Keep on moving

Hi there. If anyone’s still stumbling upon this blog, I should probably mention that I won’t be updating it anymore– it turns out that a cooking blog by someone who isn’t actually very good at cooking was difficult to maintain. You can find me at http://www.curateandclarify.com, where I’m writing more generally about life in NYC. Thanks for stopping by!

Fun with Blenders: Boozy Milkshakes

It’s still a little chilly out to be eating ice cream, but a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone. Maybe this strawberry banana milkshake with a splash of rum will make some nice warm weather arrive a little faster. Confession: I whipped up this boozy shake twice in 3 days, first for a movie night with an old friend over the weekend, and then just because it was Monday. (Both reasonable occasions, IMO.) I did us a real service, though, because at least now there’s no more ice cream in the house…

mmmmilkshake

My lack of photography skills makes this look like a gross Ensure shake or whatever, but I assure you: it’s ice cream, rum, and rainbows.

Boozy Strawberry Banana Milkshake

Basically serves 2, but if you want a mega serving like you’d get when ordering a milkshake at a diner, feel free to drink the whole thing by yourself. I won’t judge. Much.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 pint strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 8-10 fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • *Optional* 2-3 oz rum (or more, ya lushes)

Steps

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend for about 30 seconds.
  3. Imbibe, and then please leave me a tipsy comment about how much you loved this milkshake.

magical daniel day-lewis

Eating our vegetables: Spicy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This weekend I realized that I’ve pretty much fallen off the wagon when it comes to eating healthy foods. I’ve been averaging about 0 to 0.5 servings of produce each day, which is not great, since I really enjoy being alive. Um. Anyway, in an effort to not be such a nutrition fail, we decided to cook up some leafy greens with our dinner tonight, in the form of roasted Brussels sprouts.

Like every other yuppie couple around, Boyfriend and I have recently discovered an ardent love for these cruciferous orbs of delight. We’ve made them a few times at home in the past with middling results– they’ve been edible but haven’t come close to being restaurant-caliber. However, that all changed tonight when I devised an extremely lazy version of this wonderful-sounding dish from TakePart. The original recipe looked great and all, but I had neither a shallot nor a fresh chile pepper, and I wasn’t about to go in search of either one. That would require grocery shopping!

Seriously though, don’t worry if you don’t have a shallot or a chile either. Who needs a classy recipe that uses fresh ingredients? Well, we all do. But whatever, because these Brussels sprouts, seasoned entirely with stuff that already happened to be in my pantry, were awesome. We tore through the whole pan’s worth in about 5 minutes; Boyfriend, ever the chivalrous gentleman, showed remarkable restraint and let me have the last one. (I tried to pretend like I didn’t really care about it that much, but OMG gimme.)

They taste 10,000 times better than they look.

Right before we attacked…

Spicy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts for Lazy People

Ingredients

  • Brussels sprouts, preferably fresh. Our supermarket sells ’em in a 10 oz package, or about 15 sprouts, which is perfect as a side dish for two or as the main course for a lonely vegetarian.

 I can’t really give you quantities for the rest of the ingredients because I didn’t measure anything. I just poured what looked like the right amount of oil and seasoned it all to taste. So… happy guessing. Sorry!

  • Extra virgin olive oil — I refuse to call it EVOO — enough to make a base to roll all y’alls brussels sprouts in
  • Maple syrup — the real stuff, not Aunt Jemima! — to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Garlic powder — and/or a minced clove of garlic, if you have it around — to taste
  • Red chili pepper flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Mix all non-Brussels sprout ingredients in a small bowl; I actually used a ramekin.
  3. Remove stems and outer leaves from each Brussels sprout. Cut sprout in half; cut the monster ones into quarters if so desired. We did.
  4. Roll each sprout piece in the olive oil/maple syrup/spices mix until it’s thoroughly coated with delicious oily goodness. You can coat stray leaves in the stuff, too.
  5. Arrange sprouts flat-side down on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-20 mins (longer, if you’ve got a ton of sprouts), flipping halfway through.
  7. Put all of the brussels sprouts in your face.
  8. Try not to be too sad when it’s all over.
No more Brussels sprouts.

The aftermath.

Bad at planning, but pretty okay at smoothies.

A spate of less-than-frigid weather, combined with our latest FreshDirect delivery of goodies, has made me more amenable to whipping up some smoothies this week.

Tonight I fully intended to make a blueberry-banana smoothie with some spinach thrown in for good measure, but I didn’t realize that the bananas were already eaten until I’d dumped half of the ingredients into the blender! I knew I still wanted to add a little sweetness and creaminess to the smoothie. My options were to either add some vanilla rice milk, or use half of an avocado. I opted for the former (since I know Boyfriend is itching to turn the avocados into guacamole sometime soon).

Blueberry-spinach yum yum smoothie.

Not too sweet, and not too thick. A just-right blender creation.

Forgive my fugly food photography, please! In person, the smoothie is a lovely dark amethyst hue and is tasting mighty good alongside leftover Thai curry and quinoa.

Anyway, I present to you…

The “Crap, I ran out of bananas!” Healthy Blueberry Smoothie

Ingredients
5 ice cubes
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup vanilla rice/hemp/almond milk (only after you realize the bananas are gone; otherwise, 1/2 or 1 banana)
1/4 cup orange juice

Directions
1. Put ingredients in blender.
2. Blend until smooth. (There will probably still be little pieces of spinach that won’t completely dissolve. I hope we can all be okay with that.)
3. Drink that bitch!

Happy 2013!

Here's to 52 more!

Here’s to 52 more!

As I checked into my first workout of the year at Physique 57 today, I hit my major milestone of 52 straight weeks of exercising! Looking back, some of said weeks were a tad light (read: I barely got to class once), but I’m crazy excited that I managed to show up to sweat at least once a week, every week, for the whole year.

This year marks the first time since college that I’ve sustained a consistent exercise program for more than a few months. In fact, I experienced many fitness “firsts” in 2012…these were some of the highlights:

  • PILATES! I actually took my first Reformer class on New Year’s Eve in 2011, but I had my first-ever private session with my favorite teacher in January 2012 and started taking class every week after that. Boyfriend and I go to her class in Brooklyn every week, and I never want to give it up. My core strength has improved like whoa, and most of my old nagging sports injuries have faded. Meanwhile, Boyfriend’s back never bothers him anymore, and he has all sorts of arm muscles now. Thanks, Joe!
  • Taking my first Lotte Berk-based barre class at P57 in February under the guidance of the amazing Holly. I am still not sure if barre is the best workout for me, but it’s true that there’s nothing else like it.
  • My first experience with truly athletic yoga– FLOW with Erin Jacques and Amanda Murdock at SLT Yoga. I left a sweaty, melty mess. I really need to take this class more.
  • Finding, and becoming obsessed with, fitness review blog/platform RateYourBurn. I am a RYB fiend and will talk the site up to anyone who will listen to me, as it’s hilarious AND useful.
  • Trying my first-ever spinning class at Flywheel. I was saddle-sore for like a week afterward (tmi?), I almost had two asthma attacks, and my wonky knees don’t take well to cycling, so I haven’t been back. But it was an adrenaline rush I’ll never forget.
  • Trying Reinvention Chair at Chaise23. My arms were sore for days afterward from pulling on those bungees!

Other firsts included The Bar Method, Pure Barre, Barre3, Pilates ProWorks, aerial vinyasa at Om Factory, Refine Method, a whole bunch of new-to-me yoga studios, Gaga, and some Pilates mat and tower classes. I don’t even want to think about how many MindBody accounts I’m currently juggling.

Perhaps the most meaningful “first,” however, was finding Simonson Technique dance classes, initially at the Joffrey Ballet School and then at Dance New Amsterdam, its real home. Every teacher I’ve had has been phenomenal, and I always leave class feeling limber, inspired, and excited to return. Dance (excluding Zumba) isn’t a calorie-torcher like Refine, spinning, or SPX, but it is my very favorite way to move.

With my injuries and exercise-induced asthma, not every workout spells rainbows and unicorns for my body, so I had some serious fitness ADD this year as I tried to figure out what worked best for me. I am trying to be more focused now, but I’m still going to keep experimenting with my schedule and trying new classes. (I’m especially excited for Lithe to come to town.) Let’s see if I can keep this fitness streak going for another 52 weeks…

Cheers to good health, friends, food, and sweat in 2013!

Squash pudding?? (Uh, yes!)

 

We got a giant hulking hokkaido squash in our farm box a while ago, and for weeks it sat on our countertop looking very fat, green, and intimidating. I wasn’t really sure what it was or what to do with it, what it would be good with, what it would taste like, etc. until I did a little research that said this kind of squash is even sweeter than butternut and works well in soups and pies. Pies! What! I’ve never had squash pie in my life so I was immediately intrigued. However, now that I’m trying to eat gluten-free, in order to make squash pie I would also need to either make or acquire a GF pie crust. And both of those options seemed like altogether too much effort last night.

Instead, I found a recipe for butternut squash pudding— “butternutscotch,” as the recipe I used calls it. The recipe is gluten-free, but definitely not dairy-free. I didn’t want to risk using soy milk with this recipe, either, since I’m not sure how one would replace heavy cream with a non-dairy substitute. Will have to do some research on that.

No, it's not cake batter, it's squash pudding!

This is what it looked like right before I attacked it with a spoon.

Of course, because I’m me, I didn’t quite cook the squash long enough, and I didn’t read the instructions correctly, so instead of mashing the roasted squash with a fork and then mixing it all up with the other ingredients I spooned the squash flesh (ew, flesh) into the blender and put it on pulse. It was really thick and after a few seconds it looked like nothing was happening. I was really afraid I broke the blender. That was not the case; the squash was just so plentiful and homogenous in the blender that I couldn’t see it mixing around. Everything else mixed up just fine with it. Phew.

Other stuff that I should have done differently: half of the squash was way more than 1 cup, so I added an extra egg, multiplied the dry ingredients by 1.5, and used 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I should’ve used just 1 teaspoon, though, since it’s so strong! I also messed up my sugar situation as the recipe called for brown sugar and I used half brown and half white, and I went a little overboard with upping the amount of sugar for my pseudo-doubling of the recipe. For all of you would be pudding-makers out there, BE YE NOT SO FOOLISH.

Anyway, although it’s a tad too sweet and the vanilla extract comes through a LOT, it’s still tasty enough that Boyfriend deemed it “delicious.” We’re psyched to eat this for dessert/snacks/really irresponsible breakfast(?) in the days to come.

Source: Butternut Squash Pudding @ Pinch My Salt

Tracking my workouts with SlimKicker

I have begun to think that Foursquare is not the best, most accurate way to track my workouts. Despite feeling good each time I receive a new “N weeks at the gym! That’s a new record!” notification, I’m craving something more accurate and robust that actually acknowledges the individual sweat sessions I put in.

The Nike Fuelband intrigues me, but I have heard that the activities I mainly do, like yoga and Pilates, don’t register well on the device. Sad.

However, I am a sucker for anything else that employs game mechanics, so I’m starting to play around with SlimKicker, which lets me track my workouts and food, complete challenges, earn badges, and level up via a website and an iOS app. It seems kind of like a Fitocracy and MyFitnessPal hybrid, although unlike Fitocracy (which uses a “freemium” business model), I can access everything for free.

fitocracy homepage

I’m not super-interested in keeping a food diary, as I am more focused on building and maintaining a consistent fitness routine rather than losing weight, so I’ve mostly just logged some workouts, which is a fairly simple process; you can search for a type of workout or use a parametric filtering system to drill down into specific exercise types and body parts. I had some trouble finding Pilates until I realized that it was findable using search, but didn’t live in any of the filter categories (at least not the ones I checked). HOWEVER, now that I’ve entered Pilates and yoga into my workout, I do see them pop up in my default list of “Recent Exercises.” Awesome!

SlimKicker

My SlimKicker dashboard.

From my initial explorations I can see, with my UX-professional hat on, a few other design issues– for instance, when I double-logged my Pilates class from Monday, it was hard for me to find the individual day for me to edit my entries; it would be great to see just a really simple log of every piece of activity I’ve entered lately. The graphing/data visualization is still pretty light, as I can only see how many calories I’ve burned, and filter down by activity type. However, it seems like a pretty new service, and I’m sure the team is always rolling out new enhancements and features, so I really look forward to seeing how the platform evolves!

 

Stay classy: Barre Essentials at Pilates Proworks

Barre Pro

Unlike this lady, everyone in my class was wearing pants. [Source: Pilates ProWorks]

Despite my recent moratorium on Lotte Berk-based barre classes, I decided to use the last class of my FITIST 4-pack on a “Barre Essentials” workout at Pilates ProWorks on 14th Street. I’d recently read some enthusiastic reviews of Barre Pro– the PPW version of Lotte Berk– which raved about how different it was from the usual suspects, thus piquing my curiosity. I had been to this studio once before for their Pilates Pro class and enjoyed it, but felt kind of like I was going to fall off and die the whole time…my balance kinda sucks, and I don’t do that well on elevated Reformers even in non-Pilates-on-crack classes, so in Pilates Pro my flailing truly reached new heights. Anyway, I was wary of going all-out with Barre Pro  since I hadn’t taken barre since August. Also, I feel more Amateur than Pro in basically everything fitness-related, so Essentials felt right for me.

Looking back, I definitely made a good choice. There was only a small group of us in the studio, half of whom were attending the class for the first time. The moves were all familiar, and a few felt a tad easy-ish, but overall I got a much needed ass-kicking in a way that eased me back into barre mode.

The teacher, Jackie, did a great job of cueing and explaining the moves, and it felt like I was really under the care of a bona fide Pilates instructor (which she is!) rather than some rando dancer.

My favorite part about the class was the dance-y warmup, which made it feel like I was in a jazz class and got my heart rate up. The warmup was followed by arms, thighs (sometimes WITH arms), glutes/seat (I muddled through the standing seatwork because of a hip injury but relished the extreme side-butt fire during the floor section), and abs with the squishy ball under the small of our back (also had some trouble with abs because of my bum hip, but I did my best). Each section was also punctuated by planks: regular-flavor, spiderman planks, mountain climbers, etc. There was definitely more of a cardio aspect to the class, and I found that both terrifying and delightful. One thing I’m glad that we didn’t do is “round-back” abs under the barre, which have felt gimmicky and potentially injurious in nearly every other Berk-based class I’ve done.

The class as a whole felt like an awesome hybrid of mat Pilates, sports conditioning, and Lotte Berk. This might have been a result of the class being beginner-level, but I also liked the slightly shorter sets…most barre classes I feel like I’m putting myself at risk for an overuse injury from all the reps, but this felt a lot safer.

Verdict: I’ll be back! Excited to try Barre Pro, 30/30, and Barre X (barre + TRX combo, what!!) in the future, too.

Back on the wagon

Today I joined one of my lovely lady friends for a dance class at DNA, which marked my fifth workout of the week, following Pilates on Monday, dance on Tuesday, a surprisingly awesome barre class– yes, after swearing off of barre I went back “one last time,” but more on that later– on Thursday, and another Pilates class yesterday. Most weeks, it’s so hard to get to that second dance class…I’m not sure why, though. Maybe because it’s 90 minutes long? I somehow have a much easier time to committing to hour-long classes…

Anyway, I haven’t gone five-for-five in an embarrassingly long time. Here’s to sticking to fitness commitments! [Cheers! It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?]

Monday also marked my 47th week of working out, according to Foursquare. One of my Foursquare friends, by the way, has gone to the gym every week for 70+ weeks. HOW WILL I EVER CATCH UP??

47 weeks at the gym