Monday, June 30, 2014

Because I Am A Girl

I had to share this. I'm a woman now but in posting this, I'm shouting out to all my girls, whether you're still young or whether you're soothing the little girl inside who was told she was weak or not good enough. We are strong and when we know that, we are unstoppable. Here's to conquering life like a girl! (#LikeAGirl).

This is not a sponsored post.

Monday Quotable

I heard this quote while binge watching House of Cards over the weekend. I can't believe it has been in my queue for over a year! But I digress. Anyway, the quote stuck out because of its truth. We all do things we aren't proud of. Sometimes, the stories of our past (our mistakes and bad choices...or even the things that happened to us) make us feel like we aren't worthy of better days. All it takes to change that is a shift in perspective. Sometimes, that shift can be the hardest thing to get your mind around but if you work for it, it's worth every bit of effort. Then, you can stop looking at the bad choices as a burden/hindrance and start to look at them as lessons. Then, when you have good moments where either you've done something good or been the recipient of something good, you can appreciate it all the more. Happy Monday! 

Six Week Grind (Week 5)

Hi Guys! Sorry I took an abrupt break at the end of the week, leaving you without a playlist and a cocktail. I needed to refuel and relax after pushing through Friday on 3 hours of sleep. But, I'm back and we're almost at the finish line of this Six Week Grind. I'm pretty happy about where I've gotten so far and plan to keep the spirit of this whole thing moving forward. So far, it's taught me a lot about drive and dedication. It has also given me a moment to try several new recipes-many of which will be in my regular rotation. Here's this week's plan. Let's push!! We're almost at the finish line!!

2 hard boiled eggs chopped with wilted spinach
45-60 minutes of Pilates or Yoga

Fruit smoothie with chia seeds and maca root powder
20-30 minutes intense Spin

Green Juice (1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks, 2 apples, 6-8 kale leaves, ½ lemon, 1-inch piece ginger, maca root powder stirred in)

Egg white omelet with sliced mushrooms, spinach and feta
Fettuccine with Swiss Chard and Garlic (feel free to substitute vegetable noodles for your traditional fettuccine)

Fruit and veggie smoothie using non-dairy milk of choice, 1 banana, 1-2 types of fruit and 1 type of green (kale, spinach, swiss chard, spirulina, etc.), chia seeds and maca root powder

Steel cut oats with banana and blueberries

45-60 Minutes Yoga

*Again, I am not a nutritionist or trainer. I'm just sharing what I'm doing and what is working for me. Consult your physician before starting any new diet or exercise program. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nom, nom, nom

I riffed a bit on the order of meals on the Six Week Grind this week but wanted to share photos of the meals anyway. I also decided to share a Freestyle meal so you can see what a "cheat" meal looks like for me. Happy Friday and have a great weekend!!

Fruit Salad with a little extra watermelon because it's a Summer fave. Forgive the pink undertones on the red fruit. Gotta figure out what's wrong with my Camera360 app. 

Freestyle Friday meal included wine, herbed goat cheese, sea salt dark chocolate and fresh apples, grapes and watermelon. 

Egg white omelet (I know it's well done) with roasted brussels sprouts and asparagus. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Southwestern Spaghetti

(Hunger) + (Sunday Afternoon at Costco) = Sampling New Products. Well, at least for most people. For vegetarians and vegans, it usually means sampling one thing. This past week, among the chicken kebabs, pork dumplings and crab dip, I discovered black spaghetti. It was being served in little Dixie cups and tasted like a touch of vinegar had been added.  Ash loved them. I wasn’t as enthusiastic but liked them enough to give them a try with a recipe of my own.

The Six Week Grind recipe (very close to the recipe on the box) calls for chopped bell peppers, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.  I made it, tasted it and thought it needed something to better showcase its flavors. As I brainstormed, I remembered that one of my favorite dips contains black beans and avocado (Avocado and Black Bean Salsa). Out of that thought came a decision to make a pasta based on the dip. I’m so happy I experimented. The spaghetti was fine simply dressed but it was delicious with guacamole flavors. Bonus: the recipe is gluten free.

Southwestern Spaghetti
4 ounces of black bean spaghetti
1 avocado
½ bell pepper, diced (I used what I had on hand)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon of sea salt (plus more to taste, if necessary)
1 tablespoon of guacamole seasoning mix (I use Concord Foods)
1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil

Boil the spaghetti according to package instructions. While it is cooking, dice the bell pepper and avocado. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and seasonings. Once the spaghetti is done, drain off the water and return the noodles to the pot. Pour the seasoned oil over the noodles and stir until well combined. Add the peppers and avocado. Stir but be careful not to smash the avocados. Squeeze lime juice over the noodles and toss again before serving. You can serve this dish hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quinoa Cakes and Tomato Relish

Ever have a really long day that ends in a 3 hour commute because traffic is diverted away from your normal route home? Last night was one of those nights for me and when I walked into the house at 10:00, the last thing I wanted to do was make a meal that required more than a few minutes of effort. I was SERIOUSLY tempted to pop a bag of popcorn but I put my laziness in check and pulled something else together instead. It varies from the Six Week Grind just a bit (part of this meal was scheduled for later in the week) but is still consistent with the terms of the plan. It took about 10 minutes to prepare and at least 3 of that was because I was staring blankly at the refrigerator trying to talk myself out of popping the popcorn I mentioned earlier. Ultimately, I grabbed a few things out of the fridge and came up with today's meal. Bonus: I really liked it and would make it again. The quinoa cakes were purchased so that knocked off about 30 minutes of prep and cooking (score!). I got them at Costco but check out CedarLane Natural Foods's website. As for the tomato relish, you'll need a food processor but it is quick and easy. The recipe is below.

Tomato Relish
1 1/2 cups of small tomatoes*
4 basil leaves
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 shallot, peeled and halved
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until ingredients are chopped and well incorporated. Serve as side salad or condiment for other foods (quinoa cakes, meat, crusty bread, chips, other vegetables** etc.).

* I used a rainbow mix of cherry tomatoes (sweet greenies, balconi yellow, rambling gold and red, etc.) but you can use what you want. You can even use larger tomatoes if you wish. 

** I served my relish over sliced cumber (using the ribbon blade on the spiralizer) and ate it with my quinoa cakes. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Creamy Curried Kale and Chickpeas

Though I've been vegetarian for a while (and was vegan for a couple of years before that) I haven't made a lot of nut based sauces. I've eaten them in restaurants and I certainly use nut based milk in baking and cooking but never made my own. This meal changed that and I am hooked!! I already love all of the flavors and components of this dish but I was still surprised by how delicious it was. I followed the recipe to the letter (aside from adding a little fresh cilantro). You can find it here. Enjoy!!

Weekly Weigh In


Hello readers!

Checking back in this week – and I am only down .2.  But I will take it considering some birthday festivities, world cup festivities and lack of exercise.  The plan this week is to start with the gym again (now that I am feeling better – although still tired).  I have to get back on track with the gym since that 5K is looming just ahead. I will have to do a reset on the plan, but that is ok.  I have come to an epiphany this week.  I was eating light – special K bars, salad and a lot of processed foods.  I am finding that if I stick to normal meals made with whole foods (rather than counting points or calories) but not overdoing it, I find myself more full.  And that means less snacking.  And I think that’s helping.

As for this week’s recipe I am bringing back an oldie but goodie: Dijon Roasted New Potatoes. I made these potatoes again this week and they are fab.  Courtesy of Weight Watchers.


I mentioned in this week’s Six Week Grind post that Ash is on this 7 Day No Bread Challenge. I’m loosely sticking to it with him for moral support and because I am deep into this challenge.  I’m really just focusing on whole foods and avoiding refined carbs like the plague. No big deal, right? I was already eating well. It just means changing some of my snacks (goodbye protein bars), dressings and sweeteners. Piece. Of. Cake.
Ash is having a bit of a tougher time. His morning protein shake recipe is off because of the sweeteners in the protein powder. His salad dressings are out and he isn’t a fan of oil and vinegar. His salted cashews (favorite snack) have been replaced with the unsalted variety. And his penchant for protein bars has been shelved. Also, no potatoes and he is a big into baked potatoes.

Why am I going on about Ash? I mean, he’s totally fit and just trying to get the last millimeter of fat off of his 6-pack. Why am I talking about how easy this is going to be for me when I need a heck of a lot more than 7 days of restriction? I’ve got another 15-20 pounds to lose.

I’m sharing because of the conversation that’s been going on in my house for the past three days. ALL WE CAN TALK ABOUT IS FOOD. I’m binge watching Food Network and Cooking Channel shows. We’re picking out recipes on Pinterest to make the day this challenge is over. We’re making lists of restaurants to visit. We’re planning picnics at our local parks and beaches and the menus to go with them.  

It’s all just because we feel deprived even though we’re not. I mean cutting out 7 days of protein powder/bars does not a deprived belly make. That said, we’re intently focused on our freestyle or “cheat days” because of a few extra restrictions.

As Summer pushes forward, social and vacation eating will become an issue for most of us. We make choices because:

“I’m on vacation. When in Rome….eat everything in sight.”

“You only live once. Eat, drink, be merry!”

“Happy Hour!!!”

“Date Night!”

“Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots!”

“Turn down for what?!?!?”

You get it. The issue comes up throughout the Summer. Social gatherings, travel, etc. can all lead to going overboard. I’m a big fan of living in the moment. Have fun and eat the foods you want. Just don’t over indulge. And if by chance you do, don’t panic. It is NOT going to ruin all of the progress you’ve made. It does not make you a bad person. It does not make you a failure. You’ll leave the party or come back from vacation and you will get right back on track.

As far as this week goes, I didn’t lose a thing. Since you know I cranked up the fitness last week, you may be surprised. You can’t be more surprised than me. I’m blaming PMS (not that you want to know that). I’m also not sweating it too much because my clothes are slowly but steadily getting too big. So…onward.

As for this week’s meal, I’m all about Creamy Chickpea and Kale Curry (Fat Free Vegan). Delicious (and I mean seriously delicious) and filling! It is also today’s 30 Days of Food feature. This week’s workout is a bonus workout, if you are so inclined to go beyond this week’s plan. Figured the arms could use some extra love (read: burn).


Monday, June 23, 2014

Cauliflower Couscous with Roasted Asparagus

Cauliflower Couscous with Roasted Asparagus
1 cup of mixed small tomatoes, sliced
5 baby bella mushroom, sliced
4 cups kale
1/3 large cauliflower
10 asparagus spears
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove woody ends from asparagus and line them up on a baking sheet. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil over the asparagus (easier if you're using a bottle with a pouring spout). Sprinkle with sea salt and put in oven for 15-20 minutes (for large spears; cut the time by 5 minutes for small spears).

To make couscous, pulse cauliflower in a food processor until ground fine. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and tomatoes to the skillet and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cover to allow the kale to wilt for about 2 -3 minutes. Toss in cauliflower and mix all ingredients together. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Add vegetable stock. Stir and let cook for about 5-7 minutes stirring once or twice. Vegetable broth should be absorbed.

Serve hot with asparagus either on top or on the side. Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as an entree.

Monday Quotable

I randomly happened upon Grease & Glamour from clicking around on Bloglovin'. After reading about her travel with a cut out of her deceased father, I was touched. You can read it here. Then I got to the end of the post and read today's quote. While it is certainly a sentiment I've heard before (Oprah and Deepak say it all the time), it really resonated with me. Maybe because I could sympathize with her feeling of being lost in a soulless job that gives you tons of money and not much else. Maybe it's because of having a new start outside of the NYC corporate scene (though I'm still navigating the corporate world). Whatever it was, I knew I had to pass along the quote. As I pursue what I'm supposed to do in this lifetime, quotes like this form the armor I need to get through the daily battles towards happiness. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Six Week Grind (Week Four)

Well, we're well past the halfway point and into the final stretch of this Six Week Grind. I will confess I'm not down a startling amount of pounds but I am losing inches. I am also feeling a lot stronger than when I started. Though I've been working out since January, doing this challenge has pushed me to try new things. I'm testing my limits and reflecting on how far I've come. Not only can I do planks with ease (well, ok, let's not get one in my fitness class does planks with total ease) but I can do alternating plank reaches, elbow planks (which kicked my butt just a few weeks ago) and up and down planks (going back and forth between elbow and extended arm planks). Spin still kills me but I am a lot faster and more balanced. I have much more stamina though I listen to my body and am mindful of my limitations. In short, I'm feeling great about making the choice to do this challenge. Really, that's the most I could have asked for.

This week, Ash is on The Ab Guru's 7 Day No Bread Challenge. I am loosely doing it with him though I am having a couple of wraps at lunch time. The menu reflects that. I am also focusing more on HIIT exercises this week. My goal is shorter training times with high energy, high impact exercises that make your time at the gym (or at home) count. Here's to Week Four! Cheers!!

As always, I am not a nutritionist or trainer. I'm just sharing my research, routine and diet, which has worked for me during my fitness journey. Please consult your physician before starting any new exercise or diet regimen.

Finally, there was recently a ground chia powder recall. Be sure to read more about it before investing in any chia products.

Fruit smoothie with chia seeds and maca root powder
Tomato, cucumber, red onion and chickpea salad (toss all ingredients with red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and let sit over night)
Cauliflower Couscous with kale, baby bella mushrooms and cherry tomatoes (see Monday's #30DaysofFood post)
45-60 minutes of Pilates or Yoga

Green Juice (1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks, 2 apples, 6-8 kale leaves, ½ lemon, 1-inch piece ginger, maca root powder stirred in)
BLT wrap with tempeh bacon, avocado and veganaise (optional)

Scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes
Organic black bean spaghetti (available at Costco and health food stores) tossed with chopped bell peppers and dressed with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
20-30 minutes intense Spin

Fruit and veggie smoothie using non-dairy milk of choice, 1 banana, 1-2 types of fruit and 1 type of green (kale, spinach, swiss chard, spirulina, etc.), chia seeds and maca root powder
Eggplant, white bean and tomato salad (saute eggplant and toss with white beans and chopped tomatoes; dress with olive oil and vinegar)

Plain Greek Yogurt with sliced strawberries, flax seeds and a drizzle of honey
Roasted vegetable wrap with hummus (use vegetables of your choice; I use zucchini, Portobello mushrooms and roasted red peppers)

6 Week 6-pack Abs (level one)

Steel cut oats with blueberries, ½ banana, and sliced almonds and flax seeds (can sweeten with agave or honey if desired)
Chopped spinach salad with 1 boiled egg, chopped hazlenuts, dried cranberries, chopped bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and vinaigrette
Ripped in 30 Days (Week One)

Red onion, spinach and mushroom frittata (can add 2 tablespoons of feta or goat cheese crumbles if desired)
Raw vegetables with hummus and large fruit salad (use fruit of your choice)
Baked Spinach Quinoa Cakes with Spinach Salad (vinaigrette of your choice)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Playlist

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

You wouldn't think chili would be a good warm weather choice, but on a rainy night this week, it was just what I needed. I didn't change the recipe a bit. Ash modified it by adding ground turkey...because he's lifting and, well, apparently it's all about his "gains." Anyway, you can find the recipe, from What's Gaby Cooking, here. Make it. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Love List

1. The Snap Toothbrush gives you the ability to change your toothbrush head regularly without the waste of throwing out the entire thing.

2. Want underwater vacation photos? Not a problem (for Apple users) with the iPhone Super Suit from Photjojo.

3. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield found a great way to turn the tables on the paparazzi.

4. I've been doing morning juice shots with turmeric based on some research I read. I plan to incorporate in into my morning smoothies much more often. Read more about its benefits here.

5. Tips for rebooting a bad day in 10 minutes or less. Who doesn't need that?

6. Great and thought provoking post by Jen Pastiloff (The Manifest Station): For Women Who Apologize For Everything.

7. If I could be as well adjusted regarding body image as Victoria Erikson (age 19), I'd be much better off. Read her essay over at The Manifest Station.

8. Love the graphic print on this skirt. Really feeling midi length skirts this season.

9. Love this headband scarf tying tutorial. Will definitely rock this on hot days this Summer.

Chopped Green Goddess Salad

Today’s meal (from A Pinch of Yum) is the greenest meal I’ve ever had. It’s almost monochromatic beauty (did I mention green is my favorite color?) is only topped by its delicious taste. Can you believe it’s good for you to boot? Actually, it’s made of stuff that’s naturally green so you probably assumed it was healthy. If you truly want to make it a detox salad, you can remove the feta and top it with lemon and olive oil. I made one modification (eliminating the jalapeño pepper) based on my personal taste preferences. The original recipe is here.

Chopped Green Goddess Salad (Serves 4)

Salad Ingredients
4 cups spinach
1-2 cups pea shoots
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup almonds, crushed or chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks

Green Goddess Dressing
⅔ cup Greek yogurt
Juice from 1 lime
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup packed cilantro
2 scallions

Puree all the dressing ingredients together, adding the cilantro last and stopping when the texture feels right to you. Toss the salad ingredients together with dressing; serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza

Today's meal marks my first attempt at making pizza with a cauliflower crust. I've seen a million versions on Pinterest and I've always wanted to try it. I mean, who doesn't want a healthier pizza...especially when the average NY Style pizza slice is over 300 calories. So, I got my tools ready and got to work. Technically, I should put this in the fail column because of a very simple mistake in execution but it was so tasty, I decided to post it. It is also gluten free.

Cauliflower Pizza
1/2 of a head of cauliflower, cut into large chunks
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 egg
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 red onion

Chop cauliflower in a food processor. When finely ground, put the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl. Cook in microwave for 8 minutes. While cauliflower is cooking, chop vegetables. When cauliflower is finished, add oregano, half of your cheese and an egg. Mix until well combined. Spray a pizza pan with cooking spray* and press the cauliflower into a circle shape on your pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove crust from oven. Spread sauce over pizza. Top with cheese and vegetables. Put pizza back in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into slices and serve.

* My mistake was in lining my pan with foil, wiped down with a bit of olive oil. I didn't realize I was out of cooking spray until I was well into cooking. As you can probably guess, the crust stuck to the foil and made it incredibly hard to slice. It was delicious but very messy. In the future, I will use the cooking spray and leave the foil out of the equation.