Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweat & Soup (But Not Together, Obviously, Because That'd Be Gross)

When it comes to life in general, I’m a big – nay, HUGE – fan of routine. I’m more productive, more driven, and just generally better at having my ish together when I’m in a routine.

When it comes to my workouts, however, that routine can sometimes dig itself into a rut.  I’ve done largely the same stuff for years: 40 minutes of cardio (some combination of elliptical/treadmill/bike) plus some lifting afterwards.  It often starts to feel really old, but when you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay for group fitness classes (me), or when you often find yourself looking like a total nincompoop in group fitness classes (me, again -- I've actually been laughed at by passers-by), you run out of options pretty quickly.

I’ve been looking for ways to jazz things up a bit, so I picked up a copy of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and I lurve it.  It’s fantastic – the workouts are quick but still a butt-whuppin’, and I love how strong I feel after 25 minutes of lifting.  By the time I leave the gym, I’m sporting a serious case of the shakes (or, as my high school track coach used to call it, Elvis legs).  I do cardio on the days when I don’t lift, which mitigates the “please shoot me now” boredom that comes with spending 30 minutes a day on the elliptical. 

I’ve also largely shifted my gym sessions from the evenings to the morning.  (There are still mornings where that doesn’t happen, but for the most part it has held up.)  This is a HUGE surprise for me, because I’ve never been a gym morning person.  When I tried to do morning workouts before, I was always tired and in desperate need of caffeine, and I felt like my brain was crashing around in my skull whenever I tried to brave the treadmill.  (I’d run for a mile and then be totally convinced that I was giving myself brain damage.  “Bah, I’m going to wind up on life support at this rate!  Time to go back to running at night!”)  However, since I started lifting, morning gym sessions have become a gazillion times easier and less painful.  I have a cup of coffee as soon as I wake up, and then I’m all energized and ready to go.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I get to see views like this:

Well, I should say that I used to get to see views like that back when the sun wasn't pulling a disappearing act on us.  (I took that picture back in early September.)  I have to say: I love fall, but I miss my favorite shiny celestial orb.  Mid-winter is going to be seriously hard, friends.

The good thing, though, is that the weather is finally cooling off.  After a typically hot and humid summer in DC, this is cause for much excitement.  As soon as I saw that the weather forecast includes markedly cooler weather as we get closer to the weekend, I was all, "OMIGODCOOLWEATHERIWANTTOMAKESOUP."  Then I was all, "If memory serves, the lining of my good winter coat was ripping when I put it in storage last spring.  I should probably get that fixed."

But the key thing here, friends, is: I really love soup.  (I also have an alarmingly tangential inner monologue, but that's not the point.)

I recently made a dish for hubs that involves chicken with a tomato-oregano-artichoke sauce -- and although I didn't eat the chicken, I was diggin' the sauce like woah.  I wanted to re-create it, but as -- wait for it -- a soup.

The ensuing soup recipe is definitely Mediterranean and a wee bit Greek.  It doesn't wear a Speedo, mercifully, but it does pack a huge dose of vitamin C (and, with the imminent arrival of cold/flu season, who couldn't use more of that?).

Mediterranean Tomato Soup

1 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 sprigs of fresh oregano, tied into a bouquet garnis
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon aniseed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

Pour the olive oil into a stock pot.  Once it's hot, add the aniseed, minced garlic, and chopped onion.  Sautee until the onion is soft and the garlic is starting to brown.

Add the crushed tomatoes, balsamic, artichoke hearts, and bouquet garnis.  Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.

After it simmers, it'll be ready to serve!  I served it with some Lundberg Farms Japonica rice blend and garnished it with crushed Brad's Raw Kale Chips.  (Full disclosure: I have a raging addiction to Brad's Raw Kale Chips.  Holy crap, those things are good.)

Happy eating!

And, with that, a question: what do you love most about fall?

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