Meal Monday: Banana Ice Cream

6 Aug

I’ve come up with kitschy names for the days of my week for two reasons: 1.) It’s punny, and 2.) It keeps me on a schedule. Today is Meal Monday -recipe day! You are going to LOVE this one. Ice cream. Made from bananas. Sounds a little iffy, but let me assure you that is yummmmmmmy.

This is just another “bananas-are-getting-too-ripe-to-do-anything-with” recipe. A few simple steps gets you creamy – and healthy- ice cream.

So, if you have bananas hanging out on the counter that look anything like the ones below, give this a go!

First thing’s first. Peel and slice your super ripe bananas. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer for an hour or two. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll forget that you put them in the freezer and not remember until the next morning. This, I assure you, is fine.

Once the banana slices are frozen, peel them off the cookie sheet and pop them into a blender or food processor. So, I only have a mini food processor, and I thought it would work. But it didn’t. I ended up having to take my banana mixture out of the processor and use my blender instead. I think I may have to get over to my mom’s house and steal her food processor.

Once you start chopping, pulsing, grinding or whatever you choose, your frozen bananas will start to look like frozen crumbs. Don’t give up! Keep going until it turns into this creamy goodness:

Now, here is where you can get creative! Add whatever flavors you like: peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, chopped fruit, chocolate chips. The list is truly endless. Or, you can add what I did: NUTELLA. Oh yes. I said it. I added about a tablespoon of nutella to my bananas and mixed it for a few seconds in the blender to get this:

Nutella banana ice cream

You’re probably wondering if this “ice cream” has an overwhelming banana taste, and honestly, no it doesn’t. And if you decided to add other flavors to it, it tastes like whatever you add. My three bananas yielded about two cups of ice cream.

Enjoy this delicious ice cream, and let me know what flavor combos you try!

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Sweaty Saturday: A Cardio/Strength Circuit

4 Aug

I live in Hades.  At least that’s what it feels like with the 90+ degree temperature and humidity that punches you in the face (and frizzes your hair).  There was no way in hell (hahahaha) that I was going to go outside for a walk/run.  I decided to do a circuit inside, while the air conditioner buzzed and “The Princess Diaries” aired.  Here’s what I did:

30 Jumping Jacks

10 Squats

20 Side Lunges (10 each side)

50 Butt Kickers

20 Crunches

20 Glute Kickbacks

10 Push-ups (on my knees)

10 Tricep Dips

:20 second Plank

No rest between exercises.  Do the circuit THREE times.

With the crunches, I did 20 regular crunches the first circuit, 20 oblique crunches (10 each side) for the second circuit, and 20 regular crunches the third circuit.  I think the next time I do this workout, I’ll do bicycle crunches during that third circuit.

The results:  I was sweaty, tired, and breathing hard when I finished.  It took about 20 minutes to get through three rounds.  This could be a great morning workout; I have time for a 20-30 minute workout before leaving for school (depending on what time I actually get my arse out of bed and how much wandering Molly does on her morning walks).  And I can always do more rounds if I feel like getting really crazy.  But whatever happens, it earned me my fourth smiley face in as many days, and that’s what I’m going for.

Keep moving, folks!  Anyone have any workouts they like doing at home?  Feel free to share!

33 by 33

2 Aug

The title hooked you, didn’t it?  Whatever does it mean?  Let me tell you.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week.  The summer is winding down.  School picks back up in a few weeks.  Fall is around the corner.  Things are happening.  This second half of the year may mean Thanksgiving and Christmas to some, but for me, it means BIRTHDAY!  Even though the number keeps getting higher, I still get excited about my birthday.  Maybe it’s “only child syndrome” since I know I’ll get lots of attention.  The kids at school always keep a countdown.  I call my mother every day and remind her about the day of birth.  Because clearly she-who-birthed-me would forget without my constant reminders.

So what does my upcoming 33rd birthday have to do with this post?  You may have guessed that one of the 33’s in the title refers to my birthday.  The other refers to the pounds I have convinced myself I will lose by then.  Even more curious now, aren’t you?

On  31 July, I decided that I needed to make a SERIOUS commitment to my ultimate health and happiness.  And honestly, 33 by 33 just sounds good. Maybe the fabulous title of this endeavor will help keep me motivated.  So, on Tuesday, I decided to get back to my health journal (I fell off the wagon).  I also decided to take pictures and measurements.  I will NOT share those with you because I’m sure you like your eyes.  It was made apparent to me by looking at these pictures that I have a double-belly.  Anyone know what I’m talking about?  My top belly sticks out a little farther than my lower belly.  Not the most attractive set of abs out there.

I printed out mini-calendars that I put in my journal to keep track of workouts (and how many days are in this challenge)!

There’s another page with November, December, and my measurements and starting weight.  I did a quick Google search for calendar templates and found these.  I easily got three on a page.  The smiley faces are to let me see when I workout for at least 30 minutes.  The goal is to fill the calendars with smiles!

Yesterday, 1 August, seemed like the perfect day to start. I met up with my best friend and we went for a walk.  I filled her in and she was so excited about it.  She and I were born a week apart, and have been friends for over 20 years.  Last year, she and I made a contract and bet concerning my losing ten pounds in order to keep a newly purchased pair of summer wedges.  I busted my arse, lost the ten pounds, and welcomed the shoes home.  While we walked, my friend and I talked about the things that worked then and how I can make this new endeavor work too.  Here’s what we came up with:

  1. BE ACCOUNTABLE.  It’s important to let people know what you’re doing and why.  Therefore, I will be sending pictures of my weigh-in (the number on the scale) to my friend each week.  I will also text her after each workout.  This worked great the last time.  If she didn’t get a text from me, she was on the phone, telling me to get moving.  I will also hold myself accountable to YOU.  I will share my ups and downs with you on Weigh-In Wednesday (It just so happened to work out that way, disgustingly cute, I know.)
  2. HEALTH JOURNAL.  It’s also really important to keep a journal, and to do it honestly.  For instance, I had ice cream last night.  Not the way to start, but I wrote it down nonetheless.  I need to see what I’m eating and how it makes me feel so that I can make any necessary changes.
  3. BELIEVE IN MYSELF.  Not to get all Weight Watchers and Jennifer Hudson on you, but this is important too.  I know that there will be good days and bad days, but I can’t give up.  Nothing worth anything is every easy, but I need to constantly remind myself that I’m worth it.
  4. TRY NEW THINGS.  I will continue to try new recipes and new workouts and will share the good ones with you all.

So, as of yesterday, I’m on a mission to lose 33 pounds by my 33rd birthday.  I have almost five full months (or 142 days) to do it.  I figure if I was able to lose ten pounds in five weeks, I should be able to do this.

What Makes a Successful Weekend?

17 Jul

I was reading some of the news articles on Yahoo when I came across this little gem: What Successful People Know About Weekends.

While it is a short article, it really made an impact on me after reading it.  A lot of time, especially during the school year, I feel like I’ve squandered my precious weekend time away.  There are always chores that need to get done because they seem impossible during the week, or essays that need to get read because, again, it is impossible to get to them any other time.  I never feel like I’m taking advantage of my time, and I want to be in the moment from now on.  No more dwelling in the past, and no more worrying (without good reason) about the future.

This article suggests that we make a plan as to how we would like to spend our weekends and stick to it.  There can still be time for work and chores, but it shouldn’t take over the weekend.  There needs to be time to do the fun stuff, see friends and family, try new things, and just relax.  It’s about being productive and realizing that there are more hours in the weekend than we think and taking advantage of those hours.

Read the article.  See if it makes sense for your life.  If even offers a couple of plausible schedules.  As a teacher, I love models.  I mean, really.  How can we can expect anyone to follow directions without a little nudge sometimes?

So, in honor of the article and wanting to be a successful weekend person, I’m going to start my list here.  Now.

  1. Make a new recipe and invite friends over to try it.
  2. Make a new craft.
  3. Find a new trail to walk or hike.
  4. Visit a local museum.
  5. Wander around a farmer’s market.
  6. Have a Google face chat with a far-away friend.
  7. Read a book on the patio.
  8. Try a new yoga routine.
  9. Get to the beach.
  10. Write. (not comments on students’ papers, but my own stuff)
  11. Take a class at Michael’s (the arts and crafts store).
  12. Take advantage of Groupon and Living Social for a weekend away.
  13. Finally finish reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  14. Find someone to speak (and practice) Italian with.
  15. Go to a flea market and find something cool to repurpose or make new again.
  16. Borrow my friends’ kids and do something fun and silly. (I will willingly return the mini-people.)
  17. Get a massage.
  18. Actually read and try some of the things I’ve pinned on Pinterest.
  19. Explore a nearby place that I’ve probably been to a million times, but never really seen.
  20. Write letters and mail them.  Real, handwritten notes to people I love.

Writing this list was harder than I thought.  I really had to think about what would make my time more meaningful and what would actually make me happy.  The author of the article suggested writing at least 100 items, but just these 20 took me forever.  I think I’ll start small.

Wrangling Plastic Bags

15 Jul

If you’re anything like me, you always intend to bring your reusable bags into stores with you, but they end up staying in either the closet or the trunk of the car.  This means plastic bags.  Lots and lots of plastic bags.  Living in a small apartment, I have limited space.  The last time I opened the storage closet in the hall, I was assaulted by bottles that needed to be recycled, plastic bags, my beloved Dyson, and cleaning supplies.  I saw this idea on Pinterest for using an empty wipes container to wrangle the mass of plastic bags a long time ago, and knew that at some point in my life I might try it.  Someday.  Well, the day has arrived!

I still have some embellishing to do, but I’m not in a rush.  I had one of those super large containers of disinfecting wipes, and I used the last one the other day.  What a better time to give this a go?

Remove the label with one quick cut, and you end up with a blank canvas.

Make sure to rinse out the container to get rid of any liquid or cleaner smell.

Step 1:  Lay out your plastic bags flat and smoosh out the air.

Step 2:  Fold the bag in half the tall way, again smooshing out air.

Step 3:  Fold the handle up.

Step 4:  Follow steps 1 and 2 with another bag, placing the handle on top of the bottom of the first bag.

Step 5:  Start rolling!  Start with the side that has the handle folded upwards and roll.  You’ll roll over the handle of the second bag.  Because I didn’t have a lot of space, I rolled halfway down the second bag and then added another bag, kept rolling, and so on.

Step 5 1/2:  This is what your final roll should look like.  When you get all your bags rolled, you’re ready to put it in the container.

The Final Product!

Once you get the roll of bags in the container, you are all set!  The handle of the first bag is ready to be pulled, and because of the way you rolled the bags, the next bag is connected to the first and will pop up when you pull out the first bag.  Genius!

Decorating the container will come later, but as for now, my bags are all in one place!

Happy up-cycling!!!!!

Dinner and a Cocktail

13 Jul

The other day, I met up with a girlfriend of mine.  She needed some crafting advice for her upcoming wedding, and I was more than happy to help her vision become reality.  We lunched at Olive Garden, not something I frequently do, but I must admit that I love their salad and bread sticks.  To celebrate our success on the crafting front, we both had this delicious cocktail that I knew I would recreate at home (since I had all the necessary ingredients).

Now, I’m not a drink-by-myself kind of girl, but last night I decided that I would be.  I made a delicious dinner of whole wheat pasta with a red sauce full of peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and chicken and the cocktail.  I can’t recall what the name of it was, but I’ll call just call a little bit of heaven in a glass.

As for recipes, the pasta was super easy.  Just saute up whatever veggies you have on hand, throw in a jar of sauce, and add some cooked chicken.  I will admit that I used a jarred sauce last night.  I know it’s not very Italian of me, but it was quick and easy and there are some really fantastic brands out there now.  Just don’t tell my mom!  Serve it over pasta, and voila!  Delish!

The cocktail is as follows, but mind you, I didn’t measure anything:

Blueberries – if I had to guess, I’d say about five or six

Lemon juice – about half of a fresh lemon, squeezed

Moscato – I used a pink moscato, but any would do

Sparkling water

First, I put the blueberries in the bottom of my glass and  muddled them to release their flavor.  I just used the end of my rolling pin to crush them up a but.  Then I added the lemon juice.  Next comes the wine (maybe 1/2 – 3/4 c) and then I topped it off with some sparkling water.  Stir it up and enjoy!!!  It’s very light and very refreshing and very addicting!

Chocolate Almond Cake Mix Cookies

8 Jul

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in several weeks.  With school, and my relationship, ending, I found myself at odds with myself.  (That was an Austin Powers’ moment!)  If you ever watched the Gilmore Girls, you might remember when Rory and Dean broke up.  Instead of being upset, she went to the opposite extreme:  organized, go-getter, I’m-not-going-to-let-this-bring-me-down.  Lorelei told Rory that it was okay to be upset, in fact, it was necessary to wallow.  Well, Rory didn’t want to wallow until the end of the episode when she finally broke down and realized that wallowing WAS necessary. That’s where I’ve been – mourning the end of something that was a huge part of my life.  And now I’m finding my way back to myself, and the first place I looked was in the kitchen.

My mother used to make cake mix cookies when I was a little girl.  They were quick and easy and she let me stir the ingredients.  Sometimes she would make vanilla cookies and cover them with sprinkles.  Other times it was chocolate cookies with chocolate chips.  The possibilities really were, and still are, endless.

The other day, I was cleaning out the pantry when I came across a box of devil’s food cake mix that was going to expire in about a week.  In an effort not to waste anything, I decided to try my hand at some cookies.  One thing I was sure of what that I didn’t want to use oil like my mother did, so I found a ton of recipes online that used different ingredients.  I settled on one that used milk, butter, and an egg.  The almond part was my idea.  I love almond.

Ingredients – you probably already have everything you need!

One thing I should note is that this was the thickest batter I have ever made; even thicker than brownie batter!  I used my hand mixer, and the poor little thing sounded as if death was one rotation away.  Next time I will definitely pull out my Kitchen Aide.

Here’s the recipe I used:  Chocolate Almond Cake Mix Cookies

I decided to make and attach a document with the recipe this time because that would probably be easier for you all.  I mean, this way, you can just click on it and print!

These cookies come out light and soft and super tasty.  Play around with combinations too.  Think chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, sprinkles (like my mom), different extracts (I’m thinking a vanilla cookie with orange extract), and more!  Seriously, endless possibilities for things you probably already have in your pantry.

Enjoy!