Monday, May 30, 2011

Everyday #30 - Keeper!

My husband has just come out the other side of an incredibly busy season of work.  Today was he first day off in quite a while and he slept in AND had an afternoon nap.  He was wiped.  At the end of our evening of supper, chores, homework, & bedtime wrangling for the kids we were both feeling weary and more in the mood to flop on the couch and watch a DVD.  But I knew I really should enjoy the nice, non-rainy evening and get some exercise, so my wonderful husband said he'd go for a walk with me.  He's such a keeper!  Admittedly, my "power walk" is faster on my own, but the time together is a fair trade.

Happy Trails!
P.S.  I haven't weighed or taken my measurements, but honestly, today was the first day that I could "feel" the benefits of my increased exercise.  I guess my clothes are just starting to fit a little differently....slow and steady will give results eventually!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Everyday Active #28 & 29 - RAIN DAY...again

My mom is in town visiting so we've been spending a lot of time thrift store shopping, drinking tea, watching "Little House on the Prairie" episodes and "puttering around the house".  So I haven't been as faithful at posting everyday, but I have still been trying to get in my Everyday Actives.  Thank goodness for the Wii!  With all the heavy rain we've had lately I have been making a lot of use out of my EA Active workout.  Yesterday I did a 40 minute hard level workout ....and my hip flexor on one side is killing me today.  I guess I lunged a bit too hard in my lunges!

Today I went for a half hour walk in the pouring rain after dropping my little one at preschool....I wish I had known that it would finally clear up later on in the evening.  I guess I could go out again now....but then again, watching another episode of Little House with my mom sounds pretty nice too.  She grew up on a farm in rural Alberta, and remembers many things about her grandma's cabin that is just like the pioneer days!

P.S.  No pics this time, as my husband has taken my camera to work these past couple days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everyday Active #26 - Drop Off & Everyday Active #27 - Trestle Hike

It's been a pretty busy few days for our family.  Every Victoria Day long weekend our church denomination hosts a conference for thousands of teens from across BC.  Therefore it's a working weekend for us as we work in the exhibitor area promoting our discipleship school.    However, on Sunday evening on the way home I simply asked my husband to drop me off partway home and then simply walked the rest of the way.  It was a good 30 minute power walk - a simple solution on a busy weekend.

On Monday we took a group of young adults on a day long spiritual retreat.  I was able to go for a walk with my husband along some old train tracks through some incredibly lush forest.  Loved it!

It's a looooong way down!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Everyday Active #25- Orthodontic Express

It was such a sunny, summery day that I was kinda bummed that I would have to drive to Vancouver to take my daughter to the orthodontist.  To help save money (we're talking $800 as opposed to $5,000!) she has her braces done at the Dentistry School at the University of BC.  It's about a 3 hour round trip and anywhere from a one to two hour appointment.  My husband had to work, so I would have to bring my four year old along as well.  Sigh.  It was going to be a long day for Taxi Mom.  But then right before I left, I had a flash of inspiration and tossed the jogging stroller into the back of the van.  UBC is such a beautiful campus that I knew I could take go for a power walk with Ellie and enjoy the sights and fit in my Everyday Active.

I really think UBC has to be one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada.  It's situated right on a peninsula on the Pacific Ocean surrounded by forest and ocean.  Plus the architecture is amazing.  I would have taken more pictures if I had more time, but I had to hoof it to get back to the Dentist office.  But here's a few from this gorgeous spring day!

 Little wood sprite...

 View from the end of the Main Mall

 Don't you love ivy covered buildings?

P.S.  I actually managed to get out again this evening, biking up to the library with the girls to pick up a book one of them had on hold.  And you know, that hill doesn't seem quite as steep anymore!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Everyday Active #20 - Thank Goodness

In hindsight, it's a really good thing I decided to do this Everday Active Challenge.  This time of year I normally count on being able to go for lots of bike rides and power walks.  Exercising indoors isn't my favourite, so I really need the challenge to keep me motivated during this long, rainy season.

Yep....pouring rain again today.

Thank goodness for free Zumba videos on the internet.  I did the same beginner workout that I did yesterday, and I found I was starting to get the hang of some of the steps.  If I didn't need the steps broken down in half tempo I just did them full tempo during the tutorial.  But most of them I still needed to start out slow.

I made it even more humbling by propping a full length mirror against the fireplace so I could make my form was correct.  How zumba instructors keep a straight face in front of their students is beyond me!

Anyway, this is a fun, hip shaking cardio.  Just don't take yourself too seriously!  ;-)

Everyday Active #24 - Biking for a Cause

Sunny, summery weather two days in a row!  It was a perfect night for BBQing now that my grilling husband has come home.  We also were having a guest over for dinner so I needed to head to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  On busy days it's so tempting just to resort to dashing here and there in the mini-van, but I was determined to bike everywhere.  So, after biking to pick up my youngest from preschool we headed over to the elementary school to serve at "hot lunch" day.  From there we headed up the hill to the local grocery store.  I've been pushing myself to set my bike at a higher gear just to feel the burn a little bit more.  Having my little taskmaster sitting in the child seat behind me helps as well....she reminds me when I need to pick up the pace!

I felt very Parisian biking home from the store with a baguette sticking out of the grocery bag.  Too bad I don't have a wicker basket....

Anyway, finding ways to fit exercise into the regular errands of the day is really the best way for me to make it happen.  And it's so much prettier going to the grocery store on a bike when you get scenes like this!

 My neighborhood has the most amazing network of greenspaces and trails.  And look what was overhead!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everyday Active #23 - Working for Supper

Single parenthood is tough.  My husband has been away for 10 days, and as all you single moms out there know, it's pretty difficult to keep all your balls juggling in the air at once.  You might feel for a while that you can keep it all going (taking care of the family, making sure the house doesn't implode, keeping everyone fed on something other than frozen pizza and perogies, appointments, taxi-mom, mowing the lawn, refereeing, volunteering at the school, yardwork, having fun with the kids, and then trying to squeeze in daily exercise on top of it all?)  Eventually, something's gotta go and guess what got tossed first?  Exercise.

But after an early bedtime for me last night and a day free of appointments and getting mostly caught up on laundry I felt more energized.  Since kids eat free on Tuesdays at Denny's I decided to celebrate surviving our time without Daddy and took them out for dinner.  But instead of hopping in the car and driving, we took advantage of the sunny day and rode our bikes there instead.  It's about a half hour bike ride mostly uphill on the way there, and then a much faster return home downhill!

So, no 15 km bike ride today, but it was better than the last 3 days!

We also stopped by a new playground on the way home.  Don't you just love the longer days of spring and summer?

P.S.  Dinner for the four of us was only $15 - sweeeet!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

White Bean, Cabbage, Carrot & Potato Soup

It's been a rainy weekend, so there was lots of opportunity to put my apron on and make a big batch of soup for my weekly "Sunday Stew Special".  I had a few potatoes left that were starting to go soft so I figured I'd better use them up.  This soup is a great budget friendly, good ol' classic recipe.  I've also been cooking with dried beans and lentils more and more and cutting back on our dependence upon meat for protein.  Plus, they're cheap, fill you up, have tons of fibre, and are SO GOOD for you!  I cooked up a big crockpot full of white beans earlier this week, so I had some ready to go for this soup.  I've learned it's better to cook the beans ahead of time, store them in the fridge or freezer, and then toss them into recipes as needed.

Anyway, here is what was on today's menu!

White Bean, Cabbage, Carrot and Potato Soup

2 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 head medium cabbage, cored and shredded
5 medium potatoes peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups slow cooked (or 1 14 ounce can) cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups veggie or chicken stock (you can learn how to make them from scratch here and here.)
3/4 t. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
20 fennel seeds

Saute the onions, carrot and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened -  about 5 minutes.

Toss all the veggies into the slow cooker except for the beans.
Pour the stock over all.
Season with salt and pepper, mix in the fennel seeds, cover and cook on low for 8 -10 hours.
Add beans and stir.
Serve with thick slices of whole grain bread.  This is a great bread dipping soup!

The fennel seeds are apparently supposed to help with the gassiness that can come with high fibre foods such as beans and cabbage.  I'll let you know how it goes.....

Results from the Brownlee Test Kitchen

10 year old - (when she came into the kitchen)  Mmmmm....something smells delicious!  (That was a positive sign!)  It's very potatoey.  I'd say it's a keeper.
13 year old - Does this have cabbage?  (When she was convinced by her 10 yr old sister that you couldn't even taste the cabbage she gave it a try).  It's not bad.  It's a typical potato soup.  Eh.  I guess it's a keeper.  (I was just happy to get some cabbage into my cabbage despising daughter.)
4 year old - More carrots please!  (Soup is one of the few foods I can get her eat more than a couple spoonfuls.)  I managed to convince her to try the white beans too.  She only ate a couple before stating I don't like those beans!  I'm accepting this one as a thumbs up from her though.
The Cook - This is tasty, filling, simple soup.  Good thing I enjoy it...I made so much that I've got a ton stored in the freezer.

As with all soups...use what you have!  Be creative with your herbs and spices.  Make a big batch, store it in small freezer containers and pull it out when you need a quick, healthy lunch or supper.  It's better than a box of instant Mac & Cheese!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Everyday Active #22 - 15 KM

I'm beat!  After spending most of the day pulling weeds and mowing the lawn I wanted to make the most of the nice weather and bike with our girls to a nearby town for Gelato.  My kids were dubious...."That's far Mommy!" but I cajoled them into taking on the challenge.  The way there didn't seem too far, but to avoid the steep uphill on the way home we took a flatter, longer route along the river.  It seemed to take forever!  But the girls persevered (my four year old got to ride on my bike) and we made it home just as it was getting dark.

Plus, the Gelato was great!
Freaky kid on a cone....but the place was packed so I don't think it scares too many customers away...

And the bike trail along the river offers one of my favourite views in the area...

Anyway, it's a good thing tomorrow is a Saturday - I think my kids will be sleeping in!

Everyday Active #21 - Blogger Down

Yesterday the blog site was down so I wasn't able to post, but I did manage to get out and enjoy the non-pouring rain weather with my 10 year old last night.  We went for a bike ride in search of bunnies along some of our favourite paths and trails.

No bunnies were seen (probably because of the large number of people out walking their dogs), but it was a great little 30 minute bike ride at the end of a busy day.


Today the weather is fabulous so the little and I have been enjoying pulling weeds.  Well, she's been enjoying digging in the dirt while I do the pulling!  I anticipate a longer, more epic bike ride tonight with all my girls. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everyday Active #19 - Do You Zumba?

My sister who lives in Jasper was the first person to tell me about Zumba last year.  She took a class and said it was a blast...but then again this is the sister who took a belly dancing course, so I thought it was one of her granola crunching kicks.  After she mentioned it to me suddenly I noticed signs advertising it everyone, and tons of people talking about what a sweat inducing, calorie burning workout it is.  I figured if something is tons of fun and burns calories like crazy then I'd better give it a shot.

Today I managed to find a free beginner video on the interwebs.  I'm giving you the link here, but as with all video uploads, who knows how long it will be on there!  If that doesn't work for you, simply search zumba under google videos, more than 20 minutes in length.  After the kids were all in bed, I started the workout.  (I'm not a fan of 9:00 pm workouts....but the rest of the day was full so it was then or never...)

This is a great video teaching the basic moves step by step.  But don't think you won't get a workout!  I was dying.  All in all, I did pretty well...WHEN THEY WERE SHOWING THE STEPS HALF TEMPO!!!  Now I know why it's such an intense really have to move it!

I'm glad I found this video...I don't have a lot of opportunity to get out to a class, and I'm not sure I would want to show up to a class without first trying it in my own home.  I'm so white, it's not even funny.  Well, I'm sure it would be funny if someone had a chance to watch me attempt the salsa moves.

Anyway, in case you missed the video link the first time, here it is again.

Do you Zumba?  Any other great beginner videos out there?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Everyday Active #18 - Forgetful

Yesterday I didn't just not exercise....I completely forgot about exercising!  That's a first during this challenge.

Today was the older girls' dance class and I love going for power walks along the country roads in that area.  But I forgot my camera!  And my iPod!  I love power walking with really upbeat music so I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep up the pace.

It ended up being an awesome walk though.  I kept my heart rate up and I enjoyed hearing the twittering of all the songbirds and nearby stream rushing over rocks.  When we got home it was actually semi-nice out (as in not pouring rain!), so the girls played hide and go seek with the neighbor kids while I weeded my poor neglected flower beds.

All in all, I think I made up for yesterday.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Everyday Active #17 - Taxi Mom

I'm sure many of you relate to the years of being "Taxi Mom".  We are fully into that time of life where our older girls enjoy all sorts of social/extra-curricular activities, and therefore your life largely involves shuttling them from one event to the next.  That was largely my day.

But my four year old got to stick by Mommy's side today and she faithfully reminded me, "When are you doing your EA Active?"  Wow.  Nothing like having your preschooler keep you accountable.  And it was pouring rain most of the day, so thank goodness I've got an indoor workout plan.

Remember when I said yesterday that you get what you put into your Wii workout?  Well today I got SORE glutes!  Holy cow.  Sitting down was entertaining.  Therefore, today I let my lower body rest and just did an upper body workout.  Summer is hopefully one day coming and it's time to tone triceps!

See you tomorrow!  No excuses!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Everyday Active #16 - Can You "Cheat" on the Wii?

I wanted to avoid falling into the late evening "too tired to work out" trap so I made sure to do my Everyday Active right after I dropped my little one off at preschool.  The piles of laundry and mess in the kitchen would have to wait!  Since the rain was coming down pretty hard it meant another Wii Workout.  (Yes, I live on the West Coast & rain is expected....and no it usually doesn't continue like this into MAY.....Spring....where ARE YOU?)

Things I like about EA Active is that it has a lot of options and a lot of their exercises help work your thigh muscles.  My knees have felt kinda achy lately (damp weather?  old age? inheriting my mother & grandmother's arthritis?), so I need to be strengthening my quads. I chose the Sports Drill Hard level, 'cause it's more fun to pretend you're playing volleyball, tennis, or basketball when really they are sneakily making you do squats, jumps, and lunges.

EA Sports Active 2

A friend mentioned to me one time that you don't even need to get off the couch to use the Wii...that it's all in the "flick of the wrist".  So that leads to the question....can you cheat on your Wii Workout?  I guess the answer would be yes, but really....why would you?  If you don't want the results that exercise gives you, then wouldn't it be more enjoyable to lie on the couch with a book and a bowl of ice cream?

So if you're working out with EA Active like I get what you put into it.  Focus on your form, feel the burn, and push harder!  The workout predicted about 182 calories would be burned and I made it over 200!

On another note, a friend of mine said she tried Wii Zumba...I'm thinking of checking it out...anyone else tried it?
Zumba Fitness

Or maybe I should just check out some of the DVDs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Everyday Active #15 - Find a Buddy

After a busy week attending two back to back conferences it was high time for me to get back to my exercise plan.  But I was significantly lacking in motivation this evening.  Thank goodness for my husband!  I'm sure he would have much rather sat down and watched Mythbusters, but he offered to go for a 30 minute power walk with me instead!  I tried to whine my way out of it, but I knew that I would feel better once I got out.

And the rain that had pretty much fallen all day had actually stopped, leaving the evening air smelling fresh and feeling almost springlike.

And of course the chance for a heart to heart with my beloved always makes everything better.

Best way to motivate yourself out of workout apathy?  Find a buddy!

"It's So Good You Don't Need to Put Butter On It" Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I've been absent from blogging after attending two 3-day conferences back to back - the first was on hearing loss (effective communication, learning & advocacy for my four year old) and the second was our denomination's annual Pastor's Conference.  All my good intentions for an "Everyday Active" have gone out the window this last week.  Regular exercise takes some serious commitment!!!  I admire those of you who don't let travel or change in schedule throw you off your routine.  **applause**

If talking about regular exercise is making uncomfortable thoughts rise up within you, here's something to soothe your pain....what's more comforting that warm, fresh, homemade banana bread straight out of the oven?  When we returned home from our Pastor's Conference we had about one hour before our house would be filled with a pile of young adults who we mentor weekly. And they are generally hungry.  Starving, even.  Some of them exist on pizza pops and "frozen whatever".  I must admit, it felt "back to my wonderful normal" to put my apron on and quickly make up something yummy and healthy  to feed people I love.

"It's So Good You Don't Need to Put Butter On It" Whole Wheat Banana Bread
 ½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups mashed very ripe banana (3-4 medium to large bananas)
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or dried cranberries if desired..I had neither on hand, but it turned out fine without.

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- Beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Add the banana, honey and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour and nuts, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Bake the bread for 40 minutes or until outside starts getting dark. Lay a piece of foil gently across the top and bake until a cake tester (like a toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

This recipe that I found on a website called Breadtopia turned out fabulous!  I always struggled with burning the outside of my banana bread in order to get the inside cooked through.  I had never been told to simply cover with foil.  Duuuuuuhhhh.  I was patient and made sure to let it cool enough before slicing and it didn't crumble into a million pieces.  The entire loaf was gone in about 5 minutes and got rave reviews from even the pickiest eaters of our young adults group.  One of them was shocked that something with whole wheat actually tasted good and another said, "It's so good you don't even need to put butter on it!"  (Hence the name....)

So, if you still aren't convinced that whole wheat baked goods can be as moist and fluffy as those made with white flour I dare you to try this recipe.  And if you really need help making the switch from white to whole wheat, simply STOP BUYING WHITE FLOUR at the grocery store.  It's amazing how quickly you'll start loving baking with whole wheat.