Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Basil Salt

All summer long I have had fresh basil to eat thanks to the hearty basil plant on my back patio.  It has garnished pizzas and pasta, contributed to many batches of pesto and partnered with fresh tomato and mozzarella to make a flavorful summer.

To keep that basil flavor going long all winter long I mixed up a batch of basil flavored salt.  It was quick and easy using only two ingredients - salt and basil.

 Using my Cuisinart mini prep food processor, I  added 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup packed basil leaves and pulsed until crushed.

Then spread the mixture on a baking sheet and baked it at 225 degrees until dry, about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

 Let it cool and then pulse again to make a fine powder.  

I stored my salt in a recycled herb jar  to keep it fresh and handy.

So far I have used it on fresh tomatoes, avocados and in tomato pie.  It has just the right blend of salt and basil and has turned me onto flavored salts.

Basil Salt
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup packed basil leaves

Pulse basil and salt in a food processor then spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 225 degrees until dry, about 30 minutes. Stir salt about halfway through.
Let salt cool and pulse again to make a fine powder.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Preparing for Tower of Terror

Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 miler  will be here in 1 week on September 29, 2012!

This is a new race for me and a re-styled format from what it used to be years ago.  The race begins at 10pm and includes a Disney Villains Bash in Disney Hollywood Studies until 4am!  I got a chance to experience a park after closing during the Expedition Everest run last year - very fun! I am most looking forward to riding the Rockin Roller Coaster without having to wait in a long line!

I should be prepared for this distance because my long runs have grown to 13 miles.  (I am currently training for the Goofy in January. That's when you run the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday).   During the week I am doing 3 runs of 30-45 min.  Not that much running considering the distance I am training for. The hardest part will be starting that late at night.  I am a morning runner and don't usually stay up too late at night.  I'm not sure what kind of race I'll run, I'll just have to see how I feel at race time. I will never turn  down a PR, but because I am training for distance, I haven't been too speedy lately.

The only other challenge will be deciding what to wear.  I can only hope the temperatures cool off a little by then, but I won't make my final decision until closer to the day.

Disney knows how to put on a race and a party so I am looking forward to a fun time!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Once you start making homemade pizza it is hard to be satisfied with any other kind. It is so nice to control exactly how your pizza is made and what goes into it.  I found a great recipe for pizza dough at Annie's Eats and try to keep one in the freezer so I am always ready for when the pizza craving hits me.  I move the dough to the refrigerator the night before.  

If you don't want to go the homemade dough route some other options include:  refrigerated homemade dough in the bakery section of your grocery store, sometimes you can find frozen balls of dough in the freezer section or you can usually find a premade, baked pizza crust.  Any of these will work. We like trying different topping combinations and our latest flavor is buffalo chicken. 

For sauce combine 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and 2-3 tablespoons Frank's hot sauce. Spread over pizza dough rolled onto parchment paper.

Top with cooked chicken and green onions and then cover with shredded cheeses (colby-jack and cheddar)

 Transfer to hot pizza stone and bake at 450 degrees 12-15 minutes.

 Top or serve with a side of Ranch or blue Cheese dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
pizza dough of your choice, here's a homemade version I like to use from Annie's Eats

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Worcestshire Sauce
2-3 Tablespoons Frank's RedHot Sauce
Mix together, then spread on dough

2 diced green onions
4 oz colby-jack cheese, shredded
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, diced and mixed with 1 Tablespoon Frank's RedHot Sauce

Cook pizza in 450 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and crust is lightly browned. (If you are using a non baked pizza dough) otherwise follow the directions that  came with your pizza crust.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Loving my Body Media

About two months ago I shared my yearning for the Body Media.  As far as I was concerned it was the answer to my fitness and nutrition needs - period!

My sister bought one soon afterwards and fueled my fire by taunting me with texts of calories burning updates and excitement for her new gadget.  I think my husband got tired of hearing me talk about it non stop so he gave me one for Father's Day.  A little unusual, but very much appreciated.  Don't worry, he got something wonderful for Father's Day too.

This device is fabulous!! It keeps track of almost everything from calories burned, steps taken, minutes of activity and even sleep efficiency. After setting up my target numbers for each area, the only thing I have to enter on a regular basis is what I eat.

Each area tracked can be looked at in detail. For Calories Burned you can see how many you burn during a workout and also see what the afterburn for that exercise is too.  The tall blue lines on the left represent my morning run. 

Every day I need to enter what I am eating so I can track the calories I am consuming and also see how nutritional my food intake is or isn't. I wish I could just take a photo of my food and it would calculate it for me.  This is the part I like least.

By looking at the whole day I can see when I move the most.  I am basically a slug at work, chained to my desk, but move more when not working.  (Is that a good enough reason to stop working?)

I used to use a pedometer before I got the Body Media and this next screen keeps tracks of how many steps I take and when I take them

My target number for sleep is 8 hours.  I've found that I usually sleep about 7 hours a night, but my sleep efficiency is about 85%.  It shows me when I am really sleeping or when I am just lying there.  I have no memory of some of these light gray bands in the middle of night that show I was not sleeping. I thought I was sleeping.

In this example I slept for 9 hours and 12 minutes but my sleep efficiency was only 77%.  This part is particularly interesting because I've never had this information about myself before.

When first using the Body Media I just collected information on my usual exercise and eating habits before trying to lose weight.  I wanted to see where I needed to improve.  I found that I am not very consistent.  I like to eat a variety of foods including sweets and have days where I eat more than others. Over a period of a week I ended up being even in my calories in and calories out, but that doesn't lead to weight loss.  

I set my goal to burn 500 more calories than I ate each day so I could lose 1 pound a week.  I have not been perfect, but have lost 4.8 pounds. Unfortunately, just wearing the device does not lead to weight loss, you have to work at it.  (which I don't feel like doing right now) But if you are dedicated to losing, it sure gives you all the information you need to make it happen.

I wear my arm band everyday and I don't even notice it.  I take it off when I swim or shower, but other than that, its pretty much on.  I  just got an extra band, because it does get stinky and sweaty, so now I have one for exercise and one for other times.

I bought mine on Amazon and I also got the display too.  The display gives you real time updates on calories and steps, but connecting the device to my computer once a day has been enough for me.You really don't need to spend the extra money.  I plan on selling my display. 

If having all this information about yourself sounds exciting, this might be the gear you need.
I am so glad I got one!