Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin is a relatively new addiction of mine. I've always wanted to like it, especially when October rolls around, but I just couldn't make myself try anything but our Pumpkin Spice coffee. Maybe it's the colour, or the consistency, or maybe it's just because, as I've mentioned before, I am apprehensive of everything in the squash family, but I just couldn't picture myself enjoying it.

Fortunately for me, tastebuds change. And thank goodness for that, since this morning was the perfect morning to enjoy these pancakes. It's officially fall in New England, and today we were treated to cool weather and a bit of rain, and, of course, red and orange trees.

3/4 c canned pumpkin puree
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 c vanilla almond milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon extract, or more vanilla extract
1 c AP flour
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
dash of nutmeg

Whisk together all wet ingredients until well mixed. Add in dry ingredients, beginning with flour, but be careful not to over mix; stir until just combined. Using your 1/4 measuring cup, pour batter onto a hot pan and cook thoroughly on each side until golden brown.

Top with maple syrup, cinnamon and powdered sugar. It's pretty much everything to love about autumn in breakfast form.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

cinnamon bun smoothie


This cinnamon bun smoothie is based on three or four different recipes I had seen for a cinnamon bun smoothie online.  Apparently a lot of people have different ideas of what cinnamon buns taste like, because they were all completely different.  Anyways, this one is a new variety that, in my honest opinion, blows the other ones out of the water.  It was a few nights ago, during that quick switch to fall that occurs here in New England, that the spiced foods of fall came nibbling at our tongue.  Expect to see lots of pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, and the like now that it is that time of year.  We are working on an apple pie smoothie, which I haven't seen a version of online, so once I've got it finalized, you'll be one of the first to ever try it (because as we all know, if it's not on the internet, it didn't happen)!  So this smoothie is a great way to start your day on the weekend, and is sure as heck a lot less messy than an actual cinnamon bun, plus this is without all the bad fats.

I paired this smoothie up with John Berryman's The Dream Songs because this collection of poetry was one of the first readings I had in college, and I remember wondering why they didn't teach us this kind of stuff in high school.  And then I remembered what high school I went to, and any questions were put to rest.  Anyways, this collection of poetry follows Berryman's thought process as he identifies the dreams of life-- his hopes-- and the failures of those dreams to materialize, as imagined through the song-- the cronings, really.  Within this formerly 2-volume collection, Berryman pens profound, beautiful images and thoughts.  The collection is without a doubt his best work, and if you're interest in modernist/post-modernist & confessionalist poetry, this is a must.  When I wrote my undergrad thesis on John Ashbery and the French Avant-Garde, I kept thinking of this collection and how wonderfully Berryman could have been thrust into the same sphere as Ashbery, with his confessionalist style-- in particular, Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror collection, in which the image of 'self' is reaffirmed through a narrative voice. 

Alas, to the smoothie:

1 frozen banana, sliced
1 cup milk, any kind
1/4 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground flax
2 tbsp either vanilla protein powder (your choice) or soy/almond milk powder
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Splash of vanilla extract

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Insanity Wrap-Up and some thoughts on Joint Safety...

Well Insanity is done, and my time with Shaun T has been fun.  My final week I kind of slacked, and I feel bad that I didn't manage to be more on top of my game for the last week for my results.  I've attached my results below-- not bad at all in retrospect, for someone who simply did not have time to work out for the past year.  As you can tell, the chart below is 13 weeks long, in comparison to the 9 weeks that Insanity is supposed to run.  I looped the first section of the program to make up for my out-of-shapeness, and it's interesting how you can see when I added protein powder to my diet and where I didn't (I'll give you a hint-- weeks 4-8).

In total, I was able to drop 7% body fat-- 11.37 lbs of fat and 12.57 lbs of muscle was added.  What's not seen on the chart is that I also added 1 1/2 inches to my arms, which to be honest, surprised me, as Insanity isn't exactly heavy on armwork.  I also lost almost 3 inches around my chest, which means my old shirts are finally starting to fit comfortably again, and also 3 inches around my thighs, which when added to the 3 and a half inches lost around my waist means my old pants no longer look like they're two sizes too small.  Can't complain about that.

Final thoughts on Insanity; I enjoyed the program and Shaun T is a great motivator.  The warm-up was definitely one of the most painful things about the workout because I found it too long for a warm-up and it was almost identical for each workout, which I find a bit boring.  He is extremely heavily focused on legs and upper/lower abs, and you will get in shape from his workouts, but I felt that the obliques, arms, and (somewhat, but to a lesser extent) the chest were ignored.  Squats and push-up jacks were the only real opportunities to work on these areas, which is a bit frustrating because of the simple fact that those are the 'show' muscles-- the ones everyone notices.

I wasn't surprised to not get the results of the people on TV, and no, it has nothing to do with diet.  Part of this was the fact that I was probably about 85% accurate with doing the exact workout, and probably missed about 6 or so over the course of the 14 weeks.  Second was the fact that I didn't stay on top of my protein intake (which has nothing to do with being vegan but rather muscle growth in general).  Thirdly, it's summer time, which means I spent a-many nights drinking with my friends and travelling/bumming around the East Coast, which means lots of take-out and the like.  Lastly, those results on TV are A-Typical; this is best seen in Insanity, which is one of the things I love about it.  Look at the people he has working out with them.  Other than a few of the women, almost all of them are not ripped to the nines, even though there are numerous examples of 'fit' people (for example, the triathelete).  No one looks like they got out of a muscle magazine, and that's fine, because that's not how you'll look afterwards.  Now only if they didn't use that in their advertising (but hey, I'm sure Shaun T had less control over the advertising than he did of the people he would work out with).

The real last issue I have with Insanity comes down to the workout's construction.  Because of the fact that much of the workout involves jumping at maximum speed and lots of jumps from plank position, your wrists, ankles, and knees take a fair bit of abuse-- higher than most workouts.  While Shaun T does what he can to work you through the exercises with minimal damage, that doesn't mean you'll do it correctly, or that there isn't any abuse at all.  I could definitely feel it in my ankles, which have always had problems, and I've heard similar complaints from friends. If you feel comfortable with your ability to keep your joints from snapping, then I'd say don't owrry about it.  For a first-timer, this can be a significant downside.  My biggest concern would be for people that haven't worked out in a significant amount of time; you get into a routine of working out and eating healthy for a few months and then wham! You bust your ankle.  You lose your routine.  You fall off the bandwagon.  Those are the people I'd be most concern about.

Anyways, I'll be taking the next week off from a specific plan to kind of do what I want, and then next week I'm planning on jumping into Tapout XT, which is a bit more muscle-intensive.  The bands needed for the workout, plus what I've seen from it, suggest there will be much more muscle building, so I'll be getting back on the protein bandwagon and I'll definitely be posting the results.