The Dumbbell Club

Check it out, I’m famous: This Workout Club Not For The Bleary-Eyed.

Last Friday, the lady at the front desk gave me a heads-up about there being a reporter from the local paper upstairs interviewing people.  My first thought was to hope he wasn’t taking pictures, as I head to the gym each morning having just rolled out of bed, but luckily, he wasn’t.  What he was doing was asking everyone questions about why the heck we get up so early to workout. 

Answers varied from ‘it’s the only time I can do it’ to ‘it makes me feel better all day long,’ but it was cool to have him there acknowledging our little club.  It really is the same group of people there every single morning, and it’s really nice to have been able to meet and bond with people over the last year that I’ve been going.  I’ve made some great friends, and I feel like I’m a part of something.  Everyone looks out for each other, and it’s a lot of fun.  When I was out for a few days a couple of weeks ago, people actually asked about me.  Does that happen at other gyms, at other times?  Doubt it. 

(The only thing is that we don’t actually call ourselves “The Dumbbell Club, but that’s reporting for you.)

This week’s workouts have been as tough as always, but I’ve gotten through them.  I wouldn’t have ever done 20 wall walks or carried 45-lb plates during my farmer’s carry on my own, but that’s the beauty of working out with a group.  They pushed me, I did it, and it was awesome. 

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This week’s eats have been kind of a free-for-all.  I did prep some chicken and veggies on Sunday, but not nearly as much as I normally do, so I’ve been creating meals on the fly as I go.  The other day for lunch, I had a salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, cucumbers, strawberries, sliced almonds, and balsamic vinegar, and it was awesome. 

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And I guess I was on a salad kick (trying to use up what I have in the fridge) because the other night I made a Chipotle salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, red peppers, habanero salsa, and a few tortilla chips on the side.  That habanero salsa is spiiiiiiiicy, but I love it. 

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Last night, I had a weird craving for pasta… which was extra weird because I never crave pasta.  I really don’t even like pasta all that much, but I blame George for getting spaghetti this weekend.  It looked good, and I guess it stuck with me. 

I had some cooked chicken already in the fridge, so I decided to make one of my old favorites, with just a little twist.  (That post is wicked old and the picture is terrible; forgive me.)  I cooked some gluten-free spaghetti and heated up the chicken in a pan alongside some sliced red peppers.  Once everything was done, I threw it all in the frying pan with crushed tomatoes (basically tomato sauce without anything added), coconut milk, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. 

I used to use half and half or cream in this recipe, and it probably made it a little thicker, but coconut milk is a really great substitution if you’re trying to avoid dairy.  It’s still pretty thick, and doesn’t taste like coconut at all (which I’m glad about). 

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And on this wonderful Wednesday, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from this week:

The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done.

And whether it’s at work, in the gym, or in relationships, I strongly believe that’s true.  You can spend all your time and energy trying to figure out how to be perfect… or you can get things done.  No one’s perfect, and no matter how long you spend trying to be, it probably won’t work.  And in the end, you won’t gain anything from it either.  But if you get out out there and give it your best and get things done, you’ll undoubtedly reap the benefits. 

Just something to think about… Have a good one!


Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

Lately I’ve been trying to be a little more creative with meats.  Usually, I buy a huge pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a top round or flank steak, and maybe some pork chops, and I’m good for the week.  Sometimes I make things interesting with a few spices, but more often than not, I eat meat pretty plain.  Inevitably, that gets a little boring, so lately I’ve tried to expand my repertoire, and it’s been surprisingly easy. 

Last week, I picked up some chicken wings and tried my hand at my grandmother’s recipe, and they were delicious.  This week, I bought a package of chicken drumsticks (legs), and I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with them, but I figured I’d just wing it. (See what I did there?)

When it came time to make them, I raided my spice cabinet to see what I had.  And while I could probably stand to stock up on a few new spices, for what I had, these ended up being very tasty. 

First, I put the chicken legs in a bowl and poured in the spices: chili powder, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder.  I’m not going to tell you how much of each I used because 1) I didn’t measure and 2) the amounts you want to use are probably different.  You will have to experiment and figure out how much of each you like; just know that it is a winning combination overall. 

After I rubbed all the spices into the chicken, I drizzled the legs with the juice from half of a lemon and popped them in the oven.  I baked them at 425*F for an hour, and for the last couple of minutes, I turned on the broiler. 

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They got nice and crispy on the top, just the way I like it.  It was almost, almost like having a real grill.  (Almost.)

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Along with the chicken, I also baked up some green beans.  I drizzled them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they baked for just a few minutes less than the chicken.

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With some fresh, sweet grapes to round things out, it was the perfect meal. 

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Besides the cooking time, it only took me five minutes to get everything prepared, and it felt like a much more extravagant meal than that.

And the best part is that I still have leftovers that I plan on eating for lunch today.  I’ve said it before, but making extra at night is the way to go, people.  It’s pretty much the only way to go when you’re cooking for one, but it also allows you to have some pretty fancy lunches, which is guaranteed to spice up any old boring afternoon at work. 

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Have a good one!


Apple Cinnamon Banana Waffles

I’ve been on a serious apple kick lately – partly because it’s Fall and partly because I still have a huge bag of apples left from apple picking two weekends ago.  I’ve made apple crisp and applesauce so far, and last weekend, I used some of them to top banana waffles.  It may be a bit of apple overload, but it was cold and gloomy on Saturday morning, and this was the perfect Fall breakfast to warm me up. 

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For the waffles:

  • Process 1/4 cup of oats in the food processor.  Add in 1 banana, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp almond flour, and cinnamon (optional) and blend well.  For best results, let the batter sit for a few minutes while you heat up your waffle iron, and then pour in the batter once it’s ready.  Let them cook and then remove them.

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For the apple cinnamon topping:

  • Peel, core, and thinly slice an apple.  Put the apple slices into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp apple cider, and a dash of cinnamon sugar.  (Okay, I used more than a dash.  I am a cinnamon fiend.)  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and let simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally.  (It’s important to stir or the maple syrup could stick and burn.)  The longer you let the apples cook, the softer they will be, and the more the apples will absorb the flavors of the maple and cinnamon.  Once done, pour topping over waffles and enjoy!  

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If you have some whipped cream and you’re into that sort of thing, I would highly recommend topping these babies with some of that.  I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing that could make them more delicious. 

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What other ways have you been using apples this season?  I need all the ideas I can get!


Honey Nut Apple Crisp

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all those apples I got from apple picking a couple of weeks ago, and apple crisp was on the top of my list.  It is the quintessential Fall treat, and I feel like everyone should make it at least once every single Autumn. 

With that said, I knew I’d most likely be the only one to eat it unless I brought it somewhere to share, so I didn’t want to make a huge batch loaded with butter and sugar and end up eating it every night for two weeks.  Instead, I did a little thinking and tried to come up with something a lot healthier that could serve as breakfast, dessert, or even a snack.  I was a little nervous to alter the classic original, but I went for it, and I was really pleased with the results.  My version doesn’t taste exactly like traditional apple crisp, but it’s chewy, sweet, and delicious, plus it’s packed with good-for-you ingredients. 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 apples, medium
  • 1 lemon OR 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400*F
  • Peel, core, and slice apples. 
  • Layer apples in a 9”x9” baking dish.  Drizzle with the juice from the lemon or the apple cider vinegar.  (I didn’t have lemons but I realize a lot of people don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand.)

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  • Pulse macadamia nuts and cashews in a food processor until chopped into small chunks.  (If you don’t have a food processor, just put them in a bag and crush with a cup.  You can chop them as much or as little as you want, according to your tastes.) 

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  • Pour nuts into a medium mixing bowl and add in sunflower seeds and cinnamon.  (Fair warning:  I like a lot of cinnamon.  If you don’t like it as much, you should use less.)

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  • Melt honey and coconut oil and stir together.
  • Pour melted honey and oil into nuts/seeds mixture and mix until combined. 

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  • Layer mixture on top of apples, spreading evenly. 

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  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is crunchy and browned. 

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Store covered in the refrigerator.  This dish is great served warm or cold, as a breakfast, dessert, or snack.  If you want to get really wild, throw a little ice cream on top of there and go to town! 

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A Weekend To Myself

Once I realized that the weather wasn’t going to be all that great this weekend, I decided to make it a stay-at-home, relax, and get-things-done one, and that’s exactly what I did.

Friday afternoon, I met up with a friend for lunch, and we went to a new-to-me Japanese restaurant in town.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t like sushi, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I ordered the hibachi chicken at my friend’s recommendation, and it was one of the most delicious hibachi dishes I’ve had.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked, and it made me want to recreate it at home. 

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After work, I hit the grocery store to get that done for the week, and then I spent the rest of the night relaxing.  There was once a time where I might’ve thought it lame to be at home on the couch on a Friday night, but after a long week of work, it was right where I wanted to be! 

And getting to bed early on a Friday night is even better when it means you’ve gotten a full night of good rest and can get up for a 6am Saturday workout feeling totally refreshed.  I guess we were the only ones feeling awake and energized so early though because our little group had the whole gym to ourselves! 

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Saturdays at the gym are always a little more drawn out and less structured since I often have much more time to spend there, and this weekend was just that way.  I spent some time working on my snatch technique, overhead squats, and handstand pushups, and then I got in just a little bit of rowing before we started the WOD.  It was an especially tough one (I thought), with a 12-minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes) of thrusters and burpees. 

We started with three and three, then six and six, then nine and nine, and so on until the 12 minutes was up.  I started at the prescribed thrusters weight of 75# but stripped my bar down to 55# after the 12-rep round, and I ended up getting through the 18 thrusters before the clock ran out.  I was fine with it this time, but hopefully next time I won’t have to lose that extra weight! 

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Once I got home from the gym, I decided to make a nice leisurely breakfast, since I didn’t really have anything else on the agenda for the day.  I’ll be sure to write up the whole recipe later this week, but let me tell you, these banana waffles topped with cinnamon apples definitely did not disappoint.  They were like the epitome of an October breakfast, and the only thing that could’ve made them any better would’ve been a dollop of whipped cream.

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I’m not sure if it was the early wakeup call, the tough workout, the filling breakfast, or the cool, gloomy weather, but after breakfast, I laid down on the couch, and I didn’t wake up until two hours later.  I didn’t think I felt tired, but I guess a rainy morning with no plans will do that to you! 

Once I got myself together, I decided to do a little shopping and try to knock off some projects that are on my list.  I want to find a vanity, small dresser, or shelves that I can repurpose and use to store my makeup and jewelry in my bedroom, so I’ve been looking everywhere for the perfect piece.  I’ve looked at actual furniture stores, but new furniture really does nothing for me; I love the charm of old, rustic looking furniture, and I want to be able to make it look exactly how I want it to, like I did with my coffee tables and dresser. 

I’ve been stopping by the local consignment shops about every other week, and I haven’t found anything yet, but I’m sure I will if I’m patient.  They did have a couple of pieces that caught my eye, but the perfect piece just hasn’t jumped out at me yet. 

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I also ran some other errands while I was out, one of which included stopping by the new Kohl’s to check it out.  When you live in a small town with no mall, the opening of a big new store is quite the ordeal, and I get that.  Since it opened a week ago though, I thought the hysteria would’ve calmed down by now – but I was wrong.  It was packed, and after a quick (really quick) lap around the store, I hightailed it out of there.  I’ve grown to sort of really hate crowds – especially when combined with shopping.

The rest of Saturday and pretty much the entirety of Sunday was spend lounging around my apartment, doing a few chores, cooking up a storm, and watching a million episodes of Army Wives on Netflix.  It feels good to have a weekend like that every once in a while, and the cold, rainy weather was exactly what I needed to not feel guilty about spending 90% of the weekend on the couch in my pajamas.  I love going out with friends and hanging with my family, but sometimes, I just need a weekend to myself at home in my sweats!

When it came time for dinner last night, I decided to bring back an old classic.  Remember when I used to make this pasta dinner at least once a week?  I was browsing through old bog posts and came across it and it looked delicious, so I decided to resurrect it. 

I started by chopping up some spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, and chicken (which I cooked earlier in the day), while the pasta cooked. 

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I cooked up the red peppers first, then tossed in the rest of the ingredients, along with some olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. 

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I let the whole thing cook for a little while on low while I did some dishes and got today’s lunch ready, and when it was all done, I garnished it with a little bit of shredded parmesan cheese.  I haven’t been as strict with my diet lately (pasta… parmesan cheese…) and I’ve been paying for it in the stomach aches/bloating department, but this meal may have been worth it.  It was totally delicious and definitely warmed my belly on a cool Sunday night! 

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Now I’m thinking that it might be a good idea to take a trip down blog-memory lane and see what other old meals I can bring back into my life! 

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?

What’s something that you haven’t made in a while that you should bring back?


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