My Dog Speaks Russian, Does Yours?

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Thing-Two-SleepingOf course there’s a story here. Years ago, I got a rescue puppy. I had previous dog experience so I assumed I knew what I was doing, but Thing Two was full of boundless energy. I pretty much reached the insanity level quickly so I had no other option but to walk him nightly. Rain or shine, cold or hot. If I wanted to sleep, we walked.

I hated it and forced myself to go every night, grumbling. I finally came to the conclusion that my hatred of walks wasn’t helping anything so I decided to change the way I approached it. I found an online map and decided on a place to go. I tracked our mileage and each night, I marked our virtual progression to our destination. Once we got there, I found something else that I wanted to try out for fun.

I began listening to audio-books that I wanted to read for forever but never had time to sit and turn pages. For that 30 – 35 minutes a night, I had someone who read to me. I also brushed up on the Russian that I’d let slide since taking it in high school. Not only that, I taught Thing Two commands in Russian because I had to train him during walks anyway, might as well have some fun with it.

We’d stop at corners with “Подожди” (wait). We’d start again with “Пошли” (let’s go). He sits and all kinds of things now. How’s that for a party trick? Silly, maybe. Fun, yep! Gradually I lost the irritation and inconvenience of the walks. Thing Two eventually got older and didn’t have that same energy. The funny thing was that I kept on walking without him.

The walking for his benefit turned into something that I really look forward to and enjoy. I do it daily still even though he is no longer with us. It’s my time and I use it to focus on something that I wouldn’t have time for otherwise. Sometimes you need to change your approach to doing something for your health. Look for ways to make it fun even if it doesn’t start out that way. You can take this approach with your other workouts. Try a new class, different exercises, move in new ways.

You can also apply the same ideas with your eating. Pad Thai is one of my favorite meals but restaurant versions are 1000 calories and up. I’m just going to say that most of us don’t need 1000 calories in one sitting regardless of what it is. That’s just a massive portion size that feeds way more than a single person in one meal. You can still enjoy Pad Thai though and get the great flavors with a few modifications like cutting back on the rice noodles and mixing in zucchini noodles, using less oil and peanut butter. It’s easy, filling and tastes pretty good.

Veggie Pad ThaiVeggie Pad Thai

  • 4 oz (112g) rice noodles, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup (73g) yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced OR 1 tsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced OR 1 tsp ground ginger, dried
  • 2 sweet bell peppers, sliced (226g)
  • 1/2 cup (85g) carrots, shredded
  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or shredded (400g)
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp (12g) PB2 or powdered peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce of choice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 1 green onion, diced (optional)

Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions. I used the Annie Chung brand and it just said to soak them in hot water. I soaked mine while I stir fried the rest. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, ginger, peppers, and carrots. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes until they are softened, stirring pretty often so they don’t burn.

A great trick that I used to stir “fry” without oil is to add a little water about halfway through the cooking. About 1/4 cup or so should work well. This helps to steam the veggies and cook them without sticking and burning, but it doesn’t heavily steam them so they are mushy. The heat from the pan quickly evaporates the water off.

While the veggies are cooking, spiralize or shred your zucchini and microwave the “noodles” for about 1 – 2 minutes until they are hot and softened a little, but you want noodle texture not mush. Mix the PB2, soy sauce, sriracha and lime juice in a small bowl. When the veggies are done, remove from heat. Drain the rice noodles.

Toss the veggies with the rice and zucchini noodles to blend them together. Divide evenly into bowls. Top with the soy sauce mixture and garnish with cilantro and green onion, if desired.

Makes 4 servings at approximately 162 calories – 6g protein, 33g carbs, and less than 1g fat.


  • To round things out, you want to add a protein to the veggie pad thai but it’s pretty flexible. I chose grilled chicken for mine and The Kid went with baked tofu slices. I’ve also had grilled shrimp and pork when I’ve made this before. Go for it and pick what you want and what you have on hand.
  • I have a spiralizer that I use all the time when cooking and I really love it. There are several versions out now like the vegetti that I’ve seen good reviews for but haven’t personally used them.

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