Tag Archives: healthy

WIAW – low on groceries

It’s time again for What I Ate Wednesday! This week is a Tuesday’s worth of eats but I really need to stop doing this on days when we are tragically low on groceries. I’m a meticulous grocery shopper / meal planner. 99% of what I buy each week is fresh food (produce, meat, and dairy) with only minimal pantry supplies. I find it’s the best way to stay on budget, eat whole / healthy foods, and never have to throw anything away (wasting food makes my soul hurt). Therefore, by the time the end of the week comes, we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Here’s what a Tuesday looks like when we desperately need a trip to Trader Joe’s.

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Tuesday started like every Tuesday starts for me… with a session with my trainer. My legs were still not 100% recovered from Sunday’s Broad Street Run so he graciously agreed we could do upper body and I would do my lower body on my own later in the week. Of course, he decided to absolutely kill me during our session… but that’s why I pay him, right?

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I wanted nothing more than a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast, but sadly we are out of frozen bananas (smoothie disaster). In the mix was frozen pineapple, frozen mango, frozen blueberries, soy milk, chocolate protein powder, flax seed, and unsweetened cocoa powder. I finished off the soy milk and I could’ve used a LITTLE more. My smoothie was a little too thick, but that’s ok 🙂 I had a couple spoonfuls to tide me over and enjoyed the rest at my desk at work. Unpictures – cup of coffee and my vitamins, standard.

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Mid-morning I got a little hungry so I snacked on a mini-Luna bar I had stashed at my desk.

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I had this really awkward and LONG meeting at work. I wasn’t super hungry before the meeting but didn’t want to get hungry in the middle of it (since it was super long). I decided to split my lunch up into two parts. I was craving a veggie-ful salad so I grabbed a small one from the salad bar place across the street. I almost never eat there because they’re STUPID expensive (the pay by the weight places always are) but I made an exception and kept my salad simple.

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After the meeting was over, I was definitely hungry again for a little more lunch. I broke into a Diet Dr. Pepper that I brought as a “I have a 3 hour meeting today” treat. I also ate the most bizarre sandwich that tasted amazing. Two slices of Ezekial bread, a touch of wasabi mayo, a Trader Joe’s chili lime chicken burger, black beans, and a slice of gouda cheese. This was a completely random assortment of items and flavors we had in the refrigerator that ended up being delicious. Super score.

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On my way out of the office, I snacked on ye another mini granola bar. Apparently that’s a theme today? Got this one for free at the Broad Street expo… it was just ok. Mike and I had a meeting with our wedding coordinator last night and I knew we wouldn’t be eating dinner until late. This was a meek attempt to tide myself over.

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Our meeting ended up lasting a little longer than I thought because I had 100 million questions. Afterwards, we went right to Trader Joe’s to grocery shop, but of course at this point we were both starving. I don’t like grocery shopping while hungry, but I did my best just to stick to the list and get out as soon as possible. I managed only two impulse purchases and ate a little of both before arriving home. Chocolate covered, peanut butter filled pretzels and corn chips. Both amazeballs by the way.

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Since I snacked a bit on the way home from the grocery store, I kept dinner simple. English muffin pizzas! Whole wheat English muffins, pizza sauce, light mozzarella cheese, diced red pepper, and pancetta. OM NOM NOM.

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One thing I severely missed during this day? Fresh fruit. Whole pieces of fresh fruit are a DAILY occurrence for me so I hate when we run out. Don’t worry, I brought like two today 🙂

Questions for you guys:

  • Favorite thing you ate yesterday?
  • Thoughts on English muffin pizzas?
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WIAW – Just a normal day

I’m intrigued by the concept of “What I Ate Wednesday” so I decided to give it a shot. Now I’m wondering though… should I have taken pictures of everything I ate on Tuesday to post on Wednesday? I took pictures of what I ate on Wednesday to post of Thursday. There are so many things in this life that confuse me. But I digress. This has been a crazy week at work so I’ve been chained to my desk all day long. Hence… almost all of these photos were taken at my desk.

I got up 5:30 to hit the 6 am boot camp class at the gym. 45 minutes of sweaty strength and cardio intervals, I finished up with 15 minutes of speed work on the treadmill and called it a day. I drank coffee at home (no picture… it’s not exciting trust me) and brought a smoothie to work for breakfast. I drank it all before I remembered to take a picture so it looks kind of gross but it was delicious. Here what was in the mix: frozen banana, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, chocolate protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and fresh spinach.

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I worked through the morning and wasn’t super hungry for a snack so I decided to just wait for lunch. I made salsa chicken in the crockpot for Tuesday night so I brought leftovers (with a little cheese duhh) with green pepper and onions and a whole wheat tortilla. I ended up tearing up the tortilla and making a couple bite sized burritos. It was messy but delicious.

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Mid-afternoon I snacked on an apple with a spoonful of sunflower butter. I am obsessed with sunflower butter but Mike hates its. I secretly love that though because he plows through peanut butter. It’s nice to have it all to myself 🙂

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Before the end of the workday, I snacked again on a mini vanilla yogurt to tide me over. I went with a group of coworkers to play volleyball, so I knew dinner would be late. I love these little yogurts for snacks!

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After a couple hours of volleyball and getting home, I was more than ready for dinner. Mike was out running and I did not want to spend a lot of time cooking so I threw together two big veggie-ful salads (I simultaneously made 2 additional salads for lunch today… multitasking FOR THE WIN!) I have been craving veggies and healthy foods hardcore this week. Happy to oblige my body there 🙂 In the mix is some arugula, tuscan kale, grape tomato, celery, cucumber, red bell pepper, and (of course) shredded cheese.

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On the side was a Vegetable Masala Burger from Trader Joe’s topped with a slice of melted muenster cheese. God I do love cheese.

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After dinner, Mike and I settled in to watch Sunday’s episode of Mad Men (anyone else not loving Joan’s attitude this season? bleh) and I snacked on a bowl of Trader Joe’s kettle corn. I LOVE popcorn. My best friend and I have been known to go to the movies just to eat popcorn… and eat lots of it. I don’t always want kettle corn, but it was a great sweet / salty post-dinner treat. I may have (READ: definitely did) refilled the bowl.

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And finally, I ended the night (before brushing my teeth) with a couple Trader Joe’s dark chocolate Tahitian vanilla caramels. I can never resist these in the check out line because they are SO good.

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So that’s my day! I couldn’t imagine documenting everything I ate every single day (props to your bloggers who do that) but it was fun to do it for just one day. Maybe I’ll do it again on here 🙂 Feel free to let me know what you think about WIAW – love it or hate it?

Questions for you guys:

  • Thoughts on popcorn? Kettle corn?
  • Do you play on any recreational sports teams? This summer I’m playing sand volleyball AND softball… woot woot!
  • Thoughts on sunflower butter?

Solo Run for Boston

Last week was… a train wreck. By Friday night, I was a mess of emotions all tied up in one slightly bizarre and wholly confusing package. After drinking many more beers than usual with a group of friends and then braving a rainstorm and a hectic metro ride home, I crawled into bed more than ready to close the book on the week. Saturday morning, I decided to do what I do when I’m sad or angry or frustrated… I ran. I went into this run with no expectations. I decided to just go out and see how far I got.

I’ve seen so many great events around DC and other cities where runners are getting together to Run for Boston. I chose to run solo for Boston. Just me, my sneakers, and my city. I decided to bring you guys along for a little tour because the weather was perfect and this was just what I needed to work through some emotions and emerge with a renewed spirit.

My first stop was the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington. I also checked out some beautiful spring flowers.

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Then it was down onto path for a quick view of Arlington Cemetery.

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Up off the trail and heading towards the Memorial Bridge.

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And down onto the Mount Vernon trail for a run along the Potomac River. Mount Vernon is one of my favorite trails in the entire area. The views of DC are the best.

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All the way down to Roaches Run (which I hate the name of because roaches are my biggest fear). I had a lovely view of some kids playing soccer and the planes taking off from Reagan Airport.

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Then I turned around and headed back towards the Memorial Bridge. I love running under the highway. Gorgeous views abound.

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I continued on Mount Vernon Trail under the Memorial Bridge towards Rosslyn and the Key Bridge.

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This is my favorite place ever… a short stretch of boards running adjacent to the highway. It’s like a mini-oasis.

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A quick hello to Roosevelt Island… another favorite place.

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And up the ramp to Rosslyn. I took an unintentionally creepy picture of this guy… sorry dude!

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Through Rosslyn and up the hill towards home! I have come to love ending my runs on this hill. It’s the perfect sense of accomplishment for the end of a run.

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End of the day I covered 8.5 miles and it was the perfect way to start my weekend off right.

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Questions for you guys:

– Do you exercise when you’re feeling down?

– How did you get active this weekend?

– Thoughts on running solo?

Water Fails

I think probably one of the most resoundingly solid pieces of advice about health and nutrition EVER is to DRINK WATER. Drink PLAIN water. Read more here, here, or here.

I’m a big water drinker and have consistently consumed at least 64 ounces a day (with some exceptions here and there because I am human) since high school. I really do believe in its relationship to my health and athletic performance. Plus I get horrible migraines and hydration is a key factor in prevention. I wrote this post a while back about how I hydrate in case you’re interested.

However, in the last couple weeks I’ve kind of been sucking on the drinking water front. What’s happened? I have no idea! All of a sudden I just realized that my water drinking had dropped out of my daily habit. I guess I thought since it was a habit, I didn’t have to pay attention to it. I guessed wrong. I have barely been drinking 30 ounces of water a day for weeks, which is very unusual for me! I’ve also been more fatigued, headachy, and generally cranky sooo yeah.

I suppose this just goes to show me that I just have to remain vigilant about drinking water. In an attempt at course correction, I’m back on the water drinking bandwagon. I’m about 20 ounces in for the day right now… still a ways to go! I thought today I’d put together a post about the strategies I use to make sure I drink enough water and stay hydrated every day. Here’s my list:

  • Start the day strong. I am a devoted coffee drinker, but I try to start each morning with a mug of warm water with lemon. I still get the warm beverage that coaxes me out of bed, but it a solid 8 ounces of water to start the day before I hit the gym. Plus the lemon mixed with warm water has a number of health benefits.
  • Make it a routine. When I arrive at the office in the morning, I have a mini routine. Put down my bags, start up my computer, grab my coffee mug and water jug, and head to the kitchen to stash my lunch in the refrigerator. Here I make a cup of coffee (because I LOVE COFFEE) and fill up my water jug (I use the word jug very intentionally because it is massive… see below). This starts my work day off with a fresh, COLD water supply. I don’t really enjoy room temperature water as much.

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  • Get supplies that work for you. I get made fun of A LOT at the office for the size of my water bottle. I bought it at Walmart probably 8 years ago, but I think it is amazing. It holds 64 ounces of water, which is the baseline amount I shoot for every day. This means that I can fill it up first thing in the morning and not have to fill it again for the rest of the day. I also make sure that I leave it empty every night when I pack up to leave work. This works FOR ME as a way to regulate / visualize my consumption. The water bottle is way too big to actually drink out of, so I use a cup for easy consumption. Do whatever works for you… get a water bottle with a straw if you’re more likely to sip while working!
  • Drink water with meals. I love a glass of wine or a beer as much as the next person. But interestingly enough, I don’t often like to drink alcohol with meals. I like to have a drink before a meal or after but during, I prefer to drink water (or occasionally diet soda as a treat because I’m sorry I WON’T GIVE IT UP!) I find this allows me to enjoy my food while eating, my alcohol when drinking, and sneak in some extra water. Triple win!
  • Do a midday check in. Sometimes my mornings get crazy at work and I forget to start hydrating. I like to schedule a “mental check in” with myself around midday to see if I’ve drank enough water. This is a tactic I actually learned from Intuitive Eating (you are encouraged to stop midway through a meal for a mental check in and I find it works very well for me).
  • Spice it up when you get bored. I am a big proponent of drinking plain water and I don’t like adding anything with artificial sweeteners (at that point… I’d rather have a Diet Dr. Pepper because it takes delicious). However, I love to add slices of citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) or cucumbers to my water to give it a little flavor if I’m feeling uninspired. The lobby of my building always has a huge jug of cold cucumber water set out and I totally dig it.

Share with us:

  • What are your “hydration strategies”?
  • How much water do you drink every day? 
  • Can you tell when you’re not drinking enough?

Turn a Shortcut Into a Meal

Before we get into the meat of today’s post I realized yesterday that I missed my one year blogaversary! For snicks… here’s a link to my first post EVER! A lot has changed in the past year. I ran a marathon. I moved to a new apartment. I got engaged to the most wonderful man on the planet. It’s also not been without its challenges. My knee injury flared up again causing me to not run my second marathon. Or even the half marathon. I’ve also been doing some hard work to improve my relationship with food. All in all… the last year has been nothing like I thought it would be. I am so thankful for the friends I have made through this blog and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for Pennies on the Run!

On a normal week, I cook for two people. But when Mike is traveling for work… it’s just me and the felines. When Mike travels, I not only miss him terribly (we try to face time every night, which is usually me chasing the cats around the apartment trying to get them to “say hi to daddy”. They HATE this game) but I also have a renewed appreciation for how much he does around the apartment! I mean he takes care of the cats, does the laundry, takes out the garbage… and now I have to do all of that myself. Disaster. Sometimes, I like to keep meals really simple by taking an easy shortcut and modifying it to create a great meal. This week I found a box of Annie’s Organic Alfredo Shells & Cheddar in the back of a cabinet (this was in my stocking this Christmas from my future in-laws!) The box says it has 2.5 servings but one serving of this was definitely NOT going to keep me satisfied all night. I decided to amp it up and turn it into a meal.

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To me, one of the best ways to bulk up a meal is to add a ton of veggies. I found 1.5 zucchini and a bag of arugula in the refrigerator. I also had a pack of chicken sausage. Veggies? Check. Protein? Check.

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I sliced up the zucchinis and 2 chicken sausages to saute in a pan with just a little olive oil.

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After they had a few minutes to cook, I added two big handfuls of arugula. When cooking greens with other veggies, always add the greens last. They cook down MUCH faster and you don’t want them to get overcooked.

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After the macaroni and cheese was finished I added everything together and mixed it up. Voila!

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Served in a bowl with a little extra parmesan cheese on top for good measure. By adding all these extra ingredients, I was able to turn this into THREE servings of a very hearty and delicious meal. It made for an excellent lunch the next day at work too.

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Questions for you guys:

  • When was the last time you ate macaroni and cheese from a box? I hadn’t had it in FOREVER.
  • What “shortcuts” to you use to make delicious meals?

Mind Your Body Oasis Blogger Open House

I love exploring new fitness facilities in the DC area. So naturally I was SO excited to be invited to an open house for DC area bloggers at Mind Your Body Oasis in Crystal City. We were all invited to tour / use the facility, attend a Yogalates class taught by studio owner, Amanda, and sample some food from Postmodern Foods. The studio is located in the Crystal City Shops and perfectly accessible by metro for anyone without a car.

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It is always so interesting to see a business that truly growths out of someone’s passion. The facility is a one-stop shop for wellness including hot yoga, pilates, massage, acupuncture, reiki, and facials. They also have a special infrared sauna, but we’ll get to that later. I did not end up seeing the hot yoga space, but people were coming out of class looking very sweaty and I was VERY jealous (I ❤ sweat). We practiced in the other yoga studio, which was gorgeous. It was a nice open space with a very clean, unencumbered feel. Yogalates was really fun. At the beginning of class we took a poll and the vast majority of people were far more experienced in yoga than Pilates. We split the class about half and half and utilized a Pilates ring for many of the moves (which was new for me!) I’m really tempted to go back and try out a hot class … I miss hot yoga SO MUCH.

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Here are the lovely lady bloggers with Amanda after class… (Photo credit to MYBO – Thank you Mind Your Body Oasis for sending along this group picture!)

MYBO Open House Group Picture 041413A brief tour of the facility… here’s the locker room (well, the ladies locker room. I imagine the men’s locker room looks very similar). There was plenty of storage space, towels available for rent, showers, and TONS of bath products. I love when places have little touches like hair products, etc. It’s so hard to be an urban bag lady sometimes. They even had extra plastic bags for your sweaty clothes or wet towels… REALLY smart touch in my sweaty opinion.

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Aah and the infrared sauna. I was the only person who stayed to try it out but I had nowhere to be and I thought it looked cool. I LOVE saunas and steam rooms because, as I’ve mentioned, I love sweating. This particular sauna uses different colored lights and has all this information on the door about the health benefits of different colors. I hopped in for about 20 minutes before I got too bored sitting there. A full session is 30 minutes, so maybe I didn’t reap all the benefits but it was fun! Here more information on Far Infared Heat Therapy.

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A quick peek at the spa services space. I already have a place where I go for spa services, but I’ve been considering giving acupuncture a try. I was able to briefly meet  the acupuncturist too… he seemed nice for a guy who will stick a bunch of needles in your body 🙂 No but seriously, read here for the health benefits of acupuncture.

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And if you’re looking for supplement / nutrition information… look no further!

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So let me quickly say a huge thank you to Mind Your Body Oasis for hosting this event! I had a GREAT time exploring the facilities and there was an excellent group of lady bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting.

Ericka from The Sweet Life with Ericka wrote up a great review of the event so go read that right now. So did Allison from Wicked Health Washington

I also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kristine and Lexie (the ladies behind The Workout Wonks) and Sarah from Passion and Laughter. Fun story, Lexie is a former yoga teacher of mine and I had NO idea she was behind Workout Wonks. Other bloggers in attendance were Magie E Pasta, Planes, Trains, and Running Shoes, and A Knack for Nutrition

I personally think parts of Arlington are tragically short on good yoga studios so if you’re in the market… give Mind Your Body Oasis a try!

Questions for you guys:

  • Have you ever tried acupuncture?? What did you think?
  • What sort of “extras” do you like to get from a yoga studio?

Toasted Turkey Meatball Subs

Growing up, one of my favorite memories was making meatballs with my dad. I used to wake up on a weekend morning to the smell of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and know it was time to make a huge batch of meatballs! To this day, I’ve never found a meatball that compares (and I’ve tried a lot trust me). I was curious to see if I could apply some of the techniques from those meatballs to a lighter / turkey version. Saturday night I decided to give it a shot (and turn them into some really delicious open face turkey meatball sandwiches). Here’s what you need for the meatballs (recipe is at the bottom!):

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Very unscientific fact right here… it’s better to mix the meat by hand 🙂 Just make sure you remove your rings / jewelry (unless you like having raw meat stuck in the crevices!)

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Many people fry meatballs in a pan on the stove in oil, but we always baked them in the oven. I think they taste a LOT better and they’re not fried in oil… double win!

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My dad is a scientist, so cooking was always fun with him because he would teach us things in the process! You want to make sure your meatballs are equally sized to ensure even cooking. I always wanted to make HUGE ones when I was little but it’s better to keep them on the smaller end. You can really pack them into the cookie sheet though… no risk of spreading here!

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While the meatballs were in the oven, I prepped the ingredients for the sandwiches. We made pizza the night before so I used up the rest of the pizza sauce / mozzarella. I also decided to add a little extra basil to balance the thyme flavor of the meatballs.

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Flip your meatballs over halfway through cooking. They should get that nice brown mark on the bottom (that’s how you know they’re ready to flip!)

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I also sauteed up a bag of kaleidoscope chart with some coconut oil to eat on the side… DELICIOUS and so simple.

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When the meatballs were done I transferred them to another plate and put the oven on broil.

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Prepped and ready for the broiler! Don’t forget about them while they’re in there though. Broiler is a fickle beast so you want to watch them carefully.

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Anddd… VOILA! Perfectly browned cheese with a hefty portion of chard to accompany. These were absolutely amazing so I hope you enjoy 😀

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recipe

Questions for you guys:

– How do you make meatballs??

– What foods were your favorite to cook when you were little?

Fitness Tour of New York City

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of making a trip up to New York City to visit my many friends who live there. We all went to college in DC, so I thought we’d all hang here after graduation. WRONG. I am the sole DC survivor. But that’s ok 🙂 It just gives me more excuses to travel! I grew up in New Jersey so I went into Manhattan often. However, I’ve gotten a much different appreciation for the city just going to hang out with friends, instead of going for some special event.

I love working out when I travel because it gives me an opportunity to experience different things. I wrote this post forever ago about working out on vacation if you’re interested. You might also remember that I participated in the Run to Recover in Central Park after Hurricane Sandy. This trip I decided to try out some of the classes I’ve been salivating over reading NYC fitness blogs (including Losing Weight in the City and A Healthy, Happier Bear). Here’s what I thought:

Uplift Studios

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Saturday morning my bff Sarah and I teamed up and went to the 9:30 am Uplift Strength class at Uplift Studios. This is a women only facility, so we left Mike reading a newspaper in Starbucks. I think he was very happy to not be dragged to a class with me. Here’s what you need to know – if you live in NYC and you are a lady (though I noticed on their website they do have boys night) GET TO UPLIFT IMMEDIATELY. They offered a “first timers” discount of $16 which was amazing. We arrived early because Sarah was on the wait list and the women working at the studio could NOT have been nicer or more accommodating. They got Sarah into the class, which made me a very happy girl. They also provided water bottles, towels, coffee, snacks, phone chargers, locker room products, everything! This is a full service facility.

As far as the workout, I think I might still be sore. We had Michelle as our instructor and she gave one HELL of a class. She was super high energy and provided a superbly efficient workout. We worked each muscle group to fatigue but only performed each individual exercise once. I loved that! Every exercise I could say to myself, you never have to do this again so PUSH IT. Mixed into the class were three rounds of high intensity cardio tabatas (Here’s info on tabatas if you’re not familiar… they rock). I love mixing high intensity cardio in with strength because it makes my heart pump and my whole body pour sweat. I ❤ sweating. The very small class size was ideal for correcting form and not feeling “lost in the crowd”. Also, the music rocked.

Final summation: I will be going back to  Uplift every single time I go to NYC. Besides being ridiculous accommodating on every level, the workout was top notch. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there”

Soul Cycle

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In the interest of full disclosure, I was a little skeptical going to Soul Cycle. People who attend classes there are SO in love and obsessed with it, I was certain there was no way it was going to live up to the hype. I also was a little shocked by the $34 / class price tag, but I went ahead and signed up for Emma’s 10 am class on Sunday at the E 83rd Street studio. My first impression upon walking in was, “woah, this is a pretty intimidating environment.” However, after I checked in, I felt much more at ease because they guy working there was SUPER nice. He gave me a pair of shoes and directed me to the locker room to drop my stuff. Then began my completely humiliating attempt to figure out how to work their super high tech lockers. I couldn’t figure out which ones were taken or how to work them. Finally, someone helped me. I basically need a babysitter whenever I leave the house.

When I got into the room, I was shocked by how close together the bikes were. I taught Spinning for 5 years and this was new to me! Mercifully, I reserved a bike in the back so I clipped in a prayed to God I didn’t die. Well let me just tell you… this class left me with NO doubt about why people love this so much. At first I was a little thrown off by all the moving around and syncing up as a whole group, but once I got the hang of it I was totally feeding off the energy in the room. It was a dark, sweaty mess in there and I loved EVERY minute of it. Emma was nuts in the  best way possible, dancing all over the place. It was basically a dance party on a bike. I also loved the little strength training part, which we never did when I taught Spinning. It was just something different and I dug it.

Final Summation: Soul Cycle will give you one hell of a workout but it’s going to cost you. If you want to treat yourself though, this class ROCKS. It definitely made me want to check out other cycling facilities in DC too!

Questions for you guys:

– Ever been to Uplift or Soul Cycle? What did you think?

– Do you workout on vacation? Why / Why not? 

Ricotta Pasta

I.LOVE.PASTA. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be pasta (or maybe pizza… close tie). I am especially loving pasta these days since I’m not forcing myself to restrict it anymore! (I’m planning a summation post on my Intuitive Eating challenge later this week with many more details) I used to think pasta was “bad” so when I did “let myself have it” I always completely gorged myself on it. My mind was in that deprivation place of not knowing when I would ever be allowed to have it again. So when I was confronted with pasta… I ate ALL the pasta. Now that I know I can have pasta absolutely any time I want to have pasta, I eat a single serving in a bowl and walk away from the table completely satisfied (ok, ok, maybe one or two more bites as I pack away the leftovers).

Recently, I’ve been finding myself really favoring simple meals. We’re busy during the week so I have less time to cook elaborate dinners. This recipe requires 5 simple ingredients and hits 3 macro nutrients all in one dish (protein, carbs, and vegetables). Here’s what you’ll need (recipe / instructions at the bottom): You could substitute any kind of pasta (I chose brown rice fuscilli – but please remember I am NOT gluten free. I just like this kind a lot), meat (I used ground turkey but beef or chicken would be fine), vegetables (I ❤ brussels sprouts. End of story) and tomato sauce (Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic is delicious and $1.95 – CHA CHING). The secret here is the ricotta (which in my world is pronounced with a G). Mixing it with tomato sauce gives you a slightly “creamy” sauce without a super heavy alfredo. mmmmm…mmm…. good.

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The other best part of this meal is that you can make the entire thing in the time it takes to boil the water / cook the pasta. I also was able to prep chicken noodle soup in the crock pot during this time.

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Mike is an excellent kitchen helper. I cut these brussels into quarters because they were really big.

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Fig kept a watchful eye on the whole process, but he doesn’t like vegetables (BLEH green stuff!)

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After the meat was cooked, I moved it to a bowl and drained MOST of the fat. I left some (about 1 tbsp) in the pan to sautee the brussels.

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For the sauce simply add your sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese for a smooth and creamy finish.

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Serve with a little extra ricotta if you like (I love cheese… so yes please) and any garnish you like! I used oregano and crushed red pepper.

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For being so quick and simple, this meal was a HUGE hit. Mike loved it.

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And so did Little Mac…

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recipe

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

One of the things I am loving the most about working through the 21 Intuitive Eating Challenge is rediscovering foods that I had made “off limits” for so long. One of those things? Caesar salad. I NEVER ate it for years because of the dressing, cheese, and croutons. Since I’m working on throwing out all my food rules and eating what I truly crave, I had my first chicken caesar wrap in years last week at work. It was… delicious. Sunday evening, I wanted to cook something warm and homey for dinner. I had a bunch of crap in my refrigerator and no plan. Intuitive eating perfection right there!

Recalling my extremely positive experience with my chicken caesar wrap, I decided to draw on that. I didn’t have lettuce so traditional salad or wraps were out. But I did have a nice amount of other delicious green veggies… so warm chicken caesar sandwiches were born!

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Here’s everything you’ll need (but the recipe with ingredient list is also below!)

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I’ve recently started using Trader Joe’s Olive Oil cooking spray and I’m enjoying it a lot! It’s not the BEST for non-stick properties (eggs particularly stick a little bit, but not terrible). I lightly coated my pan and browned a pack of chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are completely delicious btw. Much more flavorful than breasts so a great addition in simple dishes.

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While my chicken was cooking, I prepped the other pieces. I was getting hungry so trying to be as efficient as possible. I went with zucchini, green pepper, yellow onion, and leeks. I recently discovered leeks and I’ve been using them a lot. They are amazingly fragrant and a nice complement to onions. And of course hearty wheat bread, which we toasted as a sandwich base.

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I removed the chicken from the pan and threw the onions and leeks in first to “sweat down”. I heard that phrase on a cooking show once and I think it’s very accurate.

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For the sauce, I decided to mix a vinaigrette caeser dressing with a dollop of tahini sauce to add some creaminess. They ended up blending together wonderfully!

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And VOILA! served hot and topped with Parmesan cheese (because I don’t think many meals are complete without cheese!)

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Here’s my recipe in case you need it!

Warm Chicken Caesar Sandwiches