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a grumbling tummy

The day started off like most days do these days…I woke up starving!!!  In fact, my grumbling tummy sometimes actually wakes me up!  So, I headed straight to the kitchen for breakfast.

Oat bran cooked in milk with a crumbled slice of banana bread and a scoop of caramel peanut butter.

With my favorite Ginger Peach tea (that I found in decaf!!).

Happy Holidays 🙂

I also made up a smoothie to bring with me to work because it seemed like today was going to be one of those days when I needed a second breakfast.

Cherry Almond Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix well.  Serve chilled.

I was right…around 10:30 it was time for my smoothie!

Which made lunch a little last today, but still just as good.  Leftover Mac & Cheese from last night, a yogurt and a green apple.

Due to my late lunch, I didn’t get hungry for too much mid-afternoon.  But, I did feel like something, so I snacked on some dried fruit and hot tea.

I’m off to dinner…have a great night!

broccoli crunch

Yesterday morning, I made up my new favorite smoothie again – Butterfinger!  It’s funny, I definitely go through phases.  A few months ago, I couldn’t get enough of the Chocolate Cherry Bomb Smoothie, but now all I want is Butterfinger!

If you like butterfingers or toffee or butterscotch…and smoothies, you’ll love this one. 🙂

Mid-morning, I snacked on some dried fruit that I picked up at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend.

Dried kiwi, pineapple, strawberries, cherries, papaya and golden delicious apples.

Lunch had 2 parts:

Salad

Romaine lettuce with dried cranberries, almonds, apple and honey balsamic dressing.  This is my favorite salad!

Yogurt

Plain greek yogurt with granola and honey.

Mid-afternoon, I was craving some chocolate milk!

After a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood, Brant and I got started on dinner.  It has been awhile since we’ve made a dish from 101cookbooks.com, so we tried one out tonight.

Broccoli Crunch

We followed the recipe exactly, except we subbed onions for shallots and added sugar snap peas for 1/2 of the broccoli.  We caramelized the onions until sweet.

Mix all of the veggies/nuts/fruits in a bowl.

Then, add the delicious almond butter sauce!

The sauce is by far the best part of the dish…next time, I would make extra!

Served over a bed of millet (cooked in our rice cooker with salt, pepper and olive oil – about 40 minutes).

This recipe was simple, quick and delicious.  Can’t get much better than that for a weeknight meal!

There were plenty of leftovers for lunch today, we well!

fruit + smoothie

Waking up to sun after a day of rain is so wonderful!  And, mixing up a delicious new smoothie is also wonderful!

Kristen of Kristen’s Raw comes up with some awesome smoothie recipes.  She created the Chocolate Cherry Bomb Smoothie that I am so fond of.  Yesterday, she posted a new recipe for the Vivacious Princess Smoothie, so I knew that I needed to give it a try today.

It contains bananas, cherries, protein powder, cashew butter, and I added spinach.  See the recipe here.

It is a gorgeous pink color, which makes it even more fun to drink!  I think this is my new favorite smoothie.  It is so different from the chocolate cherry bomb (except for the cherries!) and I love the different taste.  You should give this a try!  It’s nice to change it up with something new every once in awhile.  I add peanut butter to my smoothie’s all the time, but I never would have thought to add cashew butter!

I took it to go, as usual.  This smoothie makes 3 cups!  Which seems like a lot, but it adds up to about 450 calories with protein, fat and lots of nutrients which makes it a perfect breakfast for me.

Backing up to last night…

As you know from the blog, I love dried fruit.  I have probably talked about it on here 50+ times!  Organic, unsweetened dried fruit is my favorite.  Not only is it free of added sugars, but it tastes so much better.  It tastes like the fruit, not like an artificial candy version of the fruit.  I just love it.

My favorite dried fruit, however, is fruit that I dry myself…in my dehydrator!  It tastes great and is cheap and easy to make.  You could use your oven on really low heat to do this also, but the nice thing about the dehydrator is that I can leave it on overnight while I am sleeping…I’m not sure I would leave my oven on while I am sleeping!  But, a day at home would be perfect for oven drying…

I like to try and dehydrate different fruits that you can’t find as easily…I have tried so many things and the majority of them work just fine!  More watery fruits take longer.  Last night, I cut of the following fruits and placed them in my dehydrator at 110 degrees overnight.  Dehydrating at a low temperature keeps all of the fruits nutrients intact. 

Canteloupe

Honeydew Melon

An apple and a peach

A pear and a few pieces of watermelon

This morning, I woke up to a fragrant kitchen and lots of perfectly dried fruit!

I have said it before, and I will say it again – dried fruit makes and excellent on the go snack!  The honeydew melon and watermelon were two fruits that I have never had dried before and the verdict?  They were amazing!  Still super sweet and pretty much tasted like candy.  I’m upset I only did a few pieces of the watermelon…good thing I have a whole summer full of watermelon to dry.

I wish I could send you all some of this delicious dried fruit!

megafruit

A few weeks ago, Megafruit sent me samples of their three delicious types of dried fruit: Baby Pineapple, Mangosteen and Lychee.

As you know, I absolutely love dried fruit, especially (and normally only) dried fruit without added sugar so I was psyched to be able to sample these 3 fruits that I had not tried before.  I love dried fruit as a snack, as fuel during long runs or bike rides and as dessert.  It is easy to take with you on road trips and vacation as well.

According to their website, Megafruit is the new superfruit! These 3 fruits offer an incredible list of vitamins and nutrients and are dried without any preservatives or added sugars.  I ate all of the fruit while I was on the go, just by itself.

Let’s get to the fruit!

First, I tried the Baby Pineapple.  (my camera liked it so much, that it ate the picture!!)

I never even knew that baby pineapples existed.  How cute are they?!

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I love unsweetened dried pineapple, so I knew that I would love this as well.  I was right!  Compared to the normal dried pineapple that I am used to eating, the baby pineapple was smaller.

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It is also a little bit sweeter and more tender, but tastes just like mouth-watering fresh pineapple.  The pineapple was sweet, but not too sweet.  It was a real sweet, not a fake sugary sweet.  This was by far my favorite of the 3!

Megafruit’s website gives the following information about the pineapple –

Contains a myriad of beneficial minerals including:

  • Micronutrients may protect against cancer and break up blood clots
  • Bromelins that may block reduces swelling related to arthritis, sore throat, sinusitis
  • Manganese, aiding the healthy growth of tissue and bones
  • Fiber that will help in digestion and stimulate kidneys and aid in flushing toxins from the body, helping you to LIVE LIGHT

Next up, I tried the Lychee.

I have only had lychee a few times, and mainly in a martini, so I didn’t know too much about them.  They were originally grown in Southern China, but they have now spread to some US states, such as Hawaii and Florida.

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You eat the inside part of the Lychee.  The white part is sweet and juicy.

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When I dug into the dried lychee, I was expecting something sweet.  Boy, was this sweet!  Delicious, but super sweet (and again…it was a real sweet, not a sugary sweet).  It doesn’t really taste like anything else that I have had.  Lychee’s have a very unique flavor.

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I would buy this again in a second!  It wasn’t a dried fruit that I could eat a whole bag of at once, but a few pieces mixed into some trail mix or with other dried fruit was perfect.

From the Megafruit website:

  • Just 9 lychees or a handful of the fruit meets an adult’s recommended daily requirement of Vitamin C (Contains 72mg per 100 grams)
  • Low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium
  • Rich in dietary fiber
  • Good source of other minerals such as copper – for production of red blood cells; potassium – to control heart rate and blood pressure and B- Vitamins – to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins
  • Contains flavonoids which have proven to be effective against the growth of cancer cells

Lastly, the Mangosteen.

I had no idea what to expect from the Mangosteen.  I had never even heard of it before, so therefore had never tried it.  Apparently mangosteen is not related to a mango.  It is known as the world’s best tasting fruit.  They are grown in warm climates in Thailand and the surrounding areas, as well as in the Caribbean.  The mangosteen is a round, purple fruit slightly smaller than a tennis ball. To eat it, you can crush the brittle yet moist rind with your palms to reveal the pure-white delicacy inside. The bitter rind is inedible, and the fruit comes in the form of variously sized wedged segments, the largest of which may hold a solitary seed. (source)

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I have never had a fresh mangosteen, but I have heard that the taste is nothing like you have tasted before.  Sweet, but tart at the same time.  The dried fruit was no different.  At first, I was not sure that I liked it.  I was not sure what it tasted like at all.  But, after a few pieces, it grew on me.  The tartness hits first, but then it finishes with a sweetness mixed with a smokiness.  The smokiness seems to linger into the aftertaste.

I really enjoyed being able to try the dried mangosteen, but now it just makes me want to try the fresh fruit so much more!  I think a trip to Thailand or Costa Rica needs to be in my future. 🙂

From the Megafruit website:

  • Called the queen of fruits
  • Has been called the most delicious fruit in the world
  • Rarely available in the US market due to the delicate environment it needs to grow in
  • High Level of Xanthones – considered to be the most powerful of all antioxidants with benefits researched to cover:
    • Improved cardiovascular health
    • Natural antibiotic
    • Antiviral
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Anti- aging

Thank you so much, Megafruit for letting me try these three delicious megafruits!

stability & strength

I finally started  my day with a workout!  It has been over a week since that has happened. 🙂

I chugged some water, then got down to business with a stability/strength routine.  It is extremely important to make sure that your stability is top notch.  Not only do we use stability while we exercise, but we use it in everyday life.  Did you know that 70% of ACL (and other joint injuries) take place in non-contact events, such as stepping off of a curb?

I am a runner, and we run in a straight line (well, most of the time), so it is rare that we change planes of motion as other athletes do.  Think football players darting all over the field and changing the way that they move in a matter of seconds.  Therefore, our joints are normally not as stable as other athletes.  This also proves true for the swimming and cycling that I do!

I have been experiencing some knee and ankle pain lately, and talked to a few trainers and did research myself, and decided that I need to take a step back from strength training to stabilize my joints.  This does not mean that I need to stop lifting weights, but it does mean that I am going to lift lighter weights and do more circuit training in the coming weeks.

  • Instead of doing bicep curls, I will do bicep curls standing on one leg.
  • Instead of doing lunges, I will do a lunge + lift.
  • Instead of doing tricep kickbacks, I will do them while in a static squat.
  • Instead of doing chest presses, I will do chest presses on a stability ball.

You get the idea, right?

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These stability moves will strengthen my core, legs and arms and sometimes prove to be better for the normal person than a heavy strength routine that so many of us are accustomed to these days.

Stability is important in our everyday lives, and I want to get myself more stable in my joints in order to improve my athletic performances, and to decrease my risk of injury.  Everyone should start a new routine with stability.

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I started my new program today with the following 35 minute routine:

  • Chair squats with hammer curls (3 sets)
  • One leg squats, alternating legs (3 sets)
  • Bicep curls on 1 leg, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Static squat with triceps kickback (3 sets)
  • Overhead press on 1 leg, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Chest press on stability ball (4 sets)
  • Lunge and lift, alternating sides (2 sets)
  • Static quarter squat with YTA arm movements (2 sets)
  • 12 Pushups to Plank for 1 min. (2 sets)
  • Situp circuit – Vups, Bicycles, Worm (2 sets)

My legs were screaming – so. many. squats.  It was GREAT!

If your goal is to tone your muscle, and not gain bulk, make sure to lift weights s-l-o-w-l-y!  So many people bring the weights up and down so quickly, when in fact, the weights should be lowered slowly in order to engage the muscle.  Try it out, you will see results!

On to breakfast!

Oats with nut butter for post workout fuel to aid in muscle repair.

Steel cut oats with almond milk, banana and ground flaxmeal.  Topped with 1 tbsp maple cinnamon AB, 1 tbsp South America berry jam, 1 tbsp kaia chocolate granola, coconut flakes.

I actually made it look pretty today, despite the fact that I was running out the door.

Lunch consisted of more Millet Patties, on a bed of spinach mixed with pom-orange poppyseed dressing.

And, Key-Lime yogurt with Raspberry granola.

The yogurt was awesome, and more like a dessert.

Snacks included a grapefruit, dried pineapples and cinnamon almonds for some pre-run fuel.

Hopefully this rain holds off for my run!

stress busters

I changed things up today with my Wheatberry bowl for breakfast!  Instead of the bowl being made up of mostly wheatberries, I wanted a lighter mix.  So, I cut up a pear, drizzled it with a little agave and cinnamon, and popped it in the mocrowave for 45 seconds.

Then, I added about 1/3 cup of pre-cooked wheatberries to the bowl and put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds, just until warmed. 

Next came some Stonyfield Maple Vanilla yogurt, which I picked up this weekend.  It smells so mapley and delicious – and tasted that way too!

I ended up dumping this entire yogurt onto my pears and wheatberries to make it more of a yogurt bowl.  Then, topped it with some dried fruit and toasted pecans.

Mmmm…I liked this better than the previous 2 mornings!  I love the heated up pear.

I still have mixed feelings about eating dairy…

I also had some tea with breakfast.  You all know that I love my loose leaf tea, and much prefer it over teabags due to the flavor!  In case you were wondering how I brew my loose leaf tea, I thought I would take some photos of my strainer.

I have a tea strainer that I use to brew the tea before placing it into my mug.  I purchased mine at Teavana awhile ago, but numerous tea shops sell them now!

You scoop the tea leaves into the strainer, i use 2 teaspoons since this is a 16 ounce container, and pour the hot water over the leaves, then close the lid and let steep for the necessary amount of time.  Once time is up, you just place the whole strainer on top of a mug and let it drain in!

It is such an easy way to brew loose leaf tea!  When the bottom is pushed on, the tea flows out, but it closes when it is just sitting on a table.

The day flew by so quickly, that I didn’t even have time to stop for my mid-morning snack or lunch until 3pm!!  So unlike me!  I was starving once 2:30 rolled around, so I scarfed down an orange and then heated up by lunch to eat around 3.

Lunch was more leftover stuffing from the baked acorn squash on a bed of spinach for some greens!  I was feeling like I needed some greens in my life, as not too many were consumed yesterday.

I’m planning to hit up the gym for a run and some weights after work, so hopefully this super late lunch will be digested by then!  Lots of carbs in the rice, so it should be a good pre-workout meal.

Work has been extremely busy lately (which is great in this economy!), however I find myself becoming more and more anxious about my life before and after work!  I try to get up early to work out, but my bedtime has become later and later which does not allow for an early wake up routine!  So, I have been trying to workout after work, which I hate!  While at the gym, I just constantly think about everything I need to do when I get home, which defeats the purpose of my anxiety reducing workout. 🙂  I know that I am stressed about trivial things, but I still needed to find a way to make myself less anxious.

I searched around the internet a bit and came across a post on Lil Veggie Patch about Gretchen Rubin’s Book, The Happiness Project.  It just so happens that she has a blog where she gives tips and yesterday’s tip was 20 Easy Tips For Lowering Your Daily Stress!  What perfect timing.  I made my own list from Gretchen’s list and added a few of my own.

Daily Stress Busting Tips

1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier, so that you are not rushing.

2. Always make your bed, it just makes you feel better and more organized when you walk into your bedroom.

3. Start off your day with exercise.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast to start your day off right!

5. Spend 15 minutes a day picking up, so that you wake up to a clean house.

6. Laugh once a day.

7. Pack your lunch the night before.

8. Read before bed in order to clear your head of the daily grind.

9. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

10. If you still find yourself getting stressed, then stop for a minute, walk away and take a long deep breath!

These might be small things to do, but they really help me!  Something as simple as making my bed can make me feel 100% better when I get home from work.  I always spend a few minutes before bed tiding up because it makes me feel better in the morning to wake up to a clean house.

What do you do to rid yourself of stress?

sunday night prep

Well, in this case it was actually Monday Night Prep, due to the holiday, but you get the idea!

While I was waiting for our acorn squash dinner to cook last night, I got a jump start on preparing meals for the week.  I usually try to prepare my lunches the night before to make my mornings less rushed.  I find that when I pack them in the morning, I am running around and therefore, don’t always pack the most nutritious lunch.  Usually, I am pressed for time, and just pull random items from the cabinet and fridge to bring with me.  These are also the days that I end up snacking all day long because my lunch is not filling enough!

This week, I planned out my lunches before we went grocery shopping.  I plan to eat leftovers of our dinners a few days.  I also wanted something a little different for breakfast this week!  I am growing tired of my same old oatmeal or smoothies each morning, so I thought I would prepare something more fun and exciting for breakfast this week!  I have been wanting to make wheatberry bowls from 101cookbooks.com for awhile now, but I never seem to have enough time!  This is just the week to make them!

I cooked 1 cup of wheatberries according to the package instructions.  Wheatberries take at least an hour to cook, so this is definitely something that you need to do in advance!  After my wheatberries were cooked, I just popped them into a container and put them in the fridge to use each morning.

I also cut up some dried fruit – 3 whole dried bananas, 1/4 cup dried ginger and 1/4 cup dried apricots (all of these contain no sugar!).  I mixed all of the fruit together and placed it into an airtight bowl for safe keepings. 🙂

I also toasted some pecans.

The last thing that I did was carmelize some pears!  I sliced 2 pears and cooked them with 1 tsp butter over medium heat until they were soft and a little browned.  They came out so good and sweet!

I woke up this morning knowing that breakfast was waiting for me – no waiting for my oats to cook this morning!

I scooped 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries into a bowl and topped it with 1/2 carmelized pear, handful of mixed dried fruit, a dollop of plain greek yogurt and a drizzle of pure maple syrup!

YUM!  This was the best breakfast ever!  A wonderful change of pace from my normal oats and smoothies.  I was in need of a break for a week.  I love the sweetness of the maple syrup and pears, and the spiciness of the dried ginger!  The yogurt makes everything mix together just perfectly.  This is a delicious breakfast that would be perfect served to a large group for brunch!  I will be eating it all week.

Lunch was also packed last night, since I had some extra time.  I made some tuna fish mixed with stoneground mustard, celery seed and chopped celery.  I hate mayo, so I never use it, not even in tuna!  I much prefer the tangy taste of mustard.

I filled 1/2 white (I know, bad bad!!) pita pocket with some arugula and the tuna.  It was a great tuna sandwich, and just filling enough.

On the side, I snacked on some Roasted Plantain Chips that I picked up from Trader Joes.  I have had my eye on these for a while, but just got around to actually buying them this week!

They are great!  The ingredients say that they are roasted in a little sunflower oil and salt.  That’s right, just 3 ingredients: plantains, sunflower oil, salt!  The flavor is just perfect.  Not too oily and not too salty, just right.  I have previously only had sweet plantains, so this was a nice change.

One serving (about 20 chips) contains 140 calories and 6 grams of fat.  Not so bad!

That was a great lunch!  Very satisfying.

I broke open another You TrailMix for a snack this afternoon.  This mix was Chocolate Trails, which contained organic peanuts, pecans, cherries, pretzels, chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins.

This was a good mix, better than the first one I tried.  I still prefer to make my own trail mix, but this mix is probably similar to one that I’d make on my own!  It was perfect to hold me over until dinner.