Sunday, May 15, 2011


The weather didn't cooperate with me and my goal to ride my bike. I could have ridden on Friday, but it was questionable in the morning so I didn't chance it.

Part of getting healthy is dealing with my environmental allergies and asthma. I haven't been able to clean for a long time because of my sensitivity to dust and the chemicals used to clean the house. Since I haven't been able to deep clean without making myself ill, the dust and dog hair has piled up to embarrassing proportions.

So, knowing that I would make myself ill, I just had to clean this weekend. I can't stand the level of filth in my house any longer and it must be dealt with post-haste! That being said, it is slow going... I do a little at a time and then take a rest. I am using as few chemicals as I can in order to keep my reactions down, and I'm dusting and vacuuming as I go along to minimize the dust released into the air... Just a few rooms down and more to go. But, I know that I will start feeling better in a clean environment. I will also need to have a conversation with my husband to see if he will be able to do the deep cleaning on the house in the future when he is home and I am at work. If I can get him to cooperate, then I should be able to maintain a better environment so I won't be so sick as much...

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another little step toward my goal...

Took the bike out of storage in the garage and dusted it off. Took it for a spin around the complex just to see if anything else was needed... Nope! It's good to go! I'll be able to ride my bike to work tomorrow :)

(As much as I'd like to admit that this is the result of my goal to get healthy, it is actually brought about by the high price of gasoline at the moment. After paying bills this month, I simply do not have enough left in my budget to get gas at $4.20/gallon... Since I am so close to my office - 15 minutes walking, 10 minutes biking - I'll be self-mobile for a while. I have enough gas in my tank to run a few more errands, but I don't want to use it if I don't have to).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Priorities and Oatmeal Packets

Ok... I admit that I have been letting other things in my life take over my healthy priorities. So, for this week's goals, I will go to the gym everyday after work. Since I can't seem to drag my butt out of bed in the morning, I figure this is the best commitment I can make at this point.

To make sure that I will meet this commitment, I will take care of my "excuse" for not going over the past two weeks... I will repack my gym bag with everything that I need. I keep forgetting one thing or another, and I bought a nice gym bag for that purpose, so I'm going to keep everything together in it. As soon as I get done with this post, my bag will be packed and placed near the front door so I can grab it on my way out in the morning.

Additionally, I will be preparing my breakfast and snacks for work tomorrow tonight. This way, I can make sure I am eating my healthy oatmeal, instead of the sugary Quaker stuff I usually eat at work. Although, there is nothing wrong with Quaker, I make an oatmeal packet that is higher in fiber and Omega-3's, and is more filling and lasts the morning.

So, here's my recipe for Oatmeal packets. I took the initial measurements from another website, and I can't remember which one at the moment, but I put my own twist on it.

Start with snack-size zip bags. I guess you can mix up a big batch and keep it in a container, measuring out the desired amount, but the proportions of the ingredients might be a bit off as some of the finer ingredients tend to settle towards the bottom. I usually make up about 6 days worth of baggies at a time, just to make sure that they don't go bad in my cupboard. I keep the ingredients in air-tight containers when not in use. Some are in quart-sized Mason jars, and some are in Tupperware.

  • Quaker Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats AND Quaker Quick Oats (I like the texture of the combination, but feel free to make adjustments as your tastes require)
  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Hot Cereal Mix with Flax
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • Dried Fruit (what ever kind you like: Blueberries, Raisins, Cranberries, etc)
  • Chopped nuts (again, what ever you like: Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, etc) - I like the roasted, salted varieties and I decrease the amount of additional salt when I use these.
Measure out 1/4 c. of Old Fashioned Rolled Oats and 1/8 c. of Quick Oats into each baggie. Add 1-2 Tbsp of the Organic Hot Cereal Mix (you can omit this, but I like the extra fiber and flax that this item adds to my oatmeal. It gives it a unique flavor). Add 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (to taste) and 1/8-1/4 tsp salt. Add about 1 Tbsp of fruit and 1/2-1 Tbsp of nuts. If you like spice, feel free to add cinnamon or nutmeg or whatever else you prefer. I don't care for spice in my oatmeal and I've discovered that when I eat cinnamon, my palate gets irritated and I tend to sneeze more. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for spice, and I use the mild combination of pumpkin pie spice.

Oddly enough, I haven't measured the amount of water necessary to cook this oatmeal. I just add it until it looks right, and it probably works out to about a 3/4-1 c. I have discovered that when I add the hot cereal mix, I MUST cook this in the microwave for a couple of minutes (microwaves vary - the microwave at work takes 2 minutes, the microwave at home takes about 1 1/2 minutes). If I don't add the cereal, I can just add hot water and let it steep.

This particular mix is quite filling, with the fruit and nuts providing quite a lot of energy to get through the morning. Add any kind of cream (milk, coffee creamer, etc) that you like, if you like. I prefer to add a couple of spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt. It gets nice and creamy and provides another layer of flavor with the tangy yogurt. It is also really good when topped with fresh fruit - Strawberries, bananas, etc. Yummy!

I keep these packets in a basket in my pantry and grab one on my way out the door in the morning. I like that these are so healthy. When I go out hiking for a good portion of the day, I'll make a double batch of oats and add extra fruit and nuts (usually a combination of multiple nut combos). I used to make my packets to this quantity, but I found they were WAY TOO hearty and a little high in calories - somewhere in the 800 range. But, when you are going to be active throughout the day, it is a great way to start a hike!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whole-Wheat, Egg-Free Zucchini Muffins

I had a zucchini from my organic veggie order a couple of weeks ago and I had to use it before it went bad. The only time in my life that I have ever enjoyed zucchini was when my mom made zucchini bread when I was growing up. She always planted zucchini in the garden, so we almost always had some zucchini bread lying around.

I started my search online for a good egg-free zucchini bread recipe. I found one on on Jazzy Allergy Recipes that sounded easy and tasty. When I found her alternate recipe for Zucchini Muffins, I quickly changed my vote from bread to muffins. I did make a couple of modifications to her recipe, but you can click on recipe to go to the original. The muffin modification recipe is found here.

So, here's my take on this fantastic recipe:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded zucchini*
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with muffin cups. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, shredded zucchini, oil, vanilla and applesauce. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir until just moistened*. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool (or eat them hot if you just can't wait any longer, he he he).

*You can peel the zucchini before shredding if you prefer, or you can leave it unpeeled. The peel has extra fiber and looks good in the muffin (in my opinion). Just make sure to wash the zucchini really well if you choose not to peel it.

**Important step! Do not over mix the muffin batter as it will over-develop the gluten and you will end up with hard/chewy muffins. Mix just until you no longer see flour bits, no more. As Alton Brown says - "Just Walk Away" - You'll be glad you did! You'll have nice fluffy, moist muffins, despite the use of whole-wheat flour. Also, it is easy to mix this recipe by hand, so don't use a mixer if you don't have to. A mixer may overmix the batter, which as stated above, will produce bad muffins.

This recipe makes one dozen muffins if you fill each one to just above 2/3 full. I slightly underbaked my muffins (mainly because my husband called me while I was checking on them, so I didn't check them completely) and some of the fuller ones were still a little doughy in the middle. The next time I make them, I will bake them for 20 minutes rather than 15. My zucchini was quite large and I got 2 cups of shredded zucchini from it. I froze 1 cup and will make another batch soon. I will also try the different varieties that Lori lists on her recipe, such as apples or bananas. Ooohh, maybe I'll even try carrot! What a great way to get some extra veggies into my diet (even if they are coated in sugar, flour, and cinnimon)!

I brought them with me to work today and they are a big hit! I have 4 left so far, and it's not even lunch time!