salad

Caprese Salad Salad (recipe)

Why the double salad, you ask? Because I was worried that people would read the title and expect your typical caprese salad, made up primarily of huge chunks of mozzarella on top of sliced tomato and slathered in balsamic. This is not that salad – but it is so much more.

The foundation is arugula, which, up until this point I hadn’t seen a need for. But I can’t stress enough how important arugula is to keep the integrity of this salad. It has a bite, taking this green meal to the next level when combined with the flavors of balsamic glaze, herbs, fresh mozzarella and tomato. It’s everything you’d ever want in a summer salad and more. Plus you just need to make one shopping trip to Trader Joe’s – they have all the ingredients and make it super simple to throw together.IMG_7875 Caprese Salad Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 package arugula (mine was 7 oz)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s mozzarella balls packed in olive oil and herbs
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except the glaze and oil from the mozzarella. After your salad is assembled, whisk equal parts oil from the mozzarella container and balsamic glaze and drizzle over the salad.

It’s as simple as that – Enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you like arugula?
  • What’s your favorite product from Trader Joe’s? 
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scenes from the weekend

Hi folks! I can’t wait to read about all your weekends. Mine was filled with tons of activity, sunshine, furniture shopping and, of course food. Is anyone else blown away that it’s June? March, April and May flew by but I’m hoping that June will slow its roll so we can enjoy the nice weather that we all deserve so much.

As you saw yesterday, Zain and I started out the weekend by biking to the farmers market early Saturday morning. We didn’t buy anything but it was just nice to walk around and see the options for the future. Next time I’ll be sure to go around lunch time – there were tons of awesome food options! Tacos, fancy grilled cheese, crepes…I was pretty mad I had just eaten breakfast haha. I never like to miss out on food like that.

Breakfast before the market was peanut butter and bananas on a sandwich thin + coffee

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Zain finally learned what it takes to date a blogger so he likes to take “spontaneous” pictures of our adventures.IMG_7804

I also noticed that everyone at the farmers market was in athletic gear. These are my people.IMG_7856

After the market I met up my friend Megan for a bootcamp class. It was the last class in my two week pass at Yoga Loft and I really can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss it. Once I have to stop paying all those beginning fees and additional costs of moving I’ll for sure get a 10-pass there to use over the span of a few weeks. That place kicked my butt and I loved every second of it.

IMG_7850The rest of the day was spent furniture shopping. Zain is all about the deals so we ended up biking + walking about five miles or so to a furniture outlet in the middle of nowhere. We felt like we were on a pilgrimage across the Sahara (it was 95 on Saturday) so when we saw 7-Eleven and were sure it wasn’t a mirage, we picked up some Slurpees.

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Saturday night I hung out on Megan’s roof watching the sunset and drinking wine, so it was basically the perfect day.

Sunday was spent church-going, grocery shopping and Blackhawks-watching. The weekend was full and fabulous – but don’t think I’d leave you without showing you all the food I ate!

For some random reason I was all about the salads this weekend:

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Mixed greens with hard boiled egg, tomato, blue cheese, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette.

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Arugula with mozzarella and baby tomatoes (dressed with the oil that the mozzarella was soaking in plus TJ’s balsamic glaze)

But don’t think I just ate salads all weekend – that would just be nonsense.

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Mahi mahi with herbes de provence and lemon, breadcrumb and herbes de provence-stuffed tomatoes and roasted brussel sprouts

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Spinach-egg white breakfast wrap from Starbucks (plus it looks like the barista was cursing me out haha)

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Veggie burger topped with cheddar, bbq sauce and onion straws

It was a blast of a weekend – I even started off Monday right with a 6:00am 4 mile run. Now that summer is here morning runs are going to be a lot more common. Everything is on the up and up!

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Happy Monday!

Questions:

  • What was the best thing you ate this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite homemade salad combo? I need some new inspiration!
  • Did you try anything new this weekend?

let’s talk about foooood

Remember how we’ve been talking about how spring makes you want to eat lots of veggies and lighter foods? Well, I’m definitely not at the point when I wake up every morning jonesing for a spinach smoothie and a kale salad, but I’ve been loving some greens lately! I deserve some credit considering winter seems to have poked it’s head back after a 75 degree weekend. I have no freaking idea how this keeps happening, but yesterday I left work and had to walk home IN THE SNOW. On April 16th. Granted it’s less than an inch but seriously? Seeing white on the ground after a weekend spent playing outside in shorts and a t-shirt isn’t just depressing, it’s downright mind-boggling. I’m not an environment fanatic but these dramatic changes within days is pretty scary. Hopefully spring gets it’s act together asap.

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Moral of the story is, maybe if I keep eating my greens I’ll FORCE spring to come. Yeah, that’ll happen.

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Greens with roasted butternut squash, pecans, apples, craisins, blue cheese, and a white wine vinaigrette

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Omelet with spinach, red pepper flakes and cheddar cheese

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Makeshift salad with black beans, corn, green peppers, tomatoes, avocado and topped with garlic salt and cumin

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My new favorite snack: roasted sweet potato and peanut butter

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Cheese fries – wait, who put that there? Not green in the least but I can never say no to Portillos

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Blueberry banana oatmeal and TJ’s green juice (delicious, by the way)

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Cobb salad with salmon and Mediterranean vinaigrette

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TJ’s Multigrain “Cheerios” with chopped dates

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The best grilled fish tacos I’ve ever had!! Plus tots. The perfect meal

Okay and now I’m HUNGRY. Breakfast time 🙂 Have a great day!

Question:

  • What are you eating for breakfast today? Inspire me!

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keep calm and run like simba

Hey all!

I hope you had a kickass weekend.  Mine was….busy to say the least, but I like it that way! I ate great food and even got to run outside, so I can’t complain.  The fact that it was warm enough to get outside and pound the pavement got me way too excited for spring, a pretty premature feeling here in Chicagoland according to the weatherman.

But hey, I’ll take what I can get. The only downside was I couldn’t find a headband for the life of me so I looked like Simba by mile four.

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One of the most important things I did this weekend was sign up for the Shamrock Shuffle downtown this upcoming Sunday! I was going back and forth about actually running this…call it fear, call it laziness, call it tight-wallet syndrome but I just couldn’t commit. Well I finally bit the bullet yesterday and registered. I’ll be running with my friend Jordan, and with a new playlist and visions of our post-race brunch, I’m confident that I’m going to kick butt.  Here’s to hoping it hits 40 degrees!

In terms of food I’ve been trying to incorporate more veggies and pure sources of protein into my diet in preparation of summer, and I’ve definitely been making some progress! Like we talked about last week, it’s hard to crave veggies in cold weather (unless they’re covered in cheese, of course) but I’ve done a decent job. Not to mention I’m still balancing those healthy choices with things like cheesy chicken quesadillas the size of my head and chocolate. It’s a work in progress.

I have a crazy amount of work to do over the next few days so I’ll be back on Wednesday! But until then, here are a few pictures of my weekend happenings. Have a great Monday! Can you believe it’s almost April? Good lord.

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shrimp, jicama, avocado, black beans, queso fresco, corn, peppers, tomatoes and onions

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Protein Box from Starbucks

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Pounded chicken with a panko/red pepper flake/garlic crust, baked at 400 for 45 minutes. Served with “hot pasta” aka pasta, finger hot peppers, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and salt. Also the smallest glass of wine you’ll ever see

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Homemade bran muffins

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This was the best thing I saw all weekend. I don’t understand if there’s a cake in there or if m&ms just spill out, but either way, sign me up

Questions:

  • What was the best thing you did this weekend?
  • What’s your favorite part of spring that you’re looking forward to?

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pressing the reset button

I always feel pretty out of sorts health-wise whenever I come back from time spent on vacation. Since the past month I’ve been out of town every weekend, indulging and skipping workouts, I knew this Monday was a good time for me to press the reset button.

The whole day was a jumble since I got home from my flight at 9am (after the airline lost my bag and I had to fill out all that fun paperwork) and had to jump directly into work. My eats yesterday were healthy and wholesome, however, which I was especially proud of myself for considering when I’m tired, all I want is easy-cheesy carbs and sugar.

The highlight yesterday was dinner! All the stars aligned and I had every single ingredient for a Nicoise Salad!

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For those of you who don’t know, a Nicoise salad is NOT your typical rabbit food.  It has some serious staying power, thanks to tons of protein in its variety of ingredients!  When I studied abroad in Paris this was one of my favorite things to order (when I wasn’t diving head first into a croque monsieur).

Here’s a quick recipe for those who don’t know the ingredients:

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Nicoise Salad

  • Leafy greens
  • One small can of chunk light tuna, drained (4 oz or so)
  • 1 hard boiled egg (chopped and sprinkled with salt and pepper)
  • Green beans (just a handful or so…steamed, roasted, whatever! but they should be served cold on the salad)
  • Chopped tomato
  • Dijon mustard dressing*

Dijon mustard dressing

  • Dijon mustard or something similar (this time I used the garlic mustard aioli from TJs)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil

Whisk the mustard and vinegar together first until very well combined. Then add the olive oil and whisk together for a few minutes.  Proportions are hard to say exactly for this, but I usually start with about 2 tbl of mustard, add in 1 tbls of vinegar, and then add olive oil to taste.  You really have to try it for yourself. You really can’t mess this up as long as you whisk the vinegar and mustard first and then add the oil slowly afterwards.

This salad comes together so beautifully, and if you have all the ingredients on hand (which, let’s be honest, how often does that happen?) it is so easy to make.  Even if you normally don’t have this stuff at home, make it a point to try this salad sometime.  It’s delicious and stays with you for hours, thanks to the protein from the tuna and egg.

An hour later I had some dessert: healthy but still indulgent

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Plain greek yogurt mixed with truvia, vanilla, unsweetened cocoa powder, and semisweet chocolate chips. Yum!

This morning I got down to business at bootcamp.

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Tough workout! Especially because I decided to wear all black and we spent most of the time running. All in all, including the warmup run-through of this WOD and the core work at the end, this was only a 30 minute workout.  However, I worked my butt off and my muscles feel like they’re still twitching! Crazy.

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Feeling exhausted but strong and powerful at the same time–the BEST kind of workout.

I came home and took two L-glutamine supplements hoping that will help my soreness when I head back to bootcamp tomorrow.  Breakfast before work was simple:

ImageKashi GoLean + flax seeds + banana + almond milk. Quick and easy, because I had a conference call for work to get on!

I’m feeling really motivated for a full week of healthy eating and challenging workouts! Maybe it’s the changing of the seasons but it always gives me that extra boost of motivation.

Question: when during the year are you most motivated to eat right and exercise? Is it only when bikini season is right around the corner?