Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spaghetti (Squash) and Parmesan Asparagus

Can you tell the difference?
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you they are exactly like pasta.  However, the texture and size is pretty darn close. At my house, we've compared and determined that we actually do like squash better than pasta!

If you've never made spaghetti squash, the entire idea can be *REALLY* intimidating.
So, I want to walk you through a gentle introduction to Spaghetti Squash.

First, pick out and purchase a Spaghetti Squash.

Look for a firm gourd.  Start with a small-ish one (that would be about 6" diameter, maybe 10" long)

They come in all sizes, but the smaller they are, the finer your "pasta" will be.

Cut off the stem end of your squash.

Slice the squash in half long ways.

Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff.  This is very much like cleaning a pumpkin.

Puking Spaghetti Squash??

Spray the raw edges with oil (olive oil, coconut oil, Pam, whatever you use), and lay cut side down on your baking sheet.

I line mine with foil for easy clean up.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until you can poke a fork through the skin, but it doesn't tear easily...

While that's baking, prepare your spaghetti sauce and asparagus.

But, don't start too soon!  You can even wait until you've pulled the squash out of the oven and let it cool while you cook the asparagus!

When cooling my squash, I flip it cut-side-up to let as much of the steam escape as possible.

I prefer skinny, tender sprigs of asparagus.  The fatter the stalk, the more fibrous it tends to be, and the more bitter it may taste.  I used to hate asparagus, but I've grown to really love it as my go-to vegetable side!

We like Bertolli spaghetti sauces, but you can make your own, if you prefer!  I don't have a favorite recipe - yet!!

For the Asparagus:

I use the Pampered Chef Large Micro-Cooker.  I cut the bottoms off so that they fit nicely inside, then add about 1/4" of water in the bottom.  Clip the lid on and steam in the microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Look!  Fat grass!!

Once steamed, immediately drain the water, then sprinkle the asparagus with a little garlic salt and grate Parmesan cheese over the top.  Put the lid back over it to help the cheese melt.  This can just sit on the counter until you're ready to serve.

While the cheese melts, use a fork to scrape out the inside of your squash into a bowl, colander, or directly to your serving dish!

Yes, it really does look like noodles!


Spoon sauce over the "noodles", serve up a side of asparagus, and enjoy!

For weekly food prep, I'll store my single servings in a pint-size mason jar.  I layer beef on the bottom, spoon sauce over the beef, then top to the bring with squash "noodles".  To eat, I dump the whole mess into a bowl and heat in the microwave!  Yum!!

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

What SHOULD riders be wearing when they compete??

I ran across a couple articles taking opposite views about whether jackets should be required in the Grand Prix Show Jumping competitions.

Enjoy these opinion pieces from the writers at Horse Collaborative!

Let Golf Keep Polo Shirts, Real Show Jumpers Wear Coats

8 Reasons Polo Shirts Belong in the Grand Prix Ring

The hubbub started with a high-stakes, well-recognized jumping competition that waived the requirement for a jacket and allowed competitors to show in a polo shirt on a very hot weekend in California.

Some members of the equestrian community cheered such forward thinking.
Others cringed...
And everyone seems to fall clearly on one side or the other!!

schooling in 4-way stretch

Athletic wear should enhance athletic performance
Tradition Is More Than Just a Place We’ve Been

While I respect tradition, I no longer go to the gym in baggy sweatpants.  Yoga pants and leggings allow me the same range of motion without all the extra material getting in my way and interfering with my movement.  I would rather work out in my breeches than in baggy sweatpants!!

The only time I've actually appreciated my hunt jacket as more than a nod to tradition has been on the hunting field where it was *actually* keeping me warm on a chilly morning.  I agree that it looks sharp, but I'm not going to wear it on the cross-country course - where I need to be at my absolute nest and most agile!

I find that traditional jackets restrict my movement a little in the shoulder and elbow.  I can't even get in the saddle without having to tug my jacket back into place.  Do I really need to worry about my clothes once I'm mounted?

I'll ditch my jacket for something more "performance enhancing", thanks.

Putting on a suit jacket and tie to compete is batsh*t insane
Hunt Coats Today Have Come a Long Way

While I agree that technology and fabrics have really advanced, I still can't get my hunt jacket to perform as well as a fitted long-sleeve with 4-way stretch!  And that jacket has never helped cool me in heated temperatures!

winning in a suit

Now you might be thinking, BUT TECHNICAL FABRICS
Show Jumping Doesn’t Actually Have an Image Problem

Was someone concerned about IMAGE?  I thought that was a Hunters thing...
Nope, I'm not the least bit concerned about how great my fancy jacket looks when I'm jumping jumps.  Technical fabrics are great.  I appreciate the vents in my helmet that keep me from expiring on summer days, and I *do* wear it every time that I ride.  Advances have made my helmet stronger, cooler, and safer.
Can the same be said for my hunt coat?  It might be a little stretchier (not much - it's still looks like a suit), it might be marginally cooler (but I'm still sweating waaaay more than when I take it off), but it isn't any *safer*.  I'm still wearing it "just for looks".
If there is no image problem, why is everyone up in arms about about it?

“It’s 90 seconds in the ring. The riders can take it.”
No other sport in the world insists on a uniform that actually impedes performance.
“What’s next, McDonald’s logos on their collar?!”

I get that "you can do almost anything for 90 seconds".  While it may sometimes be called a "sports jacket", it still does nothing to help my athletic performance.  Yes.  It hinders my performance.
As far as logos are concerned, I don't see how changing the uniform makes a difference either way.  There are requirements and size limits on dressage saddle pads, so similar structure could address "decoration" on polos (or jackets, for that matter).

So, what's your take on it?  How does the jacket requirement (or lack thereof) affect you?

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

On the Menu - March 2016

What have I been eating, you ask?

Well, it turns out that I prefer to eat the exact same thing all freaking week!
I'm sure that sounds ridiculously boring, but it works for me.  It also simplifies my shopping list and cooking activities.

So, here is what's on my agenda for next week:

Main Menu
Chocolate Shakeology
With Spinach
And almond milk
Um... mixed greens instead of Spinach?? 
2nd Breakfast
Shepherd's Pie
with mixed vegetable
and Cauliflower Potatoes
Broccoli Cauliflower Quiche
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Broccoli or Green Beans
Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Whatever gets planned with hubby...


What will *you* be eating?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

You don't have to drink the kool-aid!

Anyone who knows me has probably been encouraged at one time or another to step outside of their comfort zone. (Just a tiny bit)

I try to do my own share, and this past weekend, I did just that.
I judged at a high school forensics debate!

True confession, I never actually knew what Forensics was...  It was just always paired with Debate...
Debate and Forensics...

I sat there eating from a plate with some Pringles and a slice of marbled pound cake. (Yup, I'm human, too.)  The teenage girl who roped me into this gig starts going on about what a health food nut I am...  (Really??  I try so hard, but fall short - just look at the decadence on my plate!!)
And the gentleman next to me asked, "So, what do you normally eat?"

I started listing my previous day's meals and snacks...  Chocolate Shakeology with spinach...  overnight oats... carrots... quiche...  Chicken and wild rice soup (with plenty of vegetables!)...

The gentleman looked at me, horrified...
"But, you binge on junk food once in a while don't you???" (He seriously sounded terrified that I was some inhuman healthy eating lunatic)

So, I responded as honestly as I could.
"Absolutely, I do!!"
Honestly, life just isn't worth living if I can never enjoy a frozen margarita, a rich piece of cake, or a cheddar brat ever again!

So, here I was looking at my eating habits as if I still have so far to go (I have a handful of meals I rotate through, for crying out loud!), and the rest of the world is looking at me like, "How can she stand to live on that stuff? Where's the joy??"

Trust me, there is joy.  I *am* human...
It's called a "dirty dump truck"...

You don't have to ditch everything you are used to in order to eat a little healthier!

Your best bet for success is to just start small.
My journey started WAY back when I read this book... (17 years ago???)...  Potatoes, Not Prozac...
It talked about eating in a way that may help manage the symptoms of ADHD.
I started by switching from white bread to wheat bread.
A few years later, I never missed white bread!

If you only change one small thing at a time, it takes a long time to completely transform your eating habits.  But those small changes increase the likelihood that your habit will stick!

The time will pass anyway.  I can't believe it has been that long!!!

Start where you can.  Set yourself up for success!

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