Surviving the Mondays (in a Polar Vortex)

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So one of the things that the BOY and I have been figuring out is adjusting to a new schedule.  We adapted when I started my new full time job in December, but then shortly after he began winter break.  Now, it’s a new semester with a new schedule and that changes meal planning.  Especially since the BOY had 2 night classes this semester, which means 2 nights that I am on my own.  The other thing going on this week is we are back in extreme temperatures with cancellations, cold cars, and frost bite warnings.  Even the BOY’s law school classes got canceled today and tomorrow.

 

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The good thing about today is that after a busy, rather sleepless but super duper fun, weekend, I had a quiet Monday.  I was so tired that my eyes were closed and I was passed out with Cooper on my face (no joke!) last night at 9pm.  I slept blissfully until after 8am this morning, at which time Cooper returned to pouncing on me.  The BOY got dressed and headed off to work. I made some breakfast and threw the first of 2 recipes into the crockpot, trying to avoid hitting a curious Cooper with my knife.

 

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This recipe for Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry is really easy and was in the crockpot before 9am.

 

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So I had some time to warm up before having to leave the house.  I had an 11am workout scheduled with my new trainer.  As I was getting out of the car, I realized that I totally forgot my shoes.  After 2 days of yoga, I didn’t even think about bringing along gym shoes.  My trainer is creative and it worked out just fine.  My arms were tired after this weekend and we worked my back hard.  I’m hoping for improved posture!

 

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I had to make a return at the mall, so I decided to try Protein Bar for lunch.  I’ve heard wonderful things about this place from everyone who gets to go there in the city.  I was excited that we finally got one in the suburbs and extremely impressed with my Spinach and Pesto Quinoa bowl for lunch!

 

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I braved the mall (filled with kids since there is no school today) to make my return and in the mean time picked up a few pieces of Gap Fit workout wear on sale (including running capris for only 15$).  When I got home my lentils were soft and fragrant.

 

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I made this for lunch for the week ahead, and it was a quick turn around as packaged away the lentils and threw tonight’s dinner into a cleaned crockpot.

 

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Meanwhile, Cooper kept himself busy and out of trouble (yea…right?!)

 

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Cooper and I then curled up for an hour and a half nap before having just enough time to get ready and head out the door for tonight’s tennis lesson.  It was hard to determine if it was still on, but I was excited to find out that we were.  I think I’ve learned a thing or 2 and am getting maybe a wee bit better…maybe!  Tonight was cold but fun and I learned how to serve, which is exciting!

 

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We came home and had dinner (recipe coming tomorrow) before relaxing back on the couch with some tea and a new TV show called Black Sails.  Has anyone seen it?  The BOY is off tomorrow and I am crossing my fingers once again that my car starts.  The brutal cold has already rolled in and we can hear the wind howling through the trees.  We have plenty of warm food for the week ahead…perfect to beat any case of the Mondays!

 

How do you survive Mondays?

 

Cooper’s Answer: With warm, cozy naps!

 

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Meal Plan 1/27/14

Sunday: Turkey Tacos

 

Monday: Crockpot Cashew Chicken

 

Tuesday: Burgers (premade from Mariano’s) with mushrooms and asparagus

 

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: TBD

 

Lunch: Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

From Hello Little House

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp curry paste

2 cups low sodium chicken or veggie (to keep vegetarian) stock

1 tsp minced ginger

3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Spray your crockpot with cookie spray.

Add in potatoes, onions, and lentils to crockpot.

Stir together stock, ginger, and curry paste until well combined.  Pour over sweet potato mixture and stir.

Set crockpot to high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

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Hello Monday…

How I have missed you!

Are you confused?  Don’t be!

 

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For about 4 1/2 years, I worked four 10 hour days with Mondays off.  I had plenty of Sunday Fundays and then used Mondays to exercise, regroup, and relax.  It was fantastic!  In June, my entire schedule changed and I started working on Mondays.  It went ok, but my Sundays became much busier and I never got used to waking up early Monday mornings.  With my new job, I decided to go back to my original schedule.  Welcome back Sunday and Monday Fundays!

 

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After the past two weeks and a crazy busy weekend, I was more than happy to have this Monday off.  Saturday, we had a family wedding!  It has been awhile since the 6 of us have been to a wedding together and we wasted no time getting down on the dance floor and frequenting the photo booth complete with costumes (hence the top photo).

 

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We all crashed at my parents house that night and they provided the perfect after party of snacks and water : )  Sunday morning, everyone was moving a little more slowly except for my mom who herded us out of bed and into the kitchen for brunch.  The game plan was a Birthday celebration for the BOY and my brother (both November birthdays), the Bears game, and chili.  Early on, there was some discussion about bad weather, but it wasn’t until we turned on the TV around 11:30 that we realized tornados had swept through central Illinois and huge storms were coming our way.  There were lots of warnings given and when the suggestion of bike helmets came up on the news, I sprung into action. 

 

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We had some serious rain and hail but we were lucky that the bulk of the storms were farther south.  We watched the start of the Bears game and then there was a LONG delay.  There were plenty of stories from last night’s wedding to share and Hanukkah shopping on Amazon to do.  Not to mention meal planning on Pinterest.  We had some friends come out from the city, and my we made a double batch of Buffalo Turkey Chili, which everyone loved.  Just a note, that my mom put the ingredients in the crockpot which worked well.

 

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We left my parents around 2:30pm to head home to Cooper.  This was his first night by himself and he just looked so sad when we left (see photo).  I wasn’t sure how he would handle the storms.  He was beyond excited to see us, but definitely jumpy with the strong winds.  We spent Sunday afternoon cheering the Bears on to victory (Woo Hoo!) and playing with kitten.

 

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I slept beautifully last night and was excited to head back to another yoga class this morning.  After yoga, I went to Costco and the grocery store, both of which had significantly less people than they typically do on Sundays.  Man, I’ve missed Monday shopping.  When I came home, I threw chili for lunch this week into the crockpot.

 

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I adjusted the original spices a bit leaving out the cocoa and adding more savory flavors.  I also baked up a loaf of clean banana bread with the latest brown bananas hanging out on the counter.

 

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I’m finishing off the day at dinner with my girl friends.  Does it get any better than that?

Welcome back Mondays!

 

 

 

Meal Planning 11/18/13

Monday: Dinner Date with the Girls

 

Tuesday: TBD

 

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers

 

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Friday: Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

 

Lunch: Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

 

 

 

Crockpot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili

Slightly adjusted from Kitchen Treaty

 

Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

2 cups vegetable broth

2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 cup dry red lentils

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 chopped yellow onion

1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (deseeded and deveined if you’re looking for less heat)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Directions

Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker. Stir well.

Cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or on low for 8 – 10 hours, until lentils are tender and chili is thick and hearty.

Serve with assorted toppings.

Comfort Stew

After a rainy week and a mostly gray weekend, I felt like some soup was in order.

 

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Monday was a busy day in the kitchen…possibly more so since I was gone the week before and was looking forward to planning meals this week.  For week day lunches, I decided on Curried Lentil, Squash, and Apple Stew from Chloe’s Kitchen.

 

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It was quite an arm workout to cut the squash.

 

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I wasn’t much in the mood to take photos along the way, but I had to share the finished product!

 

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Almost on cue as I added the curry, the BOY appeared.  I had to laugh at his predictability!  I poured a bowl to take to work and saved the rest for later in the week.

 

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Dinners this week are going to be simple.  We have plenty of leftovers to get us though the week!

 

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This morning I am still trying to wrap my brain around yesterday’s tragedy.  What is there to say when I have so many questions?  Although I am building my skills as a ‘writer’, I can’t think of the words that will convey my grief and disbelief while capturing the significance of what happened.  In my opinion, runners (and triathletes) are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people.  They are supportive and empathetic…I can’t imagine anyone choosing to target such a group.  And maybe it’s because I know the elated feeling that you are supposed to have when you cross the finish line after running 26.2 miles that I feel even more sad for the runners, volunteers and spectators who will never look at the sport the same.

 

I know that this stew won’t bring with it real comfort, but there is no doubt in my mind that the blogging community (many of whom are runners) will ban together like it always does to offer support, encouragement, and love to those in Boston and beyond…and that is comforting to know!

 

 

 

Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Stew

From Chloe’s Kitchen

Makes 6 Servigs

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup dried lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups peeled butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
1 large unpeeled apple, diced
5 ounces baby spinach

 

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat, and sauté onion and carrot until almost soft. Add garlic, ginger, curry and salt, and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant.

Stir in lentils, broth and tomato paste. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add squash and apple, cover and simmer for another 25 minutes (because my squash cubes were so big, this was 50 minutes for me), or until vegetables and lentils are tender. Remove lid and stir in spinach until wilted. Add salt to taste and serve.

Meatless Monday for All

Hooray for Meatless Monday!

Even more exciting…the BOY participated this week : )

 

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For dinner, I decided on Curried Veggie Burgers from Pinch of Yum.  And to my surprise, I got no protests from my roommate.  Although we both eat meat, I love exploring vegetarian recipes that focus on quality ingredients and fragrant spices.  I picked up all of my ingredients at the grocery store today.  I was impressed with all of the nutrient-packed ingredients in these burgers, and couldn’t wait to see how it all came together.

 

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My one hiccup came when I couldn’t find canned lentils at the grocery store.  Does anyone know where they are?  Instead, I boiled up a batch of my own lentils, which was a bit of a disaster.  I always use lentils in recipes, but have never made them plain.  What I got was a huge mushy mess.  I didn’t worry about that too much though because I knew they were heading into burgers.

 

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I was surprised to see cashews in these burgers and excited to toast them up, take a taste, and then create the paste.

 

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Also into the mix…chickpeas, onions, carrots, spices, and brown rice.  Somehow, I didn’t have any TJ’s brown rice in the freezer, but this mix made the perfect substitute.

 

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NOTE:  This is important!  If you have a smaller food processor (like mine which is 7 cups), you might want to cut this recipe in half!  I had to do 2 batches in my food processor which made it difficult to evenly mix the spices.

 

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Ok, so once you have your doughy mixture, there is a decision to make.  To bake or to fry? 

Since I had an abundance of burger mix, I knew that I could try both.  So I threw one batch of burgers in the oven and pan fried the rest.  In the end, I think I finished with, like 20 burgers.  The fried ones were warm and soft (I liked the olive oil coating).

 

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But the baked ones were toasted and crunchy.  Both tasted great, but I think next time I would add some extra curry powder!  BTW, Lindsay suggests baking then frying the burgers!

 

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The BOY made his burger into a wrap with a variety of toppings.

 

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We both had roasted broccoli on the side, and I spread a layer of hummus over my flavorful burger.

 

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I have plenty of leftovers, so it looks like I am all set for lunch this week.  Topped with hummus and avocado, I know this will make a filling midday meal!

Lindsay’s website has the full recipe and all of the tasty details, so definitely head her way before next Monday!

 

 

Did you go Meatless today?

What are your favorite meat free meals?  Links Welcome!

 

 

More Meatless Monday Ideas

Baked Barley Casserole with Mushrooms and Squash

Chickpea Tagine

Moroccan Couscous with Saffron

Spiced Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

Vegetable Quinoa Burgers

Waiting for the Storm

There has been talk since yesterday of a big, dangerous ice storm heading our way.  Yuck!  When I spoke with my parents last night, they both said that we should plan on laying low today.  When I woke up around 8am, the weather still looked fine, so I decided to head out to the grocery store for some staples before the expected 10am winter mix.

 

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I don’t think I have ever been to the grocery store before 9am. The store was quiet, which was nice, but the pharmacy didn’t open until 10am (which stinks before I needed some allergy meds).

 

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I was home before the BOY even emerged from the bedroom.  The weather outside was gray, but warm.  If a storm wasn’t heading our way, I might have bundled up for a run. Instead, I put some errands on hold to stay in my warm, comfortable home.   I made us some eggs for breakfast and sat down to watch last week’s Biggest Loser.  Meanwhile, I got started on moving some files form old computer to my new computer.  2 hours later, there was no wintery mix insight, and I was beginning to feel guilty about sitting on the couch in my jammies all day.  My mom called around noon and mentioned that some rain had started by their house.  She invited us over to brave the storm with some television and chili.  However, I had the same idea here!

 

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The BOY turned on the Indiana basketball game, and I started chopping up veggies for Lentil Chili.

 

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This is a vegetarian recipe from one of my new cookbooks.

 

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I was super excited to try this chili.  It has a complex flavor profile, and I even picked up cayenne at the grocery store this morning.

 

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This chili is jam packed with vegetables!

 

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Before you even add in your lentils, beans, tomatoes, and veggie broth.  I used only 4 cups of broth due to space limitations in my pot.

 

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If I was going to spend the day, hiding from the rain, I decided to make the most of it.  I kept plugging away at my computer getting to know Windows 8 and started a few loads of laundry.  I also sat with the BOY cheering on Indiana during a stressful conference game.  By the time Indiana secured a victory against Michigan State, my chili was ready for consumption.

 

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And OMG…it is GOOD!

 

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So simple and rich, the chili tasted amazing covered in sweet avocado.

 

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I recommend saving this recipe for your next rainy Sunday (or even Superbowl Sunday)! 

 

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The rain never came down as hard as I expected, but a few minutes ago, the BOY looked out the window.

And my car…is covered…in a sheet of ice.  Yikes!  I will definitely have to thaw it out in order to get to CrossFit tomorrow.

 

 

Did you get hit with a winter storm today?

How did you spend your Sunday?

 

Mine was much lazier than expected, but I am happy to be moved into my new computer!

 

If you are having a quiet day in (like me), here are three more veggie chili recipes that I love!

Crockpot Vegetarian Chili

Crockpot Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Ultimate Vegan Chili

 

And…dinner is already in the crockpot, which means that I will have another easy recipe coming your way.  Clue…this one involves homemade peanut butter!

 

 

Lentil Chili

From the Forks Over Knives Cookbook

Ingredients

3 yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 bell peppers (1 red and 1 green), chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups 4 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle powder or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
zest and juice of 1 lime

 

Directions

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, sauté onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic in 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Stir occasionally and cook until vegetables soften, approximately 5-7 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, ground chipotle powder, and cayenne pepper and cook for an additional minute, stirring well.

Add lentils, crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, and remaining vegetable broth into the soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft, approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

*Note: this recipe made 12 cups of chili, which is more than enough to eat, share, and try freezing.

Second Workout of the Year

I slept 12 hours last night!

 

I’m not exactly sure what that means or why that happened, but my eyelids were heavy around 9:30pm last night and when I opened them this morning it was almost 10am.  Crazy!

 

First thing I did this morning was check on my STEW.  Then, I whipped up some breakfast (so I could take this morning’s round of antibiotics) and for the sake of my stomach threw back a GoodBelly shot.

 

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Breakfast was an egg with spinach on a sprouted wrap covered in salsa.

 

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The perfect pre workout fuel which I devoured while watching last night’s Biggest Loser episode.  After breakfast, I bundled up (check out my adorable new headband) and hit the path for a run.

 

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I had a few things working against me on this run.  The main one being the war waging in my gut between my antibiotic and probiotic.  I wanted my antibiotic to win the battle in my sinuses and was hoping the probiotic could pull out victory in the gut.  Since it was my first run in over 2 weeks, I had little expectation.  I set out on a 4.6 mile out and back route knowing that I could walk at any time and even cut the route by 1/2 mile if needed.  By the time I made it to the path, I was happy that I had worn my trail shoes.  Despite the almost fully melted snow in our neighborhood, the concrete path was about 50% snow with intermittent patches.  But the sun was shining bright and the forest preserve peaceful…it was easy to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy my first run of the year.  I was slow and tired when I rounded the corner back onto our street and my runner’s high was slightly lessened by the dull ache in my sinuses.  My watch read just under 47 minutes making this morning’s run a slow and steady second workout of the year.

 

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I was definitely ready for a late lunch.  I poured Chickpea, Butternut Squash, and Red Lentil Stew onto a mix of couscous and quinoa for a satisfying post run meal.

 

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The entire time I was eating my lunch, I kept exclaiming how amazing this stew tastes!

 

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This is seriously one of the best meals that has ever come out of my crockpot!

 

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And my crockpot works hard so that is definitely saying something!  I ate lunch with some cucumber water (I have been getting really tired of plain water, so if you have suggestions on how to spice it up, please let me know) and a grapefruit that I split with the BOY (who was not interested in trying my stew).

 

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After lunch, the BOY and I went out to run a few errands.  It was such a warm and sunny day!  Check out what we discovered while out and about 4 minutes from our house.  A Yogurtland!!!!

 

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A few hours later, we came home to drop of our groceries and shopping bags.  Then, decided on an early dinner at Mediterranean.

 

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There was some talk while we were out about planning meals for the weak, but we really didn’t hammer anything out.  Although I’d like to get back to meal planning this year, I was okay winging it this week because we have tons of homemade leftovers crowding the fridge.  For dinner, I ordered a salad with juicy and flavorful chicken.

 

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It was a healthy way to end an entire day of clean eating and exercise!  I’ve got a few dark chocolate squares for dessert and I know the BOY will be eager to find a few of these hiding in the freezer.

 

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As of now, I am resting my tired legs (man, it feels SO good to be sore) while watching the Indiana v Penn State Basketball game.  After the long weekend, I feel like I am still on vacation (did I already forget those 3 days of work last year).  I have a full week back in the swing of things coming up, and I have a feeling I will be in bed early again tonight (although I don’t think I can get another 12 hours of sleep).

 

Hope you had a Marvelous Monday!

First Workout of the Year

Finally!

I made it to Hot Yoga yesterday morning with my Mom!

 

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recycled picture but we were just as bundled up!

 

I really haven’t done much activity the past few weeks, so I had to remind myself a few times during the intense class that it is okay to hold back and rest.  But I LOVED getting back into my weekly workout routine, and it was even more special to have my Mom yoga-ing right next to me.  After class, I tried to convince her to come to Whole Foods with me, but she was headed another direction in search of veggies for her own Healthy New Year Soup.

 

I love shopping at Whole Foods!

 

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I picked up some fresh fruits and veggies to make one of Jenna’s hearty stews.

 

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And then came home to chop veggies and warm up the crockpot.  Right on cue, the BOY started to smell the Indian flavors from upstairs and hollered down ‘Honey, what are you making? Smells Good!’

 

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I’m hoping that he will dig right into the stew and won’t even notice the butternut squash.

 

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Without interesting (to me anyways) football today, I was a little bit lost with what to do with my Sunday.  After I got my stew into the crockpot, I baked up some Pumpkin Pear Bread.  Then did a little bit of cleaning and organizing before settling into some comfy clothes on my couch.  I was really excited to finish my book Eat & Run, and it did NOT disappoint!

 

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This recipe requires about 10 hours to get a thick and hearty stew.  Perfect for a Sunday!  The only problem…I was exhausted last night and not going to be able to stay awake until 10pm.

 

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So I put the BOY in charge of unplugging the crockpot and putting my stew into the fridge before he came up to bed.

 

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I was eager to see (and taste) the results this morning!

 

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These pictures don’t even do it justice!  Not only is this the ideal stew texture, but the flavors are incredible.  Everything blends together marvelously, so you know what I will be eating for lunch today.  I love having a house full of healthy food options and fingers crossed, I will be getting in workout number 2 today!

 

 

Crock Pot Chickpea, Butternut Squash

and Red Lentil Stew

From Eat, Live, Run

 

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp olive or canola oil

2 large carrot, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

2-3 tsp garam masala

1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs–average sized), peeled and chopped

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in tomato juice

1 quart vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot and jalapeno and sauté for about six minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 more seconds, and then add the garam masala, stirring well to coat. Take off heat.

Place the chickpeas, butternut squash, canned diced tomatoes, red lentils, vegetable broth and onion mixture in your slow cooker. Turn the heat on LOW and cook for 8-10 hours…the longer you cook, the thicker your stew will be.

Season with sea salt to taste and serve with minced cilantro on top (I didn’t do this). This stew freezes extremely well and will keep in the fridge for up to five days.