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PS: the 7-minute workout

Saturday, January 11, 2014

This is one of my solutions for the exercise-distaste I wrote about in my New Year post! Keeping it short but challenging my whole body intensely. I got a nifty little timer that makes it super-easy to do each exercise for the requisite 30 seconds. And I printed out the blog post & am keeping it with the timer.

I CANNOT do a pushup followed by a side rotation resting on my left hand, though it's somewhat doable on the right side. The left is my nondominant hand, plus it's the side where my collarbone was broken in an accident, where I messed up elbow & wrist in a fall some years ago, & where another fall led to a slightly torn rotator cuff. So I'll have to modify it & see whether I can strengthen gradually.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BABY_GIRL69 1/13/2014 3:14PM

    See I thought it was just me... I like that 7minutes too. I have a weaker side where I can't hold a yoga pose but the other side I can do it all day long....

God bless & thanks for sharing Ruth!


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RUNNERRACHEL 1/12/2014 5:03PM

    emoticon emoticon

Great to hear you found something you like that doesn't take up a lot of time. It's good that you are modifying your workout.


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ROCKPORT9 1/12/2014 11:29AM

    Good for you! Modifying exercise is still good exercise! Hugs, Laurel

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PIGGYWAY 1/11/2014 7:54PM


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What's Cookin' Good Lookin', January Edition

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A week ago I made spicy Indonesian yam & peanut soup, a recipe from Anna Love's "Love Soup," which I got for Christmas. Food bloggers have posted the recipe online, so I don't have to type it out here.

In a word, yum! I used sweet potatoes instead of yams--fewer carbs & more vitamins. And the little grocery where I shop didn't have parsnips, so I used turnips instead. And I didn't make harissa, which is optional in any case. Otherwise I adhered quite faithfully to the recipe, except that I left it chunky in the end rather than pureeing it. My mouth just isn't as satisfied with smooth soup.

I was fascinated to taste something that included SO much fresh grated ginger: a half a cup for the pot (which comes to about 8 cups). I really liked it, & the soup doesn't scream ginger; it's just pleasantly tangy. The tamarind paste contributes to that too. Such a nice combo with the peanuttiness.

Some friends had just gotten married & were flying back home to Chicago late that Saturday afternoon, right after a major snowstorm (& as the polar vortex was getting ready to descend). I actually made the first batch of this soup for them, along with some multigrain bread (in my machine), because they were coming home to a virtually empty fridge. They made it safely home & they LOVED the soup! And they ate most of the loaf of bread that very night.

It's so rewarding to share good food with others. Try serving this soup to family or friends this winter to warm everyone up! I think you'll all like it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNERRACHEL 1/12/2014 5:05PM

    Wonderful how you were able to bless them with a meal!

That does sound delicious and comforting in the cold weather! Stay warm, friend! emoticon

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-AMANDA79- 1/12/2014 9:37AM

    Yum! And how sweet of you to share!

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BABY_GIRL69 1/11/2014 9:39PM

    I'm not a huge soup eater but the flavors sound interesting....

God bless & hugs!


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KAYOTIC 1/11/2014 9:38PM

    What a nice treat for your friends! The recipe sounds delicious, great review.

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PIGGYWAY 1/11/2014 7:56PM


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Happy new year!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

And happy Seventh Day of Christmas! I always like to celebrate all twelve of them.

I have definitely been thinking about my goals for 2014. I've been thinking longer term too. The thing is, I don't like tracking my food. I also have been feeling dislike for the main forms of exercise that are available to me--all but outdoor walking, which I love, but even there I've been rebelling against my normal outpace-everyone-else fast walking.

At bottom this is about being tired of all the productivity I've required of myself for so many years. I'm tired of freelance work & tired of expecting myself to accomplish a lot in poetry, activism, & other pursuits. And at the very bottom of THAT was fear that all the progress I've made on debt paydown (debts bequeathed to me by the deadbeat ex) would be badly set back by having to add the further debt I learned about in early October. (A bank called me about a $23,000 balance said ex had run up on our organizational credit card before he moved back to his home country. I was primary cardholder but the organization was his brainchild, so I had always left its management to him.)

This fall I let myself stop being so together. I watched lots of episodes of detective & mystery shows & have been reading some mystery series instead of all the literary character-driven novels that I usually read. I stayed up late a LOT doing these things & playing solitaire & various online games. I ate lots of sweets, didn't exercise a lot, & haven't weighed myself for months. I haven't had to buy new clothes, but a number of my 10-12s are snugger than usual.

Well, things can't go on indefinitely like this--I wouldn't be me! There is good news (or lack of bad news) to help me turn the corner to a more balanced life: after I left a message at that bank, asking them to send me three years' worth of paper statements since I hadn't authorized ex's charges & had no idea what they were, I heard back exactly zero. I didn't really exhale till early December, & that was after a friend's lawyer son told her that in cases of divorce & debt, the banks don't usually go after both spouses unless the amount is really large. Of course to me $20,000+ IS large, but to a bank it's peanuts; going after me would require them to take legal action with all of those costs, & very possibly the judge would end up ruling that I wasn't liable.


I let myself drift on in "not-togetherness" through December--in fact, I stayed up very late last night after my family members left our little New Year's celebration at my house. But I am going to work toward a sustainable kind of productivity & togetherness that expresses who I am. I haven't figured out all the details yet; in fact, I don't want the plan to be super-detailed. My idea is to just get my eating back to full healthfulness by employing common sense & all the knowledge I've gained about food in my years here at SP.

If I just apply what I know, I don't need to track food. Cook from scratch, keeping up fiber & protein & freggies; eat modestly; minimize sugar. That's basically it!

I'm going to work out an exercise rhythm that challenges me enough to keep me healthy but features mostly outdoor walking (supplemented by the elliptical when weather is inclement) & basic strength training. I know it's important for brain health (super-important as I age--I'll be turning 60 this year!) as well as the health of the rest of me, & for those highly valued endorphins! But I'm going to see if I can do it without tracking. As SP is always telling us, the goal is to establish a lifestyle THAT WE CAN SUSTAIN LONG TERM. If I hate something, I won't keep it up long term. I have to make this organic & MINE.

As I write about this, I'm feeling happy & hopeful. My life is filled with good things, & with God's help I will get that nasty debt paid off in another year-plus. In February I'll be spending two & a half weeks in Colombia visiting Afro-Colombian communities with an African American photographer friend & his wife, who is Puerto Rican & will interpret for him. He will be photographing people, & I will be doing chalk-pastel portraits of people. When we come back, we'll be offering exhibits & presentations to help US folks become more familiar with the struggles of their sisters & brothers in Colombia. I want to spend the rest of my life doing creative advocacy work like this; writing juicy poetry; providing lots of love & support to my granddaughter, kids, sibs, church friends, neighbors; laughing a lot, doing art, playing games, making music, cooking great food; keeping my deepest self open to God so that I continue to heal & grow.

But except for the cooking-new-recipes challenges in the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance team, I won't be spending time at SP. It has served me well, & I will miss seeing my friends here & cheering you on. Since I'll still be doing the cooking challenges, I won't close down my account or my page, so if you ever need to get in touch, you can message me. As long as the challenge goes, I'll continue to post recipe reviews! For Christmas I got a big, beautiful book of Moroccan recipes, so I'll be reporting on some of those. emoticon

Many blessings to you dear people! Thanks for all the caring you have extended to me over my years here. I love you & send my warmest wishes for your own sustainable healthy, fruitful life! emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PIGGYWAY 1/11/2014 7:55PM


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EYES_ON_THEPRAZ 1/2/2014 2:32PM

    Wow, I continue to have ]hatred for your ex and the position he has left you in, but I really admire you attitude about all of this. Be safe in your travels -- I'll be thinking of you! emoticon

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RUNNERRACHEL 1/1/2014 9:54PM

    I am happy to read about your continued growth. Living a healthy balanced life does require balance and if you feel pulled in a new direction then go in that direction. I know God will guide you and continue to show you what your purpose is. You are serving and loving those around you and you are doing valuable activist and creative work.

I'm thankful for you that you don't have to worry about that debt that the bank forgave. That is a relief and a blessing.

I'll look for your food blogs. It will be nice to hear from you even if your involvement in Spark is limited. Keep in touch in whatever way you want. emoticon

All the best to you. emoticon

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HOPEFULHIPPO 1/1/2014 9:40PM

    I love the beginning of the year just for those feelings. Let's do this :o)

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BEATLETOT 1/1/2014 9:01PM

    Wow...lots of news and events and changes. I hope you have a great 2014. I have and will continue to miss you!

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ROCKPORT9 1/1/2014 7:41PM

    Bless you! Have a safe but adventurous 2014! You will be missed. Hugs, Laurel emoticon

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What's Cookin' Good Lookin', December 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tonight I made spicy Indonesian Peanut Chicken, & it proved to be great comfort food on a COOOOLLLD winter night!

This recipe is super-simple. I used 6 organic chicken thighs instead of one whole breast, so I increased everything else in the sauce. Since my grocery doesn't seem to carry Heinz chili sauce, I got a 10-oz can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos instead, & added a couple of dollops of Asian chili-garlic sauce. This made it quite spicy, but not too much for me.

To save time, I used up some bulgur wheat instead of cooking brown rice; I just brought water to a boil (2x the amount of bulgur), stirred the bulgur in, & let it sit while I cooked the chicken. You could also serve this chicken over quinoa, couscous, any kind of rice, or even potatoes.

I am a huge fan of cooking with peanut butter. One of my favoritest curries is an African-inspired chickpea dish with peanut butter. So it's no surprise that I just loved this Indonesian-style dish. I gave the recipe 4 stars instead of 5, but that's just because the instructions & amounts are a bit vague. I still recommend it highly!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

-AMANDA79- 12/30/2013 10:31AM


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ROCKPORT9 12/30/2013 8:57AM

    Yum! emoticon Last night I made Slow cooker Morrocan Beef stew, a spark recipe, with Parmesan rice. So so good! Hugs, Laurel

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TINAJANE76 12/30/2013 7:29AM

    That sounds great and like it would be right up my alley. I love African-style nut curries and Indonesian food and pretty much anything that's got nuts or nut butter, lol! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and your review.

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RUNNERRACHEL 12/30/2013 1:49AM

    Thank you for sharing! I'd like to try this! Glad you're staying warm this winter. This sounds like a delicious meal!

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What's Cookin' Good Lookin' November-December bonus

Sunday, December 01, 2013

I made a Moroccan beet salad for Thanksgiving, & it was delicious!

Here's the deal: I have disliked red beets all my life, but I know beets are nutritious. This past spring at a workplace lunch with a Moroccan theme because we were entertaining a Dutch anthropologist author who works mostly in Africa (Cameroon actually--rather far from Morocco, but the food was good!), the caterer served a salad she concocted with GOLDEN beets, & I actually found it tasty! So when I noticed golden beets at the little neighborhood grocery in mid-November, I got some to include in a big batch of roasted veggies. They added a nice touch, which gave me confidence to hunt down a Moroccan salad recipe that I could make with golden beets & serve as part of Thanksgiving dinner.

i found a number of recipes online & decided on this one because it is spiced with cumin rather than sweet spices (I wasn't looking to make the beets even sweeter!). My main adaptation was to saute & lightly caramelize the onion, because raw onion is too harsh for my palate.

Notice that it says to refrigerate the finished dish for only 15 minutes prior to serving. I made mine early in the day, though, & didn't serve dinner till 4:00 or so, which meant it had been in the fridge a lot longer than that. It tasted fine--but the next day I heated some leftover salad in the microwave for about 20-25 seconds, to take the cold edge off & bring it closer to room temperature. Sure enough, it was even better at this warmer temperature.

I now hope that my grocer continues to stock golden beets, at least periodically, so I can make them an ongoing part of my diet. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

-AMANDA79- 12/2/2013 8:15PM

    Nice job on trying something new!

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ROCKPORT9 12/2/2013 11:01AM

    Yea! New veggies and new veggie recipes are great! Hugs, Laurel

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RUNNERRACHEL 12/2/2013 12:08AM

    Sounds delicious! That's a nice way to enjoy beets!


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LOSE4LIFE47 12/1/2013 11:07PM


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