Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why I Am Exercising As I Am Getting Older

When I was young(er), a big motivation for exercising was how it made me look. Sure, I knew that exercising was good for me, but that was really not the main reason I did it.

Over the past 20 years, I have always been active (even through a time when I gained quite a bit of weight due to stress eating; exercise does not prevent weight gain if you eat too much… Duh. I know…). But sometime in my 30s my motivation to exercise gradually shifted from “looks” to “health.”

I started getting little aches and pains that hadn’t been there before, but I found that with regular exercise, including enough stretching and yoga, they pretty much went away. I also suffered from debilitating low back pain on a few occasions in recent years, but luckily I am able to manage my low back with regular barre classes.

Here is my current exercise philosophy. It’s all about keeping my body strong and functioning well. It’s also about injury prevention.

  • Move every day for at least 30 minutes – this is crucial for me to feel “right;” it is more about my brain than my body.
  • Take workouts outside whenever possible – I am back to one long(ish), hilly hike per week, and I love it.
  • Do at least two strength workouts per week – as I’m aging this is becoming more and more important. I can see and feel a real difference when I lift weights consistently.
  • Do at least two barre workouts per week – barre classes with a focus on proper alignment really help me manage my low back. When I don’t do two barre classes/workouts (I do have several DVDs that I do at home) per week, my low back starts hurting. Barre classes aren’t cheap (but Groupons and other deals make them more affordable), and it’s not always easy to get there. But debilitating low back pain is not fun, so I do what I have to.
  • Prevent (re)injuries – I injured my ankle 25 years ago, had a complicated surgery, a lengthy recovery (and exercised too soon), and reinjured it numerous times over the years. At one point (I’m not proud of this), I took pain meds to get me through workouts. Now I have learned to listen to my body as I want it to function for many years to come. That sometimes means “getting off my foot” and doing less cardio for a week or so while I let my foot recover. This seems like a “no brainer,” and I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this…
At this stage in my life, I have learned that it is possible to stay strong and healthy, but it definitely takes a bit more time and effort to feel the same way I “naturally” felt 10 or 15 years ago. And I know things will continue to change as I’m getting older. I hope I’m up for the challenges and changes!

Questions: What’s your favorite form of exercise? What’s your exercise philosophy? Has your exercise philosophy changed over the years?
Be well,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Radish Sangchae (Korean Side Dish)

The next dish in my Korean banchan series is another favorite of mine. I realize that I have many, many favorite banchan dishes… The radish, or daikon, used in this dish is naturally spicy, and the red chili powder gives the dish an extra kick. I like to play with the spiciness of this dish and also vary the thickness of the radish pieces. Sometimes I shred it, and sometimes I cut it with a knife. It’s interesting to me how much the size of the radish pieces changes the flavor…

Radish Sangchae

  • 1 daikon radish, shredded (more traditional I believe) or cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Korean chili powder (or more)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and chili powder in a bowl.
  • Mix the marinade with the daikon and refrigerate.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving the dish.

Several of my online friends are working on projects at the moment, and I’m helping them to spread the word.

I’m sure many of you have heard that Lynn from The Actor’s Diet and her husband Abe have a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the film the Man’s Guide to Love. It is going to be based on the website by the same name, which Abe has been working on for a couple of years. Hubby and I very much enjoyed hanging out with Lynn and Abe at the Foodbuzz Festival two years ago, and we wish them best of luck with this project! For more information about this cool project, here is a link to Lynn’s post that talks more about the film, who will be working on it, etc.

And Jenn from Slim Shoppin’ is raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training in honor of her mother-in-law who passed away of complications from a blood cancer. Here is a link to Jenn’s and her husband’s Team in Training page. My oldest sister passed away from leukemia, and it is a cause dear to my heart.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Question: Do you like radishes? Which kind? What’s your favorite way to eat them? Any exciting plans for the weekend? 

Be well,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Fun & Cucumber Sangchae (Korean Banchan Series)

Hubby and I got to go on a quick date. We had a great time, got some much needed alone time, and enjoyed some treats.

Prosecco & beerBlackberry cobbler
The next dish in my Korean banchan series (previous dishes: Korean Chive Sangchae, Soybean Sprout Namul, and Spinach Namul) is one of my favorite dishes: Korean cucumber salad. It’s nice and refreshing, and I love the heat from the gochujang (chili paste).

Cucumber Sangchae

  • Cucumbers, 2 salad cucumbers or 12-15 Persian or pickling cucumbers [The advantage of using pickling or Persian cucumbers is that they have less water. If using salad cucumbers, it is a good idea to put them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt to drain some of the water out of them. Otherwise the salad will be too watery.]
  • Salt, if using salad cucumbers
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic coves, minced
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Korean chili powder
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into thin slices. [If using salad cucumbers, put them into a colander, sprinkle them with salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes. Then rinse them with water and gently squeeze them dry with a dish towel.]
  2. In a bowl, mix the spring onions, garlic, vinegar, salt, and chili powder. Then add the sesame seeds, sesame oil, chili paste, and sugar.
  3. Coat the cucumber slices with the dressing. Refrigerate before serving.

Questions: Do you like cucumbers? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat them?
Be well,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Fun and Spinach Namul (Banchan: Korean Side Dish)

We had a nice weekend without anything on the agenda. Since it was a beautiful weekend, we took advantage of the weather and spent quite a bit of time outside.

We also made more banchan over the weekend. I enlisted the help of hubby and the kid to take the ends off the bean sprouts – let’s just say hubby ended up doing most of the work, and it is VERY time-consuming…

On to the next dish in my banchan series. It’s another simple dish that keeps well in the fridge for several days: spinach namul. The spinach is quickly blanched, mixed with seasonings, and then quickly sautéed.

Spinach Namul
  • 1.5 pounds spinach
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Bring some water to a boil and add the salt.
  2. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Drain the spinach and rinse under cold water. Squeeze out the water
  4. Mix the soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and vinegar and coat the spinach with the mixture.
  5. Heat a frying pan and spray it with olive oil.
  6. Sauté the spinach for about 30 seconds.
  7. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Questions: Do you like spinach? Yes, and I almost always have some around. If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it? That’s hard to say because I enjoy spinach in so many dishes. I love it as a salad with a warm dressing and topped with a poached egg. I also enjoy it in my kefir/blueberry/spinach smoothies. Plus, mushrooms and spinach scrambles are one of my go-to breakfasts. And there are so many more ways I enjoy it…

Be well,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Soybean Sprout Namul (Banchan: Korean Side Dishes)

This is the next post in my Korean banchan (side dishes) series. The last recipe featured Korean Chive Sangchae, basically a marinated chive salad.

Namul dishes usually refer to steamed or stir-fried vegetables, and the soybean sprouts are quickly boiled and then stir-fried for just  a bit. Here is a picture of the washed, untrimmed beansprouts.

Soybean Sprout Namul

  • 2 cups organic soybean sprouts
  • Olive oil
  • Korean chili powder, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Wash the beansprouts and trim off the ends. (That’s the time-consuming part of this dish)
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and add a little salt, add the beansprouts and boil them for 3 minutes.
  3. Spray a frying pan with vegetable oil and add the drained beansprouts and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chili powder and black pepper and stir well.
  5. Drizzle with a little sesame oil.
  6. Chill before serving.

You can make this dish as spicy or mild as you like. I usually adjust the spiciness depending on how hot the other dishes we are eating are.

Questions: Have you ever had beansprouts? If so, how were they prepared? Did you like them?

Be well,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Korean Chive Sangchae (Banchan: Korean Side Dish)

I talked about the banchan, Korean side dishes, I made over the weekend in my last post, so here is the first recipe: Korean chive salad. I believe the Korean store where I bought my chives actually labeled them “Chinese chives.” Korean or Chinese chives are less round than regular chives and look more like grass.

Korean chives are delicious and one of my favorite side dishes. And they are very simple to make and truly a “no cook” dish. In fact, all the “sangchae” dishes, which can be made in variations with all kinds of vegetables, are really easy as they are simply assembled like a salad. However, usually the longer they marinate, the better they get, so you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge. [Note: The picture that follows also shows “minari” next to the chives. It is not used in this dish.]

Korean Chive Sangchae

  • 1 bunch Korean or Chinese chives
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (I use reduced sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp Korean chili powder
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  1. Thoroughly wash the chives and cut off the ends.
  2. Cut into 2 inch long pieces.
  3. Combine the soy sauce, garlic, chili powder, sesame oil, and sugar in a bowl and mix well.
  4. Mix the sauce with the chives and chill.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
[Note: There are many variations of this dish, and I always play with the ingredients as I just “can’t” follow a recipe.]

Questions: Do you like chives? I love regular chives as well as Korean chives. What’s your favorite way to eat them? One of my favorite ways to eat regular chives is on a whole grain bagel with just a bit of cream cheese and tomato slices. The chives look so pretty on top of the tomatoes and taste great. Have you ever had Korean or Chinese chives? 

Be well,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Fun and Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)

The last few weeks have brought many changes for our family, and we have all had some difficulties adjusting. So we are very grateful that we got to enjoy a fabulous day at the beach. And to make things even better, the kid caught up on his sleep on the drive home!

Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)

For many, the favorite part of a Korean meal are the side dishes, called banchan. Often when we go to a Korean restaurant, what I look forward to the most are the side dishes, and it’s also what I eat most of, which is sort of funny as they come free with the meal.

Most banchan dishes are not difficult to prepare, but since there is an expectation to have a wide variety of side dishes at every meal (nine or more is not unusual), planning is important, as making too many dishes in one day can be a bit time consuming. In fact, when I think about making about ten side dishes all at once (in addition to the main course), I get overwhelmed and am likely to make none! Smile Luckily, most of the dishes will keep for several days in the refrigerator, so one can make a few dishes a day and serve them with what’s already in the fridge. Also, a meal with just a few, good side dishes is just fine in my opinion…

Over the weekend, I made some bulgogi (I marinated the meat following my bulgogi recipe) as well as a number of side dishes (bean sprouts, Chinese leeks, and spinach). I will post the recipes over the coming weeks and also plan on making some more side dishes this week as I love eating them for lunch.

We ate the bulgogi and banchan with some “purple rice,” which we all enjoyed a lot. We don’t eat rice that often, so it was a special treat.

Finally, if you are interested, I planned our meals for this week on my Facebook page. And I’m still recording most of my workouts on Daily Mile. Luckily, as the weather is getting nicer, we have been having many “playouts” with the kid, and I have been getting extra workouts, consisting of climbing, running, jumping, etc. The kid is getting fast, so playing tag and having races are actually workouts these days! Smile

Questions: Have you ever had Korean food? If so, did you like it? What was your favorite part of the meal? What was the highlight of your weekend?
Be well,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Creamy Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage and Tomatoes

The teenager young adult reminded me the other day of a pasta dish that I used to make once in a while when he was growing up. I hadn’t made it in years, probably because it’s not the healthiest dish, and we don’t eat a lot of meat anymore. But it is very tasty, and I think it’s okay to eat a more indulgent meal once in awhile. However, I think it’s important to stick to one portion and to pair the dish with plenty of veggies. Also, there are certainly ways to make the dish healthier, but I wanted to make “the real thing.”

Creamy Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage and Tomatoes

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 spicy Italian sausages, taken out of the casing and broken into small pieces
  • Approximately 13 ounces of diced/chopped tomatoes (I like to buy them in a carton, such as the Pomi brand; in the summer, I use fresh, homegrown tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T organic ketchup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Spicy red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 package pasta (16 ounces) – I like to use short shapes such as rigatoni or penne
  1. Boil the pasta and in the meantime prepare the sauce.
  2. Spray a pan with olive oil and sauté the onion for a few minutes and  then add the sausage pieces and cook until the sausage is done.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, water, and ketchup and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream, taste the sauce and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes as desired.
  5. Mix the sauce with the boiled pasta and sprinkle with parsley.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8

I made the dish when the young adult came over for dinner, and he loved it. I always love how food can bring back so many memories, and I was transported back to a time when he was much younger, and I think so was he…

Question: What’s one of your favorite dishes from your childhood? I have fond memories of my mom’s potato soup as well as long ziti (same length as spaghetti) with tomato sauce. She made the sauce with tomatoes she grew in her garden. In the summer,  she always made a big batch of the sauce and bottled it, and we had it all winter long. And I remember when I visited my aunt, we had eggs in mustard sauce (and she hid an egg from me!). Whenever I make the dish, I think of her. It’s been a while, and I think I’ll put it on the menu soon! Smile

Be well,