Archive for October, 2012

October 23, 2012

Fitness Log

If you follow Zest, you know that I love to cook (and eat). In order to stay fit, I also work out. I LOVE a great workout. There is really nothing like the feeling when you finish at the gym and feel like you gave it your all! I wanted to share with you something that helps me stay on track at the gym. I keep a rather detailed log of my workouts. This is something I have really gotten good at this year and I have to say, it has made a huge difference in keeping me on track. Tonight at the gym, a man saw me writing in my book and his reaction was, “wow, I can’t remember what I did yesterday!” I told him that is the point of the book because I can’t remember without it either!

Before I begin my workout, I write down my plan and loosely put in a grid to fill in while I work. Sometimes things change as I work through my plan. I might change an exercise if a machine is not available or something doesn’t feel great that day. I also keep tabs on what time I arrive and what time I finish. After some encouragement from my mom I also started writing down notes. Like if someone complimented me on something or if I felt better or worse than usual. I do have to admit also, I know the exact day that my boyfriend asked me out because he gave me his number in my book. J

My book is like a security blanket now. (I even got halfway to the gym without it one day and had to go back for it). I use it every time I am at the gym and it really helps me to set benchmarks for myself. If I did 10 reps last time, maybe I can get 12 today. If I did 180lbs on the leg press last time, maybe I can get 200lbs today. I star PRs and record body measurements and my weight. I think the key to a tool like this is to find your own way. Mine has evolved from just some notes on a page to a system that works for me. My dad has always kept a running log (he has recorded ever mile he has run since 1976!) and always encouraged me to do it. This is the first time I have really committed and I am glad I did. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it helps me to stay committed and make progress. (The pretty cover doesn’t hurt!) There is something motivating about putting pen to paper and knowing you did it.



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October 17, 2012

Chicken Tinga Tacos

I love Mexican food. Tacos every day? Yes please! The one thing about Mexican food, especially Tex-Mex, is the health factor. Finding ways to make it healthy and tasty can be tough! I think the best of the best at getting that right is Rick Bayless. Everything I have every made of his is fantastic (and I have heard from a good source that his restaurant is to die for). This recipe is the short-cut version using his Frontera Chipotle Salsa. As someone who likes to cook from scratch, sometimes it feels a bit like cheating to cook semi-homemade. However, if on a weeknight you can turn out something this good very quickly, you have me convinced! I actually poach the chicken and shred it, but you could use rotisserie or other cooked chicken to cut down on the time. I have used this chicken as tacos, on salad, and as an appetizer on tortilla chips, each one as good as the one before. This is definitely a standby in my life!



Chicken Tinga Tacos

From Rick Bayless’ Frontera

4 to 6 servings

1 small white onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 jar (16 ounces) Frontera Chipotle Salsa

1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon vinegar, preferably cider vinegar

4 cups (loosely packed) coarsely shredded, cooked chicken

Salt, about 1 teaspoon

8 to 12 warm tortillas

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1 Handful Arugula, dressed with lemon or lime

3 to 4 tablespoons finely grated Mexican queso añejo, Parmesan or Romano

Chopped cilantro, for garnish


If desired, poach 2-4 chicken breasts in flavored water. I like to place the raw chicken in the bottom of a pot. Just cover with cold water. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, and a splash of white wine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, until tender and cooked through. Use two forks to shred the chicken.

In a large skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat until crisp-tender and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa, tomatoes with their juice and the vinegar. Simmer, stirring regularly until quite thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, cool, then taste and season with salt.

Serve the mixture in warm tortillas. Let guests add avocado, arugula dressed with lemon or lime, cheese and cilantro to taste.

**For tostadita appetizers, arrange 24 thick tortilla chips on one or more serving platters. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of the chicken tinga, a few pieces of avocado, a sprinkling of cheese and cilantro. We sent these to a potluck and got rave reviews. I swear, this is even better on day 2!

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