Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's All About the . . . Heart

Today, not only is it Workout Wednesday but it's Halloween! And as if your heart's not pounding enough from fright fests, scary movies, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts, and other Halloween fun, I'm adding another post to my "It's All About the..." series: cardio.

glitters 123 [dot] com

The difference between cardio exercises and the other five focused-workouts (arms, legs, buns, abs, and girls) is that cardio workouts do not require you to rest the muscles 48 hours between workouts. In fact, most trainer's encourage at least 20 minutes of elevated heart rate activities every day.

If you're a runner, or want to become one (my beginner's guide to running), running is a great cardio exercise. Walking is another (although you must walk quickly enough to keep your heart rate up). On days you just can't bring yourself to leave the house, there's "It's All About the Heart".

It's a great series of exercises you can do at home. It's also great for the park, the office, your dorm room, between classes, the supermarket... well maybe not the supermarket, but you get my point. Now get up, turn on The Monster Mash and get that heart pounding!

Download the free printable workout.

View my workout terms glossary. The following are workout moves you'll see in this sequence:

High Knees
Start standing and begin jogging in place lifting your knees as high as possible.

Jumping Jacks
Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.

Star Jumps
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Squat down and jump up as high as you can. In midair spread your arms and legs wide. As you land in the starting position bend your knees.

Happy Halloween 2012 [dot] com

Monday, October 29, 2012

Maggie's mind mumbles about voting

As the election approaches I cannot help but feel the need to write a post about voting. A lot of this post will be personal opinion, and while I can tell you I tend to base my opinions in fact and I try my darnedest to only deliver true information to readers I urge you to use a fact checker for any information you are skeptical about in this post. It's a good habit to develop whenever you see new information.

Getting (Reliable) Information

During election season we are bombarded with campaign ads. As with an advertisement for a car or brand of make-up, the propaganda shown in these ads is trying to sell you a candidate. The following may help you determine where the information you can trust will (and will not) come from.

Bad information:

  • Unsolicited mail
  • TV ads
  • Unsolicited calls

Intermediate information:

  • Government mailed information
  • TV debates

Good information:


Voting is one of the most important things you can do in your life. You are the only person who will fight for your beliefs, rights, opinions and thoughts (mumbles too). Whatever is important to you; stand up for it (even if you only fight – for your right – to PAAAAR-TY!) If you don’t hold your position, anyone who disagrees with you can come along and win by default.

It is now too late to register for the upcoming election (you must register at least 30 days prior). If you are registered great! Make sure you do your research and mail in your ballot or show up to the booth on election day. If you aren't, all is not lost, there are still some things you can do to help improve your community. 

Some Americans may fall into the mind trap that you only need to vote every four years. While the presidential elections are important, I believe that the elections that take place more locally are really MORE important. These elections determine how the schools in your district are run, whether to convert your favorite open space to a new homes development area, or where to build that new bike trail. These issues, seemingly small (especially compared to healthcare and tax reforms) are actually more likely to influence your life in a noticeable way.

Contacting Representatives

Government was established so that individual citizens would have their individual beliefs, values and concerns addressed, but they wouldn’t have to be active in the process; there would be someone out there who’s job it is to focus on these issues. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find someone to represent every individual's beliefs, values and concerns. Politicians have their own beliefs, values and concerns to deal with on top of those they are representing. Additionally, some politicians are not always truthful when they make promises to the citizens they represent. Therefore, it's up to you to keep them honest.

Stay Informed

Democracy depends on informed citizens. Be one by keeping up with the important issues that face America. When hit with an indescribable urge to watch Here comes Honey Boo Boo and The Jersey Shore, instead flip to one of these great news programs:
  • The News Hour with Jim Lehrer (PBS, weekdays) - Unless Mitt Romney kills PBS (should he be elected) this show provides in depth analysis of current events.
  • All Things Considered (National Public Radio, every afternoon) - A radio show, which gives a recap of the day's news and analysis of pressing issues.
  • BBC News (PBS, weekday afternoons and late evenings) - For an international perspective that US media often brushes off in favor of celebrity gossip.
  • Washington Week with Gwen Ifill (PBS, Fridays after the News Hour) - Brings together liberal and conservative political and media commentators in a round table to discuss current issues.
  • Meet the Press with Time Russert (NBC, Sunday Mornings) - A long tradition of asking politicians the tough but fair questions.
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, weekdays) - While presented as "fake news" these comedy shows often present an incisive commentary on politics.

A List of the Top Issues America Faces Today

In my opinion the following subjects are the most pressing issues America is facing. Some of these topics create rifts in relationships due to disagreements and some bring people together. The important thing is to know where you stand as this country moves forward, so that you won't be left behind.

ONE: The Economy
We're in an awful mess when it comes to the economy. In my humble opinion the hole is so deep that no single person can fill it (I heard someone say once, that until we raise a generation that can live on what they earn, we will never be out of debt). Basically, the "debt" ceiling has been raised multiple times with no plan to repay what is owed.

TWO: Prisons
The US incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world. Few dollars are put into reintegration and rehabilitation, therefore prisons are used as a place to lock up societal problems in hopes that they sort themselves out. A safer, more humane and more effective system of crime prevention and treatment programs would benefit our society more than the current system. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
The Center on Juevenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ)

THREE: Reproductive Health
Reproductive health is essential to the economic, political and social empowerment of women around the globe. Access to family planning methods, sexual health information and abortion services are scarce, and/or unavailable to the majority of women. Women deserve the right to healthy, planned pregnancy and quality sexual and prenatal health. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL)

FOUR: Energy, the Environment and Climate Change
Human-caused climate change threatens our future, As the temperature of our atmosphere increases, changes in climate have a significant impact on agricultural yields, habitat integrity and vulnerable coastal populations. It is crucial that we work toward a healthier more sustainable society, through greener industry and energy use. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

FIVE: Inequality
In spite of historical advances made in providing equal opportunities for all individuals, our society still faces challenges of overwhelming inequality.We need to demand a more inclusive society where  each and every person, regardless of race, religion or sex, has educational and occupational opportunities.

SIX: Medicare and Health Care
The parties are divided on how the social security and medicare systems can be made more financially sound. Reducing heath care costs remains one of the more divisive issues politically. The US is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have universal healthcare. Denial of treatment and fights with insurance companies are commonplace in America. Citizens should not have to make a choice between paying their healthcare or paying their rent. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)

SEVEN: Gay and Lesbian Rights
I intended to include gay and lesbian rights under the inequality heading, however after some thought I determined that it deserves it's own section. After all, minorities are not denied the right to marry or share benefits with loved ones. As long as rights are denied to any individual, couple or parent our society is not really free. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)

EIGHT: Education
This nation is capable of a fantastic education system, we already have many fabulous teachers and schools, unfortunately something is happening causing the nation to fall behind other nations when it comes to education. We need to take a stand and remember that knowledge is power. To educate yourself and take action on this issue, contact:
The U.S. Department of Education (USDoE)

Alright, so you have all of these resources available to you that will give you (for the most part) reliable information and you have a list of the most pressing issues facing our nation. There is no excuse to keep yourself in the dark. Enjoy your new found knowledge vectors.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rainbow Chicken Fajitas

Rainbow Chicken Fajitas are named such because they are made with a rainbow of vegetables. I'm sorry to disappoint those of you who were expecting to see the newest addition to the My Little Ponies family.

This is Rainbow Fajitas; note the chile pepper cutie mark.

Anyway, it's Food Fun Friday so I'll get on with the recipe. This is a meal I have been making since I lived at home. It was one of those my mom taught me: basic and quick for nights when we had a lot going on and she didn't have time to be super creative. Now that I live on my own I make it quite frequently (I often don't have time to be creative). The point:
  • It's a delicious meal that doesn't take too much time (prep, cook or clean-up), basically a one pan meal,
  • I have made it for friends multiple times and always receive compliments, and 
  • when I tell my boyfriend it's fajita night the response is always enthusiastic (and he doesn't even like bell pepper that much!)

 Start by preparing your vegetables. I used red, orange and yellow bell peppers because they were a dollar per pepper at the grocery store. I wanted to add more color so I also used a red onion and some zucchini. Any vegetable you have in your inventory would work beautifully; traditionally peppers and onions are involved. Cut everything into somewhat equal-sized sticks.

Set aside the veggies while you cook the chicken. I always use chicken for fajitas because it's how I learned; I'm sure it is just as simple to use steak. King Soopers just introduced a new meat brand, which is free range, so they were having a sale on all meat produced by this brand (meat sales are the best sales, especially free-range meat sales).

Slice the chicken breast into strips. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet.

Let sizzle for about 3 minutes then flip chicken strips. It's important to not stir the chicken around in the pan too much because it makes the meat very tough if jostled too much. If you are worried about burning it, reduce the heat (and increase the time cooked).

After another 3 minutes cooking on the other side they should be cooked through, if they aren't done you can continue cooking now. They also continue cooking while wrapped in foil and later, when added to the skillet again with the vegetables. So I wouldn't worry too much.

Lay out a piece of aluminum foil on the counter, remove chicken from the pan and place on foil.

Wrap chicken in the foil to keep warm while veggies cook.

Add a little bit more oil to the skillet and heat over medium. Add the prepared vegetables to the skillet.

You can buy the packets at the store, McCormick's is the only one that I know of that doesn't pack their seasoning packets with preservatives. I make my own mix and keep it in a spice jar. I use it for tacos and fajita's both. Sometimes I mix it in with ground turkey for burgers as well, and it's great for chili. I've said it before and I'll say it again: multi-purpose is a college girls best friend.

Here is the recipe for my mix:

Cook veggies until tender. Then add about half a cup of water and 3 tablespoons of fajita seasoning, stir the vegetables to coat them in the seasoning. 

Now unwrap your chicken. Pour any liquid that has gathered in your packet out in the sink, then add the chicken to the skillet and stir. Cook until water mostly evaporates.

Serve wrapped in a warm tortilla with beans (I made "refried" beans the same day, what a treat to have beans straight from the crock-pot), cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, etc. Whatever suits your fancy! Smaller fajita tortillas are really the best for this recipe, we only had burrito tortillas and they worked fine. We just had monster fajitas!

Don't show these to Chipotle; If I ever need a job there, this is evidence against my burrito wrapping skills.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's All About the . . . Abs

Another post in my "It's all about the..." series prepared for you and delivered on Workout Wednesday. This one focuses on your abdominal muscles and guess what! You will not see a single crunch in this entire post. After mentioning it just then, I will not even say the dirty word again. What a great day!

These ab workouts are designed to boost your metabolism to help get rid of belly fat. However, it's important to remember that exercising your abs will not get rid of belly fat (flat stomachs are about 90% what you eat) but a strong core is important to help protect your spine.

Make sure you focus on this muscle group three times a week on non-consecutive days. Muscle groups need a 48-hour resting period between workouts.

Download this free printable workout.

For clarification on what to do for each of these sets here are descriptions of the action (full glossary):

Glute Bridge March
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor at should level, with palms facing up. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Engage your abs and lift your knee toward your chest, hold then lower. Repeat on other leg.

Hip-Thigh Raise
The same as a Leg Bridge. Lie on back with knees bent. Rest your arms on the floor at should level, with palms facing up. As you lift your hips from the form to form a straight line from shoulders to hips, extend on leg in the air. Hold, then lower foot flat to floor and switch to the opposite leg.

Lunge with Rotation
Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands. Stand with feet hip-width distance apart and your arms straight out. Take a big step forward with your left foot and, engaging your abs twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Twist back to center, push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.

Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.

Plank with Arm Lift
Get in plank position, with your body in a straight line. Engage your abs and shift weight into one arm. Extend the opposite arm in front of you and hold.

Reverse Lunge with Single-Arm Press
Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in left hand and hold it next to your left shoulder, palm facing in. Step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your knees are bent 90 degrees while pressing the dumbbell directly over your shoulder without bending or leaning at the waist. Lower the weight back to the starting position and you push back into standing. Do reps then repeat on the right side.

Side Plank
Lie on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your hand directly below your shoulder (or on your forearm with your elbow directly below your shoulder). Your body should form a diagonal line with your feet stacked on top of each other. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: be sure your hips and knees stay of the floor.

Side Plank with Rotation
In the side plank position, engage your abs and reach your hand toward the ceiling. Slowly tuck this arm under your body and twist forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Return to side plank.

Let me know how it goes!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Can the ocean keep up with the hunt?

I watched this video in my Wildlife Ecology and Conservation class (FW104) and answer a few questions about it. I found the information to be very important, especially to a fish lover like myself. I also wanted to pass it on because, as anyone who has been following this blog or knows me will have heard me say before, it is critical for everyone to understand where their food is coming from and how it is produced. So here is the video; it's about 20 minutes:

 In case you don't have the time to view this video here are the main ideas:

Commercial Fishing

  • The ocean is what they call a biological desert. For it's size, diversity is actually very low.
  • The fish population in the open ocean is being exhausted due to over-fishing through commercial fishing operations and pirate ships (ARR!).
  • We aren't catching the same fish species for consumption as we have in past decades. As larger fish disappear, global fleets target smaller fish, lower on the food chain. This leads to further collapses in the ocean ecosystem.
  • 20 million metric tons of fish are discarded as waste annually. Untargeted fish are called bycatch. This unintended harvest is equal to a catch 4 times that of the US fishing fleet.
  • Fishing gear that have had considerable impact on bycatch include bottom-trawling nets (nets are run along the bottom of the ocean, capturing everything they come across) and long-line fishing (thousand of lines with hooks are trailed behind ships, with no system to discriminate species). Both forms are meant to catch large amount of fish at once and are prone to catching endangered species like sharks and sea turtles, who die before they can be returned to the water.
  • Hook fisherman leave the habitat intact by one fisherman, fishing with one pole and one hook. They catch one fish, keep it if it's what they want and throw it back if it's not. No damage is done to the ecosystem but it is not practical for the vast quantities of fish demanded by the public.
  • In extreme cases, it is very hard for fish stocks to recover, especially if fishing continues at the same rate. The solutions are to either stop fishing all together or...


  • The USA is the leader in aquaculture, or the practice of farming fish. The main type of fish that are farmed are tuna and salmon.
  • The problem with aquaculture, especially tuna and salmon, is that these are carnivorous fish. In order to farm these fish, we must feed them. This increases pressures on fishing, but instead of fishing for direct consumption we fish for smaller fish to feed the larger fish for indirect consumption.
  • It takes 17 pounds of fish to produce one pound of tuna; three pounds to produce one pound of salmon.
  • Tilapia, from the Nile River, is an omnivore and can be raised mostly on plant-based proteins.
  • Catfish farming in the Mississippi delta, has experienced great successes. Feeding them has gone from 10-14% fish meal to 1-2% fish meal today. 
  • Shellfish farming is also a good business. They stay quiet, they stay where you put them and they clean up the water. They also produce vast amounts of food in a small area; according to the video shellfish could be the answer to world hunger.
  • There are a few risks to human health associated with aquaculture due to bioaccumulation: PCBs and dioxins are two examples.
  • Natural salmon are less exposed to bioaccumulation problems because they consume mainly crustaceans whereas farm fish eat fish meal. In fact, natural salmon have pink flesh due to their diet of shrimp and crustaceans (much like flamingos), and farm salmon are dyed pink before they are sold at market. Gross!
  • With farmed fish we are concerned about disease and infection so we use antibiotics in feed as a preventative measure; this could lead to resistant bacteria. 
  • Disease and infection is more of a problem in farms than in the wild. They use this analogy to describe this: if you stood on a football field with someone who has a cold you probably won't catch it (the wild) but if you stood in an elevator with 11 people who all have colds you will probably also catch cold (fish farm).
  • Large number of escaped farm salmon may impact the integrity of the wild population by messing with thousands of years of natural selection.
  • Tropical areas have many mangrove wetland habitats (mangrove forests) that have been displaced by shrimp farming. This destroys habitat that the people and wildlife depend on (ex. crab production and medicinal plants). A particular example is salt water released from ponds contaminated fresh water aquifers.
  • Deep water aquaculture is where net cages are submerged and anchored to the sea floor. Could be better for ecosystems than near or on land aquaculture depending on implementation.
  • Improvements in vaccines have reduced antibiotic use. Improved nets and anchors have reduced escapes, land-based tanks protect wild populations from farm-waste and disease.

Want to do something?

Unfortunately, most people don't pay attention to where their food comes from. Do you think you'll pay more attention now that you have this information?

If yes, there are many resources available to you and I hope you'll check them out:

  • I keep this seafood watch guide in my wallet (mine's from April 2007, a friend brought it to me when she visited California's Monterey Bay Aquarium). You can print out your own from the website. 
  • Seafood watch also has and app for Apple and Android.

Now I love salmon as much as the next person (maybe more depending on who's next) but I know I'm going to always check where my fish is coming from, what about you?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Slow-cooker (not so) Refried Beans

I honestly had no idea the you could make refried beans at home. Or at least I never really thought about it. It's most likely because I am probably the only person in the world who actually enjoys re-fried beans from a can, Rosarita vegetarian refried beans to be specific (which coincidentally have the exact same ingredient list as the ones not specifically marked vegetarian).

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker (not so) Refried Beans

I pinned a while back a tutorial for cooking dried beans in the slow cooker over at Budget Bytes. As I was reading through it for the garbanzo beans I used in the Butternut Squash Autumn Stew, I noticed a recipe in the side-bar for "not refried beans." I was intrigued so I clicked the link. I guess you can't really call these "refried" or even "fried," because they are cooked in the slow-cooker. But they do taste very like refried beans. In fact, I think they taste better because they aren't weighed down with a million pounds of lard (actually there is no fat added).

The story actually starts about a month ago. I bought this bag of pinto beans because it was $2.00.

That's right, that says 4lbs. So I had this bag of beans with not really a clue what I should do with it. And that's when I discover the not re-fried beans recipe. It was fate. So I measure out the 2 cups of beans required for this recipe and got creative with my storage of the remaining 3 pounds (2 cups of beans equals 1 pounds, in case you were wondering. Now you know).

So, since it's Food Fun Friday, I will now instruct you in the delicate art and science of slow-cooker beans. Measure out 2 cups of beans (1 pound). Sort and wash the beans, then chop up one medium-sized onion and add it to the slow-cooker.

Then add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1 tsp black pepper.

Next, add the sorted and washed beans along with 6 cups of water and, say it with me now "Set it and forget it." (Set it: low, forget it: 8 hours or 4-5 hours on high). Return to a heavenly smell and this:

Removed some of the liquid (about 1 1/2 cups) to make it easier to mash the beans. Then using a potato masher start smooshing (this is a technical term) the beans. You could also use a hand mixer.

Smoosh until there are only a few recognizable beans remaining. Then store it all in airtight containers.

The original recipe says that this make about the same amount as 3 cans, but this quantity shouldn't scare you because it is freezable. It was wonderful in the burrito I had for dinner (There really is no better taste than re-fried beans and melted cheese). It would be a perfect layer in 7-layer dip or by itself with tortilla chips.

Burrito Making 101:

Spread the beans
Sprinkle the cheese
 Broil on lo in the oven for about 10 minutes

Enjoy every bite!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's All About the . . . Buns

It's Workout Wednesday on Maggie's Mind Mumbles: Here's a free printable workout, made especially for you...

If you are looking to tone your cheeks and the mighty squats challenge didn't work for you this workout might be more up your alley. It's another workout in my "It's all about the..." series, this time focused on your buns.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: It's all about the buns Workout

Just 5 moves, 1-5 times per day, 3 times per week and your on your way to a nice round boot-ay. Just make sure you do it on three non-consecutive days each week, as muscles groups need 48-hours of rest between exercising.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: It's all about the buns Workout

Download this free printable workout.

Don't forget to check out my workout terms glossary.

These are the moves in this workout:

Elevated Bridge Lift
Lie on back with legs extended and heel resting on an elevated surface (stair step, chair, step, low table). Lift right leg straight over hip, foot flexed. Slowly lift hips off floor until body forms a straight line from left heel to shoulders. Lower body back down to floor. Do reps then switch to other leg.

Extended Squats
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, lift heels off floor, rising onto tiptoes, and raise arms straight overhead. Hold then release returning to squat position.

Squat Dip
Stand two feet from front of chair or other elevated surface, facing away, feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Lift leg and place top of foot on surface behind you. Lower into a single-leg squat, keeping right knee behind right toes and dipping left knee toward the floor, straighten right leg to stand. Do reps then switch legs.

Step Kick-back
Stand facing an elevated stable surface (chair, stair step, step low table) feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Step onto surface with right foot and lift bent knee to hip level in front of you. Hinge forward slightly from waist and kick left leg behind you. Bring knee back to hip level as you straighten up. Lower left foot to floor and lunge right leg behind you. That’s one rep, repeat reps then switch legs.

Tree Twist
Stand on tiptoes, feet together, a couple of feet behind a chair or other belly button level stable item you can hold onto. Place hands on chair (or other item) and keeping back flat, hinge forward from waist and lift bent left knee to hip level in front of you, left foot by right knee. Keeping upper body still and left foot by right knee, slowly bring left knee directly out to side, slowly return knee to center. Do reps on tiptoes then switch legs.