I Scream, You Scream, We ALL Scream for Ice Cream

July 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Ooey, Rich and Gooey, Recipes

Blue Moon Ice Cream

I recently stayed overnight at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, WI and enjoyed a sweet treat I haven’t tasted since, well, since the last time I was in Lake Geneva about 6 years ago . . . Blue Moon ice cream!!!  Apparently, it’s only available in upper areas of the Midwest – Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  As I sat savoring the indulgence, I attempted to identify just what is Blue Moon ice cream.  Coupled with its refreshing sky blue hue, it has a hard-to-describe taste all its own.  After happily testing my analysis over and over and over again, I decided it definitely had a hint of lemon with a touch of raspberry.  When I returned home, I frantically searched online and discovered the “original” recipe is a secret but there are two recipes out there that come close.  I dug out my ice cream maker, tried the one I’ve listed below and – sure enough – it is VERY close!!!   Oh . . . and I was right about the lemon and raspberry!!

Blue Moon ice cream = blue tongues! Fun!

This is definitely a repeater in my house.  The blue color is a refreshing pretty touch!  For next year’s 4th of July party, I’ll serve this in tall clear ice cream dishes with fresh raspberries and homemade whipped cream on top.  Voilà – a deliciously indulgent red, white and blue treat!! 🙂

Blue Moon Ice Cream

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla oil (I used extract)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon blue food coloring
3 teaspoons vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon raspberry flavored oil or 1 cup frozen raspberries, pureed (I pureed fresh raspberries)
1 teaspoon lemon flavored oil or lemon extract (I used fresh lemon juice)

Directions:
-1/2 Cup of milk scalded in pan.
-add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt. stir till dissolved
-add 1/2 cup of half and half.
-add 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream.
-add vanilla, raspberry, lemon flavoring.
-add blue food coloring.
-chill in fridge till very cold.
-put in ice cream machine for about 20 minutes and devour!

Running for All

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

Down below is a running program given to me by a colleague who overheard me murmer that I’d like to run continuously for longer distances.  She’s a marathon machine herself and surprised me one day at work by placing the following program on my desk.  If I can do it, you can do it.  I’m not a runner by any means but following this program is making me run for longer stretches of time than I thought possible.

Upon completion of this 8-week program, I will be able to run 30 minutes non-stop.  I’m over half way there!!

I feel giddly, like a little girl again, in the middle of a great cardio session.

Try it with me!!

Points to consider before you begin this 8-Week Beginner’s Running Program →

1.  If you are not accustomed to any exercise, consult your physician first.  Unless you have a known health risk, your doctor will probably encourage you to begin a run-walk program such as this.

2.  Schedule your workouts!  You won’t find time unless you make time.  Put them in your BlackBerry, computer, appointment planner, on your fridge . . . wherever.

3. Expect bad days.  Everyone has them, but they pass quickly, and the next workout is often better than the previous one.  I find my body actually bounces back stronger after I’ve rested for a day (or week) or two.

4.  Don’t rush.  Rushing leads to injuries and discouragement.  Be patient and go slow.  The goal is to reach 30 minutes of continuous running, not to set any records getting there.

More GG Training Tips ➔

~ To fuel up for your workout, have a snack about 1 hour before.  To ensure you don’t lose all those hard earned muscles afterward, have a snack afterward. Click here for my list of pre- and post- workout snacks to fuel and replenish you: Best Pre- and Post- Workout Snacks

~ Always walk a couple of minutes for warmup before you begin and walk another couple of minutes afterward.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for after your workout or in the evening while watching T.V.  I get some of my best stretching and yoga moves in that way!

~ On occasion, skip your running workout and do a cross-training instead.  Bike for 30 minutes, elliptical train, do the row machine, or walk the stairmaster.  The break from running will refresh you plus you’ll develop new muscle.

Beginner’s Running Program → → →

(indoors or outdoors)

Week 1

Day 1 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 2 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 3 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 4 – Walk easy for 30 min

Day 5 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 6 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, Repeat 10x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 2

Day 1 – Run 2 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 10 x

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 3 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 7x, Run 2 mins

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 6 – Run 4 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 6x

Day 7 – Rest

Week 3

Day 1 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 2 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 3 – Run 5 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 5X

Day 4 – Walk easy 30 min

Day 5 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 6 – Run 6 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 4x, Run 2 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 4

Day 1 – Run 8 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x, Run 3 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 9 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 3x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 10 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 8 min

Day 6 – Run 11 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x, Run 6 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 5

Day 1 – Run 12 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 13 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2 x

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 14 min, Walk 1 min, Repeat 2x

Day 6 – Run 15 min, Walk 1 min, Run 14 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 6

Day 1 – Run 16 min, Walk 1 min, Run 13 min

Day 2 – Walk 30 min

Day 3 – Run 17 min, Walk 1 min, Run 12 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 18 min, Walk 1 min, Run 11 min

Day 6 – Run 19 min, Walk 1 min, Run 10 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 7

Day 1 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 22 min, Walk 1 min, Run 7 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 24 min, Walk 1 min, Run 5 min

Day 6 – Run 26 min, Walk 1 min, Run 3 min

Day 7 – Rest

Week 8

Day 1 – Run 27 min, Walk 1 min, Run 2 min

Day 2 – Run 20 min, Walk 1 min, Run 9 min

Day 3 – Run 28 min, Walk 1 min, Run 1 min

Day 4 – Walk 30 min

Day 5 – Run 29 min, Walk 1 min

Day 6 – Run 30 min!!!!!

Day 7 – Get that well-deserved rest!!!

*Always walk 2 – 3 minutes for a warm up before you begin to run and walk another 2 – 3 minutes as a cool down.  Don’t stretch before running.  Save it for afterward (think of it as a reward!)


GG’s Gym Etiquette 101

January 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Exercise, School's Out

My Tried & True Dos & Don’ts For the Gym!!

These peeps all seem to be using proper gym etiquette.

The gym is a place to release tensions, detoxify, energize and renew.  When I walk through the doors of my gym, I immediately feel a sense of relief – it’s my place to unwind while maintaining fitness.  I’m very lucky to have met quite a few very dear friends at the gym as I spend a significant amount of time there.  In order to get the most out of the gym and earn those friendships, there are etiquette rules gym goers should follow.  Here are those that immediately come to mind ~

Do

  • Do invest in gym attire that you feel good in.  True, you are going to be sweating up your duds in no time flat but, trust me, if you feel good you will perform your exercises with that much more vigor and get a better workout.  Here is one of my personal favorite sportswear lines – Body Language Sportswear.
  • Do wear color from time to time.  Everyone wears black.  Try a brighter color to boost your mood.  In fact, invest in colors you can mix and match.  GG Tip:  Feeling a couple pounds heavier? – Wear the same color top and bottom; the monochromatic effect will slim you.
  • Do wear white socks.  Period.  Any other color will make you look like the lights went out in the locker room when you were changing and you didn’t get a chance to check yourself in the mirror.
  • Do wipe down the cardio machines after you use them.  You just spent 20, 30 or 45 long, hard minutes grinding away . . . the next person doesn’t want to share your excretions.
  • Do let others work in during your rest periods between sets. This may not always be practical, but offer to share when you can.  It’s an easy way to make friends too or meet that cute guy or girl.  🙂
  • Do refrain from melodramatic squeals and moans while pushing your limits with the iron.  There is one particular character at my gym who obviously thinks he is much more macho than he is.  He apparently has no peripheral vision to see all the rolling eyes around him.

Don’t

  • Don’t wear dirty gym clothes.  This would officially make you disgusting.  Yes, everyone around you could tell.  One way to avoid being a skank is to take your gym clothes with you into the shower and let them hang to dry for tomorrow.
  • Don’t wear baggy pants or shirts.  Not only will you not feel good in them, you won’t be able to see the muscle work you are accomplishing.
  • Don’t get overly skimpy.  You don’t want something flying out that shouldn’t during an overly enthusiastic aerobic jump or superhero set.
  • Don’t hover around a person while waiting for the machine he/she is using.  Either ask politely to work in or find another exercise to do while you wait.  There’s always something else you can do to be more productive than make the other person feel hurried.
  • Don’t stand directly in front of someone performing his/her set.  Chances are, the person is checking himself in the mirror and nothing breaks up the pumping pattern more than an oblivious hogger.
  • Biker shorts, fanny packs, thong leotard over spandex.    Enough said.

Marvelous Mint Chocolate Brownies!

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Ooey, Rich and Gooey, Recipes, School's Out

Who doesn’t love brownies?!  I’m kind of famous for these at work.  If I don’t make them at least twice a year, I lose tenure!  🙂  My dear friend, Mary, gave this recipe to me years ago back when we were next-door neighbors.  I’ve been making them ever since.  WARNING:  These are ooey, rich and gooey – addiction is imminent.

I apologize to my clean-eating followers.  This is NOT an eat-clean dessert.  Hey, we have to splurge once in a blue moon! 

Mint Chocolate Brownies!!!
These are richly delicious!!!  Make them for Christmas & St. Patrick's Day!

These are richly delicious!!! Make them for Christmas & St. Patrick’s Day!

Ingredients ~

* Brownie Mix

* 1 ½ stick butter (I use unsalted)

* 3 Tbs. Crème-de-Menthe

* 2 Cups Powdered Sugar

* 1 Cup Chocolate Chips (or Mint Chocolate Chips)

* 1 package Andies thin mint candy

Brownies:
Bake and cool your favorite brownie mix according to package instructions. (13 x 9 pan) I like Duncan Hines

Cool completely before spreading the crème-de-menthe layer.   DO NOT CUT.Crème-de-menthe layer:
Beat ½ cup room temperature butter. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and 3 Tbs. green crème-de-menthe liquor. Spread over brownies.  Let this set before spreading the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate glaze:
Stir 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or mint chocolate chips for more mintness!) and 6 tbs. butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. COOL. Pour over crème-de-menthe layer and spread evenly.

Before glaze sets, sprinkle with coarsely chopped Andies candy. Enjoy!!

Progression in Pam’s Pilates

November 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Exercise, Fitness, Reviews, School's Out

I am now enrolled in my second set of  Pilates classes at the LifeStudio of Life Time Fitness; I’m feeling stronger and learning something new with each class.  Please note:  the following is of my own experiences.  Pilates may or not be right for you.  Check with your own personal trainer and/or doctor before trying any new fitness adventure.

See a review of my first experiences with this Pilates class here:  Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates

To perform this, begin stretched in the side plank.  With all movement coming from the lower abdominals, crunch them in as your hips rise and feet come in toward you.  At the same time, swing the arm down and under as you “thread” across your core.  Hard to perfect . . . but feels great once you do!

Contrology” – that’s what Pam Barich is teaching us in class!!  Proper Pilates technique means the body must remain in control.   Movement should not cause the body to misalign, shake, or protude.  That is easier said than done; but, Pam is showing us how to build that strong core – the Pilates powerhouse – that keeps those movements in check. The core is what connects the band of strength across our upper bodies to the band of strength across our lower bodies.  A strong core provides for the safe conduct of strain along our spines between our arms and legs. When we are connected in this basic Pilates manner, the muscles that support the spine are actually strengthened by the movement.

Pam poses perfectly

Pam poses perfectly

Pam uses fun, easy-to-remember techniques to help us progress through the movements.  For instance, when prompting us to lie in the preparatory Pilates position (shoulders pressed back on the reformer, lower back lifted and lower abdominals tucked in), she reminds us “not to kill the ladybug”. . . meaning hold the core tight that it doesn’t rest on the mat.  Or she might say “balance that glass of wine” so it doesn’t spill . . . meaning tighten those abs so that they are hard and flat as possible.  Fun!! My lower, inner abs never worked so hard!  You just can’t get this kind of workout with strength training alone.

To perform this, first position yourself into a bridge.  Next, raise one leg and hold, being sure not to let your glutes drop.

Along with progressing through these movements, Pam challenges us with new exercises during each and every class.  It amazes me how much varied stretching, pushing, pulling and strength movements that can be achieved on the Reformer.  Whether it’s leg circles, the hundred, extended arabesques . . .it’s impossible to get bored or tired. Pam’s repertoire includes classic Pilates positions along with her own productive inventions.  What’s great about Pam Barich’s classes from others is one never know what challenges and unique, fun sets Pam is going to surprise us with.  Students get the best of both worlds with Pam’s instructions:  continued progressions of the same movement for growth coupled with unique twists for challenges. Into the 7th week of classes, Grading Girl gives Pam Barich at Life Time Fitness an A+ for innovative exercise that provides more results in half the time.

Men Benefit from Pilates Too!

Men Benefit from Pilates Too!

Men, women, people of all ages and levels can benefit from a Pilates class.  In fact, a 50 year old gentleman just joined my class this past Tuesday.  He has some pains in his back and wishes to strenthen his legs.  After just one session, he exclaimed how much his muscles were shaking yet instantly felt less painful from when he walked into class.  Pilates is rehabilitation, it’s strength training, and it’s mental release all in one.  I walk out of class feeling like I’m floating – I’m that relaxed and limber after the stretches, pulls and balances we concentrate on.

Try a free 35 minute session with Pam to see for yourself!  Email her at pbarich@lifetimefitness.com

In the meantime, here is another video of Alejandra Randazzo, veteran Pilates instructor at Life Time Fitness so that you can catch a glimpse of some exercises on the Reformer:

Level 2 Exercise - This is my progression from the side plank

Level 2 Exercise – This is my progression from the side plank

Good Dessert, Bad Dessert

November 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Eat Clean Recipes, Recipes, School's Out

I made this last night for tonight’s dessert.  It is actually good for you while tasting indulgently yummy!  I can’t take the credit for this concoction.  I stumbled upon the recipe in the November/December 2009 issue of Clean Eating – GG’s favorite cooking magazine, by the way!!!  It took me all of five minutes to mix all the ingredients in my blender.  This is my “good dessert” for the evening:

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse

Serves 10 (I cut this recipe in half.)

This luscious dessert contains 35% of daily rec for manganese and 15% for fiber!

This luscious dessert contains 35% of daily rec for manganese and 15% for fiber!

  • 2 15 oz. cans 100% pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1-lb pkg silken tofu, drained well
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used sugar-free)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 3/4 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (I eliminated this ingredient)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt (I used my very fave 0% Fage!)
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, cut into thin shards

In the bowl of a food processor (I used my blender), combine pumpkin and tofu.  Process until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Process until combined, about 30 seconds more.

Transfer mousse to a resealable container, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Drain any water that has accumulated from mousse.  Give it a quick stir and scoop 1/2 cup mousse into each of 10 small glasses or ramekins.  Top each serving with 2 tsp yogurt and 1 tsp chocolate.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  (for those extra sweet tooths, fat free Cool Whip works well too)

This tastes like a very gooingly good pumpkin pie without the crust and more of the scrumptious filling!!

Now, my daughter’s palate does not yet appreciate consistently clean eating as I’ve grown to love; her younger metabolism can afford more cheats.  Soooo . . . being the wanting-to-please everyone cook that I strive to be, I’m making this “bad dessert” tonight as well:

Thank you to my very kitchen-capable bro who introduced me to this easy sweet treat!

Pizzookies!

Pizookie

Serves 4

Place the cookie dough as one sheet in an 8 X 8 pan.  Bake according to package directions.

Immediately warm out of the oven, divide the cookie into four parts.  Place each warm “cookie” in a large bowl.  Scoop the ice cream on top and serve immediately!  Hmmmmmm . . . . .

Cookies that Won’t Turn You Into a Pumpkin

October 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Eat Clean Recipes, Recipes, School's Out

This is one of my favorite desserts of the fall and winter seasons. Pumpkin is so good for you! Not only is pumpkin loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids, but it’s also a good source of vitamins C, K, and E along with lots of minerals including magnesium, potassium, and iron. Wooo . . . that’s alot of punch to this bright orange veggie.  My mom has been making these cookies for as long as I can remember; she, however, makes the delectable original version.  Here’s my slightly “doctored,” eat clean version that tastes just as sinful.  I’ve included the original as well.

Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Mmm, one of my faves of the season!
Mmm, one of my faves of the season!
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour (original 2 1/2 cups flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (2012 update:  my bro used pumpkin butter which made the cookie denser)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites (original 1 egg)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix butter, pumpkin, egg and vanilla in another bowl. Beat until light and creamy. Mix dry ingredients until well blended with the pumpkin mixture.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Smooth tops of cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Cool on wire racks.

**Drizzle with your favorite homemade vanilla frosting recipe.

( I combine skim milk (about ½ cup), butter (about 2 tbs), powdered sugar (about 2 cups), and vanilla (about a teaspoon). I don’t have specific amounts. I blend these to taste.   2012 update:  My bro just made these for us; he used maple syrup instead of butter for the frosting.  Pumpkin & maple syrup combine to form one fine fall indulgence!

Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates

October 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Exercise, Fitness, Reviews, School's Out

Please note:  The following is of my own experiences only.  Check with your health care provider to see if Pilates is right for you.

I vowed this would be the summer of new experiences.  With only one week left of summer break, I can honestly write that I kept that vow!  One of the most impactful of those experiences is one I will continue long after summer is over ~ Pilates at Life Time Fitness’s LifeStudio with Pamela Barich.  I can’t say enough about Pam’s Pilates class.  My posture is more aligned.  I walk taller.  I look slimmer.  I am more toned.  I am more flexible.  In a word . . . I feel better.

Grading Girl on The Reformer - this is my first try with this move!

Grading Girl on The Reformer – this is my first try with this move!

At LifeStudio (a part of Lifetime Fitness), I am supervised by a specially trained instructor named Pam Barich.  Pam earned her Pilates certification in 2005 after a few years of teaching aerobic classes.  She was taking Pilates classes herself and found that it was the one practice that was enhancing all other aspects of her life.  As Pam explains, Pilates “develops core strength, giving overall strength.  .  . When that is strong, you can have strength all over.”   She advocates Joseph Pilates focus on concentration to achieve mind/body connection that “works the body from the inside out,” as Pam states.  Pilates gives you a work-in that makes other workouts that much more effective.

Pamela Barich on The Reformer at LifeStudio Schaumburg

Pamela Barich on The Reformer at LifeStudio

How and why did Pilates begin? As Medicine.Net defines, Pilates was created in the 1920s by the trainer Joseph Pilates for the purpose of rehabilitation. Pilates’ first clients were soldiers from war and dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine (to strengthen their bodies and heal their aches and pains). His techniques are maintained today as dancers, athletes and anyone looking to improve their overall physical and emotional fitness are utilizing the method.  I remember my dance teacher years ago recommending enrollment in a Pilates class to enhance poise and technique; but, back then Pilates classes were much harder to find in the suburbs. In fact, when I hunted for a class in the early ’90s, there was only one studio in downtown Chicago offering a few classes.  I would have had to travel to New York if I wanted to take any comprehensive Pilates sessions.  Today, Pilates is conveniently offered at my own gym with highly specialized instructors!  Very few health clubs are as comprehensive as Life Time Fitness . . . offering Pilates, yoga, aerobics, spin, marathon trainings, boot camps . . the list goes on.

What exactly is Pilates? Pilates is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility, strength, and body awareness, without building bulk. The method is a series of controlled (and I mean very controlled) movements performed on specially designed spring-resistant exercise apparatus (in our class, that is the Reformer) or on the floor (mat work).  Pilates is resistance exercise, not aerobic; although, the heart rate will certainly rise.  I sometimes wear my heart monitor and my heart does raise to my Zone 2 & 3 levels.  It’s closer to weight lifting than it is to aerobic activities, and so it should be considered resistance exercise.  As an avid strength trainer, I use Pilates to refine my posture and core strength – things that I can’t perfect with weight lifting alone. It actually makes me sit and stand more properly and comfortably!!!

Two of the key elements of Pilates are core muscle strength and spinal alignmentThere are movements in my Pilates class that work muscles I’ve never worked before!  Pilates is unique in that it truly targets the core, including the very hard to train lower abdominal muscles.  Everyone talks about using your “core” but what exactly is it???  The “core” consists of the spine, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. Some of the main core muscles are the erector spinae (located in your back along your spine), the internal and external obliques (the sides of your abdomen), the transverse abdominis (located deep in your gut, this muscle pulls your belly button in toward your spine), the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”), and hip flexors (in your pelvis and upper leg). Now, who doesn’t want to tone those muscles?!?

During a Pilates session with Pam, whether it’s on the Reformer or on the mat, she continuously prompts us to concentrate deeply on those core muscles, as well as on our breath, the contraction of our muscles, and the quality (not quantity) of our movements. Practicing that coordinated concentration enhances our life outside of the studio as well as we carry the control through to our lives.  It helps us connect our body, mind and spirit to create peace withn.

Pam pushes you to stretch to your most optimal level without overstepping your limits.  As an example of her highly individualized instruction, on the first day of my small group class (there are 4 of us), Pam had us perform basic stretches on the Reformer and mat to identiy our current (or pre-Pilates) flexibilty and strength levels.  As she approached each of us throughout the hour, she demonstrated differentiated movements for each of us to tackle according to our own body’s abilities.  Now that we’re each acclimated to the Pilates fundamentals, every session consists of choreographed movements that push each of us at our own paces and alignments.  Individualized instruction at group pricing!

Pam demonstrating more moves

Pam demonstrating another finely balanced stretch

Grading Girl gives Pamela Barich’s Pilates class an A+ for  a healthful way to improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Men and women of various ages and fitness levels take Pilates.  I walk out of class feeling lithe and light with a super-straight posture.  I guarantee you will gain from it as well.

CHECK OUT MY SECOND POST IN THIS SERIES HERE:  Progression in Pam’s Pilates

** Try a class!!  Pam offers a FREE introductory session to anyone interested.  You don’t even have to be a Lifetime member for the free trial.  Email her at pbarich@lifetimefitness.com.    Don’t forget to tell her Grading Girl sent you! 🙂  **

Want more proof of how much Pilates can do for your strength and flexibility?  Here is a video of Alejandra Randazzo, a veteran Life Time Fitness (Schaumburg) Pilates Instructor, performing on the Reformer:

Come to Life Time Fitness to improve your fitness for a lifetime!

STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES ON GG’S PILATES PROGRESS.  GG WILL POST TO THIS SERIES EVERY FEW WEEKS.

Nuke and Eat Stir Fry

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Eat Clean Recipes, Recipes, School's Out

I found this in a past issue of Women’s Health and made it the other night so that I wouldn’t have to worry about making lunches for the week.  I just savored my last portion for lunch.  I hunt for recipes like this that don’t taste as “clean” as they are.  The spices coupled with the fresh veggies and tender beef make for a satisfying meal that provide the right ratio of protein, carbs and fat.  This can also make for a perfect post-workout meal or delicious dinner.

An A+ Dinner

NUKE-AND-EAT ASIAN STIR-FRY   from Wurmwood10 on Flickr

Time-saving Tip: Make this recipe on Sunday, then freeze it in single-serving portions—you’ll have a healthy “fast-food: meal ready anytime you want it.

(I modified to make it even cleanier by eliminating extra salt, replacing one egg with two egg whites, and using low-sodium soy sauce.)

  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lb beef sirloin, sliced into 2″ strips
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 2″ strips
  • 1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced into 2″ strips
  • brown rice (you can make a batch of this ahead of time as well and portion it along with the stir fry)

In a bowl, combine the egg whites and 1 Tbsp of the soy sauce, and stir well. Then add the sirloin strips and set aside to marinate. Next, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet while you mix the remaining soy sauce, the cornstarch, and the crushed red pepper in a bowl—this is your sauce, to be used later. Once the skillet is hot, stir-fry the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Then, at 30-second intervals, individually add the carrots, water chestnuts, onion, and scallions. Next, remove all the vegetables from the skillet and place them in a bowl. Put the beef-marinade mixture in the skillet, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour in the sauce, stirring and cooking until it’s thick and bubbly. Finally, add the vegetables back to the skillet, and cook everything together for a couple of minutes, or until hot.

Let it cool, then place individual portions in plastic containers and freeze. When you’re ready for a quick lunch, microwave the stir-fry for 3 minutes or until hot and serve with one serving of the brown rice. Makes 3 servings

Per serving: 486 calories, 42 g protein (2.2 g leucine), 45 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 7 g fiber

GG’s Tip:  You can substitute with other veggies you have on hand . . . broccoli, cauliflour, red peppers . . .

Cherry DeLIGHT

August 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Eat Clean Recipes, Recipes, School's Out

An A+ Dessert

A reader asked me why I only post healthful (not healthy) recipes so I decided to post a more decadent dessert that only seems un GG-like.  This is actually fat free despite its creamy richness.  So go ahead, we all need to splurge once in a while.  Everything in moderation . . . including moderation.  🙂

I love all things cherry – I eat marochino cherries out of the jar, cherry lifesavers are my favorite candy, and I pop bing cherries like popcorn.  My mother’s Cherry Delight dessert may have been the dish that started it all.  I fondly recall racing my dad to the fridge for the last piece of this no-bake treat.  I was working out yesterday, of all things, and was trying to think of a way to give this dish an “eat clean” makeover.  I had a taste for it and can’t remember the last time I enjoyed it.

Using fresh cherries rather than canned cherry pie filling cuts out the sugar.

Using fresh cherries rather than canned cherry pie filling cuts out the sugar.

GG sits before you now exclaiming that the experiment worked.  I have to say it tastes more sinful than it is.  This is a great warm weather dessert that’s always been a crowd pleaser in our family.  If you like sweet, if you like creamy, and if you like cherry, check this out.  It’s real simple and quick to whip up (unless you’re feeling the urge to make your own angel food cake, like I did):

Cherry DeLIGHT
  • Angel Food cake, cut into small cubes (homemade or store bought) ****Don’t forget, there are no egg yolks in angel food cake.  That means no fat!!***
  • 2 packages sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix (original recipe calls for regular vanilla instant pudding mix)
  • approx. 2 cups of pitted Bing cherries (original recipe calls for 2 cans of cherry pie filling) **my favorite cherry pitter is from Williams Sonoma
  • 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (original recipe calls for one pint sour cream)

In a 9 x 13 pan, spread half of the cubed Angel Food cake on the bottom.  Make the pudding according to package directions (use skim milk).  Mix the yogurt with the pudding.  Layer half of the pudding mixture on top of the broken cake in the pan.  Place the second half of the cake cubes on top of the pudding.  Layer the second half of the pudding on top of that.  Place the cherries on top.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  That’s it!

There you have it ~ a family recipe made over into a non-fat decadent dessert!!!!

Make or Break Your Workout

August 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Nutrition Tips, School's Out

Yesterday was one of those days that flew by – I spent it with a very dear friend of 17 (update, make that 20!) years.  We met as next door neighbors when we settled into our new homes.  Our girls, just two weeks apart in age, are still best buds and we are close friends forever.  We’ve both since moved and I sometimes really miss those days when we walked into each other’s houses as if they were interchangeable (and it was usually through the back doors), used each other’s yards as our own, and knew we were only steps away from good company and fun laughs.

Much of our lunch conversation yesterday centered on food and nutrition.  She’s as fanatic about working out as I am; I recall those evening bike rides with fondness.  Anyway, she asked me what I eat before and after working out as she’s trying to add more protein to her diet.  I’ve been meaning to post a blog about this because it’s so important yet so many people neglect this part in their workout regime.  Without energy from proper nutrition, exercise will be sluggish and potential results cannot be attained.  By the same token, muscles that just worked so hard will not recover without recovery fuel.

My Favorite Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Snacks!

 

 

PRE-WORKOUT: (within an hour before exercise)

protein + slow-digesting carbs

You need a good source of protein to get your muscles growing.  Slow-digesting carbs gives good energy without the unnecessary fat.  My Muscle & Fitness Hers May/June 2008 magazine says that 20-30 grams of protein and 30-40 grams of slow-digesting carbs is needed. If you’re in a hurry, grab a yogurt and a piece of fruit.  If you have a few moments, here are a couple examples from the magazine that I personally have been using for the past year:

A.

1 scoop whey protein
1 cup skim milk or 1 cup low fat yogurt
1/2 cup All-Bran cereal (GG says this is the world’s most versatile cereal)

OR

B.

1/2 cup whey protein
1/2 cup soy protein
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt (GG’s fave is Fage!  Check out my review of it.)

OR

C.

1 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 scoop soy protein powder
2 cups water
3/4 cups rasberries
3/4 cup blueberries (is there such thing as eating too many berries a day???  cause I could pop strawberries, rasberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberies, goji berries in my mouth aaaallll day)

POSTWORKOUT (within 45 minutes after workout)

protein + fast-digesting carbs

Protein powers our muscles that just worked so hard and the fast carbs boost insulin levels to help that protein get into muscles.  M & F Hers recommends 40 grams of fast-digesting protein and 30-40 grams of fast-digesting carbs.  If you’re in a hurry, just mixing a scoop of protein powder with water is sufficient until your next meal.  If you have a few more moments to prepare something, these are perfect:

A.

1 scoop whey protein
1 cup water
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup mini marshmallows  (confession:  I decided I have to take a break from these because, when I have them in the house, I can’t control myself.  I ate a half of a bag in one sitting the other day.  Ugghhh)

OR

B.

1 scoop whey
1/2 scoop soy protein
2 cups water
1/2 bag 94% fat-free popcorn

OR

C.

1 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 scoop soy protein powder
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. jelly
1 slice white bread (hmmmm)

Post-workout snacks are delish because of the sweet stuff!!!! Ummm, just don’t overdo it like I did with the marshmallows.

Happy Healthful Snack

Two A+ Energizing Snacks

As I illustrate in my post on healthful eating shortcuts, I make as many meals and snacks from scratch as I can to avoid unneccesary additives and preservatives. But who has time to spend hours in the kitchen?  Working all day, devoting a couple of hours in the evening to a workout, and spending quality time with my daughter leaves little time for much else.  I’m forever looking for easy, quick recipes that don’t require a lot of labor.  Here are two of my new favorites that I happened upon in one of my favorite fitness magazines, Oxygen.  I made these last week, they satisfied my appetite between meals, and they helped to fuel my workouts.  These are “repeaters,” as my daughter would say.

TLC’s Trail Mix

1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup banana chips
1/2 cup apple chips
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup carob chips (optional . . . I didn’t have these last time I made this, and it was just as yummy)

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and divide into 1/4 cup servings.

Makes 12 servings

Energy Bars

1 cup natural peanut butter (I used reduced fat)
1 cup honey
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup dried apricots, chopped

1. Combine peanut butter and honey in a large nonstick pot and heat on low until runny. Mix in the oatmeal, apricots and nuts, stirring until all ingredients are well coated.

2. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with waxed paper. Press the mixture into the pan. Let cool, then cut into 16 bars.

Makes 16 servings

Both of these snacks taste more sinful than they are!!!

Breakfast in a Blender

April 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Eat Clean Recipes, Recipes, School's Out

GG’s Power Protein Shake = A+

I make this at least three mornings a week.  It’s my favorite Saturday breakfast right before going to the gym for a nice long weekend workout.  It tastes much more sinful than it is.   It only takes a couple of minutes from start to clean up too.  I’ve also varied this with frozen strawberries and a scoop of strawberry whey protein for a different treat.    Go ahead ~ put that blender to use.

 

GG’s Power Protein Shake

1 frozen banana
1/3 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup water
1 scoop vanilla, cookies n cream, or graham cracker flavored whey protein powder
1 tbs oat bran
1 tbs flaxseeds and 1 tbs chia seeds
1.5 tbs wheat germ

2 tbs natural applesauce

**When I really feel like getting my greens, I add a handful of baby spinach and/or mustard greens.  It mixes well and tastes surprisingly good with the banana!!!
A small scoopful of ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.           Breakfast in a blender!

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