The Task Tamer

Stretch it Out

Teri 06/20/2016 Comments

It seems I have a theme going this month for the “new normal”. Well, if you call mentioning it twice in one month a theme, then I’m onto something. It can be a challenge to figure out what we can still expect from our bodies and how we need to modify activities to ensure we stay relatively pain-free. I say relatively because it is okay to have sore muscles from a work out. You might consider yourself in pain (you know what I am taking about if you ever tried walking down a staircase the day after an intense leg work out) but that is different from an actual injury that curtails your everyday activities due to pain. That is why everyone should incorporate stretching and low impact exercises into their routine. Health magazine did a great article on this in March detailing four stretches that you should do regularly. Before I even get out of bed in the morning I stretch out, first while lying flat and then I sit on the edge of the bed and reach up over my head, one side at a time. While I am writing this blog I take occasional stretch breaks by getting up and walking around or clasping my hands behind my back and pulling my shoulder blades down to stretch my upper back. I’d be willing to bet you all have a favorite stretch that makes you go ahhhh. And I’m also willing to bet there are stretches that make you go ouch! The first stretch mentioned in the Health article involves kneeling with your feet curled under your bottom. That movement can bring me to tears! That tells me I should be doing it more often! I know that the more I do it the easier it will become and the better my feet will feel. But boy is it hard to discipline myself to get to that point! I am a huge advocate of foam rolling. I have even taken classes that include a full half hour of rolling. Many in the class would be in agony as the roller passed over certain muscles, especially the IT band. Because I use a roller almost everyday, I enjoyed myself as others groaned. But then we would go into yoga stretches that we held for up to five minutes. I would see people get into a one leg reclined hero pose like they were settling down for a nap and I had to use every prop possible to get into position. The absolute longest two minutes of the class! But I stuck with it and after months I was able to slowly reduce the number of aids until I could lie back on my own. 


I was able to get to that point under the supervision of an instructor. If you have ever had an injury and gone to physical therapy you were probably given stretches to do to help repair and prevent further injury. In addition, the therapist probably told you stretches and activities to avoid. I am often amazed at how often the approved stretches are yoga moves. If you have (or have had) an injury make sure you consult with an expert before you dive into down dog or pigeon pose. I am going to make an effort to do some stretches that aren't easy for me because I know they are what I need. And just to remind myself that I am not alone in having dreaded moves, check out this article. Part of my new normal will be to incorporate these low impact, high result stretches. I hope this will help to keep me injury and pain free when I am doing weight bearing or cardio exercises. If you see me in the gym stretching with a grimace on my face, know I am telling myself “it’s good for me! It’s good for me!” 


Vegetables are good for me as well. Okay, that was a stretch (pun intended) for a segue, but it works! This week’s recipe uses some of my favorite vegetables, but if you like others, feel free to substitute! Same with the tofu, simply use your favorite protein. And of course use your favorite grain. If you have a grill, you could use that instead of the grill pan. This does require time to marinade, at least an hour, or you could mix it together in the morning and it will be ready to go at dinner. This is excellent warm or cold.


Grilled Vegetables and Tofu over Couscous




1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or grated Romano or parmesan)

1 tablespoon miso (or tamari, low sodium soy sauce or amino acids)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if you are using soy sauce)

1 block tofu, drained, pressed and sliced

Vegetables and Couscous:

2 leeks, sliced in half length-wise and rinsed well

2 cauliflower “steaks” cut from center of head

8 spears asparagus

2 tablespoons high heat oil (avocado is my choice)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup dry Israeli couscous

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds


1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons favorite vinegar (balsamic, white wine, champagne, etc.)



  1. Mix all ingredients of marinade, except tofu, and whisk well. Place tofu in a shallow dish or a ziplock bag and pour marinade over. Refrigerate at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Heat grill pan over medium high. Brush vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook, flipping once, until softened and delicious, 8-10 minutes. (Cauliflower will take longer. I removed the leeks and asparagus and left the cauliflower on while I grilled the tofu.) Add tofu and grill until golden with grill marks on both sides.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions. Place in large bowl.
  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in small bowl.
  5. When vegetables are done, cut into bite size pieces. Add tofu and vegetables to  couscous in large bowl and add dressing, Stir well. Serve topped with pumpkin seeds.
  6. Enjoy!




Grilling veggies and tofu


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