Monday, April 20, 2015

First fitness post + HIIT interval timer app

Let's be real, I'm sitting here drinking coffee and eating homemade butterscotch sauce off a spoon. I'm not the beacon of health and fitness that I (sometimes) envision myself to be. Although the butterscotch really is helping my mental health on this cloudy day, so there is that.

But I have been known to workout a time or two. Actually it's been one of my goals throughout medical school -- stay on point with the working out thing. It started first year when I saw my friend Lauri's dedication to making it to the gym no matter what. She was great about it and helped me realize that an extra hour - hour and a half of studying was not going to add much to my knowledge base, and would probably make me go crazy in the end. So I started going to our local gym.

At first, I hated it. I wasn't really good at it, I tended to get out of breath pretty quick, and the sweat...oh jeez. I inherited my dad's sweat glands, and I was like a faucet. No cute glistening sweat here, just rivers of smelly person-juice. I went ~3x per week, and by week 3 I started noticing a difference. I could run a little more without feeling like my insides were going to curdle, I could hold a plank for longer, and my arms weren't killing me every time I lifted up whatever weight I was going to use. I was becoming stronger. YAY!

But I also noticed I was happier. I had something that would break up my day of studying, time that was just me, my music, and whatever I was doing. I honestly feel like I started to remember more -- it was like I took time out of my day away from studying, but then actually felt like I could process more. Maybe it was a placebo effect, maybe I'm just making it up, who knows? But I felt good, and I liked it.

So 2.5 years later, I still workout consistently. I'm not a part of a gym anymore, because it was a (freezing) pain to walk to the gym 10 minutes there and back during the winter months, so I started investing in home workout stuff. By that time I knew I was dedicated enough to actually keep up with doing it at home, so I bought a mat, some weights, and started using high intensity interval training (HIIT) videos to work out. That was 1.5 years ago, and I've been doing them ever since...during second year while studying for my first Board certification exam and during my clerkship rotations third year. When I was on a clerkship that had me out the door at 4AM and back home at 7PM, I modified the workout to be 20 minutes of intense stuff, but I still did it. It's why I prefer working out at home, if I had had to go to a gym...well, it just wouldn't have happened. Working out doesn't have to be about losing weight, or fitting into socially constructed image of gendered bodies, it can just be about being fit and all the benefits associated with that. It can be about being able to lift some stuff up and not getting tired; being able to run and not feel like your lungs are going to explode; being able to be like heck yeah I'm strong. Do whatever fits with your schedule, you got 10 minutes? Make a plan, and do 50 seconds on and 10 second off for 10 minutes.

Today's post, aside from being about my workout story (that sounds odd...), is about this new timer app that I've been using that I love. So the HIIT training, you do x number of seconds 'on' and then x number of seconds as a rest. For me it's usually 30,40,or 50 seconds on and a 10 second rest. There are special (expensive) timers that you can buy that are specific interval timers that you can use at home or at the gym...buuuut why when you can use an app on your phone? If you have an android (I think it also works with iPhones), download this now. You can put in how much prep time you want, how many second you want as your 'on' period where you workout, how many seconds of rest you want, and how many rounds. It works in the background of your phone while music is playing, doesn't drain your battery like a lot of other apps, and hasn't crashed in the middle of a workout. It's GREAT for jogging if you're not a huge fan of running (like me) and you prefer to run for 40 seconds with a 10 second rest for a specific amount of time. So far, I'm loving it, and I suggest y'all download it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mint and Pea Crostini with Pickled Radishes and Burrata

Spring has finally laid its gentle hand on the winter-weary backs of Bostonians. That's my fancy way of saying -- it's SPRING! I classify that temperatures above 32F. The icebergs have melted (mostly), the sun is out (sometimes), and I don't have to wear multiple layers to brave the wintry winds (usually).

Celebration wouldn't be celebration without spring-type foods. Food with the colors, and the pretty, and the pop of spring. With herbs, green, and tart, and SPRING.

Can you tell I'm happy about spring? Sunshine for all!

Anyways, make this one night. It's simple, beautiful, and delicious. It may seem tricky to pickle something, but honestly, it's really not. The most complicated part of the process is slicing the radishes -- which is super easy if you have a food processor. The pickling process takes 10 minutes, and you can store the radishes in your fridge for about 1-2 weeks.

Mint and Pea Crostini with Pickled Radishes and Burrata
Slightly modified from Salt and Wind

Thinly slice a baguette and toast it at 375 with a little olive oil drizzled on top.

Pickled Radishes
This I learned from Cookie and Kate

Thinly slice 1 bunch radishes
3/4 cup vinegar (white wine or apple cider)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Mustard Seeds (optional)
Fennel (optional)

Slice the radishes thinly using a knife, mandolin, or food processor. Stuff them into a jar (I used a mason jar). Top with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds, or whatever other accoutrements (garlic cloves, fennel, etc.) Bring the vinegar, water, maple syrup, and salt to a boil. Turn it off, let it cool for about 30 seconds and then gingerly pour it over the radishes, close the container loosely, and let it sit for 10 minutes, and it should be good to go! Keep it stored in the fridge, closed, for 1-2 weeks.

Smashed Mint Peas
2 cups frozen peas
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons mint
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Siracha to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil, and cook the peas until tender, which should take 3-4 minutes. Make sure not to overcook them. Drain the water out of the saucepan, and add to the still warm peas the butter, garlic, and lemon juice. Smash the peas together. When you're almost done smashing them, add in the mint, cilantro, siracha, salt, and pepper, and then finish smashing. Adjust seasoning to your preferences.


Burrata or Mozarella, sliced

Lay the slices of bread out on a tray. Top generously with the smashed pea mixture, then on one half side of the bread lay out some of the burrata, and on the other half side of the bread lay out the radishes. Drizzle with olive oil and pepper and serve.