WIAW + A New Routine

Good morning, everyone — happy Wednesday! The countdown to the weekend (and not just any weekend, but a glorious long weekend) is now officially on.

This week also marks the start of a new routine for me: after pushing myself through coffee-fueled morning workouts for the last few years, my efforts to give up the java mean that morning workouts are now — how to put this gently? — utterly effing impossible. I’m monumentally zonked when I first wake up, so I needed the high-octane jet fuel to get me through a morning sweat session.

Left to my body’s own devices, though, I vastly prefer to work out in the late afternoon. I don’t know if this is a circadian rhythm thing or just a leftover habit from years of after-school sports, but sometime between 2:30 – 4 is totally the Goldilocks zone for me. Before I go to work is too early (because I’m too tired), and after I get home from work is too late (because 1) I have to cook dinner, and 2) by that time I’m so hungry I can barely stand it and I’m liable to straight-up maim anyone who stands between me and a snack).

 

 

But 3:30? It’s perfect.  I look forward to it all day, and by 3:30 I’m all “GYM TIME! GET EXCITED! WOOHOOOOO!”

We have a gym at work that would allow me to work out during the aforementioned Goldilocks zone, but since it costs money, I’ve been avoiding that path in favor of using the free gym in our building. Now that I’m on my new coffee-free schedule, however, one thing is clear: I gotta suck it up and join this gym.

I took a tour of it, and it’s not bad at all: there are lots of cardio machines, lots of nautilus weights and free weights, and unlimited towel service. Apparently it gets slow right around the time when I want to hit it up, so hopefully this will go well.

So, as of today I have some extra gear to carry with me: my gym bag. I’ll let you know how it goes!

With all that being said, on to today’s main event: What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Jenn from Peas & Crayons.

 

This has been another week of Weight Watchers-friendly foods, obviously (because one can’t commit to re-joining WW and then proceed not to eat accordingly):

I’m much like a Hobbit, in that I’m a big fan of first and second breakfasts. My first breakfasts always involve tea with multi-grain GF toast and a tiny bit of nut butter, just to get me up and moving around. Second breakfast usually happens between 9 and 10:30, when I’ll have a healthified Morning Glory muffin, egg whites, and a banana.

 

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins

Lunches have been super consistent, as I’ve been craving one thing and one thing only: Moroccan lentil stew mixed with Imagine Creamy Carrot Almond soup and bulked up with with baked sweet potato and wilted spinach. (Wow, that’s a mouthful. I mean that both literally and figuratively.) This recipe is warming like a mofo: it has fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, and loads of savory spices — so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Snacks have involved loads of produce: apples, celery, grapes, Thai cole slaw, and bell peppers with hummus.

Dinners, meanwhile, are when I tend to protein-load: we’ve had things like baked pesto chicken, turkey burgers with spinach and reduced-fat feta, chicken salad with chickpeas and basil, and GF pasta with broccoli and Italian chicken sausage.

I decided not to take pictures of everything for each meal, because it becomes time consuming like you wouldn’t believe. (This may just be a by-product of the fact that I’m a perfectionist and thus prone to fixating on the idea that the pictures have to be perfect before I put them up here, or it may be that it just really is time consuming. I have no idea.) So, instead, I made a collage with some of the gustatory highlights of the week:

 

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It’s waaaaaaay easier. And I gotta tell you, I’m a big — nay, colossal — fan of things that are easy.

Questions du jour:

What time of day do you like to work out? Do you find that you have more stamina/endurance at a particular time?

What was your food highlight of the week?

P.S. A quick STL housekeeping note: I’m going to reply to all your comments soon — things have been busy, so I apologize for the delay! A comment reply binge will follow shortly, I promise. 🙂

Friday Recap: The Great Crock Pot Experiment and a Protein Bar Review

HAPPY FRIDAY! The weekend is once again almost upon us, and I’m pretty effing excited.

I’ve got big (well, insofar as my grandma-status goes) plans for this evening: I’ve got a phone gabbing session scheduled with a family friend in Colorado as soon as I leave work, and then I’m gettin’ my hair did this evening. I’m going to a place near our new apartment, and it got great reviews on Yelp…so here’s hoping they handle my tresses well!

As for the Great Crock Pot Experiment and Operation: Time Management, overall I feel like this week was a win.

On the time management front, I felt much more on top of my schedule — and even though I often needed to push my morning workouts into the evening, it wasn’t hard to do. Dinner was ready as soon as I got home, which meant that working out didn’t feel all that daunting (there’s something about working out after chopping veggies and cooking that feels waaaaaay more onerous than just working out and then eating dinner).

I also really appreciated being able to rely on frozen/pre-chopped veggies, which made my life a lot easier. I saved a ton of time and effort by just opening up a bag of veggies (as opposed to rinsing, peeling, chopping veggies, and then washing knives and cutting boards), and I seriously enjoyed that.

 

As for the Great Crock Pot Experiment, the results were a mixed bag. Our verdicts on the recipes were thus:

Enchiliada Casserole: Meh. Kind of dry yet mushy, and pretty seriously lacking in flavor. I might try this one again with significant modifications, but I’m not sure.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic: We weren’t a fan. Brandon wound up ordering pizza instead.

Beef Carnitas: A good one! We approve!

Mediterranean Chicken: This was a monstrosity. It was straight-up deplorable, y’all — which, considering that I make this on the stove all the effing time, is a fairly spectacular fall from grace for this dish. I choked down my serving because I felt bad wasting so much food, but Brandon couldn’t get past the second bite.

The fact that the Crock Pot recipes were 1 out of 4 is, um, really demoralizing!

It looks like I have a steep learning curve to climb before I really get the hang of cooking things other than hearty winter soups and stews. (I bust out the Crock Pot all the time in the winter, and I have no problems with chili/tortilla soup/insert fall or winter food here — but apparently other entrees are a different matter.)

But learn I shall! In the words of the crazy restaurant owners whose Facebook meltdown went viral, I WILL PREVAIL! I WILL TRIUMPH!

In the interest of continuing to find ways to cut back on cooking time, I checked out some cookbooks from the library for a bit of culinary inspiration. I won’t be able to go Crock Pot-crazy every week, but if we can find good recipes that I can prep on the weekend, then that’ll definitely help. In the library mix:

 

Light and easy dinners

 

I looooove Ina Garten, and I’ve heard good things about Ellie Krieger — so, I’m excited to try these out!

I have to admit that I especially love all things Barefoot Contessa. She seems so down-to-earth, kind, and creative, so she seems like the sort of relatable woman I’d want to be friends with. Did you know that she used to be a budget analyst at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before embarking on a massive career change? How cool is that?!

On a separate note, I’ve been trying to increase my protein intake as part of TNROLFW. To that end, I decided to try out three different kinds of protein bars this week, just to experiment and broaden my protein-y horizons.

I scoured the offerings at Whole Foods, and I eventually decided on these three: Luna Protein in Mint Chocolate Chip flavor, a Perfect Fit Protein Cookie, and the Quest Bars I keep hearing about.

 

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The reviews?

The Luna Protein Bar was uh-maaaaay-zing. I’ve desperately missed Luna bars in the 5 years that I’ve been gluten-free, and I was beyond excited when I saw that they had a GF line of products. I haven’t tried the other flavors, but the Mint Chocolate Chip was delicious! It tasted just how I remember Thin Mints tasting, and I wolfed it down.

Verdict:

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The Perfect Fit Protein Cookie was ok. I think I was expecting a legit cookie, which probably raised my hopes and set the bar a bit too high. I suspect that if it was just a straight-forward protein bar, my expectations would’ve been lower and I would’ve been pleasantly surprised by how cookie-like it was — but since it’s marketed as a cookie, my brain had a hard time reconciling this information with my taste buds. I kept thinking “Aw man, this cookie tastes like a protein bar! Oh, wait…”

Verdict:

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The Quest Bar was surprisingly delicious! I tried the Coconut Cashew flavor, and I was really impressed. When I opened it up and saw that it looks alarmingly blob-like, my first thought was “Really? This is what everybody raves about? This looks heinous!”  I then veeeeeeery skeptically tried a teeny bite…only to be wowed by the sweet and salty taste. It’s effin’ good, y’all! I also wolfed this one down, which is really saying something.

Verdict:

 

Anyways, I’m off to do this morning’s workout (kickboxing + more lifting) — but I hope everyone has an awesome morning! TGIF, people. 🙂

Have you ever tried Luna Protein or Quest Bars? 

 If so, what flavors do you like?

 What are your favorite cookbooks?

Do you have big weekend plans? (I’m dyyyyyyyying to see the new Star Trek movie – SO EXCITED!)