Brussel Sprouts!

October 18, 2011

It’s Tuesday.  Looking for a weight loss chart update?  You’re gonna have to wait longer.

Full Disclosure Part One:  Although I didn’t put it up until Tuesday afternoon, I actually wrote this post on Monday evening, so it’s not weigh-in time yet.

Full Disclosure Part Two:  I haven’t decided if I’ll even weigh myself at all this week.  It’s been two weeks since a weigh-in (you can see my last weigh-in here), and, for the last week, I’ve felt pretty good about not needing validation from my scale.  It helps that my scale is currently off my bathroom floor and on the top shelf of my closet.  I put it there because I had a few weeks where I was becoming obsessed with the number on the scale, and was weighing myself daily (or more often than that), and I thought moving the scale out of sight would be a better option than getting tied into a straightjacket and being put in a padded room at the loony bin after going crazy.

So.  When will I weigh myself again?  Possibly tomorrow (which, as you know from Full Disclosure Part 1, will have already passed by the time you read this).  I’ll see how I feel in the morning.  If I’m chomping at the bit to see what I weigh, than I’ll bring down the scale and get to business.  If I don’t, I’ll probably keep the scale where it is, and continue on with my week.  I’ll start chomping at the bit eventually, I’m sure of it.  And when that happens, I’ll weight myself.  Makes sense to me!

Moving on… I have a recipe to share:  Dijon Brussel Sprouts!

I love brussel sprouts, but haven’t bought any in a while.  One time, I even had a brussel sprouts stalk as a roommate!

With a name like Dijon Brussel Sprouts, this may seem like a rerun from last week’s Dijon Green Beans post, but let me assure you, there are some big, major differences.  One, I doubled the recipe.  Two (and perhaps more obviously), I left out the green beans and added brussel sprouts.  Three, I added another ingredient.  Here, I’ll walk you through it:

I started with about three pounds of brussel sprouts.  I cut off the stems, and since they were pretty big, I quartered each one.  They all went onto a baking sheet, and I put them in my 400 degree oven for 40 minutes (per Barefoot Contessa’s suggestion, although I didn’t add oil, salt, or pepper).  I forgot to take a picture of the brussel sprouts pre-oven – oops!

While the brussel sprouts were roasting, I started on the other stuff.  First up, halving nearly 2 pints of cherry tomatoes.  I bought heirloom cherry tomatoes at Whole Foods – one pint all purple (although they showed up looking red in the pictures), and one pint a variety of colors.  I tried a tip from my friend Debbie on how to cut a pint of tomatoes in half in one fell swoop:  First, collect all the tomatoes on a Tupperware lid:

Then put a similarly sized lid on top (which I’m in the process of doing in that picture) to hold the tomatoes in place, and run your big, sharp knife between the two lids.  Voila!  All your tomatoes have been cut in half!

I did that with the multi-colored pint as well, and they all went into a bowl:

Then I thinly sliced an entire medium red onion:

Next up: the dressing.  I started with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar in a bowl:

I added 3-4 teaspoons of dijon mustard, some salt and pepper, a little garlic powder, and the new ingredient I mentioned above:  2 tablespoons soy bacon bits:

Bacon and brussel sprouts go great together, and these fake soy bacon bits are a wonderful alternative to the real thing.  A serving (which is 1.3 tablespoons) of the fake ones has 25 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.  Plus, they’re vegan, which makes this a great dish to serve to your vegan friends!

After whisking it all together, I got:

When the brussel sprouts came out of the oven, I added them to the bowl:

They were technically done, as they were tender all the way through, but when I make this recipe again, I’m going to let them go a little longer so they get a little more color.

Final step:  Toss it all together!  I also added another tablespoon or two of the fake bacon bits, because I thought the ones in the dressing might have gotten a little soggy.  The end result (it’s a weird picture because I tried to use the last lingering natural light coming in from my window):

I took this dish to a party I went to this past weekend, and they were a hit.  Lots of compliments.  So you should try it yourself!  It’s easy to cut in half if you aren’t cooking for 10-12 people, like I was, but I ended up taking the leftovers home, and eating them yesterday for lunch at my new job.

Keep it up, David!


A Day of Firsts

October 17, 2011

Happy Monday!  It’s been a day of firsts for me.

First #1 – New Job.  I got a new job.  “Job” might be overselling it just a little bit – I was asked to help out on a project for the next couple weeks.  So, I’m gainfully employed for the time being.  It happened very quickly:  I got the call at the end of the day on Friday, and my first day was today.

Some associated firsts:

It was my first day in an office that was in a building I’ve never been in before.  The building is known around town for its biggest tenant, an entertainment company with a name that doesn’t mesh well with healthy eaters like me.  I’ll let the signage on the side of the building take it from here:

Yep, I work in the Cookie Jar building.  And guess what I saw in the Cookie Jar building?  COOKIES!

Take a close look – that’s four different types of Oreos on a shelf in the kitchen.  Three of those types I’ve never tried before.  One of those types has a name that I’ve only ever seen on toothpaste bottles before (Cool Mint, I’m talking about you).  I’m going to eat none of them.  One big reason is that I don’t want to.  Another big reason is because the people working on my project have been banned from the Oreo kitchen, as it’s only intended for staffers on another project, which happens to be a drama that airs on a major television network.  (We have our own kitchen, don’t you worry.  It’s Oreo-free, too.)

Today was also the first day that I brought my lunch with me to work:

That’s broccoli and cauliflower (raw) in the back, and that yogurt container is mostly empty, except for 6 or so ounces of yogurt, so I topped it off with strawberries and nectarine pieces.  I also brought a big container of leftovers from this weekend, but that’s purposefully left out of the picture because it’s a recipe that I intend to share on the blog, but I haven’t done it yet.  That’s right, I’m a tease.

First #2 – New Phone.  It’s my first full day with my new iPhone!  It’s my first iPhone – I used a Blackberry before this, until it died this weekend.  Dead.  Kaput.  I love my iPhone so far, and the camera is great – so much better than the Blackberry camera.  All the photos in this post are iPhone photos.  I can get used to not carrying around a camera and a phone – which is good, because in addition to my Blackberry, my camera also died.  I’m pretty sure it just needs a new battery.  I hope it just needs a new battery.

First #3 – The Insider.  It was my first time (in years) watching The Insider.  Like a mentioned a few days ago (and on Facebook and Twitter), there was a chance I might have been on TV, during a piece about Richard Simmons, but I was left on the editing room floor.  It’s no big whoop.  I suspected that might happen.  I’ve had my share of television appearances that I’m mighty proud about.

First #4 – Burpee Challenge.  You may recall Friday’s post about burpees – about how I hate them, and how Scott over at Your Inner Skinny was about to issue some sort of fitness challenge that would involve them.  Since I need to goose my workouts, I stepped up and started, on Thursday night, doing 15 burpees a day.  I did four days of this, and then, last night, Scott posted the actual challenge.  Turns out 15 burpees is only the schedule for the first day.  Every day after that, for 30 days straight, you’re supposed to add 1 burpee, meaning that by day 30, you’re doing 45 burpees!  FORTY-FIVE BURPEES!  The thought of that makes me want to lie down and never get up.  But I’m up for the challenge, sadistic as it is, so today marks the official first day of NO EXCUSES 30 DAY BURPEE CHALLENGE!

Want to join in?  A few of you have pledged to join in already – and I’m excited for that!  You don’t have to commit to starting with 15 burpees.  Check out this post on Scott’s blog – he offers variations on the challenge for people of all levels, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked out your whole life or are new to it, there’s a version for you.  Scott also made a great video – watch it here – where he demonstrates 5 different types of burpees, from beginner burpees to advanced burpees, so you can see exactly what a burpee is and how to do it correctly.  If you’re on Twitter, you can join in the Burpee conversation by using this hashtag: #noexcusesYIS

Day 1 of the Burpee Challenge is DONE.  That’s 15 burpees.  Tomorrow is 16 burpees.  I think I can manage that, too.

Keep it up, David!


Produce Plus Skyscraper

October 16, 2011

Two topics on this lovely Sunday afternoon:

1) Produce Haul.  Brought home a ton of produce from Whole Foods yesterday.  Some of these items were specifically for recipes that I’m going to share in the next couple days, but most are for my general consumption.  I didn’t look for produce that I’ve never tried before, but I ended up bringing home a couple items that I’ve tried (and blogged about) in the past, and haven’t bought since, for whatever reason.  Here’s everything:

I gotta figure out a new way to photograph mass amounts of produce.  This picture has too much glare for my liking!

Moving clockwise from top left, we have: parsley, a container of celery, scallions, 2 honeycrisp apples, 2 persimmons, 4 red bartlett pears, 4 zucchini, red grapes, French radishes (which I’ve carved bullets from before), brussel sprouts, carrots, a container of cauliflower and broccoli, a container of mini sweet bell peppers, cucumber, red onion, lime, 2 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes, and 2 dragon fruit.

2) New Skyscraper.  I had a great day at the gym yesterday.  I started with the 15 burpees I’m doing every day this month (3 days down, 27 to go!), then 30 minutes of weightlifting, followed by some cardio.  I decided to get on the StairMaster, and I set the clock for 15 minutes, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I thought I could power through all 15 minutes, but I couldn’t.  I lasted a solid 8 minutes – burning 150 calories and climbing 45 floors – but I was glad to get off.  I finished up my workout with 17 minutes on the elliptical.

But 45 floors is nothing to sneeze at – especially if you’re a resident of Iowa, where the latest skyscraper in my skyscraper collection is located.  This is the 801 Grand building, in Des Moines, Iowa:

There are lots of 45-floor buildings around the world, but I picked the 801 Grand for a few reasons:

  • It’s the tallest building in Iowa.
  • Iowa is (and will continue to be) topical right now, since we’re only a few months away from the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
  • The 801 Grand is home to 801 Chophouse, a fancy-pants steakhouse that offers, on their menu, an item called ‘The Carnivore,” which is a 40-oz bone-in delmonico.  That steak is over three pounds!  The menu specifies that it’s intended for two people, but still – that’s 20 ounces per person!  My stomach hurts just thinking about it.  It comes with a bone morrow butter bath (don’t know what that is), roasted marrow bones, shallot confit, and baguette toasts.  The price tag? $101.95.

But what really sold me on the 801 Grand is that, in addition to all that, I found not one, but two models of it made out of Legos.  I love Legos, and used to have a whole Lego city in the basement when I was a kid.  I once designed and built a Lego stadium and entered it in a Lego contest (I didn’t win).  I would play with Legos all day every day if I could!  This Lego model of 801 Grand uses over 40,000 Legos:

Source.

This model is a lot smaller – only about 19 inches high – but equally impressive:

Source.

See how the 801 Grand stacks up (get it? Lego humor!) to the other skyscrapers in my collection on my Skyscraper Collection Page!

And now I’m off to the gym again.

Keep it up, David!


Gator

October 15, 2011

Happy Saturday!  How is your weekend so far?  I had a lovely evening last night with a bunch of friends, nearly all of whom I’ve mentioned or talked about on this blog at some point.  Robyn was there, as was Lisa, and so was Joe and Giana.  In fact, the only person in attendance that I haven’t ever mentioned before was my friend Blair, who I haven’t seen in a few years.  So congrats on your first blog mention, Blair!

We met at a restaurant/bar in Burbank called Michael’s.  I’ve been to Michael’s many times before, but not in a few years.  Michael’s calls itself a “Mardi Gras Steak and Seafood House.”  I opted to eat dinner beforehand so I didn’t even have to crack the menu open.

While I enjoyed a few bottles of sparkling water, my companions ordered food, and, a little while later, the food arrived.  The waiter started setting down plates, and said, “OK, who ordered the gator?”  There were some quizzical looks, because no one had ordered the gator.  “Oh, that was my mistake,” said the waiter.  “I’m sorry about that.  Would anyone like to try the gator?  It’s on the house.”  I was curious – I don’t think I’ve ever had gator before – and some others were curious, too, so the gator stayed.

According to the menu, the Fried Gator was “Gator nuggets tossed in a light breading and fried crispy.  Served with our Cajun dipping sauce.”  I wasn’t interested in the breading, which also had a buffalo-like sauce on it, so I took a few pieces of gator and peeled the breading off.  It was dark, and I didn’t have my camera, but a got a picture with my cell phone:

That’s Blair’s fork on the right, with a breaded gator nugget.   My fork is on the left, with a de-breaded gator nugget.

So how was the gator?  It wasn’t bad!  A touch on the chewy side.  As the picture shows, it kinda looks like chicken, but it’s denser than chicken.  The texture is more steak-like, and it wasn’t nearly as gamey as I thought it might be.  I don’t think I’d go out of my way to find or eat gator again, but since gator isn’t really on menus very often (at least outside of Louisiana), that probably means it will be a long time before I eat it again, if ever.  I’m glad I tried it… you know me, always willing to try something new!

Because I was curious, I just looked up some nutritional information.  Per serving, gator is higher in calories than chicken – almost twice as many calories.  But gator is also a protein powerhouse, with 46g per serving (over twice as much protein as chicken), so that explains the calorie count (46g, by the way, is almost all your protein needs for the entire day).  Gator is also very lean, with about the same amount of fat as chicken, and because it’s free of cholesterol and saturated fat, gator is considered a heart-healthy protein source.

Until you bread and fry it.  Which is why I’m glad I peeled the breading off.

Have you ever eaten gator?  Have you ever cooked it?  Do you like it?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Keep it up, David!


Burpees

October 14, 2011

Quick Breaking News: I might be on TV next week!  Earlier today, I was briefly interviewed by a crew from “The Insider” for a piece they’re doing on Richard Simmons.  If I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, look for me next Monday, October 17, 2011.  Set your TiVos and DVRs!

Do you know what a burpee is?  It’s an awful, terrible, torturous type of exercise, which means, naturally, that it’s a fantastic, effective, wondrous type of exercise.  There are two main elements to a burpee:  first, from a standing position, you leap as high as you can in the air.  As soon as your feet hit the ground, you push them out behind you and fall into a push-up position, for the second element: a singular push-up.  Once that push-up is complete, you pull your feet back under you and spring straight up from the ground into the first element, the leap.  Then you drop back down, do a push-up, and continue like this, alternating from standing leap to push-up again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

Doesn’t that just sound awful?  Believe me, they are.  But they also use your entire body and are completely exhausting, which is why they’re such a great thing to add to your workout.

I did my first set of burpees back in February of this year, at one of my first boot camp classes with Craig Ramsay.  I hated them from the beginning.  Throughout the year, I’ve done burpees a few more times, always in Craig’s classes, and never ever on my own.  Why inflect such cruelty on myself?

A month ago, due to some purse strings that needed tightening, I had to give up (for now) working with Craig.  I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve done a burpee.  At least a few months.  I can’t recall the last time I’ve even thought about burpees.

Then, yesterday, I read “No Excuses,” the most recent post on a blog called Your Inner Skinny.  A guy named Scott writes the blog, which I’ve been reading for a long time.  Scott has lost and kept off over 100 pounds – check out how awesome he looks:

Sorry, Scott, for stealing - er, I mean BORROWING this from your website!

Photo Source.

Like me, Scott blogs to motivate himself and keep himself accountable, and, like me, he prefers variety in his exercise (for him, it’s a lot of sports in addition to hitting the gym).  Plus, he lives in a town way up near the Arctic Circle in Canada, and I like having a connection to different parts of the world, even if it’s just a guy who inspires me and will occasionally respond to my dumb jokes on Twitter.

Scott wrote something in his post yesterday that struck a chord.  He wrote about falling off and on the wagon many times over the past 6 months, and then he wrote this:

“I know how to lose weight successfully and I just haven’t been doing it.  It’s time to burn down the wagon and stop making excuses and start feeling better about myself.”

Amen, brother!  Then he issued a challenge to himself, and invited his readers to join in.  He’s going to set a goal to complete something fitness-related every day for a month.  He hasn’t actually selected what his challenge will be, but he threw out some examples:

“It could be to do 15 burpees every day for a month.  Or run at least 3 km every day for a month.”

There’s that word: BURPEES.  I read that sentence and my heart stopped, just for a second.  Fifteen burpees every day for a month?  I can’t think of anything worse.

So, I’m doing it.  I’m ready for a new exercise goal, since I just reached my last one a few weekends ago.  We’ll see what Scott’s challenge ends up being, but for me, 15 burpees every day for a month will be challenging enough.  And every time I think about how difficult they are, I’ll think about how Scott, that athletic bastard, can do them with only one leg.  Seriously.  Check out this video Scott posted on YouTube last year (the one-legged burpees begin at the 1:30 mark):

I just completed my first day of burpees.  They were brutal.  I had a take a few super short breaks, because I couldn’t do fifteen in a row.  But that’s okay.  I did all fifteen.

Tomorrow, I’ll do fifteen more.

Keep it up, David!

Keep checking back to Scott’s blog for more info on his month-long challenge, and join in the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag Scott created: #noexcusesYIS


Exciting Changes at Keep It Up, David!

October 13, 2011

I’ve been workin’ hard on the blog today, and am excited to share some new changes!  Perhaps you’ve already seen them, because they’re already up and running.  I added three new permanent pages to the menu bars at the top of the page, all based on popular (to me, at least) Keep It Up, David features:

  • Weight Loss Chart.  I’ll update this page every time I have a weigh-in.  I get lots of questions about my weight loss chart, so this page will always have a link to the latest weight loss chart pictures.
  • Skyscraper Collection.  Whenever I update my skyscraper chart, I need to scour the archives to find it.  Not anymore.  This page will permanently house my skyscraper collection (click on it to learn what my skyscraper collection is!), and will be updated every time I complete a StairMaster workout.
  • Running Chart.  Since I try to add all my runs to my running chart, I thought it’d be smart to give my running chart a permanent page of its own, too.  I actually updated my running chart tonight (more on that later)!

I invite you to click around and see all the new pages.  I’ve enabled comments on all of them, so if you have any thoughts, be sure to let me know!

This is only Phase 1.  There are some more changes I’d like to make – mainly, the My Favorite Posts page has grown to include around 75 links, so I’d like to reorganize and sub-divide them between 3 or 4 pages for easier navigation.  I’ll get around to that one of these days.

I also made a change a few weeks ago that nobody noticed! (Based on the zero comments that I got.)  When working with Lisa on the design of my business card, we decided that the Keep It Up, David logo shouldn’t have a comma or be underlined:

So, a few days later, I changed the banner at the top of the page so it’d be consistent.  Old banner:

Current banner:

I snuck that past everyone!

A few other quickies:

Facebook.  In yesterday’s post, I urged everyone to like me on Facebook, because I was soooo close to reaching 5,000 fans.  Well, you guys came through, and I thank you for it!  I reached the big milestone…

…and now, as I type this, I have 5,010 Facebook fans!  For the record, according to Facebook, my 5,000th fan is a Facebook user named Elizabeth Maracle, so if you’re reading this, Elizabeth, congratulations!  I wish I had been a better blogger and made a contest out of this, so I could give you something, but alas, I didn’t.  I will next time.  In fact, I’ll announce it now:  My 10,000th Facebook fan will win an awesome, fantastic prize*!

*prize to be determined at my sole discretion.

Scale.  I also mentioned yesterday that I’m kinda enjoying not weighing myself and letting numbers affect my mood and attitude, and I didn’t weigh myself yesterday, either.  It’s official: This week’s weigh-in is cancelled.  I’ll weigh myself next Tuesday!

Fox News.  In a post last week, I talked about appearing on Fox News.  Well, I found a clip of it on the internet!  CLICK HERE to see the video greeting that Richard Simmons and a bunch of Slimmons students (including me) made for Fox News host Neal Cavuto.  The relevant part starts at 1:24.

Run.  Lastly, I went running this evening for the first time since my glorious, triumphant strip club run a few weekends ago.  I didn’t give much thought to the route, except that I didn’t feel the need to go by any strip clubs.  I failed!  I ran by two before I even realized it!  Oh, the perils of living in such a strip-club-filled neighborhood!  My route:

Including a few blocks of walking before and after the run as warm-up and cool-down, I was pounding the pavement for 51 minutes.  The running portion of the evening was 45 minutes, exactly.  No, seriously, EXACTLY.  My iPod has a stopwatch on it, and when I hit stop, I looked down and this is what I saw:

SWEET! 

The route was 4.3 miles, and since it took me 45 minutes, that means I was clipping along at 5.73 MPH – my fourth fastest pace ever!  I just updated my running chart, so you can see how it compared to previous runs there.

Keep it up, David!


Dijon Green Beans

October 12, 2011

Some quick news and notes before getting into today’s main topic.

1) Weigh-in.  I forgot to weigh myself yesterday.  I do that on Tuesdays, but yesterday I completely forgot!  I think the main reason for my forgetfulness is that after last week’s weigh-in, I moved my scale from the bathroom floor to the top shelf of my closet so I would stop weighing myself every day, as I was becoming fixated on numbers, and it was starting to drive me cuckoo crazy.  I think I might skip my weigh-in altogether this week.  I’ve had a good week with diet and exercise, and I’m not scared of what the scale may say, but I feel like I’m on a roll with not letting numbers run my life, and I wanna see how long this roll continues.  There will be a point, I’m sure, where I’ll feel the need to step on a scale, but maybe that need won’t come for another week.  I’ll keep you posted.

2) Oreos.  I haven’t thought about Oreos in a long time, but yesterday, I felt bombarded by the damn things.  First, a friend posted on Facebook a picture of the Triple-Double Oreos he bought.  I blogged about these artery-cloggers last spring, and apparently they’re now on store shelves.  Then, 20 minutes later, I saw a Google+ link to Judith G. Klausner’s website – she’s an artist who carves amazing cameos into Oreo creme.  How amazing is this?

Despite all the Oreo madness, the one thing I didn’t feel was the desire to go buy Oreos.  That’s pretty sweet, because I love Oreos.

3) Social Media.  Since I just mentioned Facebook and Google+, I wanted to quickly plug my pages.  As I type this, I’m eleven people away from having 5,000 Facebook fans (!) so help me reach that milestone by “Liking” me on Facebook!  Tell your friends!  You can also add me to your circles on Google+ and follow me on Twitter.

OKEY DOKE!  Are you ready for some Dijon Green Beans?

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, on Saturday night we made an all-vegan meal in Palm Springs.  As a quick catch-me-up, I was in Palm Springs with my friends Robyn and Jake, staying at Tim’s house, who is Robyn’s dad.  It was Tim’s birthday, so Robyn, Jake and I made a birthday dinner for him.  Robyn is the vegan in the group, and Jake’s vegetarian.  I love eating vegan (and going to Vegan restaurants), although I’m not vegan myself, and I was happy to be responsible for one of the dishes in the meal, and making it vegan was a fun little challenge.

Robyn made a Tofurky roast, which is a meat-free soy-based product and looks and tastes like turkey.  Jake made mashed potatoes, replacing milk and cream with almond milk.  I made the vegetable side dish: Dijon Green Beans.  I’ve been on a little green bean kick lately – they popped up in my most recent RediSetGo post – and this recipe is based on one from the Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook, but I modified it.

It starts with 1.5 pounds of green beans, cleaned, with the ends cut off:

They got boiled in a big saucepot for 8-10 minutes, until tender.  You could also steam them if you have a big steamer.  Then I made a quick and easy sauce:  1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 heaping tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and pinches of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, all whisked together:

While the green beans were boiling away, I got out a big bowl and sliced 1/2 of a red onion into thin strips, and halved about 2/3 of a container of cherry tomatoes:

When the green beans were done, they got drained, added to the bowl with the tomatoes and onion, and all of it was tossed with the dijon sauce:

That’s it!  Easy-peasy.  Here’s my plate with everything on it:

It was all delicious.  Everyone loved the green beans, and the mashed potatoes, Tofurky and gravy (did I mention there was vegan gravy?) were great, too.

The best part about the green bean dish is that the dijon sauce would probably taste really good on any vegetable.  I’d love to try this dish with steamed cauliflower or asparagus.  I’ll be bringing something to a dinner party this weekend, and it might be a version of this dish with brussel sprouts.  We shall see…

Keep it up, David!


Palm Springs Weekend

October 11, 2011

On Saturday morning, I got in a car with my friends Robyn and Jake, and their two little poodles Frances and Otis, and we went for a little drive…

…to Palm Springs!

It’s about two hours from Los Angeles to Palm Springs.  We passed a mountain that had snow at the top – a sight that is so cool and strange to see in the middle of a desert region like southern California:

We also passed a bunch of wind farms, which I could stare at for hours:

Our destination was Robyn’s father’s house.  Robyn and Jake invited me to join them for a weekend with her dad, Tim.  I hadn’t met Tim before, but he has happy to have me come along.  He’s a reader of this blog, and one of the first things he said to me when we first met was “I feel like I already know you!”

I would live in Tim’s house in a heartbeat.  It’s a great house with lots of light and spacious rooms, and it’s on a quiet street in Palm Springs.  Here’s the mountain view from the front porch:

And check out Tim’s kick-ass backyard!

We spend all day on Saturday hanging out in the backyard:  lounging, swimming, talking, and hot tubbing.  I don’t mind a hot tub!

Tim has a statue of a deer, left behind by the home’s previous owner, and there were literally 4 or 5 instances when I glanced over quickly or saw it in my periphery and thought it was an actual animal:

I felt tricked by that deer every single time – although I will say in my defense that it very well could have been: in addition to Robyn and Jake’s two dogs, Tim also has a dog, a beautiful standard poodle named Koko, so there were dogs walking around all over the place.  That no pooping sign, by the way, is something of an inside joke and a family heirloom between Robyn and her dad, and all three dogs ignored it.

Speaking of dogs, here’s Koko:

Yep, that’s a Jagermeister tank top she’s wearing.  In addition to loving the smooth, unique blend of Jagermeister’s 56 herbs and spices, Koko recently had to have a couple stitches, and the tank helped deter her from biting her wound.  You can see pictures of Francis and Otis here.

That night, Robyn, Jake and I made a delicious all-vegan meal (which will be the focus of tomorrow’s post), and later on, the guy Tim’s been dating came over and we all went out to a few bars, where I broke my no-soda practice by having a couple Diet Cokes (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone).

On Sunday, we hung out on the back patio more and had a late breakfast.  Robyn’s brother and his girlfriend, who happened to be in the area, came over, and it was a pleasure meeting and talking with them.  I’ve always really liked Robyn since the day I met her (we used to work together, for 5 years), so I’m not surprised at all that every member of her family that I’ve met is also so kind, funny, generous, and smart.

After a leisurely morning of lounging, it was time to sweat.  Tim, inspired by all my posts about going to classes at Slimmons (like this one), had recently bought the DVD box set of Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ to the Oldies”!  When he told me that, my heart skipped a beat.  The feeling that I get when I hear that I’ve inspired someone to actually take a step towards getting healthier is one that I’ll probably never get used to, and that’s fine by me, because it’s such an amazing feeling.  Here’s what the box set looks like (you can order it here):

Despite knowing Richard as well as I do, the only “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” video that I’ve ever done is the fifth one, which isn’t included in the box set (read about it here).  So when I saw that Tim had the first four in the series, I practically jumped from my chair.  I got even more excited when I realized that some of the people on the cover of the box set were friends of mine from Slimmons!

That’s Sherri, front row center, Felise to her right, and Kathy behind them.

We popped in the original “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” which was released in 1988, and Robyn, Jake, Tim and I started dancing.  The DVD was a lot of fun, and it was great to watch Richard, 23 years younger but with the same enthusiasm, energy, and smile.  There were a bunch of moves that I wasn’t familiar with, and a bunch that I’ve been doing every week at Slimmons – it’s pretty impressive that Richard’s aerobics methods are so successful that they’ve haven’t really required much change over the decades.  He really created a winning formula:  great music, along with easy yet effective movements, delivered with an emphasis on having fun in addition to having a good workout.  Sherri, Felise, and Kathy weren’t in the “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” that we did, but another Slimmons friend, Anne (a personal trainer who also teaches at Slimmons), was in the video, with a fantastic ’80s perm and bright orange outfit!

All in all, “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” wasn’t as intense of a workout as I’m used to, but I’m familiar enough with Richard’s moves that I found ways to push myself above and beyond what Richard was doing onscreen.  Apparently, each “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” gets progressively more difficult, so I look forward, some day, to doing numbers 2, 3, and 4.

By Sunday night, Robyn, Jake, the dogs and I were back in the car, headed back to Los Angeles.  I had a lovely time in Palm Springs, and am so thankful and appreciative to Tim for having me for the weekend.  THANKS, TIM!

In addition to the Sunday DVD workout, I also ate really well over the weekend, but you’ll hear about all that tomorrow.

Keep it up, David!


What’s In The RediSetGo? Part Twenty

October 9, 2011

I just got home from Palm Springs, and I’m gonna write about it and share pictures tomorrow.  In the meantime, check out this meal from last week.  I ended up busting out the RediSetGo for the first time since August… so it’s time for the game that has the entire internet-viewing public at the edge of their seats…

…What’s In The RediSetGo!

Holy crap, is this really the twentieth installment of What’s In The RediSetGo?  It is!  Before we jump in, let’s take a moment to reflect on the good times (and good meals) the RediSetGo has provided over the past year.  All the frittatas… and the brussel sprouts… and the pancakes

OK.  Reflection time is over.  The RediSetGo is still kinda on my shitlist, so a singular moment of reflection will suffice.  If you’d like to reflect more, than check the What’s In The RediSetGo archives on the My Favorite Posts page.

Grab your sunglasses, smear on the SPF, and zinc your sniffer (that’s a Ned Flanders quote), because it’s time to play!

WHAT’S IN THE REDISETGO?

SCARBOROUGH FAIR MEATBALLS are in the RediSetGo!

I’m sure I’m not the first to name a recipe “Scarborough-something” just because I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, but dammit, I’m going to pretend that I am because I think it’s wicked clever!

Not familiar with Scarborough Fair?  It’s a 1966 Simon & Garfunkel song.  Watch them perform it in concert here, OR watch Paul Simon sing it with The Muppets, which was my first exposure to the song:

Until I started writing this post, I thought Simon & Garfunkel wrote the song, but it’s actually a traditional English ballad that dates back hundreds of years.  The herbs in the lyrics might be a reference to the plague, since those were the herbs used in olden days to ward off the smell of the dead.

Mentions of death and plague in a recipe post – you don’t see that on other blogs, do you?  Let’s get back on track.  I’ll show you how this dish came together.  First ingredient: extra-lean ground turkey:

I  used half of a 1.25 pound package of turkey, so that’s 5/8ths of a pound (look, Dad, I still know my fractions!).  Next I added 1/2 of a red onion, that I chopped and sauteed (in Pam) for a few minutes:

A good meatball needs bread crumbs.  The initial idea to make meatballs came from my desire to use one of the Swedish delicacies Katherine brought from Sweden (more on this later), so I embraced the Swedish nature of this meal and used crispbread (knäckebröd if you’re Swedish) for my bread crumbs.  Crispbread is more cracker-like than bread-like, and since the knäckebröd that Katherine brought me was long gone, I picked up a package of Wasa crispbread at the store:

Each big cracker is fat- and cholesterol-free and has 45 calories.  I put three in a Ziploc bag, used a wine bottle as a rolling pin, and smashed the crap of them until they were crumbs:

I also threw in 2 egg whites as a binding agent, and then I added the Scarborough Fair herbs.  I had fresh rosemary and sage (straight from Mat & Maggie’s garden), and dried parsley and thyme:

That’s about 6 sage leaves and 2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary needles.  I chopped all of it up finely, and tossed them in a bowl, along with a healthy pinch of the thyme and parsley (about 1/2 teaspoon of each):

The fun part about making meatballs is that it’s perfectly acceptable (and often recommended) to use your hands to mix it all up, so that’s what I did.  Once everything was incorporated, I rolled them into golf ball-sized balls.  I was able to make ten of them – perfect for 2 servings (my dinner, and lunch the next day):

I was ready for the RediSetGo, and a RediSetGo accessory that I’ve never used before!  Here it is – it’s called the Mini-Food Pan:

According to the recipe pamphlets that came with the RediSetGo, the Mini-Food Pan is perfect for all sorts of dishes I have no interest in making (which explains why I’ve never use it before): mini pigs-in-a-blanket (put a cocktail weiner in each well and cover with pancake batter); brownie bites, and a dish called “Stuffed Soup,” which involves mixing a can of soup, a box of Stove Top and some shredded cheese and scooping some into each well.  No, thank you.  The wells, however, were perfect for my golf ball-sized meatballs, so I sprayed it with Pam, loaded up the meatballs, and they cooked for about 10 minutes.

While the meatballs were baking in the RediSetGo (as shown in the second photo in this post), the other components of my meal came together.  I blanched some green beans, and sprinkled them with some Spike salt-free seasoning mix.  I also cracked open the Lingonberry jam that came all the way to my kitchen from a farmers’ market in Stockholm:

Here’s the end result!

The meatballs were a little dry and a little bland.  Next time, I might add some garlic or one of the egg yolks or something.  But the lingonberry jam added a little sweetness and a little moisture, and made the meatballs absolutely delicious!  The perfect bite:

While in Palm Springs, I made another dish starring green beans – it’s been a green bean week!  I’ll share that recipe soon.

Keep it up, David!


Haircut

October 8, 2011

I’m off to Palm Springs for the weekend.  It’ll be my first time out in that neck of the woods since I was about 10 years old, when we went out as a family to visit my grandmother, who wintered in neighboring Palm Desert, so I’m excited!  I’m bringin’ my camera, and I’ll tell you all about it after I get back.

For today, though, I’m sharing ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos, because in preparation for the Palm Springs trip, I called up the Glendale Salon Spa and made an appointment with Heather, who has been cutting my hair for a few years now.  I haven’t had a haircut since July (see those ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos here), and I needed one badly.  When my hair gets long, it gets frizzy and poofy, and I have to put tons of product in it to make it manageable, which makes it stiff and crunchy.  When my hair gets long, I only love it for about an hour after I get out the shower, when it’s slick, shiny, and controlled.  Once it dries, I start getting annoyed by it.

Here’s what I looked like pre-haircut.  This is actually about 45 minutes post-shower, so it doesn’t do the rattiness of my hair justice, but you can get an idea about the length:

And after Heather worked her magic:

It might not look like a drastic change, but there was a giant pile of hair around the base of the chair when Heather was done.  She did take a lot off, especially in the back.

Two thoughts about that ‘After’ photo:  1) Natural light does wonders for photographs.  2) Man, I look really young in that picture!  It might be because Heather, while washing my hair, did a little mini-facial on me – she rubbed something in, then wrapped my head in a warm towel, then blotted it off, then used a toner and a moisturizer.  I don’t care if it’s the light or the facial or the liters and liters of water I drink daily, I really like that picture of myself.  It’s a keeper!

Off to Palm Springs!

Keep it up, David!


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