Monday, October 10, 2011

Day One: Mac and Cheese and Push ups

Today marks the first day of our challenge! I failed to prepare well for our first day, but we survived. In the morning, we could only scrounge up Lara Bars, which are delicious and surprisingly filling. I used to eat dozens of other kinds of "power bars," but now I try to make my own snacks and avoid processed foods. Luckily we had these Lara Bars on hand today; I had virtually no other food in the house! For lunch Terry made me a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich on my favorite Honey Whole-Wheat bread from Great Harvest Bakery. There's likely a franchise near you, so I strongly suggest checking it out (hey, they give free samples of their bread - you can't go wrong!). I guarantee you'll find something you love.

After work, I hustled over (well, "hustle" in LA means I crawled at four miles per hour until I finally reached my exit) to Trader Joe's, one of my favorite places to shop. The employees seem so cheerful and glad to help. I've always said that if I didn't have my job I would feel lucky to get a job at TJ's! Our grocery list included:
  • peanut butter
  • free-range organic eggs
  • milk
  • grass-fed beef
  • free-range organic chicken
  • English peas
  • avocados (for tomorrow night's fajitas)
  • fresh spinach
  • whole-wheat pasta
  • tons of cheese - brie, cheddar, feta, all for meals this week
  • brown rice
  • applesauce
  • Greek yogurt
Usually when my husband and I get home we enjoy a run together, but today my foot hurts (after about three months of pain, I'm finally giving in and seeing a doctor next week), so Terry went out alone. We did do our push ups and sit ups though. Along with our food challenge for the month, we're also working on a six-week push up challenge. The idea is that by the end of six weeks you'll be able to do 100 push ups - yeah, right. But ideally, we can easily squeeze push ups into our routine and improve full body strength. I always require my cheerleaders to do push ups; there is really no better way to simultaneously improve core and upper body strength, and "boy" push ups bring the rear end and hamstrings into the mix as well. So today's "workout" was 20 push ups (no stopping) and a short ab video on OnDemand. Simple, but at least it was something.

While Terry was on his run I got to work for the week of our food challenge. I made banana-walnut muffins and delicious cheesy crackers that taste exactly like Cheez-Its (one of my favorite splurges).
Delicious banana-walnut muffins - perfect for breakfasts or snacks.

For dinner, we made a recent favorite: whole-wheat mac and cheese with Havarti, cheddar, and cream cheeses. We also enjoyed peas (though my new steamer didn't quite get them to a perfect texture), raw spinach with balsamic and olive oil, and applesauce. Oh, and wine of course. Since it's already 10:30, we're skipping dessert - almost unheard of in our household, but perhaps a good choice on the first night of the challenge.

Macaroni and Cheese

Dinner #1 for our eating-in challenge: mac and cheese with peas and spinach salad.
  • 1 lb. whole-wheat pasta (we like short pastas, like rotini)
  • 2 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 1/2 C. shredded cheeses of your choice (we went with cheddar and Havarti)
  • 2 tbsp. cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and follow the directions on your pasta package to cook to al dente, then drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Then add the flour and whisk until the butter and flour form a paste. Add the milk, continuing to whisk until the lumps are gone. Then sprinkle in the shredded cheeses and whisk until smooth. Finally, whisk in the cream cheese, and season to taste. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, stir, and serve hot with green vegetables of your choice!

We once ate a delicious mac and cheese with jalapenos and bell peppers, so I'll play around with that recipe and post about it!

While today wasn't horrible, we are excited to have a stocked fridge for tomorrow, and our CSA box is coming tomorrow! We already peeked at the contents, but I'll leave that for tomorrow's post.


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