food

Celebrating Christmas

To say that the last week has been a whirlwind would be an understatement. As I’m sure it was for the rest of you, it was a week filled with friends coming home, family, and lots of food and drinks.  I shared a few of my holiday recipes last week but besides those I was busy making reindeer cookies, saltine cracker toffee (my new favorite), gingerbread men, and a blue cheese and candied walnut salad for the holiday gatherings I attended.

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I also had a lot of free time because my new job doesn’t start until the first week in January so aside from all the baking I filled my time with lots of spin classes, drinks with friends, and going to one of my old high school team’s basketball games.

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Christmas day itself was more low-key than in years past, and it went by without a hitch.  Aside from my chocolate-filled stocking, I got the Lululemon bag that I’d had my eye on so I can’t complain!

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Even though my heart was in Texas (Zman went home to visit his family in Dallas) it was a beautiful day filled with wonderful family and great food!

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We enjoyed an extensive list of treats: spinach-artichoke dip, cream cheese and cranberry roll-ups, mimosas (the best part about any holiday celebration), lobster bisque, salad (my no-fail recipe is mixed greens, blue cheese crumbles, craisins, candied walnuts, and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette), spanakopita, pork, cookies and “homemade” peppermint ice cream (vanilla ice cream softened and mixed with crushed candy canes and peppermint extract).

Somehow after some heavy sampling of all the food we had to offer, I made it to the gym about 9:30 that night.  It was a ghost town!

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I hung out on the ellipitcal while watching the Kardashian Kristmas special. Say what you want but it’s good entertainment.

So that was my day! Thankfully now that the holiday rush is over I can get back to blogging on the reg. Next up: planning our NYE party! I can’t believe it’s less than a week away! Pinterest, here I come.

Questions:

  • What was the best part of your holiday celebration?
  • What was the best thing you ate?

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things i love friday

Well it’s one of those days — gloomy and cloudy but still a little humid. Probably my least favorite environment to be in. That probably explains the bad mood I woke up in this morning. You know what the best cure for a bad mood is, though? You guessed it: work. it. out.

I honestly can’t think of a time in my life when I went for a workout and it made me feel worse. Endorphins FTW!

Today’s workout was back to the basics.  After a 200m run warmup along with stretching and some quick practice moves, we got started with the WOD.

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Seems easy, but after the first 5 minutes my whole body was on fire. After this 22 minute workout we all tested out our core strength by holding side planks as long as we could. I have to admit I loved this part because this is one of my strengths, so it felt good to be the last one in the class holding up my plank (especially because my upper body strength pales in comparison to most of the people at bootcamp). The whole workout, including warmup and planks, took a little under 30 minutes.  Fast and intense, as always.

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Each day I get closer to my goal of being able to do pull-ups and push-ups like a champ. For some reason, while I have always had legs built for a horse, my upper body has been super weak.  It’s funny because you always wonder “what’s the secret?” I’m learning now that there is no quick formula or secret. Since I’ve started doing simple exercises such as ring rows, pushups, burpees, and resistance-band pull-ups, my muscle is slowly but surely building. Don’t come across me in a dark alley!

Now here are a few of my favorite things from this week.  It’s going to be extra food-heavy because I did a great job preparing creative lunches this week so I’d love to share my ideas with you. Enjoy!

Music

I’ve loved Ellie Goulding since I heard her perform on SNL. I’m so happy she’s getting more popular so I get to hear her songs on the radio more often.

I heard this song on the radio the other day and I immediately became 13 years old again. This is definitely a sing-along-in-your-car song. It’s beautiful!

Reads

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Alright you got me. The closest thing I did to reading this week was looking through inspirational instagram quotes.  I’ll admit it.

Oh and this. Hilarious.

“How the Government Shutdown is Exactly Like Mean Girls”

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Food

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Hummus and veggie sandwich with a slice of swiss cheese and a bowl of black bean sweet potato soup. My mom brought the soup home from work because she knows I have an obsessive love for sweet taters and it was all kinds of yum.

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I’ve been doing such a great job of only drinking water (and coffee of course), but when I need something different nothing beats a rootbeer Zevia.  October decorations hanging out in the background just waiting to be placed around the house.

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Fruit/veggie bowl. Sugar snap peas, farmer’s market carrots, granny smith apple and lots of pb. This is a much better midnight snack than my usual tortilla chips or chocolate. I’m working on it!

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Tuna salad sandwich with half a sweet potato topped with cinnamon. So much going on here it’s mind-blowing.

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Peanut butter oatmeal. Filled with lots of chia and flax seeds for extra crunch, fiber, and protein. I’m a weirdo and don’t like eating peanut butter in hot oatmeal (it makes me nauseous for some reason) so I let the oatmeal cool down and then topped it with extra chunky pb.

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Remember that time I decided to get all unique and creative and buy a horned melon to see what it tastes like? Yeah it’s not good. It’s like a cross between a cucumber and a kiwi. AKA two foods that should never be in the same realm of tastes. Skip it!

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I realize now that I did a good job of conveniently not snapping many pics of all the treats I had this week. I promise my life is not a perfect world of vegetables and whole grains. My sweet tooth is a raging monster and I often munch on the extra fries at work. It’s not about eating 100% healthy during the week and then binge eating on the weekends. It’s about balance and intuitive eating every day.

Have a wonderful weekend! It’s supposed to rain over the weekend so I’m thinking cozy movie days are ahead 🙂

Questions:

  • Do you have any fun plans this weekend?
  • Out of the four basic exercises in my WOD today (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats), which one is your favorite? Your least favorite?

 

Chicken and Goat Cheese with Quinoa (recipe)

Today I have a great recipe to share with you!

While I was in Washington D.C. my friends and I went out to eat every opportunity we had.  Eventually our stomachs and wallets were dying for a homemade meal! Thanks to my good friend Mel, always the creative cook, we came up with a really easy and healthy dish to prepare for a family-style dinner on Saturday night.

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Before I post this, I just have to say: I’m not the biggest fan of quinoa. To me, it needs A LOT of work to be enjoyable. Spices are imperative when creating a dish involving quinoa, because alone it doesn’t taste like much.  Well this recipe opened my eyes to the beauty of goat cheese, and all that it can do for a recipe! I had never had goat cheese before!  It added just the right amount of creaminess and decadence to this dish.

Without further ado, a new recipe for you to try!

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Chicken and Goat Cheese Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 3 grilled chicken breasts (precooked)
  • 16 oz bag of quinoa
  • 4 assorted bell peppers (we used yellow, orange, and green)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1/2 of a 5oz. log of goat cheese–more or less depending on  your preference
  • 2 15oz. cans TJ’s Organic Great Northern Beans (or any other kind of white bean)
  • Cumin (start with 3 tbls. and add according to taste/preference)

Start by cooking the quinoa according to the instructions on the bag. Once it is cooked season it with a tablespoon of cumin and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

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Once the quinoa is cooking, chop your peppers and onions.  You want these pieces to be bite-sized but not too small.

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Sautee the chopped peppers and onions in olive oil until cooked, but still crispy.  Season with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of the cumin.

Once the peppers and onions are cooked, add the chicken breasts (chopped). Finally, stir in the goat cheese! Mix only until the goat cheese is combined throughout.  Add your third tablespoon of cumin, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Now that everything is combined, it’s important to keep tasting until the amount of cumin is just right.  It’s a very important flavor that really adds a lot to the dish, so make sure you use enough.  You can always add more, but you can never take some back!

Serve with the quinoa and a simple side salad.  I made one using my dijon mustard dressing and leafy greens.

ImageI don’t know if it was the family atmosphere or the dish itself, but I enjoyed this meal more than I’ve enjoyed one in a long time. We ate this dinner, drank margaritas (not the best pairing haha), and talked about everything from music, politics, and current events for hours. I love being with people who appreciate food as much as I do. Food isn’t just about the action of eating, it’s about the community it creates and the art it can exhibit, if you just give your meals a little time and attention.

On a side note, ever since I stopped “dieting” and started eating mostly whole foods, I’ve noticed that I have a much deeper appreciation for food. When you eat things that are natural such as fruits, veggies, lean meats, and nuts there aren’t any restrictions! That was what always caused me to fail and be stressed out all the time with food in the past. There were so many opportunities “to fail”.  When you view your diet as an opportunity to eat all the whole foods that you want, you start seeing all the wonderful things that you CAN eat, not all the things that are forbidden.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Question: do you know anyone who sees eating as a “nuisance”? A man on the radio the other day said that eating often “gets in the way” of his day and it annoys him. How is that possible?!