Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Body Beast Leg Day

I'm definitely not up to daily workouts yet, so I was more than willing to take several days off while our hardwood floors in the living room were being refinished (again!). Now that we've moved the TV and furniture back into the room (again), I did the next Body Beast workout.

Today was "Build: Legs." It's about 40 minutes long, and you will need weights, a sturdy chair, and a yoga mat. If you have an exercise step, that would be helpful too. I used 5 lb and 10 lb weights. It's low impact (don't do high-knees with jumps, just lift your knees one at a time), but it requires quite a bit of balance. You'll need to be extra careful to keep correct form, so you don't put extra stress on your knees and ankles. Luckily, if you keep up with leg workouts, your balance will improve! Plus the extra muscle in your legs will help support arthritic joints too. (Be sure to check with your doctor before any new workouts though!) If you find that you really need to work on your balance & you don't mind spending a bit of money, I can't recommend the BOSU Ball enough! I love it. I just stand on it from time to time, eventually moving up to just standing on one leg at a time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Body Beast - Just Starting

So you may have noticed in my links on the side bar, I'm a Beachbody coach. I started with the Piyo program, but a few months ago I ordered the Body Beast program. I haven't been an active coach, since I don't have a "before & after transformation" story.  Due to my health issues, my story is more of a daily journey. Many people have dramatic success with the Beachbody programs & lose weight. I still struggle to press play on a routine basis. I have Sjögren's syndrome, Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, & fibromyalgia. This means I'm in pain, mostly joint pain, and I'm more tired every day than most people can comprehend. I can't run anymore. I can't do any workouts with impact anymore.

So why am I posting about a workout program? My up-line coach, Erin, encouraged me to try documenting my experience on here. (By the way, that's an awesome perk of buying a Beachbody program from a coach, they really do coach you!) I want to share with you my experience attempting to workout regularly, of trying to not feel limited by my illnesses. Body Beast may seem intimidating to a lot of people, since it's weight lifting. However, the moves don't involve impact on my joints, and the slow pace works well for me when I'm tired. Since I'm just starting out, I'm using a stability ball instead of a bench, and I'm using really light weights. You can increase the weight you use as you get stronger, so feel free to start with light weights. I even use the stability ball to help me do push-ups. Today I completed the Build chest & triceps workout, using 5 lbs weights for everything.

My advice for this workout for anyone with similar limitations as me: use a thick workout mat for push-ups to support your knees and wrists. Also, be very careful getting on and off of the stability ball. Move slowly into position. And it's essential for anyone doing weight lifting, write down what weights you used!

If you want more information, or you want to join me, please let me know. I'd love to help you find a workout program that works for you too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Squash Breakfast Muffins

Our garden is going crazy. I haven't taken many photos of it, since the weeds are healthier than the plants, so it looks like a jungle. I guess we just have had the perfect combination of fertile soil, compost, manure, sun, and water. The yellow squash plants in particular have turned into gigantic monster mutant squash plants. I've never seen summer squash plants so big & healthy. The zucchini plants, however, mysteriously died. I'm not worried though since the other plants are doing so well & we have way way way more produce than we can really eat.

In an effort to use & disguise some of that squash, yesterday I made muffins. I used a recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.

They turned out to be the best muffins ever. Since I made so many substitutions, I decided to share the recipe with you.

The muffins are so good, I didn't take any pictures of them whole. I ate half first. Oops!


Summer Squash Breakfast Muffins


2/3 cups old-fashioned or quick oats
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cold
1 Tbsp chopped pecans
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted & cooled
1 cup shredded yellow squash
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 425F degrees and spray a 12-count pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Make the streusel topping first by combining the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Mix in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or your hands. Mix until the streusel resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts & coconut with a spoon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the beaten egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oils, squash, and vanilla until evenly combined. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined. 
Fill 12 muffin cups with the batter. Press the streusel onto the tops of each muffin. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees and, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and continue to bake for an additional 13-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mango Slaw

One of the things I learned by participating in the Whole30 plan is that I could eat vinaigrette-based slaw with any meal. I love the stuff! Yesterday I made a batch with mango, using the recipe for this slaw from smitten kitchen. Here's my very slight variation of it.

Mango Slaw

1 bag shredded cabbage, coleslaw blend
1 mango, julienned
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
6 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
5 tsp (1 Tbsp + 2 tsp) olive oil
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
3/4 tsp salt
heaping 1/4 cup cashews, toasted & roughly chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely sliced

Notes: Julienned means cut into thin strips, like matchsticks. Dressing can be made in advance; just shake well to re-emulsify.

In a large mixing bowl, mix your cabbage, mango, and bell pepper.
In a small jar, add the shallot, vinegar, lime juice, oils, chile flakes, and salt. Shake well to emulsify.
Thoroughly mix dressing into the slaw.
Optional: chill for an hour.
Just before serving, mix in cashews and mint.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Favorite Pasta Sauce

First thing you should know before I go on, I'm two-thirds through my first Whole30! The Boyfriend is not participating, although he'll eat what I cook. Thus, this recipe is paleo, gluten-free, & Whole30 approved. To keep the whole meal in line with the Whole30 plan, I served the sauce over roasted spaghetti squash. It would also be good with zucchini noodles, and honestly, it's so good that I like to eat the leftovers heated up with a spoon.

Also, if I was a real food blog, there would be pictures. Unfortunately for you, I'm not a photographer, my only camera is my iPhone, and my kitchen is usually a mess. So no pictures. Trust me, it looks like delicious pasta sauce.

Big Batch Meat & Mushroom Tomato Sauce

(This makes enough for 4 dinner servings + leftovers for snacking + a jar for the freezer)

Olive oil
2 lbs ground beef
2 small sweet onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled & diced
4 celery stalks, diced
16 oz mushrooms, sliced or roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes with basil (no-salt added, if possible)
1 small can tomato paste
splash of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pan, such as an enameled cast-iron dutch oven. Add ground beef & cook until brown. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions to pan, cook until softened and starting to brown. Remove and set aside with the cooked meat.
Add more olive oil if the pan gets dry. Add carrots and celery to pan, cook until slightly softened, then add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms begin to brown.
Add garlic, dried spices, and bay leaves. Cook 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
Add cooked meat & onions and all remaining ingredients. Stir well.
Lower heat to lowest setting on burner, cover with a heavy lid, and cook at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce will get better if you can cook it longer.
Taste for seasoning, season with salt or vinegar if needed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Designing Our Perfect Entertaining Space

This post brought to you by Char-Broil. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Accidental Carolina Country Girl.
The idea of custom designing our perfect entertaining space sounded like fun. It's daunting! Luckily we weren't completely starting from scratch, and we're at the point in the renovation now that I can visualize the end result.

Old farmhouses from the 1930's don't have big open floor plans like modern homes. The rooms are smaller, and there are more hallways. When our contractor suggested moving our kitchen into the master bedroom, I absolutely could not see his vision. Thankfully he knows what he's doing, and now the kitchen, while kind of isolated at the back of the home, is going to be the heart of the home.

Our kitchen design is centered around a set of french doors leading out onto the future deck. We're putting in a large island with a sink that faces out those doors. With the design of the kitchen coming together and the warm weather, I've started dreaming about our outdoor space. I can see it in my imagination, hosting parties in our big farmhouse kitchen, people gathered around the island, french doors open to the dining area on the deck, and a patio just off the deck with the grill, more seating, and a fresh herb garden. Can you visualize it too?

It doesn't look like much yet. We haven't even replaced the old sliding door with the french doors yet.

The original deck on the house was quite small. We're adding a bit more to it, so it'll go to the driveway, but that's only just over 12 feet off of the house. We'll put a table and chairs on the deck itself. The grill will go on a patio off the side of the house. Since we grill on charcoal, this is not just a good use of space, it's actually a safer design. Unfortunately, it looks like we won't be able to move our big old grill, so soon we'll need a new grill. We've been to Lowe's several times now to browse. The new Char-Broil Kettleman Grill looks like a good option for us, since we seem to be constantly running out of charcoal, and it uses less than a standard charcoal grill (learn more about the Kettleman grill). Plus, it looks easy to use, has grates designed to keep food from falling through (perfect for grilling veggies), and it fits within our super tight budget.

So, what do you think? Are there better designs for our outdoor entertaining space?


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Renovation Realities

Buying a vacant 85 year old house is not simple. Getting a renovation loan is not simple. It took us two months longer than planned just to close on our new old farmhouse. Thankfully, that step is done. Now the real work begins!

The farmhouse sat vacant for over a year. Last winter it wasn't winterized as soon as it was vacant (it was a foreclosure), so there are burst pipes and water damage. With wall-to-wall old dirty blue carpet, mold, damaged ceilings, damaged walls, a small kitchen, etc, we have a ton of work to do. We're tackling the demolition work ourselves to save a bit of money.

Before: Gross carpets!

During: So much demolition!

There's a lot of work to be done, but we're making progress. I'll try to write posts on the projects we tackle. In the meantime, know that we're keeping busy.