Thursday, August 28, 2008

When They Duped Me Into Boot Camp

They say that you will enjoy fitness if you do the same active things you were drawn to as a child.

The swimming I can still manage, and my gym offers a cardio dance thingie that addresses my ballet cravings. Anyone know of a gymnastics coach for the over-35 set?


Sweetie (naturally drawn to running) did boot camp last summer and fall and did tremendously well with it. I would listen to him, with a combination of horror and admiration, as he described the drills that consumed an hour of his morning.

And then I realized - I did that, too! But I was eleven years old and they called it Gymnastics Camp. Held at the local elementary school over the summer, when gymnasts aren't competing, we had 5-hour gymnastics extravaganzas every camp day. A half-hour of stretching and ballet, three and a half hours of gymnastics, a half-hour of calisthenics, and a half-hour of wind sprints. And what did my sister and I do after all that? Ride our bikes to the community pool and swim for the rest of the day before riding our bikes the 1 to 1.5 mile home.

Doing any one of those things now would about kill me. Still, it's nice to know that at one point in time I was able to pull it off.

For now Sweetie and I are doing the One Hundred Pushups program . It's free, free, free! Yeah, and healthy and bone-building and all that, but amen and alleleuia on "free." Not surprisingly, he's pretty far ahead of me... for now.

If you're in boot camp right now then you're counting your daily grams of fiber and protein. This soup will get you there on the fiber. Even if you eat with joyful abandon and no concern whatsoever for the healthfulness of the food, this soup is worth eating just for the yummy factor.

It freezes well and makes a good lunch with a salad. You can't throw this together at a moment's notice, though - the beans need to soak overnight.

Ham and Bean Soup
Cooking Light

1 (12-ounce) package variety dried seven-bean mix (I haven't found seven-bean; I use whatever bag of multi-beans I can find, usually it's 12-bean)
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped carrot (about 2)
1 cup chopped celery (3 ribs)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (preferred; use 1 TBSP dried basil if that's what you have)
1 TBSP chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried)
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (preferred; use 1/4 tsp regular table salt if that's what you have)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock (about 4 ounces)
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 ours. Drain beans. If you don't have a Dutch oven and/or don't know what one is, use a large cooking pot.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven (cooking pot) over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic to pan; saute 3 minutes. Add beans, broth, and remaining ingredients except juice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 1/2 hours.

3. Remove ham hock from pan, cool slightly. Remove ham from bones; finely chop and return meat to pan. (Are they kidding? What meat is there on a ham hock? I remove the hock and throw it away).

4. Discard bay leaf. Stir in juice. Yields eight one-and-a-third cup servings.

Per serving: 231 calories, 4.5g fat, 15.6 g protein, 10.9g fiber

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