Friday, August 6, 2010

Bailing and biryani

Something had to give.

Unfortunately, it was my energy.

It's August.

It's the middle of softball season.

What was going through my mind when I signed up for bootcamp? I do know the answer to the question ... I wanted to spend some time focusing on me, my fitness and spend some time with my friend Terri, who leads the twice-weekly fitness session out of Champagne Fitness.

Trouble is, I often forget how much rest is a necessary component of anyone's fitness regimen.

The body needs to recuperate and yet I insist on putting it through an inhuman amount of activity in the summer time.

Typically, I have two league nights a week and oftentimes, I play tournaments on the weekends. For tourneys, we average two or three games a day ... some Sundays (Mondays on the long weekends), we can end up playing as many as five with many in back-to-back situations if we have to go through the back door to get to the final.

(Er ... going through the back door ... for the non-sports-minded, that means we've lost our first game in a double knockout ... er, you get two chances to lose ... and then you have to battle your way through the losing side of the draw. I don't know if that explanation helps but I thought I'd try.)

And because it's me and I never know when to quit, I go to the gym ... three to four times a week.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm running on fumes. Sometimes, I fall asleep at my desk. Oh shit, are the bosses going to read this?

Sometimes, I just collapse and have to sleep for a day.

This does not make the dog happy.

So rest and recuperation time have to be worked into the thread of life. For August, that means a few things have to give.

With women's league on Wednesday, bootcamp bookending it on Tuesday and Thursday made Friday an absolute writeoff. And Lord help me if I was in a tournament.

Bye bye, bootcamp.

Terri is great. She completely understands, taking a holistic approach to fitness. There is, she knows, a secret to living life and it's about balance.

Sleep is part of the balance.

Doing nothing is part of the balance.

A simple walk in the park with my dog and my camera is part of the balance.

I'll be back. Terri promises another bootcamp in the fall, maybe September or October. League will be done by then, barring anymore rainouts, of course.

And I'll figure out some way to push too hard, probably go to the gym four times a week, in addition to bootcamp, and hike on the weekends or whatever.

But without softball in the picture, I'll have more time for the down time.

I hope.

Curried Beef Biryani
Serves four

See? The other thing I was missing out on was cooking.

I've been eating nothing but takeout and sandwiches for the last two weeks. Let me tell you, healthy options are pretty thin when it comes to fast food.

And it's so easy to fall face fast into a Teen Burger. Shep loves it when I do that, too, because he gets the bacon.

On Tuesday, I managed to get to the Safeway and fill up the Mother Hubbard cupboards.

And last night, I finally got to wield my culinary sword, slicing and dicing my way through yet another Clean Eating Magazine recipe.

Without further adieu, I give you Curried Beef Biryani ...

1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dry quick-cooking barley
1 medium onion, sliced into rounds
5 cloves garlic, sliced into thin rounds
1 cup fresh mango, cubed, or 1 cup frozen cubed mango
1/2 cup frozen peas
16 oz bison sirloin tip, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1/4-inch stripes (I used beef because Safeway doesn't exactly stock bison)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I had grape tomatoes in the fridge)

Biryani Spice Blend
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ginger


1. In a medium pot, bring one cup water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, mix Biryani Spice Blend ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. When water comes to a boil, add barley, stir and cover, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

2. While barley is cooking, heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion in oil for three minutes or until fragrant. Add garlic and cook another two minutes, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning.

3. Stir in spice-salt mixture, mango, peas and meat. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir again to ensure all ingredients are nestled in cooking liquid. Continue to cook for another five minutes.

4. Combine barley with bison mixture before plating. Top each portion with tomatoes and serve.

Nutrients per serving
(4 oz. meat and 1.5 cups vegetable-barley mixture)
Calories, 354; total fat, 11 g; saturated fat, 2 g; carbs, 37 g; fibre, 7 g; sugars, 10 g; protein, 29 g; sodium 305 mg; cholesterol, 80 mg

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