Cookie Carnival: Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, September 29, 2008

Whoa... 3 posts in 4 days? Am I some kind of maniac? For the most part... I'd say no, but I blame it on September almost being done. I feel like a police officer handing out tickets today (for my non-American friends, cops are more prone to hand out tickets at the end of the month to meet their quota... careful driving)

I'll try to keep this post short then, so you can go back to reading posts about crackers and dip :) Today is a cool day, because it marks my inaugural post for the Cookie Carnival... a really cool group of bloggers that do a monthly cookie recipe. I'd like to thank wonderful Kate for having such a cool event, and once again pushing me towards recipes I wouldn't normally do :)

This month is Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies, and is a recipe from Martha Stewart. Say what you want about her, but I've made a couple of her things in the past, and she usually doesn't do me wrong. With Fall upon us, I like the idea of having one last, summer time hurrah... baking wise :)

You can check out the recipe HERE, or because I'm in an awesome mood (check out the Twitter for why, weight lifting and JETS win related) I'll just do a copy and paste for you guys.

Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Makes 15 sandwich cookies.

* Grated zest of 1 Ruby Red grapefruit, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
* 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 large egg yolks
* Pink Grapefruit Cream Filling
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine zest with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in reserved zest-sugar mixture. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the juice, and beat to combine.

3. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out disk to 1/8 inch thick using a lightly floured rolling pin. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper and cookies to rack to cool completely.
5. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon filling onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping flat sides down. Once filled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ingredients for filling

Makes enough to fill 15 sandwich cookies.

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice
Directions

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in honey. Add juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until filling holds together and is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use.

I really dug these cookies, and my dad would absolutely love them. They were sugar cookies, but with a real citrus, grapefruit punch. It reminded me of these lemon creme sandwich cookies (I loved them) I would INHALE back when I was a Thundercats watching kid... which was probably ages 5 and then again at 16 :)

Thanks for all your support on my recent barrage of posts, you guys are great. And try to join up at the cookie carnival. I recently learned I'm the only male in the group... and I wouldn't mind be surrouded by more good looking ladies with great senses of humor :)

Oh and I got a request for more Polish recipes. I'll definately try to do that. For those of you that may be new here, you could always check out Polish family favorites, including Polish Crepes (nalesniki), and Plum Pierogi. Any ideas on how to make a recipe list? I have to look into that.

Daring Bakers: Crackers and Dip Madness

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today is a special day because we get to unveil the September challenge of Crackers and Dip. Whoa, is it even possible to make crackers? Can't you only buy them in the store? Hey, don't laugh, that's what I thought at first. I mean I knew someone (like elves) HAD to have made them for us to eat.... but me? (points to self*) Good thing I'm rather Daring :)

Special thanks goes out to Natalie from Gluten a Go Go, and Shelly from Musings from a Fishbowl for hosting this event. We have a bunch of firsts here... a savory event for me, and a gluten/vegan challenge. One of the stipulations of this challenge was that the dip had to be gluten free and vegan... which isn't too difficult actually, but it limits maybe you're common dip experiences. Let's just say I had to spend a little time brainstorming and asking some friends some ideas :) That's what friends are for.

We had quite a bit of creative freedom when it came to flavors and seasoning. In my personal tasting opinion, one of them worked for me, and the other... worked... but not as well for me :)

I chose to go with regular crackers with AP flour, because that's what I have on hand, and season them with sea salt and sesame seeds, so we have a bit of salty crunch going on. I actually enjoyed kneading the dough, taking out any stress I had, and they came out nicely, with a little crunch... perfect for watching football.
For the dip I was going to go with caramelized maple onion hummus, to get ourselves a little sweet thing. Who doesn't like salty and sweet? What I bascially did was substitute carmalized onions for garlic, maple syrup for the tahini, and a little olive oil and veggie stock to loosen it all up. So I'm throwing the ingredients in the blender, whistling away as I work... and I flick on the blender switch.

And I flick on the blender switch. And I flick on the blender switch. Nothing. What the?

Oh the blender is busted. Bummer. So we have mashed up by hand chunky style hummus now. Did it work? Yeah it was ok, I just wish I had it a little smoother is all :)
So, I'd say another awesome baking experience is in the books. Thanks to the Daring Bakers for having this great group of friendly, smiling friends, with one common goal... to live dangerously tasty :) Want to join up? Go to the Daring Bakers Page, and be part of the movement :)

Things I learned: (Just like last month)
-Making crackers is rather easy
-Sometimes electrical appliances fail
-Maple syrup really can go on alot of stuff (remember Elf?)
-Once again, I had a blast doing things outside my normal comfort zone

Oh and I made Grasshopper Mint Eclairs last month, check those bad boys out if you can handle it :)

Fitness Fun Fridays #12

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, September 26, 2008

Thanks for all the great recommendations everyone. I have ideas now on posting about protein bars, gym etiquette (which is actually very important I think), weight lifting for teenagers, and much more. I now have ideas on top of ideas, so this is awesome. Sometimes maybe I forget just how much knowledge is crammed in this brain, so thanks for rattling it a bit :)

Anyways... today is something very important for health, and movement. In school they always liked to say "Movement is Life", so we're going to talk about something that is responsible for helping your move effectively. This is something that is kind of a pain in the butt to do, and it's not for the lazy, but it takes only about 5 minutes, maybe twice a day. This is stretching.

I know. It's uncomfortable, it's boring, it feels really, really weird, and you hate it. I'll be honest, it's not one of my favorite things to do either. I would much rather just lift weights in my cupcake t-shirt, do my cardio, and then peace out cubscout. But, I'd be doing my body a huge disservice. Here's why...

Our bodies are adaptable to stress, and by stress I mean certain conditions. For example, if you walk around without shoes alot, you'll get callouses. The same thing works for getting stronger, getting more fit... and getting more flexible. Muscles are lengthened and shortened due to postures that we do based on habit... and the more often you are in a certain posture, the more often a muscle will change to accommodate that. Confused? Let's take a look at sitting...

Take a seat... and look at your lower body. Your hips are bent, your knees are bent, and your feet may be on the ground. So in this posture (which Americans are in through most of the day), we have shortened muscles (hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back) and lengthened muscles (quads, glutes, abdominals). This is an important idea to grasp, because the more times you put a muscles in a shortened position, the more able it is to becomes 'tight'. Ever feel stiff when you first get up from a chair or bed? Your muscles changed to shape for that certain posture. Once you get up and move, it's not so bad, right? So, what's the common sense thing to do? Move. Our ability to move keeps us healthy. Stretch out the tight muscles.

Stretching is a great thing to do once your muscles are already warmed up, due to increased blood flow to the area, and thus being more elastic in nature. Try doing these stretches for at least 20 seconds, and up to about 30 seconds, twice on each side of your body.

Here's some that EVERYONE can adapt to their routine... taken from this great slide show
I would personally do all of these stretches, but if you can't due to time constraints or whatever, make sure you stretch... remember 2 sets each side, 30 second hold. Why 30 seconds? Well your muscles have stretch receptors in them, and they need to hold a position for at least 15 seconds to relax themselves and the receptors. It's like a game of tug o' war... and you have to let your muscle say "ok I give, dude". So a quick 10 second hold is too short. So, anyways... at least stretch your:
Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Lower Back and Calves

I stress these muscle groups the most, because they are what I commonly see as tight on people... Here's a quick story, real quik... a story about Mr. Backpain

Mr. B hurt his back by picking up a newspaper in the morning. He bent over, and with a grunt, noticed something didn't feel right. He felt a sharp pain that felt like he "pulled a muscle" on his way back up from bending over. He's done this everyday for like 20 years... so what gives?

Well, it could be a number of things, but if Mr. B has pulled his back out, and it's nothing too serious, it could be due to his hips. Whoa, whoa... his hips? Yup.

Well if you have a tight muscle, and muscles cross joints... you then have joints that aren't moving too easily, right? So your body is going to do the next best thing it can do... move a different joint, a little more. It's like the lazy kid in class, and the straight A student doing a class project together (any straight Aer's here?) Donald the Dork doesn't want to fail, so he has to make up the work that Lazy Larry has to do so they can pass.

So what I'm stressing is that if you have inflexibility somewhere, another joint and muscle may have to move more to compensate... and that's how injuries can happen. What do you think of that? Kinda cool. So um... stretching is good for you because it balances you out. Oh here's a cool stat for the statistic heads out there... 57% of your flexibility is due to genetics, and 43% is due to daily activities. Ever wonder why some people are just more flexible? Well they have different genes than you :)

Alright that's about enough for today, because I've rambled on a little now. I even went a little chiropractic on everyone. That's what happens when you have one of the coolest jobs ever. I mean it's close to professional ice cream tester... or blog reader, or cartoonist.
Quik
moving

Kapusta for World Food Day

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Monday, September 22, 2008

So the other day I came across Giz and Psychgrad's site, and I found out they were participating in an event to raise world awareness about hunger. I personally think this is a great idea, so I knew I wanted to join up. Val over at More Than Burnt Toast, and Ivy at Kopiaste are combining their trans-global powers to hosting, and I want to thank them very much for doing this. Please visit their sites and support this, all you need to do is come up with a family or cultural dish that can feed 6. Check them out for more details.

I have always been very lucky to never have a shortage of food growing up, but I was always told to finish everything. Our dishes were always licked clean, and we never threw anything away. Plates in our home became some kind of vaporizing device, where food that is touching it must be gone by the end of dinner. David Copperfield never had to come and make food disappear.

A nice, cheap, Fall/Winter favorite of mine is Kapusta, which essentially means cabbage in Polish. To Polish Americans like myself, it has taken on a meaning of a cabbage like stew, with some meat, mushrooms, and spices. Cabbage is probably the most important vegetable and food in all of Poland, because it is hearty, nutritious, and can be stored as sauerkraut for the cold winter months, when there is nothing left to eat. While today's supermarkets make it possible to eat anything no matter what time of year it is, I still like to go seasonal, because it just feels right. What? You don't like cabbage? Well, still give this recipe a shot, it's super easy and goes in the slow cooker. I like to get up before I go to clinic and throw this together. By dinner time, the house smells of soury goodness. If you're a health nut like me, you'll be happy to know cabbage has tons of phytochemicals that fight cancer, so eat up :)

All of these amounts, measurements and ingredients can be changed at will. If you're vegetarian or vegan, omit the pork... if you don't like mushrooms (you're crazy, then) leave them out too. You can use whatever you have around the house to throw in the pot with a little imagination. Here's what I do to feed 4-6 people.



Kapusta
Recipe by Adam


-2 lbs. sauerkraut (bagged or jarred)
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 cup mushooms, dirt dusted off and chopped

-1 lb pork loin, chops, or whatever you have, cut into bite size pieces

-1 can cream of mushroom soup (reduced fat or not)

-1 cup of water

-Salt, pepper, sugar and cloves to taste... it's really up to you


In a medium or large skillet, sautee the onion with some olive oil until it browns a little and becomes very fragrant. This should take only a few minutes. Empty the pan into a small bowl and set aside.


Season the pork with salt and pepper, and fry until lightly brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Add another Tbsp of oil for this step if necessary. Add the pork to the bottom of the crockpot, and then top with the onions.

Open up the sauerkraut and drain using a collander. Rinse under cold water for a few seconds, and squeeze with your hands to get rid of some of the tartness. (If you really don't like the sour or tart taste, you can rinse again, but I don't recommend it).

Add the sauerkraut to the slow cooker, then the mushrooms, and then the can of cream of mushroom soup and water. Stir a few times to mix well, cover and you're done. Set the crock pot on low setting, and let it sit for 8-10 hours. Season to taste. The above are all you need and are pretty authentic. Serve with some nice rye bread, and Wham you have a nice, cheap meal.

Don't blame a dish on it's looks. Kapusta has a really, really good personality, I promise. You just might want to take a tic-tac afterward in case you do any close talking :)

Fitness Fun Fridays #11

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, September 19, 2008

Wooooo.... lucky number 11. I can barely believe it. I've only got a couple more until 13, which is actually a lucky number of mine. (I know it's a bad luck number to everyone else, but I'm a different cat :) So we are slowly approaching a cross roads here at FFF, nope it doesn't mean I am done with it or anything, but we've finally covered most of the bases and preliminary material. So, I'm going to open the floor up to anyone who is interested. What do you want to see next? Are you confused on anything? Do you want a whole post on random tips and tricks? Does that weird pill on late night TV actually work? Ask away, and while I am not an expert on everything, I'll do my best to give my researched opinion on it. And if I don't know, I'll find out, because you can never learn too much, right? :)

A very clumbsy, but extremely creative and funny friend of mine had a question about breathing. I think this is a great concept to cover, because it can be quite tricky, and much like climbing monkey bars made of Jell-o, it's hard to get a handle on. So let's rock. Hahaha Twisted Sister is playing right now :)

When you lift weights, your blood pressure increases like crazy. Blood pressure, if you aren't entirely clear on it, is the amount of pressure placed on the arteries in your body. I'm sure you've heard the number 120/80 before, and know that is associated with a normal measurement of mmHg in blood pressure. The first number is the amount of pressure on your arteries during a heart contraction, while the second number is the pressure exerted during relaxation of your heart. The reason we want a low resting blood pressure, is because it is related to how hard our heart has to work to pump blood. Imagine if your TV remote was busted, and you had to JAM the numbers down to get them to work? Annoying right? Well your heart is annoyed if it has to pump harder to just push red gloop around :0

The reason I am getting all 8th grade sciency on you is because... you might be surprised at how high your blood pressure gets during weight training. For short periods during the lifting motion, blood pressure has been measured to be in upwards of 300 and beyond. Your muscles contract, your arteries have more pressure exerted on them, and more blood flow is needed because you are moving muscles. Does that number sound like alot? You betcha... but before you get all nervous know this... it is NOT dangerous to most people. The reason is because the amount of time this pressure is exerted is minimal. You lift for a couple of seconds at a time, and then it's over, and you rest. It is different from prolonged high blood pressure, which is hypertension.

So, to get back on task... this ties perfectly into breathing. Breathing relaxes, and more importantly, decreases the pressure in your body. When you hold your breath... your lungs, your heart, and your abdominal cavity increase their pressure immensely, for however long you continue to hold it. (Can any of the mothers help me out on this?... I uh, can't) This is something we definitely do not want to do. We want to place as little extra strain on our bodies as we can... because, honestly, just working out is tiring enough :)

So breathe out. Remember when I talked about the different kinds of contractions? During the lowering action (eccentric for all the smart kids out there), breathe in... and then as you contract the muscle (concentric) breathe out.

So for example... you are doing a pulldown. As you bring the bar towards your chest, you breathe out, and as you lower it away from you slowly, you breathe in. For a squat or leg press, you breathe out as you extend your legs and push up. Whenever you exert the force to move the weight in the direction you want, breathe out. This helps to keep the pressure in your body normalized and at a much safer level. If you can imagine, if a family member of yours has high cholesterol or high blood pressure, they need to be very careful and understand this concept. They should also see a doctor before starting to work out.

Alright, that's going to wrap up today. There's this chill in the air, and I really, really like it. It's crisp, and a little tart. Kind of like a good Crispin Apple or maybe a Pringle made out of Sour Patch Kids... wow that would be gross. Thanks for all the support with these, and don't worry FFF will be back on Friday again. Remember, take it slow and learn one cool thing a day. Have a good weekend guys and gals :)
Charms

Breathing

Bugs Bunny + Mac = ?

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Monday, September 15, 2008

Garth: Wayne, did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played girl bunny?
Wayne: (cracks up laughing hysterically) No... no
Garth : Neither did I... I was just asking.

One of my favorite parts from one of my favorite movies of all time. Yes, I know the movie is a bit dated now (it's like 15 years already), but I love it. I love the music, I love the partying, I love the reckless abandon and challenge of impending adulthood, while still staying young and true to yourself... wow that was deep for a movie like Wayne's World. Maybe there's more to the surface than just Party Time, Excellent :)

So what does this have to do with Bugs Bunny? Close to nothing, guys and gals. Once I finished wrestling and fixing my computer this past weekend, I was back online and ready to rock. I went online and into my Reader, and was greeted with all these posts about Fall and baking. As you might have read in the last apple post... Fall baking is awesome, and like most of you, it's my favorite. The smells are great. I even have a pumpkin spice candle burning, right now. (Yes, guys can like candles... they are for, ya know... uh, when the girls come over... *sigh*)

Thing is though, I don't know when carrot cake should be baked. Is it a spring thing... with Easter and all? Or summer, because that's when carrots are in season? Or maybe it's time is right now. Yup, I'm going to go with that one. And I'm going to change my favorite carrot cake recipe. I'm replacing half of the carrots with some nice NY apples. So we have an Apple Carrot Cake... or Bugs Bunny meets Mac. I want to warn you though... the aroma this cake makes coming out of the oven is dangerous. If fall spices are your thing, you might want to leave the house, because waiting 30 mins for it to bake is like fighting Chunk Norris... impossible.


Apple Carrot Cake
Recipe by Adam
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 cup AP flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder

-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/4 tsp allspice
-Pinch (
or two pinches if you're like me) cloves
-1/2 cup sugar

-1 cup packed brown sugar

-3 eggs
-1/2 cup canola or neutral flavored oil

-1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 3)

-1/2 pound apples, peeled and grated (about 3 small ones)


Preheat your oven to 350*. Grease a large 13x9 pan, or any pan you like. I used a round pan, because I really like round bundt type cakes :)


In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda and powder, and spices. Stir with a spoon so they are all mixed evenly, and set this bowl aside.


In a large bowl, place the sugars together, and stir with a wooden spoon so they are all mixed up. Add the 3 eggs, and mix well, so they form a nice sugary, liquidy type glaze. Pour in the oil and mix by hand or hand mixer for a few minutes, so they emulsify.


Add the dry flour mixture into the wet sugar one, and mix well. If you are using a wooden spoon, you are going to get a workout on this one. I even had to switch hands, and I rarely ever do that :) The resulting batter is very thick, but don't worry... it'll be all better soon. Once the batter is smooth, brown, and no lumps remain, fold in the carrots and apples. I think the moisture from the fruit adds a bit more liquid to the batter, and it becomes much easier to work with.


Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back lightly to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean. Baking times depend on the pan you use.

I really, really liked this new concoction of a recipe I made. I swear, right of the oven it reminded me of cider donuts... you know the ones you get at the ochard with the kids... and by kids I mean me. Now, those were the days, my friends :)

Oh, and this was actually an apple recipe that I intended to turn out this way :) To celebrate this... I'm sending this cake to two places. First, it's going to a cool site I was invited to called Key Ingredient, for their September Kickoff. Definately check them out. After that, it's going to my good buddy from America's Mother Country over at Culinarty and the Original Recipe Round Up... I personally want to thank England for showing us The Beatles, Black Sabbath, James Bond, Scones, and Lore.
Thanks for your computer support and wishes, I appreciated them. Oh, and quite a few people told me I'm awesome, which was sweet. I always tell myself that one, but it's totally different hearing it from other people :) Stay tuned for another award show this week, I'm racking them up, baby!


Fitness Fun Fridays #10

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, September 12, 2008

Ok, here's the deal. My computer contracted some kind of virus/spyware thing, and I unfortunatly have to reformat the entire thing. It's no big deal actually, but it's just kind of a pain in the butt. I have to save all my music, school work, chiro stuff, and pictures. Funny thing though, my entire life fits on about 30 gigs of space... I guess I'm easy going :)

So today marks (trumpet sounding... da da-da-da da), the Ab Show. Yes, you read it right, six pack, washboard, whatever you want to call them... abdominals. I wonder where all this infaturation with the stomach started... I feel like people would respect the President more if he had a nice stomach or something. From a professional standpoint, the "core" as we call it is very important, because it links the upper and lower body together. It's kind of like a bridge, so a weak bridge makes for an overall weaker whole. Think about picking a box up... it requires using your legs, glutes, low back, arms, just about everything. As a chiropractor (2 more months) I've seen people having "pulls" in their back because of a weak midsection. We need to have a strong, almost "corset" like section, so we can effectively move and generate power.

Plus ripped abs look nice, right? I think girls like them...

So this post is going to show you what I've done, and what I think works for most people. How am I so sure? Well, I've kind of been there, guys and gals... and it's not as hard as you think. With the proper diet... (soooooo important) you can do it too :)

So here's some basic ab exercises... once again courtesy of Bodybuilding.com

Leg Pull In - lower abs
Hanging Leg Raise - lower abs
Side Bridge - obliques

These are pretty much all that you need to do. Now I'm going to stress something that is very important, but still common sense. Whenever you do these exercises, please pull with your abs! I know that sounds funny, but sometimes people do these movements without contracting their core. For instance, it is very possible to do a standard crunch... by bringing your chin to your chest with your arms. The problem here is that your abs aren't being used. Now, if you lay on the floor, tighten up your stomach, and pull your ribcage towards your legs with the movement, you're going to feel it much better.

The same goes with the leg lifts. We (as a nation/culture) have very tight and short hip flexors. This is due to the fact that we sit all the time, so they shorten. So, if you do a leg lift or raise without focusing on your abs, the hip flexors (which are stronger) are going to take over in the movement. Try and visualize what you are doing, and see if that helps keep the muscle contracted.

I hope all this information helps. I would have someone train abs about 2x a week, with about 6 sets for an upper and lower abominal exercise. Repetition ranges can be anywhere from 10-30 reps. Abs may take a longer time to 'tire out' so some people need higher repetitions to reach that level. Always make sure that you breathe out on the contraction, and that you use plenty of control. The second you feel your form get sloppy, it's time to take a short break.

Always train abdominals and core exercises after your other bodypart workouts, or on an "off" day. The reason for this is because you don't want a tired out core, and then go into other lifting. For example, if you are doing a squat or lunge (which are good for the glutes, Dee), you are using your abs to stabilize your body. If those muscles are fatigued before you attempt the leg workout, there's a possiblity you'll have a much harder time doing the exercise, and may even set yourself up for injury. Just something to think about...

One quick last thing. I know this is going to kill a few hopes and dreams, and I'm very, very sorry to say this but... Abdominal work will not help you develop abdominal muscles, if they are covered up with fat. I know. I know. I'm sorry. This idea is called 'spot reduction' and in my opinion, it is a myth. You do a lot of walking right? Do you still have fat on your legs? Bodyfat is bodyfat, and your body stores it where ever it wants to. So if you want to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Arnold, or that dude Jesse from Big Brother, it's all about diet and lower bodyfat.

However, strong abs are still very, very important... and remember, the more muscle you have, the easier time you will have burning bodyfat :)

Ok, I have to cut this short because I'm still computerless :) Let me know if you have any other questions about abdominal work, exercises in general, or if you just want to remind me that I'm awesome :) Thanks so much for all the positive feedback, and I'm glad you all liked the apple post too :) Next week I'll get into workout nutrition, and maybe a few tricks or two. Happy weekend, ladies and germs.

If Life Gives You Apples...

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2008

When I was back home with my parents last week, I resorted back into a child for a bit. No, I didn't have to break out my pair of husky jeans, or my He-Man pajamas, or my old Duck Hunt zapper, but I felt a little different. I've been on my own for the better part of 7 years now, and while that's not too long for many of the readers here, that's still kind of a big deal. It's like between a 1/3 and a 1/4 of my life. (Yeah, yeah, I'm still a kid :)
So what does this have to do with food? Um, maybe absolutely nothing. But... if I can really stretch for something... I would tie being a kid with apples. While I love summer produce and berries, my heart beats apples. All kinds. Gold ones, red ones, green ones, purple, whatever. Maybe it's tied into apple picking and growing up... like that nature/nuture thing I learned in Psy 101 :)
So I really wanted to try something I've never seen before. An Apple roll. I've never done a roll before, but I thought a nice sugary sponge cake, with a fresh applesauce type filling would definately rock... and roll. (Ha I'm terrible) After seeing what happened at super tag team Giz's and Psychgrad's site, I was a little hesitant... but hey this is all about trying stuff out right?
Well here's what happened:
I made my homemade applesauce out of a couple Paula Red apples (first of the year to come out in NY)... a couple tablespoons of sugar, a table spoon of cinnamon, and a dash or two of cloves. I added about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water, and let it simmer in a pan until they softened up, maybe 15 minutes over medium heat. I then added a few tablespoons of flour to soften it up, and after a few tastes, I was good to go.
I threw together my go to Sponge Cake recipe (very easy), and poped it in the oven (recipe below). I baked it until it was JUST done, and lightly sprang back to the touch. I immediately inverted it, onto a powdered sugar covered towel, and rolled it up. I was pretty proud of myself, and was like... hey this roll thing isn't so hard at all. I must just be a natural. So I let it cool on a cooling rack for an hour... and then I unrolled it.

So far so good... dude I'm awesome.


Oh wait... no... wait a min... no... balls.

Well, after hanging my head for a bit, I realized that this isn't soooo bad. I mean the Jets won this week, and Tom Brady isn't play us next week. Something bad has to happen to me to balance all this out right? Well I'm showing that equilibrium karma thing that he's not going to get to me.

So I give you... Apple Sponge Cake Trifle... because anything looks good with whipped cream and a wine glass :)

Go to Simple Sponge Cake
Recipe by Adam

-1 cup cake flour
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 eggs, seperated
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup milk
-2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*. For a cake roll, grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and sprayed again.

In a large bowl, mix sugar and egg yolks together until thick and yellow. Add the milk, vanilla, and butter until well incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix by hand until well combined.

In a small, clean bowl, beat the two egg whites with a handmixer until semi stiff peaks form. We just want to volumize the egg whites.

Fold the egg whites into the other ingredients gently, and pour into a prepared cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or whatever type of cooking pan you want to use).

Bake at 350* until desired doneness... for the roll it should be 10-14 minutes. It should look very slightly browned, and spring back to the touch.

For further instructions on how to make a jelly roll, I would look at other websites to see the whole "invert on a kitchen towl and roll up" technique.

See, it's ALMOST a roll... oh well

So that was my awesome weekend. Football... good. Cake roll? Eh, not so much. Somebody else try this out and let me know what you think. If it doesn't work out for you, that's nothing a trifle can't fix. Sponge cake, sweetened apple filling, and whipped cream... ya know life ain't too bad :)

Fun Fitness Fridays #9

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, September 05, 2008

Happy September everyone :) I hope all you school kids are having fun in school, (it's rush week right?) and all the moms and days are enjoying having someone else babysit the little ones for a few hours. For those of you without school or kids... well... I guess we can do whatever we want ALL the time, right?

I'm glad no one spilled coffee on themselves while trying out different muscle contractions. I read those comments and thought they were great. I'm very happy so many of you so interested, it's very, very cool. So let's move forward towards what you should be doing in the gym, if you choose to lift weights, or perhaps want to get started. If you need help on rep ranges, and warm up info, just look into last week.

So you walk into the gym... and there's bright lights, some grandma in the corner wearing a headband, and a 16 year old flexing his arms in the mirror. What do you do? That's easy... do a 5 min warm up, and you get down to business. You become the Donald Trump of muscle building.

If you are new to weight lifting (which is what I'm going to assume), I would split your body training into upper and lower "splits" as we call them. So one day is an upper day, and the next is a lower day. With this approach, we can keep our workouts short and sweet, which is good for a number of reasons:
  1. It's much easier to find 45-60 minutes of free time in your schedule
  2. Staying focused beyond this time frame can be difficult
  3. Cortisol (a stress hormone) has been shown to become mass produced after 60 minutes of intense activity (this includes weight training)

The problem with cortisol is that it has both helpful and harmful effects. Without going too much in depth (so no one goes to sleep on me :) just know that having too much can reduce you immune system response, and cause catabolism... which means burning muscle tissue for energy.

So bascially we want to keep our workouts short, intense, and fun... so we can get back home, eat some delicious food (so we can heal and recover), and get back to our awesome, party time lives. In order to do this... we need to get as much exercise bang for our buck as we can.

Wait... what do you mean? You mean like lifting money?

No, I mean like doing movements that involve a number of muscles being used at the same time. If you can do an exercise that works both the butt and quadriceps (the front of your thighs) at the same time, that saves you time, rather than doing both seperately. By stimulating the most muscle at once, we do a bunch of cool things... like release more growth hormones, cause more microtears, increase your overall heartrate and conditioning, and generally get stronger and feel better. We call these "Compound Exercises". They involve more than one muscle group.

Now, feel free to check out Bodybuilding.com... for a quick anatomy lesson if you want... just be careful that the pictures are of super big dudes and dudettes :) Don't be scared. If you are a beginner, I would maybe start with some machines, because honestly, there's less of a chance of injury and they are easier movements to perform. The reason behind this is because until you learn how, you really don't know how to contract a muscle. Some people don't know how to flex a muscle, because their brains have never made a conscious pathway to do just that. This is not a bad thing, it's just something your brain needs to learn how to do. A machine teaches this fairly easily, and from there, we can learn how to move onto more complex, more functional type movements. I'll give you some beginner and advanced exercises to try:

For Lower Body: Beginner/Advanced
-Leg Curl Machine / Advanced can do these too

For Upper Body:
-Seated Row or Dumbell Row

These are just examples, and by all means, check out that site for any other exercise questions that you might have. They have videos and tons of cool tips to show you how to do exercises correctly. Remember to lift a weight in your desired range, which in most cases, would be between 8-10 repetitions... so that those last ones are really difficult, but you can still finish them. I want to stress this, because pushing EVERY set to failure may tire out your Central Nervous System, which takes a longer period of time to recover than your muscle.

Shoot for 3 sets for each exercise, and rest for about 90 seconds between each set. I like to choose 90 seconds because it keeps you focused, and if you've ever timed 90 seconds, it actually goes by very quick... it'll keep you warmed up and ready to go :) I would try and workout 3 or 4 times a week if your schedule allows, so each split is hit about twice every 7 -10 days. I think I mentioned working out MWF or TRSat (R meaning Thurs). Listen to your body, and if you feel sore, that's a sign you are healing... and take some more time off to rest.

That's going to be it for today. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you are further confused about any weight training. (Even though I hope not). I'm more than happy to field any questions you have ever heard. Next week I'll talk more about training and get into more food related stuff, including workout eats and nutrition... this IS a FOOD blog after all. Oh, and please root for the JETS this weekend... I haven't been this excited since um, last football season. Or the time I found cool blogging friends, or... actually I'm simple to amuse :)

Back to School PB J Muffins

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Today I woke up a school bus screech and kids yelling. Yup, it's that time of year again already, Cool School time. I totally forgot about it, mostly because I've been going to school year round for the last couple of years :)

But anyways, if I counted the amount of peanut butter and jam sandwiches I've had throughout the years, it would be well into the thousands. It was such an easy, "throw together as you hear the bus pull up" lunch, and I had one EVERY single day growing up. We didn't really do lunch meat at my house, so it was either PB&J or maybe a fluffenutter to break up any monotomy. If I stacked all those sandwiches end on end, they would probably reach and hit the Hubble telescope.

So yes, I love peanut butter and jam. I think it was ingrained into my brain at such an early age, that it's something I will carry with me forever. So comforting, and so delicious. One of my favorite parts is the interchanability of the jam flavors. You can do traditional grape or strawberry, but maybe one day you want to live on the edge, and go with like orange, or gooseberry, or pomegra-something. It's all up to you, and no sandwich is the same.

Today I pay a tribute to my childhood lunch friend, who has been there with me through football games, show and tell, learning cursive, long division, and multiplication tables. :)

But I'm doing it in one of my favorite forms... the muffin form. We're going to rock and roll with Jam Filled Peanut Butter Muffins... put one of these in the kids lunch boxes, and they will be in for an awesome surprise.
Peanut Butter and Jam Muffins
Recipe by Adam
-1 cup whole wheat flour
-3/4 cup AP flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup lowfat or skim milk
-1 egg, slightly beaten
-2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
-Jams of your choice

Preheat oven to 400*, center your rack and get your 12 cup muffin pan ready, either lined with muffin cups, or sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

In a medium bowl, add the milk, peanut butter, melted butter, vanilla, and beaten egg together, and mix until it comes together. (The peanut butter won't totally mix in, but that's ok).

Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the milk mixture all at once. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold the dry and wet "groups" together for about 10 seconds or like 20 "go arounds" or "turns" as I call them. Do not overmix, and remember, we want lumps. Yes we do. Don't worry all will be ok in muffin land.

Pour the muffin batter into the muffin cups so they are about 1/2 full, so you have about a 1/3 or so of the batter left over. Then drop heaping teaspoonfuls of your favorite jam into the center of the muffin batter. Proceed to cover the jam with more muffin batter, and smooth the batter over to make sure the jam is covered up completely. Bake in your preheated over for about 12-15 minutes, and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
I really dug this muffins. My room mate told me it has a peanut butter flavor, without the "smack in your face" peanut flavor. For those of you who don't speak his language, he's just saying the flavor is there, but not like really peanutbutter cookie strong. I like them like that, and the fact that they aren't too sweet too, because the jam sweetens them up. Oh, and in case your wondering, I went with cranberry jam for half of them, and apple for the other half. I think I'm entering Fall mode, and going with Fall flavors. If you have PB&J, what is your J flavor of choice?