Friday, March 4, 2011

 Hey everyone! Happy Friday! I bet everyone is looking forward to the weekend after a long work week. I have to work all weekend, and next weekend too, so my "weekends" tend to be during the week. 
 That's usually fine with me, because during the week there are usually less people in the grocery, on the roads, and at the park, which is nice for us! :) 

 Rewind to yesterday real quick. When we woke up it was chilly, more chilly than it's been here in awhile, with a high of only 60 degrees. We wanted something warm, filling, comforting, and delicious for breakfast. We had also been eyeing the sweet potatoes in the cupboard for awhile, wanting something similar to a sweet potato casserole, but for breakfast.

 Of course I started my morning with wheatgrass shot, <--click there to learn more about why wheatgrass shots are good for you.
Then I assembled my ingredients for a recipe that was perfect for what we wanted: warm, sweet, healthy, comforting, and sweet-potato-y. I found this great recipe here, and wanted to try it ever since I read it. 

 Sweet potato oatmeal breakfast bake:
 2 cups of sweet potatoes (from one sweet potato)
1/2 cup regular oats
2 cups almond milk
1 large ripe banana
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon + 1/8 tsp nutmeg + dash of salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up sweet potato and put in several cups of boiling water. Let cook for about 5 minutes, just until they are tender. Drain and set aside.
  2.  Put them milk, oats, chia seeds, and vanilla in saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking for about 5 minutes.
  3. With a potato masher, add the potatoes and banana and mix / mash together. Now stir in the cinnamon, maple syrup, nutmet, and salt. You may need to add more if you like it sweeter. Do not be afraid to taste it at this point.
  4. Pour into a baking dish.
  5. Make the topping by mixed 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter (or butter of your choice) with 2 Tablespoons flour (I used spelt flour) and 1/4 cup brown sugar. I melted my butter in the microwave first, then whisked in the brown sugar and flour. Pour this topping over your sweet potato breakfast casserole
  6. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes

In pictures: 
I cut up my sweet potato and it just so happened to be exactly two cups:

I assembled the rest of my ingredients: oats, spices, vanilla, chia seeds, a banana, and milk.

I put them in a saucepan over medium heat and mixed together:

I mashed in the banana:

Poured it into a pan and topped with brown sugar + butter:

When it came out, it smelled like sweet potato casserole, but it had breakfast qualities like oatmeal and bananas. It was casserole + breakfast! 
It was great! 

I had mine on a little serving plate, but The Boyfriend tore into the pan with a spoon and it was gone before I knew it. 

 After filling our bellies with goodness we headed off to the Y to get a good workout in
 I used to frown upon the Y's in Ohio because they left a lot to be desired, but the Y's here in Charlotte are pretty amazing. The one Uptown is the largest in the country, so that's where we headed.
In the women's locker room alone, there is:
a steam room to fit 15 people
a sauna room equally as large
a large jacuzzi
workout equipment
blowdryers, (hand held ones), towels, and personal care items
dry cleaning for your clothes
And that's just in the bathroom! 

In the Y itself there is a cyber cafe, a restaurant, a fitness store, 5 or 6 gymnasiums, two swimming pools (indoor) and countless equipment to run, lift, spin, do yoga, etc etc. From 5 am to 7 pm there are classes every hour on the hour for spinning, yoga, cardio, weight lifting, etc etc. No matter what time you want to go, there are about 8 classes to choose from. We are so thoroughly impressed with the Y because it feels like we are going to the spa, not the gym.

We ran 3 miles indoors and then swam laps for half an hour. After all this cardio we couldn't wait to get into the steam room and relax! We've been utilizing the steam room for about 4 months now, and couldn't be happier with the results. Here are some things the steam room does:

Respiratory benefits:
improves asthma
The steam room exposes you to high concentrations of steam, soothing your breathing passages as it flows through your lungs, throat and nose. It's like a vaporizer on crack, and for the whole body! 

Skin benefits:
Heavy sweating cleanses your pores better than soap and water because it opens your pores and allows deep-seated grime and dead cells to be flushed out. 
The heat causes an increase in blood circulation, so it brings more oxygen and nutrients to the skin's surface.

Pain Relief
Heat has been known to be effective against joint and muscle pain because it expands your blood vessels, causing increased circulation. After a long workout, or if I'm sore, I stretch in the steam room. I haven't found anything else that relieves soreness as much as the steam room! I even took a co-worker of mine to the steam room with me after she pulled her groin muscle playing soccer, and she said it helped the pain a lot. She went by herself to the steam room two more times that week and said she didn't have any other problems with the muscle after that! 

Sitting in the steam room is a great way to unwind and relieve stress. I even find myself looking forward to my visits to the gym and then steam room because it has enhanced my mood so much.

Immune system
 The high temperatures in the steam room imitate a fever, thus raising your body's level of white blood cells. White blood cells combat sickness, so you have a better defense should you come in contact with any germs. 

 It's important to rinse off with warm running water immediately after being in the steam room, because a lot of toxins are released onto your skin as you sweat in the steam room. It is necessary to rinse these off so they don't get reabsorbed back into your skin.
I always leave the steam room feeling revitalized, cleansed, and very rosy-faced, like I've just come out of the tanning bad. The good news is, I haven't. It's a natural glow! 

 If you have the chance to utilize a steam room or sauna room I highly recommend it. It's not only good for your immune system, skin, and lungs, but it's relaxing and helps to de-stress. 

 Fast forward to today:

Nothing really exciting on the agenda today. I had to try to force myself to sleep in because I work the rest of the weekend. I only slept until 10 am, and unfortunately I'm no good at taking naps. It'll be a long night tonight :) 
 For breakfast we had - wheatgrass shot, raw oatmeal, green tea (for The Boyfriend) I am still going strong being caffeine-free! woo hoo! 
 Then we headed back to the Y for some lifting. We lifted:
triceps & biceps
finished up with a mean ab workout

We were kind of rushed around with errands after the gym, and The Boyfriend had to be at work by 3, so I whipped up a quick dish of quinoa, avocados and tomatoes for a late lunch:

And then I made "beef" stroganoff and put it in the fridge for dinner. The "meat" is wheat-meat, Seitan, which has 21g of protein per serving, and there are 3 servings in one tiny container. I used the whole container. 

The Boyfriend has to eat without me while I'm at work because I'm gone before he gets home, but I always make him something to heat up and then I take the leftovers with me to work. I always pack my lunch, but my "lunchtime" at work is between 12 and 2 am, and sometimes I can't eat at that time of the night/morning. It just doesn't feel natural and my stomach is saying, No thanks. (I'm aware that this could be contributing to my weight-loss) But until I get used to the night shift schedule it's just the way it is. And I may never get adjusted to night shift schedule, like my first year of nursing when I worked night shift for a year and never got used to it. I was always flipping back and forth between day and night shift. It really bothered me and I eventually had to get a different job to escape the nausea, depression, and run-down feeling of night shift. This time around, it's not nearly as bad. I actually enjoy working night shift this time around, and other than a mild case of weight loss, it's been a really good experience! I can't remember the last time I looked forward to going into work! 

 I'm off to save lives! Have a great weekend everyone :) 


Andrea said...

Um...YUM! I love anything with sweet potatoes and that breakfast casserole looks amazing! I even already have all the ingredients to make it except the chia seeds!

Michele said...

You don't have to have the chia seeds it just makes it thicker and soaks up some of the milk. Maybe use a little less milk if not using the chia seeds. What yummy things have you been making miss lady?? Did you happen to be at carolina place mall tonight??

Mavis said...

Hey, I recently discovered your blog from reading another blog Thin Thighs and loving yours as well! I really want to try this but I really really really do NOT like bananas :( is the banana to help bind? is there a sub? can you taste it? thanks

Michele said...

Mavis - Bananas are to cover the flavor of the vegetables and to make it smooth. It is not so much a binder because it is a smoothie and doesn't need to really be held together too much. If you dont like bananas there are TONS of other fruits to use! My first link I enjoyed was this one:
and on the left hand side it will say "green smoothie recipes" . . you can use strawberries, mangos, lemons, etc etc..
However, if you do want to use bananas (try a small batch like half a banana and one handful of spinach) you could try it that way and see that its not like WOW bananas in your mouth . i made them for my friend who doesnt really like bananas and she said she couldnt really taste it.