food

white cheddar tequila trout (it’s not what you think)

Oooo how gross is that title? But it got you to click, right? Bwahaha my master plan is working – shock and awe will keep you all coming back for more! In all seriousness, though, isn’t it funny how you can churn out content almost daily for entire blog posts and then it’s time to come up with a title and you’re like “Uhhh….”. Oh the irony….

I promise I’ll have a recap soon of my juice cleanse attempt (emphasis on the word attempt) but I really feel like I’ve committed a major blogger sin by skipping out on “What I Ate Wednesday”. When I first started reading food blogs (Kath Eats Real Food was my gateway drug) that was my favorite part! Scrolling through photo after photo of snacks, sandwiches, skillets, and everything in between got me through the day when I was working at my first summer internship. One of the first realities I faced when I started blogging was no, you can’t just upload iPhone photos of fish and veggies every single day and call it a healthy living blog. These types of outlets require covering a vast number of topics, and food is just the tip of the iceberg. But hey, we all love a good photo dump every once in awhile, right? So in homage to my blog-obsession roots, I’m going to share some of the best things I’ve eaten in the past week or so.

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Lentil soup – it never sounds good but 9 out of 10 times it knocks my socks off

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Trader Joe’s chicken and verde salsa burritos (an incredibly easy frozen food option) alongside some tortilla chips, salsa and peas. I’m a pea freak lately!

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Tequila and good conversation mix very well ūüôā

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Why has no one told me about this white cheddar mac and cheese before? I about died and went to heaven

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Deep dish from the Art of Pizza in Lakeview – my new favorite (the two pounds of cheese per slice helped)

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Overnight oats – never pretty, always delicious

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Easily the best sandwich I’ve had in awhile: chicken, roasted tomatoes, pesto, arugula and provolone.

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Food Ease¬†hot bar inside Water Tower place: Joe’s Crab Shack Roasted Tomatoes, Herb Roasted Trout, and Roasted Potatoes. Talk about a high-class lunch!

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I will never turn down a Chipotle date with Zman ūüôā

Let’s end the post with something I’m grateful for today: I’m grateful for the ability to read! Can you imagine never learning that basic skill? I love reading about other people’s life experiences and creative writing pieces so I’m very appreciative that I grew up in a place that values education.

Okay…now let’s hear from you!

  • What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the past week?
  • What’s one thing you’re grateful for today?
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warning: weekend food porn ahead

I really need to get my life together. I know it’s totally fine to love food like family and declare “going out to eat” your favorite hobby, but I really pushed the limits of normalcy this weekend.

I ate and I ate and I ate…lucky for me I had enough free time to squeeze in a great workout Saturday morning That, in combination with serving both Friday and Saturday nights made me feel like less of a chub monster.

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That being said, I don’t regret this weekend one bit. I spent some great quality time with my Mom and Megan, and we got some of the first signs of spring (Daylight Savings + 45 degree weather wooo!)

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So…..did I miss anything this weekend? I don’t see any ice cream up there. Shoot now I want ice cream.

But in all seriousness, there’s something to be said for “too much” food. I think as spring starts to peek it’s head into my life I’m realizing that my hibernation period is over. No more “oh it’s -30 so my body is burning extra calories so hey let’s get that family sized bag of m&ms.” I’m simply not going to need all that anymore. That’s not saying that I’m going to cut anything out of my life, but I definitely need to start watching portions again. All the spin in the world can’t negate the amounts of deep dish pizza I want to eat. Luckily, with the weather changing I’ll soon be able to run outside. Running outside is what gets me in a great habit of fitness. In the winter I stick with working out, but most weeks only make it to the gym 4 days a week. When it’s nice outside I’m motivated to exercise 5-6 times a week, which might not make a huge difference fitness-wise but it definitely improves my overall mood. I can’t wait especially for the Lakeshore path to clear up so I can run down the most beautiful route in the world.

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Sidenote: I’m pretty worried about titling this “food porn” as I think it’s gonna get some freaky traffic to my site. Taking the risk, though. I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Questions:

  • What motivates you to exercise?
  • Do your fitness habits change with the seasons?
  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend?

birthday weekend in the south pole

Warning: this post is full of not-so-healthy choices.

Fried foods? Check.

Sugary fish bowl drinks? Check.

Limited activity besides Just Dance and walking from bar to bar? Check.

But it’s all okay because it was my birthday weekend!

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That’s right. I’m officially the big 2-3, the year of Michael Jordan, the “there isn’t a Taylor Swift song about it yet” age. ¬†It doesn’t feel much different. At the same time, however, I feel like 2014 is going to bring big things for me so I bet 23 is going to be a great year. ¬†22 was all about transitioning: graduating college, moving back home, finding an internship, maintaining a job, and now moving on to a new opportunity in the city and living here part time. I’m now going to be interning at a new public relations company and I couldn’t be happier. ¬†I start tomorrow (thanks to the freezing temps that I’ll get to later) and I’ll be living with Zman 4 days a week at his apartment in the city. The other 3 days/nights I’ll be back in the suburbs working at the restaurant. It’s a bizarre schedule but I’m so excited to be back on the daily grind! I’m one of those weirdos who thrives on structure, schedules and planners, so I know this change is going to bring me nothing but happiness.

Back to the important stuff: the birthday!

I took the train to the city in the morning and met up Zman for a bday lunch. ¬†We decided that instead of getting entrees we would just have a day of “apps and zerts”.

Classic Parks and Rec.

We headed to Public House in the River North neighborhood downtown and picked four larger than life appetizers to enjoy.Image

The ones that made the cut were fried pickles, cheese curds, a homemade pretzel with cheese, and sea salt/parsley french fries. Good lawd. Halfway through the apps we were floating on cloud 9, but by the end I was googling wheelbarrow rentals to get me out of there. They were all so good! My only complaint is that I didn’t ask for a bottle of ketchup. The fries were served with a few delicious sauces (creamy parmesan, sweet bbq, etc.) but nothing compares to the classic fries and ketchup.

As most food lovers know, even when you’re stomach is full, you still have room in your “dessert stomach.” This was the case for me after lunch so we headed over to Glazed and Infused for one of my favorite treats: their vanilla bean glazed donut.

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It looks pale in comparison to some of the other selections they have, but I always usually sample something a little more dangerous and then stick with my vanilla bean. It’s just too good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon at “The Wolf of Wall Street” which I LOVED. It was over 3 hours but well worth it. ¬†The rest of the night was spent drinking sugary concoctions, playing Just Dance, and bar hopping with friends. It was the perfect birthday.

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I also can’t forget the incredible birthday cake that my mom made for my brother and me–flourless chocolate! It took her so much time and effort but it was insaaaanely good (especially with a hot cup of coffee).

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Cake for breakfast is ALWAYS acceptable on your birthday.

The rest of the weekend was low key because a) Friday was just too much and b) temps have dipped down into (wait for it) THE NEGATIVES. Yep, that’s right, it’s -18 right now in Chicago, but with wind chills 40 BELOW. I heard this morning that it’s colder here than in the South Pole. Say what?

Since it was still my birthday weekend, we made the boys cook for us.  Spencer used to work at Noodles and Company so he put his skills to use.

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It turned out great! The only thing I’d change next time is to add spinach, but the grocery store was out of a lot of stuff (I’m not kidding when I say it’s a snowpocalypse here).

Here are a few other eats from the weekend before I sign out and snuggle under some blankets for a night of BCS football or The Bachelor (depending on which side of my brain wins the battle).

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Scrambled eggs and Kodiak cakes

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Shrimp diablo tacos from On the Border (they look better than they tasted but the rice, beans, and limitless chips and salsa more than made up for it)

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Scrambled eggs with bell peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. Veggie sausage on the side.

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Cocoa Krispies make the best late-night snack

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Vegan chili and a jalapeno corn muffin

I’ll be back tomorrow with a more fitness-inspired post. Those have been scarce lately because my workouts have been so monotonous, but I promise I’ll try to shake it up this week!

Questions:

  • Do you like celebrating your birthday?
  • If you could be eating anything in the world right now, what would you eat?
  • What’s the coldest weather you’ve ever experienced?

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 ūüôā

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?!