The End of the Hunger Games

Last night for Jason’s birthday we ate at one of my favorite places!

KHAN’S!

(the first photo is recycled from a July post — I wish there was green grass in MN right now!)

My Dad was kind enough to take us out (woohoo for free meals!) and my sister Kim joined us as well. Poor Mom stayed home sick  😦  I swear we go to Khan’s for almost every birthday/celebration dinner — the food is just that good!

Tuesday was a fun day – I worked a ½ day, picked up a gigantic smiley face balloon (forgot to take a picture!!!) and met Jason at his work – gave him the humiliating balloon and then we went to lunch. Afterward, I went home, took a little snooze and then read!

I am finally done reading the Hunger Games series – I loved reading them but I’m happy to be done. I stayed up way too late way too often – and that is not something I can keep doing. I need my rest.

So what can I say? I loved the series. I loved the main character throughout the first 2 books, and although she seems to change a bit in Mockingjay — I still liked her. And I cheered for her to do the right thing. I thought the author did a nice job of picking up the pieces at the end and giving you some closure with the series — although I’d love to read more about the characters I don’t feel like there is more to the story at this time. I don’t want to give too much away so that is why this is vague. Feel free to email me (couchpotatoathlete (at) gmail (dot) com) if you want to talk more specifics.

Pick up those books. Read them. The end.

*Do you like to go to the same restaurants/bars time after time or do you prefer to try out new places?

I honestly like to go to the same place over and over again. I like feeling comfortable in my surroundings, and a new place can seem intimidating if I’ve never been there before.

The Hunger Games

Hi Friends!

I’m still working on my March goals, I should have them all ready by tomorrow morning. I thought about switching to weekly goals instead, but monthly ones have worked well for me so far, so why fix what isn’t broken?

Thanks for being patient with the blog changes – I feel like I should have kept my mouth shut in the first place but I was too excited to make the changes. I know your lives don’t revolve around my blog, but I wanted to let you know what was going on in any case.

I believe it was Cathy who suggested to me to read The Hunger Games – on Friday night I decided to download it onto my Nook and give it a go. I had already read my 2 books (plus 1 more) for February, so I was in no rush to get through another book.

February books:

Love and Respect

In Defense of Food

The Great Fitness Experiment

Little did I know that The Hunger Games would hook me in right away!!! I read almost half of the book on Friday and I stayed up late on Saturday night (2am!) finishing it up. I was thisclose to downloading the second book in the series Catching Fire but I restrained myself.

That is what I love about my Nook though – no waiting until a store opens, no waiting for a UPS package, no driving to the library, etc. And the books are cheap, so why not?

So about the book – here is a quick summary (but with NO SPOILERS, so don’t worry). The book takes place in the future – North America is divided into districts and the Capitol. Every year, the Hunger Games takes place – one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12-18) are chosen to represent their district in a televised survival-of-the-fittest contest. The children fight to the death and the last one standing is named the victor.

To be honest, when I read the summary I thought it would be a pretty lame book but I was so wrong. I love the characters and the entire book is fast paced.

As I write this post, I am halfway through the second book. The last time I read books this quickly was when I read the Twilight series. No I’m not kidding!

In between chapters of Catching Fire, I made the same Vegan Alfredo I made two weeks ago. I mixed in some cooked broccoli for some added nutrients. It was delicious!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Holly

“Homemade” Cereal & Another Book Review

Hi Friends!

Well it seemed like a unanimous vote to put the Medal Holder at the top of the stairs (I think that is the best place as well so I’m glad we all agree). And because Katie and Christin liked the pictures so much, here are the close-ups of the Hippo and Croc pictures:

Jason bought me the Hippo poster and I found the frame at Target for $4! You can’t beat that. And my older sister Leah gave me that Croc picture – I’ve held onto it for years!

Last night after hitting the gym (I ran 5 miles in a little over 50 minutes) I came home craving something cold and cereal-like. However, I do not keep cereal in my house. I can easily eat way too much cereal, and all of that sugar just gives me a stomach ache. So, I don’t buy it at all. But I did have some cooked brown rice and raw oatmeal, and I thought, “why not?”

Brown Rice Oatmeal Cereal

¼ cup cooked brown rice

¼ cup raw oatmeal

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 TBSP chopped walnuts

½ chopped banana

½ cup almond milk (or more if you prefer)

I heated up the brown rice in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then added the rest of my “cereal” – topped with almond milk it was delicious. The brown rice added a neat texture and a nutty flavor.

After eating dinner (and watching some Shedding for the Wedding – did you watch?) I finished up my THIRD book of the month! Yes I made it my goal to read two books and lo and behold I shattered that goal by reading yet another book this month 🙂

After going to Charlotte’s book signing last week, I knew I wanted to read her book – SOON! So in the past 2 days I have read it all. I love quick reads and Charlotte is hilarious! I enjoyed reading about her (mis)adventures at the gym. She is so honest in the book and I really appreciate it – she lets you know her struggles and how she works to overcome them. Her book documents trying out 12 different exercise programs — she briefly explains the program, how she incorporated it into her workout routine and what sort of results she had.

What I liked best is that Charlotte and her Gym Buddies enjoy working out – and it seemed like even when they were 100% serious about a workout they still had fun. She includes essays at the end of each chapter and her honesty and openness is so refreshing to read.  Check out her blog if you haven’t already 🙂

*Are you a cereal fan? What is your favorite kind?

*Have you tried many different exercise routines? What did you like the best (and are you still currently doing it?)

*NOTE*: Blog changes are finally coming — new name, self-hosted, lots of fun stuff. Everything should be ready this weekend…

Avocado Pasta + Book Review

Hi Friends!
 
The snow is ridiculous:
 

 
 

Thankfully it was Presidents’ Day, so traffic was light, but the roads were a mess. I thought for sure my car would get stuck somewhere, but I made it to work and back home without any major problems (I saw plenty of other people stuck/getting pulled out by tow trucks/etc). What a day!
 
Jason was smart and worked from home, I wish I could have done that as well. He was kind enough to start dinner for the both of us:
 

We made Angela’s Creamy Avocado Pasta. Click here for the recipe. We didn’t use basil and we used brown rice pasta – and I also think I added way too much lemon juice. (see below) 

 
I so wanted to love this dish, but it was too lemony for my tastes — I think I added too much! I squeezed every lost drop of juice from 1/2 lemon. Next time I will not use as much — and maybe next time I will add the basil — maybe that takes away from the super lemony taste? Either way it was super easy to throw together and I will attempt it again — I need to just follow the recipe more closely!
 
So yesterday I updated you on my February Goals and now I can check something else off my list:
 
4. Read 2 books 

I finished In Defense of Food last night – It took me only a few days to get through. It was so interesting and I will definitely pick up more of Michael Pollen’s books.
 
I’m not going to give a full “book report” on this book because honestly, if you haven’t read it, go get a copy and read it. I got my copy from the library (free!). It is only 200 pages or so and it is a quick read. I’ll just highlight a few points that I enjoyed reading about:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. <— could he have stated this any more straight forward?  🙂
 
Pollen discusses how we have shifted towards a focus on “Nutritionism” which is looking at the nutrients IN whole foods and putting those nutrients in processed foods. For example, instead of eating an orange for vitamin C, why not have a bowl of cereal that has vitamin C already added? Pollen explains that taking the vitamins that are in whole foods does not mean that the new “food” (in my example, cereal) is as beneficial as eating an orange. Pollen explains that foods are more than the “sum of their nutrients”. Perhaps it isn’t the fact that vitamin C is so good for you, it is how it is combined with other nutrients in plant foods.
 
He describes studies in which groups return to their ancestors’ way of life – hunting and gathering and not eating refined carbohydrates, frankenfoods, etc – and how they lowered their cholesterol, blood pressure, risk for heart disease, metabolic syndrome, etc.
 
Although I have read lots of information on why processed foods are not good for your body, this book definitely opened my eyes to truly seeing HOW processed foods are making our nation fatter and sicker.  I like that Pollen gives you “rules” at the end – shop the outer aisles of the supermarket, look for foods that don’t have nutritional information (most likely a real food!), shop at Farmer’s Markets, choose foods only your Great-Grandmother would recognize, don’t buy anything with more than 5 ingredients listed, grow a garden if possible, cook your own food, etc.
 
I by no means eat perfectly, I do eat some processed foods and this is something I want to focus on cutting out. I have thought in the past that I could make most foods from scratch if I didn’t have to work – if I had more time Jason and I could eat much healthier – but I need to stop using that as an excuse. There are plenty of people out there who have less time than I do and are able to eat better (healthier) than I do. However, I do not want to ever come off as a holier-than-thou type. This is something I want to focus on — but I urge everyone to pick up this book and read it — and then decide for yourself if you need to make changes in the types of foods you choose.
 
*Have you read In Defense of Food? What did you think?
 
*Who does all of the meal planning/preparing in your house?

Smoothie Dinner & Book Signing

Hi Friends 🙂
 
I finally got to the gym last night, it has been almost a week since I cut my foot. It took a while to heal up and I didn’t want to risk reopening the wound and getting it infected. And since it was such a beautiful day, I decided to run outside!
  
The weather has been quite nice for the past few days – its in the 40s for now and this weekend it gets cold again. So I’m enjoying it while it lasts! I ran 3 miles in a little over 30 minutes. Running outside vs running on a treadmill is way different for me. But it felt good, no matter how long it was going to take!
 
After my run, I fixed myself a delicious smoothie for dinner. I had a bunch of errands so I wanted something quick and easy, and something I can take in the car with me!
 

 
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
 
Serves 1
 
Into the Magic Bullet cup:

1 cup vanilla soy milk

5 ice cubes

1 scoop protein powder

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 TBSP peanut butter

½ banana

4-5 sliced strawberries


 
YUM!


 
After a few errands, I went to Barnes & Noble to get this book (downloaded it onto my Nook!)
 

And to meet the author!
 

I started reading Charlotte’s blog The Great Fitness Experiment only a few weeks ago and I wish I had found it sooner. She is hilarious and when I found out she lives in Minnesota (and also has a husband named Jason!), I knew I wanted to meet her! And her book signing was only a short drive from my house. Woohoo!
 

 
Charlotte: I am a huge cheeseball and I probably acted like a fool, but I was so excited to meet you. I can’t wait to read your book!

I have to be honest and say that I really didn’t want to post that picture of me. As I looked at it last night, I immediately saw things I didn’t like about it: I wish I had washed my hair after my run, I wish I had done my hair (!!!), maybe wear some makeup, dressed nicer, etc. And as I did so, I started to get so mad at myself for thinking those things! That is how I look — I don’t need to make excuses to myself or to anyone about why I looked the way I did. I had a great time at the book signing, I loved hearing Charlotte’s stories and I even got to see one of her sons pick his nose 🙂 I have no reason to feel badly about myself, and yet, when I looked at the picture, I considered not posting it. Why must these feelings still creep in? Why do I let them?
 
*What is the weather like around you? Are you experiencing a short heat wave like we are?

*Do you ever struggle with negative thoughts about yourself or your appearance? Have you figured out ways to conquer those bad feelings?

Enjoy your day!

~Holly

Peanut Chocolate Souffles

Hi Friends 🙂
 
Did you have a nice Valentine’s Day? Did you go anything exciting? Jason loved his giant Reese’s Heart:

And he got me a new Blu Ray player!!! Our old one crapped out a few weeks ago — so this was such a nice surprise!

The Vegan Alfredo was so good that we had it again on Valentine’s Day. 


 
We had the rest of the Alfredo from yesterday, but I added some chopped chicken breast and sprinkle of Nutritional Yeast on top. For dessert we had Peanut Chocolate Souffles! I bought these little ramekins from Target on Sunday and then I stumbled across a Souffle recipe on the Weight Watchers site. I switched up a few things so here is the recipe:

Peanut Chocolate Souffles (serves 2)

1 TBSP peanut flour (you could use regular flour, it would be a chocolate souffle instead)

1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder

3 TBSP sugar (divided)

3 TBSP soy milk

1 egg white

powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

In a small saucepan, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and 2 TBSP sugar. Stir over medium heat and slowly add milk. Whisk/stir for about 2 minutes, until ingredients are well mixed. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white carefully. Pour into 2 greased ramekins (just use cooking spray) and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

My souffles didn’t really rise — I’m not sure if I didn’t stir the egg white enough, or if peanut flour didn’t work well, or if the soy milk didn’t work well. Either way, it didn’t look the best, but it sure tasted good. Kind of like a gooey peanut butter brownie 🙂

I also finished one of my books last night!
 

 
I really enjoyed reading this book. For anyone who is interested, please recognize that this is a Christian book about marriage. All of the principles reviewed in the book relate to Bible passages or stories. The author’s website explains it this way:

 “We believe love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. “

The principles are pretty simple if you think about it, and the author sure repeats himself over and over to get his point across. I think the book could have been half as long and just as effective. Maybe it is because the author is a man, but I felt as though the author tended to “blame” wives for issues in marriages moreso then the husbands. Honestly the best point in the book is to communicate with your partner — don’t go to bed angry, don’t be afraid to disagree, don’t hold back your feelings, and show your partner love and respect — these are things most people know already, but sometimes we all need reminders! I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading books about marriage and how to better communicate with your partner.

Now I am moving onto In Defense of Food  I have 14 days to get through it!

*How was your Valentine’s Day?

*How do you like to revamp leftovers? Or do you even like leftovers?

Enjoy your day!

Holly

Homemade Kettle Corn & HSP

Hi Friends 🙂
 
As Katie pointed out yesterday, I do try to respond to your comments – I’m working on having a better system (responding through email instead of on the blog) – so bear with me and thanks for reading/commenting in the first place!

Kettle Corn.

I realize the picture above looks just like regular popcorn, but let me tell you, it tastes so differently! Who doesn’t love it, seriously? When Jason and I went to Twins games this summer we had the BEST Kettle Corn. It was definitely worth the $5 pricetag 🙂
 
Last week we were watching a bit of Rachael Ray on Food Network and she made her own kettle corn on the stovetop. This had never occurred to me! We don’t eat much popcorn, but if we do, it is the microwavable bag…
 
Kettlecorn Recipe and Instructions

Next time I make this, I will definitely ask Jason to take pictures — I felt like such a doofus shaking the pot while the kernals popped. But, if you let the kernals sit too long they burn, so you have to keep them moving. Some kernals did burn:

I took my small bowl of kettle corn to the couch to read a bit of this:

Averie and Kelsey have both highly recommended this book, and I can’t thank them enough for that! The book has a small “quiz” in the beginning to determine if you are most likely an HSP. I answered “yes” to too many of those questions. The author explains that having a sensitive nervous system has advantages (being aware of subtleties) and disadvantages (being easily overwhelmed after being in a highly stimulating environment and feeling exhausted). Just reading this paragraph about the author made me cry:

If I could only begin to describe the situations in which that was true in my own life! I remember feeling (and still do!) completely overwhelmed in social situations (school, work) and just wanting to hide. But at the same time, I wanted to be a part of things but my body/mind was literally too tired. I am only 2 chapters into the book, but hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about HSP. I like that the author immediately explained differences/similarities between HSP, introversion, shyness, etc. I honestly think I fit into each of those categories, at least a little bit. I’m not looking to label myself, but I think any info I have to better understand myself (and for Jason to understand me) is good to have.
 
*What book are you currently reading?
 
*Are you popcorn/kettlecorn fan? How do you prepare it?