing strength workouts. The more I read about exercise, the more I'm motivated to do strength training. It boosts your metabolism and can cause you to continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after your workout!

Speaking of reading, I'm onto "Crazy Sexy Diet" by Kris Carr. I'm about 1/3 done and she is advocating a mostly raw plant based diet. I don't know if I can get into the smoothie for breakfast, mostly raw thing but the book is helping me realize that I can definitely improve my diet by adding more vegetables and more variety. My next read will be the PLOS Medicine Series on Big Food. It looks like some heavy but important information.

Those of you that are friends on Facebook got to check out a picture of the amazing veggie pizza I had for dinner last night. Here it is for everyone else!

Veggie pizza

Veggie Pizza "Recipe"

store bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's wheat)
cherry tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes
veggies of your choice
cheese (or none) of your choice

For the sauce, we sauteed a quart of cherry tomatoes from the farmers market with 2 cloves of chopped garlic and smashed them up with a spoon once they got soft. We kept them on a higher heat to reduce while we prepped everything else. The only spices we added were salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

For the dough, I recommend using about 1/4 of the store bought dough per person. You can roll it out to whatever shape works for your pan. We pre-heat our oven to 450 and then bake the dough for about 5 minutes with no toppings. We then take it out and flip the dough over before we top it.

For the toppings, we chopped broccoli and zucchini into small pieces and sauteed them for 5-8 minutes on medium high heat. Enough to get some color but retain the crispiness.

To build, we put our homemade sauce first followed by a bed of raw baby spinach. Then the broccoli/zucchini mixture, then diced red onion, then banana pepper rings. I topped mine with 1 chopped up cheese stick and a sprinkle of Parm. Carly used a combo of herbed goat cheese, mozz & Parm.

We baked it until the cheese on hers was browned.

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