Recovering and rebounding

24 Feb

Just as I feel that I’m finally catching up on handfuls of tasks and errands to complete after being away for the long weekend, I get a minor but significant blow: a cold. This wouldn’t faze most people, but I can tell you with pride that I remained illness-free for what I remember was at least a year, if not a little more. I think I had a cold at around Snowpocalypse time last February, but other than that, I remained quite healthy.  So I had kind of forgotten what it’s like to be under the weather.

It’s ironic that I get sick, now that I’ve recovered from the nutritional blip I let myself go through earlier this month. With my birthday and Valentine’s Day, and a general “devil-may-care” attitude about what I was eating, I ended up packing in too much sugar and packing on a few extra pounds. It left me sluggish and lazy, unable to get up like normal for my 6am workouts. It’s already difficult for me to get up that early because I’m not naturally a morning person. Add to that a general feeling of “blah” and I was starting to inch toward a downward spiral.

I’m glad I realized I was going back to bad habits and I stopped myself. So I’ve made some goals that I’m really adamant on sticking to, for, well, the rest of my life. I’m a believer in making big, important lifestyle changes when it comes to health and wellness. I don’t follow diets, I don’t believe in quick-fixes, I don’t even like the idea of juice fasts or meal replacements. It’s all about eating wholesome foods, lots of vegetables and fruits, and getting at least the recommended amount of exercise.

I have three big goals:

1)   Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day. The fruit part is actually really easy to me now – I’ve managed to fit in fruit somewhere in my breakfast each morning and then eat fruit for my afternoon snack. The vegetable part, however, is not so easy, especially since I didn’t grow up eating meals that emphasized vegetables and because my roster of vegetable-based recipes is lower than protein- or grain-based ones.

2)   Eat sweets or baked goods at a minimum each week. I used to think it was okay to eat dessert every single day. Now I know that eating that much sugar can lead to unhealthy consequences, plus it just adds unnecessary calories and it doesn’t really help my energy levels. Sweets are treats, and treats should be for special occasions. Or when I just really, really have a sweet tooth attack and have been thinking about a cupcake or a whoopee pie for days on end. Otherwise, a piece or two of dark chocolate or a few spoonfuls of rice pudding have actually satisfied my cravings. And even though I want to become an excellent baker, it’s not doing my health any good to be making cookies and cakes and pies every week. Again, if there’s a birthday or some special occasion, I’m happy to whip out the mixer and bake away.

3) Run a 10-minute mile by the end of the year. Friends, I am SLOW. Like, the fastest I can run right now is probably a 12-minute mile, maybe 11.5 on a good day. But for the most part, it takes me somewhere between 40 and 45 minutes just to run 3 miles. I think this is partly because I’ve never had any formal training (I never ran regularly until I reached my 20s). And I have short legs. I’m 5’3 but I’m a long-torso-short-legs 5’3. I’m doing interval training weekly, but if you guys have other suggestions on this, throw ‘em at me! Once I’ve achieved that, half-marathons and marathons will be in the horizon…I’ve already signed up to run the Susan G. Komen Global Race, which I did last year. I’m not looking to run within a certain time, but it’s good prep for racing in crowds and it’s for a great cause.

Goals in mind, and considering my current state of illness (it’s really not that bad, but my nose is like freaking NIAGRA FALLS), I’ve been trying recipes that are veggie-packed, healthy (or as healthy as I can make ’em), filling, and most of all, delicious. This kale, chicken and white bean soup was a good start toward better eating. It was actually inspired by a friend and former coworker of mine, who brought it for lunch one day and let me try a bite. I liked it so much I decided to try it myself. I had leftover rotisserie chicken on hand when I made it, so I threw that in, and I used my friend’s idea of adding tomatoes. I also adjusted the amounts of water and stock to see how the flavor would turn out. It was great! And it was a darn good replacement for your regular ol’ chicken noodle soup.

Kale, Chicken and White Bean Soup

(adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound kale, stems (and veins, if desired) removed and leaves washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, (14.5 ounces each), drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium canned broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, (optional)

Directions

Roughly chop or tear the kale into ½ inch strips. In a heavy pot or saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1 can of beans and lightly mash with a fork. Add the water and stock, and bring to a boil. Stir in kale, the other can of beans, the chicken and the tomato. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until the kale soft. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top.

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One Response to “Recovering and rebounding”

  1. Angela March 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    YUM. I was looking for a recipe exactly like this one the other day. Perfect winter soup, and I love how it fits in with your health goals! Mine too.

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