Since they started a few weeks ago, I’ve been going to the free yoga and Pilates workouts in Millennium Park on Saturday mornings. I’ve seen announcements for them before, but have never gone because a) it’s quite a commitment for me to get down to Millennium Park by 8am on a Saturday; and b) I’ve never had anyone to go with. I got around those two obstacles (excuses, really), by realizing that I’m usually up at an early enough hour on the weekends anyway to where I can make it there in time (I’m such an adult); and by deciding that I shouldn’t let the lack of a companion stop me from doing something I really want to do – there’s nothing wrong with doing things by yourself! And, indeed, there are plenty of people out there bright and early by themselves, taking full advantage of the free fitness classes in this beautiful park of ours.
I’m really glad I started going to these. One of things I love is the sheer variety of people who come. You’d think it would all be super bendy white women, but there are people of all manner of shapes, sizes, ages, and levels of ability, both men and women. It’s heartening to see women and working out with their mothers and young guys joining their families and everyone just doing the best that they can that morning. I really like the yoga instructor they’ve had so far. She’s very encouraging of modifying according to your own ability, which is helpful because there’s always at least one pose where I think, “You want me to do what with what?” (This week it was flying scissors. “I swear this is a yoga pose,” she said. “I didn’t make it up.” Um, yeah, I’m pretty sure she was photoshopped up there.) And I’ve loved Pilates for a long time, so it’s great to be back in a class again.
Banana-Nut Breakfast Cookies
I’m always ravenous after these workouts. After the first one I realized that buying something was neither good for the waistline nor the wallet, so I started bringing my own iced coffee and some snacks to enjoy while the subsequent Zumba class ensued. These cookies (from Fitness magazine) are hefty, not-so-little treats that are easy to pack and really take the edge off the hunger after a workout. When I tried these right out of the oven I was disappointed. I thought they were bland and even just tablespoon of brown sugar would have been a major improvement. Once they had cooled, however, the flavors seemed to have melded together a bit more and I realized they didn’t need extra sugar after all. Don’t get me wrong, they are not your typical super-sweet cookies, but that’s okay. The only thing I would change is the texture. When you pile up the dough into a mound you get a fairly dense bite. The next time I make these I’ll spread the dough out more thinly with the hopes of getting a crisper result.
1 ½ cup oats
¾ cup low-fat milk
1 mashed banana
½ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pulse 1 cup of the oats in a food processor until they resemble a coarse powder. (I didn’t have any flaxseed on hand, so I ground up another 2 tablespoons of oats to make up for the bulk.) Combine ground oats with the ½ cup oats and the remaining ingredients. The batter will look thin at first, but with thicken up once the oats start to soak up the liquid. Scoop the batter into 8 cookies on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Bake 12-14 minutes or more, until the cookies are firm.
Makes 4 servings.
Mixed Greens, Blueberry, and Walnut Salad with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette
In similar interest of saving both money and calories, I bring my lunch to work almost every day. Instead of thinking of it as a burden, I try to use it as a way to either use up leftovers from the night before or as a platform to try completely new recipes. That’s what I did when I found this salad recipe from Daphne Oz in…I think it was a People magazine I pulled from our fitness center at work (it’s part of my job to change out the magazines, I wasn’t just stealing it, I promise). I think I’m fairly lucky in that I genuinely love salads, but I’m always looking for ways to change them up. Owing to the quinoa salad I made last week, I already had a bunch of fresh dill in my refrigerator, so this Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette really jumped out at me. The blueberries add a fresh, summery sweetness to this simple salad.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of half a lemon (I always add zest for extra flavor)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped
8 cups mixed greens
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup walnut halves, toasted & chopped
Add olive oil through dill to a bowl and whisk or shake together in a glass jar. For lunch purposes, I toss the blueberries, walnuts, and flaked salmon (recipe below) in a bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. I put a serving of the salmon mixture in one half of a take out container and stuff 2 cups of greens in the other half. I combine the ingredients when I’m ready to eat so the greens stay nice and crisp in the interim.
Makes 4 servings.
Salmon en Papillote with Lemon & Dill
To beef it up (fish it up?), I added some salmon en papillote, which is salmon baked in a parchment paper envelope or foil pouch. This is one of those non-recipe recipes where you can mix and match whatever ingredients you like or happen to have on hand. It doesn’t even need to be written in recipe format. All I did was tear off a big piece of foil and place the salmon in the middle of one side. I poured over about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkled on some salt and pepper. Because I had the fresh dill, I chopped up some of that and added it. Then I covered the top of the salmon with thinly sliced pieces of lemon. I folded over the top half of the foil, scrunched together the three sides, baked it at 400° for 25 minutes, and out came beautiful, flavorful, super lemony, moist salmon. So easy. Even if you’ve never cooked fish before, you could absolutely do this. I cooked 3 ounces of salmon for each portion of salad I planned to make. Use more if you, you know, eat more.