Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recovering from a food coma.

I can't believe it's already Sunday night! Where did my vacation go!? I hardly got any work done, but I'm okay with it because I let myself relax before the craziness of the end of the semester and Christmastime sets in (!).

I had an awesome workout today..because I had a spotter for once (Mr. Sweat and Dirt himself!) so I was able to up a few weights in some sets. What a stand up dude, came and helped me out when he wanted nothing to do with working out after too many Coronas and fried turkey from the night before =P.  It went down like this:

Workout; upper body:

3 sets of each of these, unless it says otherwise:
  • Dumbell Rows- 1 set: 10 @ 30lbs/arm,  2 sets 8 @ 35lbs/arm.
  • Chest Presses with dumbbells - 4 sets @ 60lbs. (anywhere from 5-8 reps)
  • Lying Chest Flys - 10 @ 40lbs.
  • Upward Rows- 10 @ 40lbs.
  • Standing Bicep Curls with EZ bar - 8 @ 20 lbs.
  • Skull Crushers - 20lbs (once again lost track of reps)
  • Standing Shoulder Presses- 50lbs
  • Pull-ups, assisted - as may as possible @ 70lbs.
  • Dips, assisted - as many as possible @ 70lbs.
  • Lat Pulldowns - 8 @ 70lbs

Actions shots! ha ha. Painful.

ha ha no shame!

....Pain? What pain?!!
Okay, so maybe I don't make the most attractive faces and apparantly stick my tongue out, but alteast I'm not grunting all over the place and throwing my weights..
After all, I'm still a lady.

I need to work on my form there, big time!
Anyways, we celebrated Thanksgiving last night and the fellas deep-fried the turkey out in the backyard and man was it delicious!

I didn't get too many shots because, well who wants to take pics instead of eat with all those goodies?!

Yeah, we had way more desert than we did dinner food. Just the way I like it.

I contributed these suckas for dessert. Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts.  They were a hit last Thanksgiving. So rich and cheesecake-y.  I have a few leftover :)

Speaking of leftovers...if you haven't eaten one of these gems yet, we need to talk..

Turkey and cranberry sauce sammich! This one is on toasted pita bread with cream cheese, spinach, lots of turkey and cranberry goodness. Toasting it gets the cream cheese all melty and mixed in with the berries. mmmm, classic!

Steveo is telling me that "crayonaise" (cranberry sauce + mayonaise) is where it's at. I'm not sure if I believe him, but I might have to try it tomorrow..eep.

I'm off to go wait for Monday to roll around, here's a fun read in case you run into the Monday blues..

P.S. Anyone know any good cyber Monday deals?


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Attack of the Pomegranate!

I'm sorry I won't have any drool-worthy Thanksgiving food pics until tomorrow..because I'll be celebrating Turkey Day tonight with Steveo and his friends. I am so excited to hang out with everybody and feast! I have cornbread in the oven right now and when that's done I'm making little Pumpkin Cheesecake Tarts.  I'm also in charge of green beans :)

I was planning on bringing Pomegranate Apple Crisp for dessert, but the batch I whipped up yesterday got a little burnt on the unfortunately I'm going to have to eat that all by myself ;)

Ever since I discovered my love for pomegranate earlier this season I've been dying to cook with it..and this was the perfect oppurtunity.  Pomegranates can be tricky to cut up, here's the easiest way I found:

How to slice up a pomegranate;
(Make sure to wear an apron or a crappy t-shirt when you do this!)

Get a plate, a good knife and a bowl filled with cold water.  Cover your cutting space with paper towels because this will get messy!

Slice the crown off of the pomegranate.
Cut it into quarters and break apart the insides into pieces. ( will splatter!)
Loosen the arils (the red seeds) and let them fall into the bowl of water.
The arils will float to the bottom of the water and the white parts of the inside will float to the top.  Use a spoon to scoop out the white pieces.
Pour the contents of the bowl through a sifter..and you're done! I love the arils, I think they taste like sweet tarts.

Here's how my baking adventure went down..

Pomegranate Apple Crisp;

  • 3 apples (macoun!)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter (I used Bummel & Brown)
  • Good amount of cinnamon
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 and spray a baking pan (I used 8x8x2)
  • Slice the apples into chunks and set aside.
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, oats and sugar) in a bowl and add the softened butter until everything is blended.
  • Spread the apples and about half of the pomegranate arils in the baking dish and cover them with the butter mixture.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the arils on top and bake for 30-35 minutes.

My end result :( a few minutes too extra in the oven..
I adapted the recipe from here, I just used whole wheat flour instead and a little more pomegranate.

Question of the day;

What is the best exercise to lose abdominal fat?
  • There is no magic pill, exercise, supplement or quick fix to lose belly fat. The body chooses where it loses fat from first, therefore you can not "target" any specific body part.  Spot reduction is one of the biggest fitness myths.  Doing 100s of crunches and sit ups will not make a six pack appear if there is still a layer of fat on top. Besides, doing 100 reps of any exercise is a waste of time.  A flat stomach comes from a combination of excellent nutrition and a solid, effective workout plan. 
  • Eat a diet rich in whole grains, lean meat, fruits, veggies, healthy fats (natural peanut butter, avacado, nuts, olive oil), legumes and low fat dairy. Cut out simple carbs, empty calories (white bread/rice, soda, many packaged foods) and other foods high in sugar. Also, keep your sodium in check and drink lots of water.
  • As far as strengthening your core and abs goes, as long as you are engaging your core and using proper form while weight lifting you will be working your abs.  Planks, push-ups, cable chops, mountain climbers and hanging leg raises are a few examples great core strenghtening moves.
I'm off to do some more baking! Send me more questions and enjoy your saturday :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Tidbits.

What up Turkey Day Eve!
Did you know that the largest pumpkin pie ever made weighed 350 pounds? Let me get at that!
I would totally bellyflop straight into that pie.

So, I think everyone is sick of long lists of tips to avoid holiday pound-packing because they are a bit redundant and can suck the fun out of your festivities. So instead I'm going I'm going to give you some basic healthy cooking swaps and ideas to take some of the junk out of your recipes.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour when baking. Not only does this save calories but it helps control your blood sugar levels to avoid insulin level spikes which leave you feeling hungrier.
  • Use skim milk instead of whole or 2%, you won't be able to tell the difference and your mashed taters will still be creamy!
  • Use egg substitutes, such as eggebeaters, or egg whites instead of whole eggs.
  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil when baking (but be careful not to overbake when you do this, to prevent your goodies from drying out.)
  • When making stuffing, use low-sodium sodium chicken broth instead of butter and use more veggies to bulk it up.
  • Cut the amount of sugar in recipes. Most have too much anyways, but don't cut it down more than half.

Now let's look at all the good stuff you're getting out of your traditional dishes, rather than focusing on the negative, over-indulgent side of Thanksgiving.

  • Beta Carotene - uh, hello delicousness, pumpkins, carrots and sweet potatoes! These are all filled with carotenoids, which are pigments that turn these veggies orange. Our bodies convert beta carotene to Vitamin A which is great for your skin, immune system and eyeballs.
  • Monounsaturated fats - These are the good guys, don't worry, and if you choose to eat your turkey skin-on, you'll be ingesting more good fats than bad. Your arteries will be thanking you.
  • Vitamin B - Also found in your turkey, B3 and B6 to be exact. These promote energy and heart health.
  • Proanthocyanidins (PACS) - These are hiding out in your cranberries and fight bacteria growth, particular in the stomach and urinary tract.  Whole cranberries can also protect your cardiovascular system.
  • Green Beans - These guys get their own category, I mean if they power up the jolly green giant they must be pretty serious, right?  Green Beans are another great source of Vitamin A as well as Vitamin C and K, riboflavin and iron. They also provide fiber to keep you fuller longer.
  • Cinnamon - How could we ever get through the hoildays without cinnamon? This yummy spice is known for controlling blood sugar, preventing bacterial growth and helping blood platelets clump together during injuries. My survival would also be at risk without it.

If you're feeling like a jive turkey tomorrow and want to work up a quick sweat while the bird is in the oven, I threw together this explosive plyometric style workout.

Do 15-45 seconds of each, depending on your fitness level, rest no more than 60 seconds between each. Make sure to stretch thoroughly beforehand! (Do not do this on a cement floor)___________________________________________________________________

Alright, enough with the turkey stuff.
Since my workout today was lower body, I made sure to include this bad boy of a stretch into my routine.

Stretch of the Day;
For your hip flexors! Shake em. These goodies help move your hips forward when walking/running. Both of them attach to your femur, one from your lower back and one from your hip bone. I do this stretch a lot because mine are always hurtin'.
Get into a lunge position with one knee on the floor and push forward.  Straighten the hip of your rear leg and keep pushing your hips forward and hold.
Workout; lower body.
I did 3 sets of all of these:

  • Step-ups on bench, with dumbbells - 1 set of 10 @ 40lbs and 2 sets of 10 @ 50lbs.
  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts with dumbbells - 1 set of 8 @ 50lbs and 2 sets of 8 at 60lbs (8 for each leg)
  • Squats with dumbbells - 10 reps @ 40lbs. (4 sets)
  • Angled Seated Calf Raises - 12 reps @ 160lbs
  • Leg Sled - 10 reps @ 200lbs
  • Split Squats on bench 8 reps @ 40lbs. (yow!)
I also did 30 minutes of fast walking on the treadmill at 3% incline. I worked up one heck of an appetite, so when I got home it was time for banana protein soft serve!

My timer just dinged in the I'm off to grab some pumpkin goodies. Have a safe holiday and remember to be thankful for having family to spend it with. xoxo

  • Jump rope or run in place - 1-2 minutes.
  • High Knees
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Split Jumps
  • Run in place - 1 minute
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Jump Squats
  • Burpees
  • Single Leg Hop left foot
  • Single Leg Hop right foot
Do this atleast twice and be careful not to sweat in the gravy ;)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A.M Workouts.

..I live for them, how about you? I got crackin' at 7:15am and and fueled myself with some scrumptious overnight oats.

Usually I prefer regular old fashioned oats but today's bowl featured a packet of kashi maple with vanilla almond milk, agave nectar, half a banana and...almond butter. Love it.

Workout; upper body.
3 sets of each of these, unless it says otherwise:
  • Dumbell Rows- 10 @ 35lbs/arm.
  • Chest Presses with dumbbells - 12 @ 50lbs. Still working on upping these.
  • Lying Chest Flys - 10@ 30lbs.
  • Standing Shoulder Presses- 2 sets of 8 @ 50lbs, 2 sets of 8 at 40lbs.
  • Pull-ups, assisted - as may as possible @ 80lbs.
  • Dips, assisted - as many as possible @ 70lbs.
  • Upward Rows with dumbbells- 10 @ 40lbs.
  • Standing Bicep Curls - 8 @ 30 lbs.
  • Tricep Rope Pulldown - 8 @ 50lbs.
(I'm just about 5'1, if you're wondering) Some guy who I always see lifting on Tuesday mornings told me I was "working out hard as usual" ..I gladly took that as a compliment.

When I got home, magical things happened.  I happened to be out of protein powder, so I had to improvise.  I combined one of these:

with half a cup of milk, half a banana and a little more than a cup of ice in my blender.  I'm also a cinnamon freak so I shook some in too along with a teeny bit of stevia...

...and holy crap. Do you see the fluffiness in that blender?!? This was one of the most delicious shakes I have ever made.
Just a little under 20g of protein too, not bad.

Excuse me while I eat half of it before even pouring a glass! I hope you can't see me drooling in this pic ;)

(I was stylin' in my lululemon pants today, by the way!)

I promised yesterday that I would give my top tips for winterizing your car, even though today the temp was in the mid 50s. I hate when New England teases us like that. Actually, I hate anything between September and April..ha ha.

9 Tips For Winterizing Your Car;

1 - Antifreeze! Ideally you should have your cooling system flushed. If that’s not an option, make sure you have the proper mixture of 50:50 antifreeze and water (which is best) inside your radiator. You can simply pick up a jug of antifreeze at a parts store or pick up a kit to test your vehicle’s current mixture and adjust it yourself.

2- Check your tire pressure. Tires lose about 1psi per 10 degree temperature drop because cold air contracts, so your tire pressure is likely to be low. Good tire pressure is important for better traction.  You can also have your tires filled with nitrogen and not only will you get some flashy green valve stem covers, but your tires will stay inflated longer (which will also give ya more even tread wear and better gas mileage.)

3- Replace your wiper blades, if needed, and fill up your windshield wiper fluid reservoir with wiper fluid. Plain water will freeze this time of year! It’s also important to clear the snow and ice off of your windshield before turning on your wipers…your wipers don’t have as big of biceps as you do and they can’t handle the weight!

4- Clean up your battery, or replace it. No body wants to be out jumpstarting a vehicle in a blizzard…because you know (if you have my luck) that’s when your battery will decide to croak!
A simple mix of baking soda and water (1:3) is perfect for cleaning your terminals.

5- Make sure your 4-wheel drive is working properly. These systems don’t require much maintenance, but it’s still a good idea to make sure they are working after not being used all summer. Always remember, having 4-wheel drive does not turn your vehicle into a magical ice melting, snow defeating tank. I constantly see people in SUVs flying on ice slicked roads thinking their 4wd makes them invincible. No. 4-wheel drive is only to help you get through snow, not to help you stop in icy conditions.

6- Change the oil and consider adjusting the oil’s viscosity grade. (The viscosity grade is how thick/thin the oil is.) The colder the oil is, the thicker it will be and thicker oil has a hard time being excited about lubricating your engine. Meaning, it won’t circulate as well at start-up. Same with dirty oil, which is why it’s important to change it on time. Your vehicle’s owner manual is a good place to find info about your car’s specific oil recommendations. It also really does help to let your car warm up before zipping down the road.

7. Get a tune up. If you haven’t been keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance (we’re all guilty of this) bring it to a shop for a tune up/check up. Make sure they check the brakes, hoses, belts, spark plugs, air filter, lights, heater, defroster, etc.

8. Clear out your car/Prepare yourself.
Get all the extra crap out of your backseat and make room for stuff like: a shovel, scraper, boots, gloves, a blanket, flashlight, and emergency snacks (non-perishable, high energy stuff, like nuts). Also, your floor mats can come in very handy if you ever get desperately stuck. Just stick one under the front of the stuck tire for some extra traction. (This will most likely destroy the floor mat.)

9. Tires. Definitely consider getting snow tires. Your car’s tires are critical to how your vehicle will perform in the winter and snow tires were designed specifically for snow and nice. Here is a helpful 2010 guide for snow tires.  Also, always keep an eye on your tires’ tread wear, but check the inside as well as the outside of the tread because tread wear varies across the tire’s surface.

There ya go! I'm off to go spend some time with my fella and wait for tonight's episode of Sons of Anarchy.  I'm pretty tired after a long day of running around, but this is worth staying up for ;)

Tomrorow I'll make a Thanksgiving goodies post.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Simple Chicken and...Balls.

Today started early. Well, earlier than usual. Steveo , my fella (Mr. Sweat and Dirt), and I headed to a radiology center at 7am for my first ever ultrasound. I thought these were only for pregnant ladies, but I guess they do full abdominal scans too. So, I got my belly jellied and my little ol’ gallbladder, liver and kidneys checked out. I was too nervous to look at the screen while she was doing the exam, but Steveo told me that it was hard to really see anything anyways. Hopefully they don’t take forever with the results, I'm such a worrier.

As soon as I got home I poured myself a fiber-full bowl of cereal with fruit, since I wasn’t allowed to eat before the test. Then I headed out with my dad to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey. We went to a “turkey farm” called Gozzi’s to pick up our 10 pounder. The unique thing about this place is that they have neon colored turkeys wandering around outside. Wild, right?

After a couple more stops I was back home and ready for lunch: tuny tuna melt on my crab plate. The veggies I ate on the side were a bit bashful and decided to opt out of the pic.

Okay so, I have to confess something serious…I am a disaster in the kitchen. I’m horrible at cooking. Baking I can win at, but cooking, it just doesn’t happen. My tool collection far exceeds my kitchen appliance collection. Half the reason I made this blog is to force myself to cook more and to show how I get by with super easy, healthy recipes. Which brings us to last night’s dinner. 

Breaded Chicken with Pesto

4 oz raw chicken breast
1 tbsp canned pesto sauce
1/8 cup egg whites
1-2 tbsp italian bread crumbs (I used natural, gluten-free ones I found)


Set up a bowl with the egg whites next to a plate with the bread crumbs in your cooking area.
Dip your chicken breast into the egg whites and then into the bread crumbs until it is coated.
Place it on a cooking dish sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 20 minutes.
When it's done, spoon the pesto onto the chicken and put it back in the oven for about a minute.

Super simple, no brainer recipe.  I had mine on top of spinach and red pepper with brown and long grain rice and green beans on the side. Up next, raw oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert. This recipe that I found here takes basically 3 minutes to make and is so addicting.

Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(these are the balls I was reffering to in the title)

4-6 medjool dates (remove the pits!)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Makes 12 balls.

Break out your blender (or food processor) and grind up the oats first, then add the dates and blend some more. Once the mixture is dough-like add the rest and blend.


 Scrape it out of the blender and it should look like the delicious lump up there on the left. Divide the lump up and roll into balls and enjoy! These get my mondo sweet tooth stamp of approval.

givin' it the eye!

I'm off to make dinner, stay tuned for tips on how to winterize your car tomorrow :)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Smash

Sundays are probably my favorite day of the week, they make me want to eat pancakes and nap..but there's no time for naps today! booo. Since sunday naps have apparantly been outlawed, I chomped up a banana with some almond butter and headed to the gym for some upper body lovin' before I settled into my daily homework coma.

Sunday Stetch of the Day!

Ideally you'd be doing this in a doorway/on a wall.

(I'll be posting new stretches on here every so often, to keep things fresh, so here's the first one.)

This is an awesome way to stretch your pectorals  (chest) and it's even better if you do it on the side of your fridge... ;)
Stand up straight, place your arm out at shoulder height with your fist on a wall and pivot in the opposite direction.  Be sure to do both sides and remember stretches should never hurt!

Workout; upper body.
I did 3 sets of each of these:

  • Dumbell Rows- 1 set of 10 @ 30lbs/arm; 2 sets of 8 @ 35lbs/arm.
  • Chest Presses with dumbbells - 12 @ 50lbs. Time to up the weight!
  • Lying Chest Flys - 10@ 30lbs.
  • Standing Shoulder Presses- 2 sets of 6 @ 50lbs, then I got wobbly, 1 set of 8 at 40lbs.
  • Pull-ups, assisted - 12 @ 80lbs.
  • Dips, assisted - 12 @ 70lbs.
  • Upward Rows- 10 @ 50lbs.

Since I wrote about car stuff yesterday, today I decided to switch it over to strictly gymrat business today and give ya some insight on why you're not getting results.
(Unless you are, then you can skip right over this to the recipe :) )

You underestimating yourself.
Frankly, don’t be a wuss! Push your body to its limit and you’ll be really surprised at what you’re capable of doing. Once your body gets comfortable with your routine, shock it! Preventing your body from adapting to any particular routine is key. Tell whatever fear that’s holding you back to piss off and really challenge yourself. I promise you’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards. A hot, sweaty million bucks.

You're guilty of overtraining.
REST. This is your most important tool. You‘re going to get absolutely nowhere without it. Your rest days are when most of your progress is being made and your muscles are busy at work repairing themselves from your previous workout. So, don’t work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles and nervous system need adequate time to recuperate after you’ve beat the crap out of them.

You’re inconsistent.
“It’s the start that stops people.“ On the flip side of the previous reason, you lack focus and drive. You want results but you can’t get your butt into gear. You always make excuses. Well, you can't complain about yourself if you make no effort to better yourself! Get a buddy or a trainer or someone to hold you accountable. Start small if you have to and do what you can. Make sure your goals are realistic and make a plan that's easy to stick to.  Remember, building things takes time, the Great Wall of China wasn’t built over night was it?

You’re still hitting the drive-thru.
Diet and exercise is like a science and they go hand in hand with eachother. If you’re slacking in the kitchen, then forget about it. You’re not going to get that six pack by slurping down a Coke every chance you get. Logging and tracking your food is your other most important tool for getting the best results. It’s also very important to make sure you’re eating enough. Your body is like an engine and you’re in big trouble if it runs out of fuel. Plus, you can’t expect to build muscle if there’s nothing there to build it out of.

You’re clueless.
Yeah, we’ve all been there, it’s okay! Start by building up base strength with compound (multi-joint) movements (standing presses, deadlifts, squats). These will effectively work a combination of muscle groups and force your body to work extra hard, providing the best results. Look at it this way: with a bench press you’re working your pecs, deltoids, triceps and biceps, versus doing a tricep kickback where you’re isolating and only working your triceps. You’re getting more bang for your buck with compound movements and saving time. It’s okay to do isolation exercises, just make sure your main focus and most energy is spent on compound exercises.

I wrote that with a focus on weight training, but it can be relevent to any fitness routine.  Just don't be too hard on yourself.  I mean, go hard, but stay in check. If you can't complete your last set, big whoop, if you miss one workout because you're too tired, big whoop. Try again next time and don't deprive yourself, keep everything in moderation.  Life goes on.

Speaking of not depriving yourself, check this baby out!

Where's the other half?
Guilt-Free Pumpkin Smash

One 15-oz. can pumpkin
¾ cup egg whites
¾ cup of milk
1-2tbsp. Agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
Pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg, ground cloves and ginger.

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix ingredients together in a bowl
Spray a baking dish (8x8 works best) with nonstick spray and pour in the mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Store in the fridge to allow it to solidify for a bit.

Serving Suggestions:
Go ahead and eat the whole thing if ya want, it's only about 360 calories and a little over 20g of protein.
Or have a piece with some peanut butter and or vanilla frozen yogurt. 
It might be a little bland depending on how you sweeten it,
adding a little shot of agave to your piece after baking will fix that.

I adapted this recipe from HungryGirl and I switched it up by using regular milk instead of evaporated and by leaving out the ¾ cup of splenda since I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners (or any of the other fat free, sugar free, "diet" products she uses a lot. It works for some people, but I'd rather real food!)

Ok, well Happy Sundaying! Please feel free to leave comments and give me ideas on what to write about!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Work it, Shake it and..Brake it.

This is going to be a lengthy post!
I had full intentions of popping out of bed like a poptart this morning and getting right to my day, but I failed! Nothing wrong with being a bit lazy though, I needed it, especially after a long week. Alteast I still got in a morning workout.

Workout; lower body.

I did 3 sets of all of these:

  • Step-ups on bench, with dumbbells - 1 set of 10 @ 40lbs and 2 sets of 8 @ 50lbs.
  • Squats with dumbbells - 10 reps @ 40lbs.
  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts with dumbbells - 1 set of 8 @ 50lbs and 2 sets of 8 at 60lbs (8 for each leg)
  • Angled Seated Calf Raises - 12 reps @ 160lbs
  • Leg Sled - 12reps @ 200lbs
  • Hamstring Curls on ball - bodyweight, 12 reps.
  • Lunges, rear foot elevated - 25lb plate, 8 reps (I decided to go easy on myself)
Talk about wobbly legs after that. When I got home I was so ready to whip out the blender and make my favorite shake: 

Cinnamon Banana Protein Shake
½ frozen banana, sliced
½ cup or 4oz of milk
1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (I use Jay Robb)
1 cup of crushed ice
Cinnamon, lots!

Toss in your blender and go to town! I like to slurp my shakes out of a bowl with a spoon :)

This shake is even better when ya throw in a spoonful of pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice or use greek yogurt instead of milk.

After that I settled down to take a crack at some homework, until my tummy decided it was lunch time. I baked up some chicken breast and sandwiched it inside a whole wheat pita with some roasted red peppers, tomatoes, spinach and ranch and toasted it. For siders, I had some baby carrots with ketchup and green beans with parmesan. So good. I've been on a crazy chicken kick lately and there will definitely be some recipes to prove that.

Brake Booster Check Valve Quick Fix;
The other morning when leaving for class, I went to back out of my driveway brake pedal was suddenly hard as a brick and I had no braking power. Needless to say, I was in a rush and ended up having to drive my big jeep aka DangerJeep..which is not fun at highway speeds! I suspected something was wrong with the booster system. Turns out it this guy, the vaccuum check valve, was cracked:

Old Cracked Check Valve

A brake booster uses vacuum from the engine to multiply the force that your foot applies to the brake pedal.  Without this, your brake pedal would be constantly hard and you'd have to use some seriously heavy force to get your brakes to apply.  The check valve is used to regulate air in and out of the booster to create a pressure difference between atmospheric pressure and engine vaccuum, which in turn causes a piston inside to move back and forth to create hydraulic pressure to apply your brakes.

Step 1: Locate and remove the old check valve, (mine was already out) but it would be in that hole there on the booster canister. This is all on the drivers side, under the hood, on the back of the firewall.

Step 2: Spray the ribbed end of the new check valve with PB, to lube it up! (Yeah, I know, talking dirty already..)

Step 3: Insert the ribbed end of the valve into the brake booster canister and re-attach the large rubber vacuum hose to the smaller end. And voila! Brakes work again!
There should also probably be a metal clamp that secures the vacuum hose to the check valve, but I'm without one for now. Easy, right?

I'm off to go work on a research paper and I currently have some delicious pumpkin pie squares in the oven that I can't wait to dig into...

Friday, November 19, 2010


Welcome to sweat and dirt : ) I promise it’s not as raunchy as it sounds!
I created this little slice of pie mainly to document my workouts and yummy healthy eats, but I also have a passion for anything with a roaring engine and a couple of wheels. So I’ll also be using this to post helpful car tips and easy do-it-yourself fixes too. Feel free to ask me any questions, I don’t bite. Unless you are pumpkin flavored.
Anyways, I catch a handful of crap from people for the way I eat (psht!) and how much time I devote to staying in shape. Who knew taking care of yourself could get such a bad rap! I’m just focused that’s all, and I don’t like eating food with stuff in it that I can’t pronounce. These days my main goal is gaining strength. I spend most of my workout time in the weight room, lifting as heavy as I can and I’ll do a little light cardio (usually incline walking) on my off' days.

Muslcles are hot! And they kick ass. I’m hoping my blog can inspire other ladies to hop off the treadmill for a bit and toss the 5lb dumb bells aside to pick up something heavy and train hard without the fear of “bulking up.”
A little background on me: I’m an overwhelmed college student majoring in automotive technology (and hopefully graduating in the spring..). I just finished an awesome personal trainer certification course and I’m not-so-patiently waiting for them to e-mail me my final exam results! I really can’t wait to get certified and start working with people. I have absolutely no regrets majoring in automotive, I learned more than I ever thought I would, but the field just isn’t working for me right now. So, hug your mechanic, it’s tough out there. I do enjoy working on my own trucks when I have the time (although instead of “working” I’m usually pacing back and forth swearing, throwing and slamming tools and kicking whatever I’m trying to fix).
This is my current project/pride and joy:

I treat that hunk of metal like a child. I really hate winter because I HATE the cold and I hate working in a cold garage. I know, no balls.  I guess that's all for now. I hope everyone enjoys my future crazy ramblings and go easy on me..I'm still trying to figure this all out and photography skills are non-existent!