Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Me and my iron

I work out.

And when I work out, I go all out.

I suppose it comes from my 'play hard or go home' philosophy in sports.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study correlating that thought process to incidents of injury ... huh.

But I digress.

The reasons why I love to work out are few.

Primarily, my trips to the gym are a method of stress relief. If it wasn't for tiring my muscles out on iron, I'd be in jail for randomly punching people just for being stupid.

I'm obsessed with my strength and putting up numbers, especially on the squat bar. Why? We all need goals. And as I reach a weight number on the bar, I get to set a new one and work hard to reach that goal.

It's a real sense of accomplishment to get there.

So you know how much of a bummer it is to not be able to work my upper body.

But with the strength, I also get wicked-looking legs, a nice, round butt that used to be flat and stronger bones, a must when my grandmother's body deteriorated with osteoporosis in final years.

And it means I get to eat.

No, I don't get to eat whatever I want. I'd be 200-and-some pounds if I just flagrantly started shovelling anything into my mouth.

But I'm not obsessed with food. I tried LA Weight Loss last spring, remember? But the regimen of writing every little morsel down in a diary drove me friggin' nuts.

I can't spend my time counting points or calories or pounds.

I can't do it. I can't pick and peck at plain old chicken breasts and munch on carrots.

I gotta live. I gotta have my beer, my occasional Coca-Cola, pizza, ice cream and donairs.

For the most part, I try to eat as cleanly and healthfully as possible but I don't beat myself up if I pick up a bag of Twizzlers and polish it off before dinner.

It's about the freedom to enjoy my life and still be healthy, strong and wise.

Even if I am a little 'fluffy' in some spots.

It just means there's something to hold onto.

That said, here's a recipe out of Clean Eating. Because it's been a while.

Chicken Piccata

Chickpea puree
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Chicken Piccata
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour, divided (I used spelt for the gluten-free extra goodness)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 4-oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-in thick
3 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced (I ... uh ... love garlic, so I used four)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp capers or olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Prepare chickpea puree. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and chickpeas and cook, stirring frequently, for six to eight minutes or until onions are light-golden brown and tender. Remove from heat and pour into a food processor. Add stock and puree until smooth, adding a bit of water or additional stock if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.
2. While chickpea mixture is cooking in skillet, prepare chicken. Reserve 1 tbsp flour for later use. In a shallow dish or plate, combine remaining flour with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture to coat completely and shake off excess.
3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan and cook for two to three minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a plate.
4. Using the same pan over medium-high heat (do not wash, the brown bits will add flavour), add remaining 2 tsp oil, garlic and reserved 1 tbsp flour. Heat mixture, stirring constantly for about one minute, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Add stock, lemon juice and capers. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for about three minutes, until sauce thickens. Add chicken back to pan and continue to simmer for an additional two minutes. Remove from heat, stir parsley into sauce and season with salt and pepper.
5. To serve, scoop 1/2 cup of puree onto plate, top with chicken piccata and spoon 2-3 tbsp sauce over top.

Nutrients per serving (4 oz. chicken piccata, 1/2 cup puree, 2-3 tbsp sauce)
Calories, 390; total fat, 13 g; saturated fat, 2.5 g; carbs, 24 g; fibre, 5 g; sugars, 5 g; protein, 44 g; sodium, 670 mg; cholesterol, 100 mg

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