Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. MilesRemember that 100-mile challenge? Well, I kinda failed. *Sigh* I know that's not hugely motivating to read but I DID run about 50 miles (several of which went un-logged because my Strava app never found a GPS signal) and have consistently done three runs and two indoor cycling workouts a week for the past month. Besides that, collectively the group of participants ran 100,000, meaning I'll still get some Gu.

Today's run will be on the 'mill. As much as I'd love to log a few more miles outside, my low back is begging me to not have to push the Little Miss around today. Six will be the magic number to strive for, but maybe I'll run a total of seven if I don't get bored.

2. Munchies

With the recent "60 Minutes" piece about sugar, and last week's huge revelation about pink slime, I've been thinking about what I consider to be the most important rules to follow when it comes to eating right to cut calories and feel good. Some things are obvious, like eating less junk, and other guidelines would be more complicated, like the carb to protein ratio for an average person vs. an endurance athlete.

Considering the past week's sensational news stories, I can definitely share one rule now that everyone, from the daily walker to the monthly marathoner, should follow: Prepare more meals at home! I'll try to share a recipe a week - some will be my own creations, but most will be borrowed from somewhere else.

This week: Cracker-crusted Tilapia with Spanakopita (Spanakoteropita)

  • Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and drizzle a tsp. of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Pat tilapia filet dry then place on foil, moving it around to make sure the bottom side is coated in oil.
  • In a bowl combine about 1/2c. crushed crackers (I like Keebler Flatbread Crisps), 1 tsp dried oregano, and 2 tsp "Macinec" seasoning (Mediterranean spice blend- allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, mahlab, ginger, clove, and fennel). You don't need salt because of the crackers. Combine dry mixture with 1 tbsp softened butter.
  • Cover tilapia with cracker crumb mixture. If you don't have enough to create a good crust, just mix up a little more.
  • Bake at 350 for seven minutes. Check for doneness by poking into the center with a fork; if it flakes easily and is white throughout, you're there! You may even want to check your fish after five minutes.
  • Sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice prior to serving.
Spanakopita (aka "spinach pie")
  •  Prepare Filo dough according to package instructions. Most packages come with two individually wrapped rolls so remove one and leave out on the counter to thaw while you prepare everything else.
  • Thaw 2 bags of frozen chopped spinach. I dump them in a large microwave-safe container and cook in the microwave at 50% power for five minutes, mix, then an additional two minutes at a time (still at 50%) until I no longer see ice crystals. Place thaw spinach in a colander to drain while prepping other ingredients.
  • Dice 1 small or 1/2 large onion. Saute on med-low heat with 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Stir often and if anything starts to brown quickly, turn the heat even lower. This is to "sweat" the onions. Cook until translucent and just slightly golden. Add 2 tsp each dried parsley and oregano- the herbs will soak up the oil and get nice and aromatic. Add a few grinds black pepper to taste.
  • To onions add about 1/4c. milk mixed with 1 whisked egg and 1/4c. ricotta or goat cheese. That's really a matter of preference- I like goat cheese because it's tangy but if it's too strong, ricotta is just the right texture. Mix thoroughly until everything comes together as a thick sauce. Remove from heat and add in 4 oz. roughly crumbled feta cheese.
  • Squeeze excess liquid from spinach by hand- if you have a lint-free tea towel, wrap spinach in that then wring it out. Combine spinach with onion cheese mixture.
  • Grease a 9"-13" baking pan with a little butter or oil. Most boxes of Filo have instructions for layering in baked dishes. Combine 1 tbsp melted butter w/ 1 tbsp olive oil (I always cut my butter with olive oil). Layer 6-7 Filo sheets on the bottom of the pan, brushing each layer with butter/oil before laying the next. Fill the middle with spinach mix then top with another 6-7 sheets.
  • Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.
 A key thing to this dish is that if your spinach is thawed and drained ahead of time, it really takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare. Once you get the hang of Filo dough (it's very delicate) everything comes together pretty easily. Since the fish takes all but 5 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to cook, you can get it ready as your Spanakopita is getting close to being done and throw it in for the last few minutes of cooking time.

3. MotivationYou know that thing that Muay Thai fighters do where they whack their legs against bamboo trees to harden their shins? That's what my daughter's legs look like right now. No, we're not prepping her to be MMA's next champion, but this kid's natural toughness has me thinking about something I read a long time ago. I can't remember the source so I will paraphrase what I read:

When you were a kid, did you just stroll out the door as you headed toward the playground? No, you RAN! If you go to a playground now, do you see children just walking around, taking the steps slowly or pausing for a moment before going down the slide? No, they are going full steam ahead, chasing each other, chasing balls, and running to beat each other to the top! Let's take a cue from kids and add a little play time back into our day. Why not play "tag" with friends on your next run or go and kick a ball around? Why not stop by a playground on your next run and see if you can still do the monkey bars? Life's too short to just walk, move around a little more and see how much more fun you can have.

I liked how this guy looks this trainer's playground workout ideas the best. Bonus: He references the "A-Team" If only it were actually Bradly Cooper doing this video...

Obviously, this guys' exercises are a bit advanced. I suggest dips with your feet on the ground using a bar behind you (like you would on a chair or stool), modified pull-ups (again, with your feet on the ground or a bar, leaning back at a 45-degree angle), and doing knee-tucks instead of straight legs for abs. As you get stronger, you can try this guy's crazy ladder plank.

Ok, GET OUTA HERE and go work out!

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