Friday, October 26, 2012
I love having hard boiled eggs around, but they can be a pain in the tush to make. The pot can boil over if the eggs break in there, making a horrible mess to clean up; there is a risk of not getting them done enough; and there is always the chance that I'll forget about them and wind up with smelly, exploded egg on the ceiling (now THAT'S a riot to clean up!).
Then I read about baking whole eggs, in-shell, on-line and gave it a try. I gotta tell ya- I was nervous. But amazingly, it worked! I am certainly not the first person to blog about this, but thought I would pass this on to my readers in case they did not know about it.
Here's how it's done:
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Put an egg into each of either a regular sized or mini muffing tin. I have two muffin tins that make 12 muffins each, so I can either cook one or two dozen eggs at a time. (Alternately, you can put the eggs right on the racks in the oven, but if one of the eggs cracks I'd rather clean up a muffin tin than the bottom of my oven.)
Stick the tin in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. (Now you have something screaming at you at the end of the cook time, so you won't forget and boil all the water out of the pot and risk your whole kitchen smell like burnt egg shells. Nasty!)
Hang on to your egg cartons- You'll store the cooked eggs in them when they are done.
When the timer goes off, take your eggs out of the oven, but leave them in the tin for 5 minutes at room temp. They will have little brown spots on them, but don't worry about it: They will come off in the next step.
In the meantime, fill something with cold water (I just plug up my sink and turn the water on, filling it enough to just cover the eggs). At the end of 5 minutes, put the eggs into the cold water. (I use tongs if they are still too hot to handle.)
The muffin tin is usually clean still, so I just put it back in my cabinet.
When the eggs have cooled, put them in the saved egg carton. Be sure to mark it, so that you know which eggs are hard boiled and which are not in your fridge. I put an "HB" on the sides of my carton with a sharpie so I can see it easily when I open the fridge.
That's it- Perfectly cooked "hard boiled" eggs without the watch-time and potential mess of doing them on the stove. Yay!
Monday, October 22, 2012
I'll come right to the point: Guys, we women like for you to have butts. And it seems that as you age, if you don't get your.... er... butts into the gym, you wind up with flat backsides.
This flattening pretty much expressly comes from sitting a lot. I can spot a guy with a desk job who never visits the gym within 100 feet: Wide, flat, and almost narrow at the very bottom. Yeah, guys- We women notice nice butts on men that are in their 40's and beyond. It impresses us. If you have one, endeavor to keep it. If you don't, get to the gym and get one!
Now, I'm a gal who loves a nicely defined upper body. I'm a self-admitted chest girl. But true fitness is displayed in a man in his midsection and his butt. That's the area that takes the most self discipline for you guys to build up and maintain. So while a moundy muscular chest gets my initial attention, I have respect for a man in mid-life with nice glutes.
Not only is it about appearance, but having a well-developed lower body is good for your health and quality of life. A strong lower body will carry you around longer, be less likely to suffer things like back problems in the lumbar spine that so often start hitting men in their 40's, and greatly reduce your likelihood of suffering broken bones when you fall as you age. (Does hip replacement surgery sound like fun?)
Chances are that if I have inspired you to go to the gym, you will head for variations on the squat and leg press, because not only are those the grand-daddy of moves to develop the lower body, but they're also done on masculine equipment: REAL men use the big plates. (Insert caveman-type laugh here.)
But the fact is that the guys I see with good butts in midlife and beyond are the ones in the gym that aren't too proud to do lunges, step-ups, all variations of split squats, and cable kickbacks. And you'll see them getting cardio sometimes on the step-type equipment. Yeah, I know all those have the rep of being girly, but they do NOT create a girly look for you guys! They create a butt that gets our attention.
We women miss your butts! Please, bring them back!
Guys, are you listening? And women, do you agree?
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Have you ever heard of coconut oil? I hadn't either, until I read about it in Tosca Reno's "Eat Clean" books. She says she eats 3 Tablespoons of it a day. Now, Tosca doesn't eat any foods that are not clean, so I'm sure that 360 calories of a good source of fat don't hurt her. But for the rest of us it might not be the best idea to consume this quantity if we are trying to lose weight. However, it's a great food to substitute for some other fats in your diet for a myriad of reasons. Here's an article that goes into detail, because I am too lazy to type it all out: www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/or
At any rate, I have discovered how versatile this oil is and how wonderful it makes food taste! I have tried substituting it in almost all of my recipes that call for fat, from stir-fries to baked goods. Every time, without exception, it improves the recipe tremendously. The texture makes even recipes where whole-wheat flour is subbed in for regular white (which usually results in a tougher product) melt-in-your-mouth.
Case in point: I'm GREAT at making pie crust, but have always had to use refined white flour for it to be flaky enough to grant my approval. Last night I made my traditional pie crust (my own recipe and technique), but substituted 1/4 of the white flour for whole-wheat and all of the shortening with coconut oil. It was wonderful! Next time I am going to try it with all whole-wheat flour. I'll bet it turns out terrific.
Coconut oil can be substituted strait over for any kind of fat a recipe calls for, but is especially good in recipes that call for butter or shortening, the latter of which is particularly bad for your heart and arteries.
An unusual property of coconut oil is that it holds solid at temperatures 76 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Above that and it starts to melt. I was keeping it in a cabinet where I always had and it was beginning to liquify. It finally occurred to me that it was being stored next to an exterior wall: With the Texas summer heat on the other side of the wall, the coconut oil was getting a little too warm to hold it's solid state. I moved it to my pantry, which is on an inside wall, and it went back to solid.
If you want to use it in a recipe that calls for liquid oil, just melt it first. In a recipe that calls for a solid fat (butter, margarine, or shortening), use it strait out of the jar.
Unlike olive oil (which is also heart healthy), coconut oil is heat stable. So you can use it for types of cooking that call for prolonged exposure to heat and it won't destroy the flavor of your food.
And it's not just good for cooking- I like to stir a teaspoon of it into my oats or whole-grain cream of what in the mornings. It adds a nice flavor and texture to it, and the added fat slows digestion and helps to keep me full longer.
Most stores carry coconut oil on the shelves with other types of cooking oils.
One caveat of coconut oil is that it is more expensive than most other commonly-used fat sources. But I think that once you've tried it you'll be sold and never go back to shortening, at least, again. It's worth the investment to get that artery-clogging stuff out of the diets of yourself and your family.
Monday, September 03, 2012
I've lost a majority of my weight on the Weight Watchers program. It is the plan that I return to most often when I need to reign things in again, and to this day I log my foods in my Weight Watchers Points Plus food log even when I am maintaining. (I've always done better with a pen and paper than virtual tracking.) But I've found that with the new program that came out earlier this year I was having a hard time losing weight when needed and others were commenting the same.
Now, let me say before I go any farther that if you are using the Weight Watchers program and losing just fine, don't change a thing! If you hit a stall down the line you can revisit this blog and see if it helps, but in the meantime there is absolutely no point in fixing something that is not broke.
It didn't take me very long to figure out what the problems are, and the biggest in my opinion is the unlimited fruits. Now, I've always thought and still think that fruit gets an unnecessarily bad rap, along with wheat, white potatoes, and corn. But to let people eat fruit without accounting for it can completely stall weight loss, and actually cause people who are maintaining gain weight.
The problem isn't that fruit is bad for you. The problem is that most people in the weight loss world have an issue with portion control. Fruit is higher in sugars, albeit natural sugars. I don't have enough room in this blog to explain the entire biological process (and you'd probably get bored, anyhow), so just trust me when I say that too many sugars of any source can actually change how the body stores calories, sending more of them to fat.
Yes, the Weight Watchers gurus tell you to eat fruit until you feel satisfied. But lets get honest here: If people who are or have been overweight could tell when they were satisfied.... well.... there wouldn't be a need for Weight Watchers.
Consequently, my proposal is that you count the first two servings of fruit as "free", and account for any after that in your daily points. In case you weren't around for previous Weight Watchers programs, a serving/points-worth of fruit is about 60 calories, or the equivalent of a cup of cut-up fruit. Or in the case of bananas, a half of a large banana. (So if you eat a whole large banana for breakfast, that's the end of the "free" fruits for the day.)
The unlimited non-starchy veggies are still good, though. While it's not portion control, it'd be almost impossible to eat enough of them to mess with fat storage.
The second tweak I would suggest is to up the intake of water from 6 cups a day to 12. And make it real water- not "non-caloric beverages". (To read my blog on why water is so important, click here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Another thing I would highly recommend is to rely more on whole foods rather than processed, to include Weight Watchers food products. While I think Weight Watchers is a good program, it bugs me a little that they don't put more emphasis on minimally processed foods. Calories are not all created equal, and the your body turns processed foods into fat much easier than foods the way Mother Nature made them. (This is, by the way, the reason I could never be a Weight Watchers leader: They push the employees to sell their products. I could not in good conscience sell people foods that I know aren't truly healthy.)
And lastly, eat your exercise points earned, but forget about your weekly Points Allowance, unless you are really desperate. Doing so seems to put the daily calories at a more metabolism-friendly level. And when you count your exercise points, err on the side of caution and don't be too generous with your estimations. But do go ahead and give yourself more than the 42 on the log, if you have earned more than that.
I realize this blog is not going to apply to the majority, and I am sorry for that. I just thought the few frustrated might find it helpful.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have mentioned my workout partner, Ivory, in my blogs a few times. He's a big fella (6'2" or so) with the kind of look many men aspire towards:
(No, he's not on steroids- trust me! Everyone wonders, but that fact is that it's a combination of genetics and willingness to suffer in the gym. Also, interestingly enough, he has never and does not now compete. He just likes to work out.)
We have been working out together for over two years now. Over that time I've noted a go-to pattern he generally uses when he lifts weights by his own devices (purely out of this own head, no outside input). When we first started lifting together this method exhausted me. Now I've adapted, and I have noted that the times I stick with this program both my strength AND muscle definition increase. I don't look big and bulky or any less feminine, so don't worry about that. Women who lift heavy (and avoid steroids) have a TOTALLY different look than men who lift the same way.
Anyhow, thought I would share what I've observed. I love hearing what others are doing and thought this might inspire someone else in some way.
Keep in mind that this is an advanced lifting routine. You want to be a fairly experienced weight lifter (6 months or more) who is well-versed in proper form before attempting this program. The beauty of it is that it grows with you as your strength increases.
He uses this method most often for his big muscle groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, and Legs.
His first set is one that is multiple-joint and uses the entire muscle group. So for chest this would be some kind of a chest press, for shoulders some kind of a shoulder press, and for back usually a pull-down or pull-up. Legs are almost always a squatting movement.
Of this exercise, he'll do a couple sets of 15-20 with a fairly light weight to warm up and bring some blood into the area. In-between warm-up sets, he stretches the muscle group. (It's a hot debate about whether stretching before is beneficial to the workout or not, but it's what he does.)
Now it's on to working sets, where he goes into pyramiding this exercise like this:
He'll do another set of 15, but with increased weight so that he's really feeling it by the time he's done.
The next set is a set of about 12, slightly increased weight from the set before. He could do several more reps, but he doesn't want to blow his muscles out this early in the game.
He rests for a minute or so. The next set he raises the weight a little so that he's somewhere in the 10 rep range. He could still get 2 or so more of these out, but stops at 10.
Another short rest and the weight is raised again for a set of 8. At this point he could get another rep out if you held a gun to his head.
Now he needs a couple of minutes rest to get his strength back before going into the fifth and final working set. He's raised the weight again so that it's pretty darned heavy- He pushes out about 4-6 reps, usually being spotted, and there is no way under God's green earth he's going to be able to get another rep out. He's spent. And done with that exercise.
The next exercise he chooses will be a little more specific as to the area of the muscle it targets, yet still incorporates the whole muscle group. With chest he'll usually choose some kind of machine incline press or a flye movement. With back this will usually be a rowing movement. And with delts he's going to go in for either a front or a lateral movement, because that's where he prioritizes. With legs it's usually some kind of a leg press.
For this one he'll do four sets, starting out fairly heavy for about 12 reps, then raising and going to 10, then raising again for a couple of sets of 8 reps. Those last 3 sets he's pretty much worn out and needs a couple of minutes of recovery time between to get his strength back up for the next set.
The next two exercises he chooses will be area-specific within that body part. Maybe a decline flye and pullover for chest, strait-arm pullover and bent row for back, either a front or lateral move (whichever he didn't do for the second exercise) and a rear delt move for shoulders, and then some kind of leg extension and hamstring curl for thighs.
For both these 3rd and 4th exercises he'll typically do 3 sets of about 10-12 reps, starting pretty heavy and maxing out with each set.
For the fifth and final exercise, he's going to choose one that either hits the whole area again or, in the case of legs, hits his calves. For chest this will often be a standing cable crossover flye, for back a barbell bent row, for delts some kind of shrug.
Of these he typically does two sets of 15-20. It's more of a "peaking" exercise to get a burn in the muscles than one that is used for strength. He's too worn out from the 4 exercises before to get much more out of them.
Here's a sample Chest workout, at the request of Mrs.Carly:
- Warmup: Incline DB Bench Press- Two light sets of 20 (2x20)
- DB Incline Bench Press: Pyramid of 5x15, 12, 10, 8, 6
- Machine Flyes: 4x12, 10, 10, 8
- DB Cross-Bench Pullovers: 3x10-12
- BB Decline Press: 3x10-12
- Low Cable Crossover Flyes: 2x15-20
In the case of legs, this 5th exercise is where he does his calf exercise. He'll usually get in 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Sometimes he'll do a second set of calf exercises, depending on how they feel after the leg workout.
He'll break from this routine several times a year, usually when he finds a workout program in one of his fitness magazines that he wants to do for variety (usually these take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to complete). Or sometimes he'll come in and decide to do 3 sets of 15 for most exercises, or he'll super-set. I think a lot of the reason he continues to improve is because he isn't stuck in a rut. But his default program is the one above, and with good reason- Obviously it works!
Let me know what you think. Was this a valuable blog, or something that is just too hard to relate to?
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