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the barking crab

I opted out of a workout this morning since my legs are really feeling like they need a break from running after all of our walking around this weekend!

All I could think about was oatmeal. It has been a few weeks since my last real bowl and I woke up with a hungry tummy!

I took the time to make a batch of Steel Cut Oats and boy was it worth it.  Once the oats had about 5 minutes left to cook, I stirred in 1/2 of a mashed banana and a dash of almond milk for creaminess.  I topped my oatmeal with the other 1/2 of the banana, 1 tbsp of chocolate peanut butter and some homemade chocolate banana granola.  Yummy.

Served with a few pieces of juicy watermelon.  Nothing says summer more than watermelon!

Once our guests were ready to go, we headed downtown to walk around.  Around noon I split a Prana Bar with Brant and munched on an apple.

I received some samples of Prana Bars a few weeks ago and am just getting around to trying them.  I will write a complete review once I try all of the flavors, so stay tuned.  I will say, though, that I really enjoyed this Supercharger Blueberry Coconut Prana Bar!  It was the consistency of a Larabar, with the base being dates, but had a bit of crunch due to the puffed amaranth that I loved.  The coconut flavor really stood out and a hint of blueberry came through as well.  The bars contain all natural ingredients and are mostly raw.  Prana has three varieties of bars – PranaBar, Supercharger and Boomi Bar.  The flavors sound delicous, I can’t wait to try them all!

After walking along the harbor for awhile and taking in the sites, we made our way to The Barking Crab for a late lunch.

I’ve never seen the footbridge open before!

The Barking Crab is a Southie landmark that sits right on the water.

We had a bit of a wait with our lobster buzzer, so we enjoyed a beer.

They serve mostly fried seafood, but had a few other options as well.

Brant and our guests enjoyed the fried seafood while I opted for a mixed greens salad with grilled shrimp.

Fried food always sounds great, but I hate how I feel afterwards.  If I ever feel myself ready to order a fried dish, I just remind myself how I always hate myself after I eat it and 99.9% of the time it makes up my mind.  It never tastes as good as it looks anyways.  And, once I am filled up on my healthier dish, I am satisfied with my decision!

The shrimp on my salad was great!  It was seasoned very well.

After lunch, I snacked on some dark chocolate and dried strawberries while I continued to enjoy the weather!

Once dinnertime rolled around, we wanted to keep it really simple.  We have had 4 days of constantly being on the go and eating out, so the last thing we wanted to do was cook!  I took 5 minutes and heated up some Bean Chili which hit the spot.

Served with some Dr. Kracker’s seeded flatbread as croutons in my new Ramen Noodle bowl!

This bowl is perfect for comfort foods because it fits perfectly in your hand.

Those slots in the bowl hold a set of chopsticks.

Of course, I was craving something sweet after dinner, so I decided to whip up some banana softserve!  I made about 1.5 frozen bananas topped with a mixture of melted dark chocolate and peanut butter (probably 1/8 of a chocolate bar and 1/2 tbsp of PB!) and sprinkled with a few cacao nibs.

(and my camera ate the photo!)

A yummy dessert was a perfect end to our Memorial Day!

downtown

Happy Memorial Day!

I woke up feeling super groggy and with a pounding headache yesterday.  UGH!  I think it was going to bed so much later than normal…and eating dinner so much later.  Nothing a little juice can’t fix!

I swear – fresh squeezed juice helps every time.  It is loaded with antioxidants and helps to give you that boost that you sometimes need in the morning (without drinking coffee!).

In my juice:

  • 2 huge carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 apple
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp spirulina stirred in at the end

I chugged my juice and it helped so much.  I felt alive after drinking it!

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae.  It is 70% complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids that our bodies need in a perfect balance.  It also contains a high concentration of nutrients and is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, which makes it a great mix-in for smoothies or juices!

After my juice, we sat down to breakfast on the porch!  That is one of my favorite things about spring and summer.  I love eating on the porch!  While everyone else munched on pancakes and bacon that Brant whipped up, I made up a big bowl of Greek yogurt, chia seeds, museli, banana, granola, cacao nibs and a drizzle of honey.

On the side, I had some juicy watermelon.

The perfect summer day breakfast if you ask me (tied with a smoothie, of course!). 🙂

We spent the day walking around downtown and stopped for lunch at B. Good where I got a big Hatchback salad with spinach, arugula, almonds, dried apples, dried cherries and balsamic vinaigrette on the side.  I snagged a few of Brant’s ‘baked’ fries as well.

Then, hit up Emack & Bolio’s for some black raspberry ice cream.

Nothing is better than walking around the city on a warm day with ice cream!

Once home, I headed out for a quick run before dinner.  I needed a pick me up since I was feeling super tired.  I ran for 30 minutes…it just felt great to get out there, even though Castle Island was packed with people.

Post-run snack:

Coconut water and a slice of multigrain with almond butter and apples to hold me over until another late dinner of Mexican!!

We hit up Border Cafe in Harvard Square to show our guests the area.  The place was packed!  I ordered a Sangria which I sipped throughout the meal.

For dinner, I chose the Vegetarian Fajitas with no rice and extra black beans.  Check out my spread!

I made up a plate with one cup of the black beans, all of the veggies and the salsa and guacamole.  I skipped the cheese and white tortillas.  I always forget how much I love mexican until I have it again!

After dinner, we hit up an outdoor bar in Harvard Square – Tory Row.

It was a cute place with the doors and windows opening to a patio.  Lots of hightop tables and very minimal decorations.

I ordered the Lillet Spritzer which was a white dessert wine with seltzer water and a squeeze of lemon.  It was very refreshing on a warm night!

Another long day!  Good thing it’s a Monday holiday today.

freedom trail

**warning!  this post is a long one! 🙂

We had a fun day being tourists and exploring Boston yesterday!  Even though we live here, we take for granted how historical our city is.  Luckily, Brant’s cousins are in town for the weekend which is making us play tourist and I love it.

After breakfast, we headed downtown to walk the Freedom Trail.

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure.  Preserved and dedicated by the citizens of Boston in 1958, when the wrecking ball threatened, the Freedom Trail today is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. (Source)

We made all of the stops immediately downtown:

1. Boston Common where there are hundreds of flags set up to honor Memorial Day and the fallen troops.

2. The State House

3. Park Street Church which is known for supporting Abolitionist causes and hosting anti-slavery lectures in the early 1800’s.

4. Granary Burial Ground – the resting place of many of Boston’s famous sons – Paul Revere, John Hancock, Sam Adams and James Otis.

5. King’s Chapel – a non-Puritan church used by the King’s men who occupied Boston to enforce British law.

6. A stop at Old City Hall to ride the Donkey and smell the flowers. 🙂

Then, we continued on.

7. Old South Meeting House – which was made famous by the Boston Tea Party!

8. The Old State House which was used before the Revolution, and after was the first capital building in MA.

A mini replica to see the whole thing…

While walking around, I snacked on a Coconut water (Zico’s Lime) and an apple to tide me over.

Then, we got hungry!  Our plan was to eat in the North End once we got there, but after the Old State House we be-lined it through Fanueil Hall to Pizzeria Regina!

As usual, there was a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it – trust me.  Luckily, it was a nice day out so we could enjoy the weather while waiting.  Once inside, we ordered some grub.  The six of us ordered 2 large and 1 small pizzas…and we finished all but 3 slices.  I guess we were hungry!

I enjoyed a few Broccoli and Cherry Tomato slices (which were small because they were from the small pizza) and a refreshing beer!  Plus, another slice of the eggplant, which I didn’t love.

This was the lunch we all wanted after a long morning of walking around and learning Boston history.  We were all very happy campers.

We ended up skipping the rest of the trail…but, we’ll be back to finish it in the near future. 🙂

After some relaxing with cocktails and a snack of banana and peanut butter for me, we headed out for a late Sushi dinner at Douzo.  I started with 2 tempura sweet potatoes.

And, ordered the Seaweed Salad and Garden Roll with brown rice and filled with lettuce, asparagus, cucumber and carrot (hold the mayo!) for my meal.

What a great jam-packed day!

how to cook your own black beans

We have a busy day planned today!  It involves the Freedom Trail which I haven’t officially done since field trips in grade school…I’m excited!

I headed out for a run this morning in the gorgeous weather.  I did some loops around Castle Island to stay close to home and covered 5.6 miles in 49 minutes – yahoo!  It feels good to be running consistently again (or at least for the past 4 days, but I plan to keep it up).

Before my run, I fueled up with 2 small slices of Fruit & Nut Manna Bread spread with my homemade Crazy Nut Butter.  And, some black/green tea straight from Korea!  (The mug is from Korea, too!)

I got home and Brant was cooking up a storm, so I refueled with a small green monster (1 banana, 1.5 cup spinach, scant 1 scoop chocolate Vega Health Optimizer and 3/4 cup almond milk) and 2 scrambled eggs with cheese, salsa and a slice of toast.

We are headed out the door for our day of fun, so I thought I would leave you with some cooking lessons. 🙂  I hope you enjoy!

I have discovered that cooking your own beans is definitely the way to go!  I cooked a huge batch of chickpeas over a month ago, and I am still enjoying them.

The steps for cooking all types beans are pretty much the same.  Cooking time will vary, but other than that it is pretty simple.  Even though I posted about chickpeas awhile ago, I have received quite a few comments and emails about how to cook your own beans, so I figured I would post about black beans!

I highly recommend  making a big batch of beans at once, instead of making multiple small batches.  This way it will be convenient for you.  I think that one of the biggest reasons why people love canned beans is their convenience.  Well, how easy is it to take a container of home-cooked beans out of the freezer?!  Easier than taking a can out of the pantry, a can opener out of your drawer and opening the beans, if you ask me. 🙂  Plus, they taste SO much better!

I picked up 2 pounds of organic black beans the last time I was at Whole Foods.  You could get them in the bulk bin section too, but they didn’t have them when I was there.

Each bag is 1 pound and was only $1.99!!!

How to Cook Black Beans

1.  Lay your beans out on a cookie sheet (or counter) and quickly look through them to make sure there are no stones, bad beans, etc.

2.  Then, put your beans into a large covered container filled with water.  The beans will expand a lot, so make sure that you leave ample room.  I put 1 pound in each container.

They had expanded a little bit even after an hour!

3.  Leave your beans to soak overnight (or at least 8 hours).  Soaking your beans will make them cook faster and will allow your body to digest them better.

4.  When you come back 8 hours later, your water will be black!  And, when you open them, you will see how much your beans expanded.  They were almost up to the top of the jars here.

5.  Rinse the beans a few times until the water is clearer.  I placed a small handheld strainer over the top and drained while keeping the beans in the jars.  Then, I added more water and rinsed a few times.

6.  Dump your beans into your slow-cooker.  You can cook your beans in a pot on the stove as well, however, I prefer the crockpot!  You can leave the beans in there and not worry about leaving the house or sleeping with them cooking.

7.  Fill the crockpot up with water until the beans are completely covered by about 1 inch of water.

8.  Place the lid on and set your timer to LOW for 8 hours.

9.  I went to sleep and never checked the beans again until the morning.  I woke up to this…

10.  Test the beans to make sure they are cooked and then dump them into a big strainer and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.

11.  Place the beans onto a cookie sheet to dry and cool.  I placed one of my cookie sheets in the freezer after they cooled.  I find that it is better to freeze the beans on a cookie sheet and then place them into a container with them frozen.  This prevents the beans from all clumping together!

12.  After your beans are frozen or dry, store them in containers or bags in your refrigerator or freezer!

I placed 3 containers in the freezer and one in the fridge so that I can use them this weekend.

I tend to cook all of my beans plain and then season them when I am using them.  This way, I can enjoy them in different ways.  You could add some seasonings to the water in your crockpot while simmering to add flavor.

See how simple that was?  Yes, there are a lot of steps, but nothing takes to long.  The most you are doing is moving the beans from one place to the next.  This will save you loads of money and you will be surprised at how much better they taste.

2 pouns of beans at $3.98 makes at least 10 cans of beans, which comes out to be less than $0.40 per can!  You can’t beat that. 🙂

red sox game

We headed to the Red Sox game tonight.  It was a gorgeous night in the city, not too hot with a cool breeze, so it was perfect for a game.

We had awesome seats behind home plate.

I love the energy at Fenway Park.  Everyone is always so excited to be there.  But, the game tonight was pretty boring.  Kansas City got 7 runs in the 4th inning which set the tone for the rest of the game.

It sure was fun to be there, though!

Before the game, I obviously ate some dinner.  I got home from work too late too meet Brant and his cousins for dinner, so I grabbed a quick Almond Butter & Jelly Sandwich on whole wheat before heading out.

I had a few minutes to kill once I got over to Fenway and I was still hungry, so I stopped by UFood Grill.

I had never been there before, but the concept is pretty cool.

From the website:

Real food — it’s that simple

The most important thing at UFood Grill is taste, hands down! Our chef has designed a broad menu of better-for-you versions of traditional favorites and innovative original creations. We take a back-to-basics approach to tasty, healthful cooking, where everything we serve is rooted in quality—from choice meats, to natural and organic ingredients, fresh produce, whole grains, and light cheeses and dressings. All of our menu items are baked, grilled or steamed. Nothing is fried—we don’t even have fryers in our restaurants!

They serve all sorts of stuff – wraps, panini’s, burgers, soups, smoothies, frozen yogurt and salads.  I was really excited to try it out, but tonight I was just in the mood for some veggies to pair with my PB&J and I needed something really quick!  Luckily, they have a lot of sides to choose from and they are all $1.99.  I ordered a side of the steamed veggies and vegetarian black beans.

Don’t let the photo fool you, these sides are small!  But, they were so good!  The veggies were steamed just right…not soggy and limp as many steamed veggies are in restaurants.  And, the black beans were so flavorful.  It was a great compliment to my sandwich.  It is great to have an option for healthy foods as ‘fast food’.  These were real veggies and beans.  I would go back there in a second to try something else (or just for the sides again!).  It was good to get some more food before heading into Fenway where the healthy options are quite limited.  Luckily, with a full belly I didn’t crave a big soft pretzel!

After the game the cravings hit and we took our guests to J.P. Lick’s for some ice cream!  I had a small with the Chocolate Fudge sorbet, which was super chocolaty.

Yay for 3 day weekends!

vega & smoothies

TGIF!  And, a 3 day weekend!  Yahoo!  The summer has begun. 🙂

We have a fun weekend planned, starting with a Red Sox game tonight, so I can’t wait to get out of work.

I wasn’t feeling all that great when I woke up this morning, so I sipped on some tea while I did some work.  When I was feeling up for it, I made up a smoothie.  A twist on the Chocolate Cherry Bomb:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 packet Chocolate Vega Health Optimizer

I love my smoothies!

For lunch, I grabbed another 13 Bean & Veggie Chili from my freezer.  I forgot to snap a photo, but imagine it looking like this…minus the crackers.

I also snacked on a homemade granola bar and a yogurt, which I put in the freezer to make it more cold and creamy!  Have you ever done this?  If not, you should!  It’s almost like ice cream. 🙂

Now, onto something fun…

I’m not sure if I have talked about Vega at all on the blog, so I’ll mention it again. 🙂  In a nutshell, Vega = Awesome!  They offer a few different bars and powdered protein that are 100% plant based.  The company was started by Brendan Brazier who is an Ironman triathlete.  He eats a vegan diet and needed vegan bars and powders to fuel him through the Ironman challenge.  So, he came up with a plant based protein powder, sports drink and bar.

(Source)

I have not had the bars or sports drink, but I have had the Smoothie Infusion and the Health Optimizer.  My favorite is the Health Optimizer, which they have in a few flavors including Vanilla Chai, Chocolate and Berry.  It includes a combination of protein from hemp, yellow pea, brown rice, flax and chlorella.  Together they combine to give your body all of the essential amino acids that it needs to thrive.  I could go on and on about how much I love the products and the concept behind them, but instead I will point you to their website so that you can see all of the wonderful features and benefits of vega – check it out here.

(Source)

Vega has been around for awhile, but I just found out about them recently from Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw.  Back in February, she wrote a post on her interview with Brendan Brazier which was awesome.  he made some great points that made me think about the way I eat now and how I fuel myself for my workouts and refuel afterwards.  This one part really caught my attention about refueling after a workout:

Really, exercise is nothing more than muscle tissues and cells being broken down.  And when you rest, the body grows back stronger — it overcompensates.  Good food provides the building blocks for this process. The body pools the resources you take in through food and helps you to grow muscle back.  If you eat poor nutrition, cells don’t grow back after athletic strain—they don’t have the resources—or they grow back abnormally (which can proceed to cancer).  So although lots of athletes load up on junk food after grueling performance—they figure they can afford to, or that they’ve earned it, now that a competition is over—it’s actually the worst time to eat junk food, because that’s when the body will assimilate most quickly and seriously.  If you want to eat junk, fine, but eat it later—not right after a workout, when the body will assimilate it directly, and be less likely to filter it out.

Brendan makes many great points throughout his interview, so be sure to check out the full interview if you have interest!

A smoothie would be a perfect post-workout treat.

Now, I just have to add that I do not think that protein powders should replace whole food protein in your diet.  However, I do think that after a strenuous workout, it is a quick and easy way to immediately get protein into your muscles for recovery.  It is a ‘quick’ fix when you are on the go and do not have anything else to fuel your body.  I do usually add a form of protein powder to my smoothies because it is a good way for me to get in some extra protein in the morning or after a hard workout, when I normally just want fruit and/or carbs!  I have stopped eating meat and do run alot, so some extra protein is good for me, but this may not be for everyone.  Make sure that you do what is best for your body.  I am just here to give you some tips along the way! 🙂

Have a great weekend!  I’m off to the Sox game!

chocolate covered raisins

This morning I woke up early to get some work done, however, about 5 minutes into my work I realized that I could not concentrate!  I kept looking outside and seeing the trees blow in the cool breeze…I needed to go for a run!

So, I threw on some running clothes, laced up my sneaks, strapped on my Garmin and hit the pavement.  I ran my new favorite running loop around UMASS Boston.  It is exactly 5.6 miles from door to door.  Today it took me 53 minutes.

Once home, I decided I needed to lift some weights.  I kept it light and fairly quick since I haven’t lifted weights in what seems like months!

At Home Weight Session

  • 21’s (3 sets)
  • Squats (3 sets of 12)
  • Overhead Press on One Leg (3 sets of 12)
  • Deadlift with Upright Row (3 sets of 12)
  • Tricep Kickbacks (3 sets of 12)
  • Pushups (3 sets of 12)
  • YTA’s in Static Squat (2 sets of 12)

I could feel the burn!

After my workout, I made up some breakfast because I was famished.  We don’t have many veggies left in the house (except carrots and celery – which I normally keep on hand for juice!), so I knew that I wouldn’t be getting many veggies in at lunch and dinner.  I decided I needed a Green Monster for breakfast to pack in some green nutrients.

Served with 2 small slices of Fruit & Nut Manna bread with homemade Crazy Butter.

YUM!

For lunch, I didn’t feel like more chili or soup when I was packing my lunch last night (probably because it was so hot out!), so I filled up with Yogurt, Granola and a Mango.

Unfortunately, this type of lunch never holds me over and I ate a handful of chocolate almonds and some dried apple a few hours later which was the last of my snacks in my desk.  Why didn’t I pack some carrots and almond butter? Sometimes my brain is asleep as I pack my lunch…

I contemplated hitting up the vending machine, but everything in there is just gross, so I fixed myself some dinner immediately upon arriving home.

Leftover Coconut Red Lentil Soup!

With a small salad of pea shoots, Parmesan cheese and lemon vinaigrette (fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, pepper).  And, some pita.

Mmmmm…

And then I made something wonderful for dessert.

Chocolate Covered Cherries & Raisins!

Angela over at Oh She Glows comes up with some pretty delicious recipes.  This one was no different.  She made these 3 ingredient chocolate covered raisins the other day and I obviously had to try them.

These may be the simplest thing you will ever make:

  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used a dark chocolate bar)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups raisins (I used a mix of dried cherries and raisins for fun)

Heat the chocolate and coconut butter together until melted and smooth.

Then, stir in your raisins and cherries and mix until evenly coated.

Once coated in the chocolate mixture, spread the mix on a parchment lined cookie sheet (so that they don’t stick to the cookie sheet) and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes until hardened.

Break the pieces apart and enjoy!

They came out more like raisin and cherry clusters, which were wonderful.

Enjoy!