Ode to the Elliptical and Delightful Turkey Meatballs

This week has been a hit the ground running kind of week.  At work, students are entering finals week, so there is a lot of tension and nervous energy.  Thankfully I have used this as an excuse to decompress when I get home.  What does that mean?  Exercise and cooking!

Oh, how I love the elliptical!
Oh, how I love the elliptical!

I returned to the gym this week, instead of running outside, due to some evening storms hitting the Denver area, and rediscovered my love for the elliptical.  Over this past winter, using the elliptical really strengthened my legs, and I feel a noticeable difference now when I run.  I admit I had my doubts at first.  When my hubby first convinced me to give it a go, I thought my legs were on fire and that I would never walk again.  I kid you not.  I was in so much pain at work the next day.  To say I was a little peeved at the hubs would be a vast understatement.

Despite my horrific first encounter, I gave it another go.  Since then, I realized its fantastic benefits.  What are those benefits, you ask?  I have five important reasons why I love the elliptical and the benefits it provides (I gleaned much of this from Ben Greenfield’s fitness blog, an Ironman athlete, coach, author, speaker and former bodybuilder):

  1. The elliptical allows you to maintain athleticism and fitness without the harsh impact to your joints that you would get from running.  It’s a great complement to running, but so much easier on the knees, hips, ankles, etc.  Studies have shown that the workout you get from an elliptical is highly similar to what you’d receive from running on a treadmill, but again, better for those joints!
  2. The elliptical works your quads in a way that running, walking, and cycling does not.  For me, this was a major weakness prior to using the elliptical, and now I can feel the difference.  My legs are stronger, particularly my quads.  My legs don’t really tire when I run, and that’s been a phenomenal change.
  3. Using the elliptical helps to target other weak muscle areas, like your glutes (and boy do I love me some glute exercises… thus my adoration of Michele Rogers), hamstrings, and hip flexors.
  4. So this was a surprise to me, but could explain a slight shift in my stride: your stride actually increases when using an elliptical, which maximizes your workout.  I just hope this translates to running.
  5. I use elliptical machines that require arm motion, which actually helps to incorporate the upper body and core into the overall workout.  By engaging the arms, you get a great workout in one single machine.  I do aspire to have arms like Jennifer Anniston or Cameron Diaz, so this makes me very happy.

 

Besides reconnecting with my love for the elliptical, I also tried a fun new recipe for turkey meatballs!  Again, I stole this recipe idea from my friend Justine, our gracious host for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.  She made these for us the night prior to the race and I’ve been dying to make them ever since.  It’s a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, and I have always loved her cooking.  Her Spicy Baked Italian Macaroni is ridiculously good.  I like to think of this meatball recipe as the kitchen sink turkey meatballs, it’s got just about everything in it!  They are worth it, though, because they’re flavorful, moist, and light.  I definitely recommend giving them a try!

Giada’s Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

½ cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

These meatballs are worth the effort.  You can always freeze the extras!
These meatballs are worth the effort. You can always freeze the extras!

¼ cup chopped fresh basil (I used my newly planted sweet basil!)

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

¼ cup whole milk, at room temperature (again, I don’t often purchase whole milk, so I used heavy cream)

1 tablespoon ketchup, optional (I recommend using it though!)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cloves garlic, minced (or one tablespoon of pre-minced garlic)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground turkey meat

1 pound Italian seasoned ground turkey meat (Jennie-O has a good option)

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

 

Directions

Perfectly portioned and a great addition to pasta night.
Perfectly portioned and a great addition to pasta night.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, parsley, milk, ketchup, tomato paste, salt, pepper, eggs, garlic and onions. Using a

wooden spoon, stir to blend the ingredients. Add the ground turkey to this mixture. Using fingers, gently mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (22 to 24 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a heavy nonstick baking sheet, spacing apart. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until cooked through, 15 minutes.  Serve with your preferred pasta (I made Angel Hair) and sauce (for pre-made sauce, I really like the San Marzano Pasta Sauce), and top with the extra grated Parmesan.  Enjoy!

These meatballs were so delicious, and because we actually used about 2.5 total pounds of turkey meat, we made about 30 meatballs.  Looks like meatball subs are on the menu tonight!

 

What are your thoughts on using the elliptical – yay or nay?  Any inspired dishes on the menu recently?  How do you balance your exercise routine?

2 thoughts on “Ode to the Elliptical and Delightful Turkey Meatballs

  1. Very nice! When I trained for my first 26.2, my IT was so bad that I found the only thing that didn’t hurt was the elliptical. Of course, during the race my feet weren’t used to the pounding and blistered up something awful. But I do like the elliptical as a supplement! And turkey meatballs are the bomb!

    1. That’s why it is all about balance. I like to insert a few elliptical sessions while training for a race, but I know I need that pavement to keep my feet up to the task! Good to know, though, for the IT band issues! Turkey meatballs are the bomb, and this may be my fav recipe for them!

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