This has been quite the week in the Newest Obsession universe for a few reasons. First, I must forewarn you, this is a long one, but I promise it is worth it–or so I think.
I aggravated my lower back on Monday, causing it to go into an intense muscle spasm to the point where the pain was at a level 8/10. As a result, I haven’t exercised since the three exercises I did Monday morning that caused it to spasm. While exercise is a huge stress reliever for me, it also induces stress in ways such as feeling pressure (from myself) to not miss a work out or being rushed to make breakfast and get to work after a morning work out. As hard as it has been for me to rest this whole week, I have truly been enjoying taking the extra time to wake up slowly and engage in morning conversation with my fiancé, be early to an appointment or meeting, or not be rushing to get dinner ready because I’m starving. However, I am taking this “injury” as a call to action to completely re-design my exercise routine and outlook. I am switching focus to improving my muscle imbalances to prevent low back pain and any other injuries in the future. I am no longer doing Jamie Eason’s Live Fit trainer plan, because Phase 3 was so intense, and there was no way I wanted to spend 1.5 hours at the gym 4 days a week, in addition to 2 other 1 hour lifting days, and any yoga or other activities I wanted to do. It just wasn’t practical for me. More details on how I plan to redesign my routine will be coming soon. Until then I have been indulging myself with comfort foods such as oatmeal and scrambled eggs, with a pad of ghee, crushed black pepper and sea salt.
And slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala.
I, of course, modified the recipe a bit to be a little “healthier” for my taste. And it turned out to be some of the best Indian food we have ever made at home!
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (Serves 6-8) Modified from Foodie With Family
- For the chicken:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 cup Fage 0% Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 1 large piece of ginger (2-3 inches in size), peeled and grated
- 3 tablespoons garam masala
- 32 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or any other sugar)
- 1 whole jalapeno, washed, stem removed and scored with a knife
- 1 1/2 cups half-n-half
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- For the rice:
- 2 cups long grain brown rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- For serving:
- Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and coat with salt, coriander, cumin, and yogurt. Set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
- Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter and 1/2 the chicken. Brown on both sides and place in slow cooker. Repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter and remaining 1/2 of the chicken. Place chicken in slow cooker.
- Add another 1/2 tablespoon ghee or butter to pan along with onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté until onions begins to brown at the edges. Add garam masala and ginger, and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and sugar, and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping up the brown bits. Pour sauce over chicken in the slow cooker. Place jalapeno on top. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
- Meanwhile, add the rice, water, and butter to a medium sauce pan or rice cooker and cook until rice is finished. Add green peas and allow to warm through for about 10 minutes.
- Whisk together half-n-half and cornstarch. Pour in slow cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes until bubbly.
- Serve topped generously with chopped cilantro. (I skipped this, cause I forgot, oops).
The comforting properties of butter are just incredible.
On another note…this has been a long time coming and a tough decision to make, but I have decided to go back to school and become a Registered Dietician. I haven’t announced this on the blog yet, because I had not informed my current work place. But, this week, I decided to “Crush It” and announce to my work that I am going to follow my true passion and become a Registered Dietician. Starting in January I will begin working part time and taking prerequisites for the RD program. For those of you who don’t know me or anything about what I do, I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics with an emphasis in Computer Science and Numerical Weather Prediction. In the past few years I have been working on Image Processing Algorithms applied to x-ray imagery for the dental industry, images of petri films growing bacteria for food safety, and lately images of next generation mobile marketing tags. While some of what I do is interesting and engaging, I found myself performing software engineering tasks most of the time. Software Engineering is not my true passion, I am not stellar at it, and I am not interested in competing with the plenty of other computer pros out there who have been hacking their computers since birth. I wanted to find myself in a position where I am interacting with and helping others, not sitting at a computer telling IT what to do all day. In the year and a half that I have been volunteering for the Growe Foundation, I have become inspired by the positive impact nutritional education has on people, especially children. I have also had the pleasure of working closely with an RD who also runs her own practice and works students at the University in town. I appreciate the positive outcome dietary modifications has had on both mine and my fiancé’s well being and athletic performance, and I want to share that with others who may need it more than I do. I light up when I get the opportunity to talk with others about food and nutrition and I cannot wait to make a career out of it. In the mean time, I will be consuming lots of comforting bowls of oatmeal while studying for things like the GRE.
I put my true passion to work this week to prepare and teach a lesson plan for the 2nd and 3rd graders on our body’s signals for the Growe Foundation. I was really excited to teach this lesson, because I think it is important for everyone to be in tune with what they’re body is telling them, particularly when it comes to food. Here are a few points that I covered:
- How to identify when we are hungry and how to identify when we are full. Hunger is when we are feeling discomfort or weak from the lack of food, and may have symptoms such as headaches, continuous thoughts about food, dizziness, shakiness, and low energy. Fullness is having enough food and is felt by stomach fullness, food no longer tasting good, and possibly discomfort or pain.
- Foods that made us feel good, like vegetables, fruits, and protein, and foods that make us feel “blah” like Cheetos, fried food, potato chips, and popcorn.
- Over and under eating. Overeating has the potential to result in discomfort or pain, guilt, and tiredness. Whereas, under eating has the potential to make us feel brain fogged, unable to focus, irritable, and may lead to overeating at our next meal. Ultimately, over or under eating from time to time does not have a drastic impact on our body because it is completely capable of balancing calories across meals. Our goal is to strive for “normal” not “perfect” eating.
- Serving sizes! Did you know that…?
- A tennis ball represents 1 serving of fruit
- Your fist represents 1 serving of vegetables, cooked rice or pasta, and cereal
- A deck of cards represents 1 serving of protein
- A handful represents 1 serving of snack foods such as nuts or popcorn
- A golf ball represents 2 tablespoons of nut butter or other fat
- A pack of dental floss represents 1 serving of candy or chocolate
- The tip of your thumb represents 1 serving of high fat foods such as mayonnaise
- Maintaining an energy balance of food (calories) in energy (calories) out to maintain a healthy weight and support growth. The kids told me their favorite foods and activities, and I highlighted foods that were healthy and activities that get your heart rate up. Lucky for me these kids are smart and picked all healthy foods and activities.
- Becoming an intuitive eater and eating when hungry, but not starving or somewhat full, and stopping when satisfied, but without pain or discomfort. An intuitive eater is one that starts eating a level 3 on the hunger scale and stops at a level 7. Did you know it takes our stomach’s 20 minutes to tell our brain when we are full? For most of us we’ve already gone back for seconds and made ourselves comfortable on the couch by then. Take your time at your next meal, and see what happens.
- Using our 5 senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound when eating our meals. Try it at home; at your next meal practice observing the different colors and shapes in your meal, smelling the aromas and envisioning the taste, then taking a bite and tasting every sensation, while feeling the different textures of each bite, and listening to the sound the food you are eating makes as you chew. I promise it will lead to a whole new eating experience.
- The “Clean Plate Club” and how it came about in World War I when food was scarce. Today, most of us are lucky enough to have plenty of food on the table, and shouldn’t feel obligated to be part of the “CPC” when we are full. Relaxing, conversing with family, thanking the chef, and eating healthy meals are other ways we can enjoy meal time without having to be part of “the club”.
Ahhh, huge sigh of relief. Now that everything is out in the open I can feel comfortable talking about following my true passion. Only good things are left to come…
What is your true passion? Are you currently exercising it daily?