Tag: cooking

Easy meal prep in 1-2-3!

Easy meal prep in 1-2-3!

Hi everyone,

So today I’m going to talk to you all about meal prep! Though most Sunday mornings I wake up feeling on edge because of “all the errands I have for that day”, I’ve some how come up with a plan that has drastically cut down my meal prep time. If you’re like me and get a serious case of the Sunday scaries – let’s work on changing that first and foremost! My boyfriend and I have agreed to begin looking at Sunday differently. Rather than a day we’ve come to dread, lets turn it into just another full day of the weekend and try to enjoy it!

That starts with not dreading meal prep anymore and while we’re at it, let’s cut down on our meal prep time! For those of you who aren’t yet sold on meal prep – here’s a non-exhaustive list of all of the benefits of meal preppin!

  • End up saving time and money $$$
  • Cuts down on the anxiety you feel driving home from work (especially if you struggle with an hour long commute like myself!)
  • Obviously helps to avoid making any unhealthy choices
  • And if you’re super indecisive like myself, you avoid any question of what to eat for breakfast/lunch/and dinner that week!
  • Makes keeping track of your macro’s easier!

So now that we’ve established the obvious importance of meal prep, let me share with you what mine looks like! Keep in mind, everyone’s is different. You’ll eventually find what works for you and stick to that.

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal jars – check out some of my overnight oatmeal recipes for ideas (Baby food & Oats, Blueberry Maple Walnut Oats, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Pumpkin)!

  • Basic Ingredients Include: A batch of bananas, oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • Why? These are so quick to make, they’re easy, healthy, and last all week! Combining 1/2 cup of oats, with 1 cup of almond milk, & a sliced/mashed banana = instant satisfaction! Then feel free to get creative from there and combine it with optional ingredients such as blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, stevia, etc.!

OR Green Smoothies because they ROCK. I’ve been getting mine to-go from the cafe at my gym 🙂
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Lunch:

  • VERY large Salads or “Buddah Bowls” – you certainly have some options here and I tend to switch it up a lot!

  • Basic (optional) Ingredients: Frozen Veggie Burgers (Amy’s California, Dr. Praegers, and Engine 2 Diet are all my fave choices) or canned tuna, Kale or Spinach, Frozen Edamame, Frozen Corn, Avocado, a bag of Shredded carrots, Sweet Potato or Brown Rice, Lemon Tahini Dressing
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  • Why? If your salad is big enough (this is key people! no whimpy salads allowed here!) than you’re golden! I start with my base of spinach or kale, then I defrost frozen edamame and corn to add to my salad, then throw in some carrots, tomatoes, and 1/4 – 1/2 an avocado, and lastly I’ll either prepare a bag of sweet potatoes in the micro for the week (I buy a bag of about 5 from wegmans which I can just throw in the micro for 8 minutes to cook – so fast and easy) OR I’ll make a batch of brown rice for the week. Lastly for the protein, I either throw a veggie burger in the toaster oven to broil for about 10 minutes or I’ll mix a can of tuna with dijon mustard, lemon, salt, shallots, and olive oil to add for my protein.
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    Dinner:

  • Veggie/Carb/Protein Loaded Dinner – I really love prepping a bunch of vegetable options, along with shrimp for protein, and rice for carbs!

  • Basic Ingredients: Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Brown Rice or Banza Pasta, Frozen (cut and peeled) Shrimp, and Low Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
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  • Why? Stir Fry is SUCH an easy go-to and tastes amazing. I’ll typically sauté my shrimp in olive oil & lots of cayenne pepper to give them a little kick. Then I’ll make a batch of brown rice for the week which I can easily reheat for dinner. Lastly, I’ll always make a large batch of roasted vegetables for the week. Lately, my go-to has been cauliflower roasted in curry, tumeric, and coconut oil ; brussel sprouts and asparagus in olive oil, rosemary, salt & black pepper. Throw these in the oven at 420 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.
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    **A quick tip for reheating: When you put all ingredients into one bowl, cover with saran wrap and heat for about 1:30-2 minutes.
Banza Pasta Topped with a Curry Butternut Squash Sauce

Banza Pasta Topped with a Curry Butternut Squash Sauce

For some reason, pasta isn’t always a product that lands on my grocery list. It’s not that I necessarily stay away from pasta, it’s just not typically a meal I plan for during the week. I tend to treat pasta as a “special” meal, which is crazy to me because let’s be honest, I could easily eat pasta every night and be content with that.
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When it comes to pasta, I’ve tried quite a variation. I’ve had quinoa pasta, brown rice pasta, whole wheat pasta, gluten-free pasta, zucchini “pasta”, basil pasta …I seriously thought I tried it all! Up until recently when a friend (thanks jackie!!) introduced me to Banza Chickpea Pasta (high protein pasta made from chickpeas). Now let me tell you, as crazy as this sounds, you would never realize you’re eating pasta made from chickpeas! The texture, taste, consistency, shape – everything about it is easily comparable to any other regular pasta! Not to mention the taste is on point!
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Anyway, I was inspired by a few of my favorite fall squashes – butternut squash! I was craving comfort food. So, why not create a creamy butternut squash sauce for this pasta! Healthy, filling, and warmed with all of those delicious fall flavors. Try out the dish below and let me know what you think! It’s the perfect mix of sweet and spicy for this time of year!

Ingredients:

– Banza Chickpea Pasta
– 3/4 can of butternut squash
– 2 tbsp Olive Oil
– 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
– 1/2 cup large yellow onion finally chopped
– 1 tsp curry powder
– 1/2 tsp chili powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– A shake of black pepper (add based on preference)
– A dash of cayenne pepper
– 1 cup chopped Mushrooms

Directions:

  • Bring water to a boil and follow the Banza Chickpea directions accordingly.
  • While your water is coming to a boil, begin with a large skillet and add your olive oil as it warms on a medium heat.
  • Add your chopped garlic and yellow onion. Let that cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Next you’ll add your mushrooms to sauté. Let those (and any other additional vegetables you wish to add) cook for about 5 minutes.
  • As this is cooking, add your seasonings of curry, chili powder, salt & black pepper.
  • Lastly, you’ll add your butternut squash directly into the skillet. Mix this well into the pan and let cook for an additional 2-4 minutes on low heat in order to warm the squash up in the sauce.
  • It may help to add about 1 TBSP or more of warm water to help soften up the sauce and thin it out if you wish to do so. You could also choose to add some heavy whipping cream or plain greek yogurt to the sauce if you’re looking make it creamier and thicker. Totally up to you and your preference!
  • Once your pasta is done and drained, you can add that directly into the large skillet with the sauce and mix well so that the pasta is completely covered. Enjoy and serve warm!

*If you decide to store over night, make sure to keep in an enclosed container. I’d suggest you add about 1-1.5 TBSP of water when re-heating your pasta & sauce as it will have a tendency to clump and harden a bit when sitting in the fridge. I reheated mine for about 2 minutes.

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A Peek at my Grocery List

A Peek at my Grocery List

Curious as to what my typical grocery list looks like? Here’s what a usual shopping trip for me on a Sunday afternoon would normally look like:

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– Fage Plain Greek Yogurt
– Fresh Blueberries
– Fresh Strawberries
– A large bag of spinach or kale
– Tuna (in water) cans
– A large bag of apples
– Carrots
– Hummus
– Bananas
– Beets
– Rainbow Salad Combo
– Fresh peppers or cherry tomatoes (my fresh veggies will vary a bit depending on what my salad looks like for the week)
– Avocados
– Lemons
– Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
– Sweet Potatoes
– Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn

*Not featured on this…but DEFINITELY staples.

Frozen Items:

  • Acai Berries
  • Frozen Fruit (mango & berry combo)
  • Frozen Stir Fry Veggie Combo
  • Frozen Shrimp
  • Frozen fish for the week (Salmon, Halibut, Tilapia)
  • Ezekiel Bread (original)
  • Arctic Zero
  • Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars

Dry Foods:

  • Quest Bars
  • Oats
  • Large bag of Almonds
  • Large bag of Goji Berries
  • Chocolate or Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cinnamon Puffins Cereal
  • Chia Seeds / Flax Seeds
  • Brown Rice or Quinoa
  • Quinoa Pasta
  • Honey
  • Almond Butter
Mango Salsa (with a kick)

Mango Salsa (with a kick)

Ever in that mood where you KNOW you want something for dinner, but LITERALLY have no clue what it is? Well, earlier yesterday, my boyfriend and I were strolling around the Whole Foods produce section, trying to get inspired by something…ANYTHING. Mexican? No.. Spring Rolls? No.. Fish? No… Pasta? No…

You get the point. Clearly both of us were as indecisive as it gets. Luckily, after circling the obstacle course of what the Whole Foods produce section is, we stumbled across the mangoes. Ahh mangoes. This beautifully delicious fruit can at times, be disappointing if served too soon before ripening. However, when served right, one can’t help but dig into it, juicy bite after juicy bite, instantly teleporting you to the clear blue waters of the Bahamas. Point is, the second my eyes caught that mango, I knew what had to happen. Mango salsa. The perfect summertime meal. Without any hesitation, I knew what had to happen next. A Fresno pepper, jalapeño pepper, red onion, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and more. With a sweet & spicy salsa like this, a blander, white fish would do the job. Freshly caught tilapia was next on the list. Lastly, some perfect asparagus spars for our side dish to top of this summer-inspired meal.
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Serves 2 people.

Ingredients for the Salsa:

  • 2 Soft Ataulfo Mangoes diced (these are the golden yellow ones)
  • 1/2 finely diced red onion
  • 1 small Fresno Pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 small jalapeño Pepper
  • A small handful of fresh cilantro (about 1/4 cup and then chop the cilantro into small bites)
  • 2 tsp of Honey
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP of Lime Juice
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    Additional Ingredients:

  • 2 Tilapia Fillets

  • Mrs. Dash Caribbean Seasoning (enough to fully cover the fish)
  • Curry Powder (A few shakes on each fillet will do)
  • Paprika (to taste…)
  • Coconut Oil or Olive Oil

  • A batch of Asparagus

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1-2 TBSP)
  • 1-2 finely diced garlic cloves
  • Salt & black pepper to taste

We’ll start by prepping your salsa first (the further ahead of dinner you can do this, the more juicier and flavorful your salsa will be later). Take all ingredients (chop or dice according to above ingredient directions) and mix together in a small bowl. Set this aside in the fridge.

Next, set your over to 380 degrees. Place your tilapia on a lightly sprayed baking pan (I use Coconut Oil spray)…I also like to spray the fish lightly with the oil as well. Then shake each bit of seasoning onto the fish, should be fairly covered. Once the fish is in the oven, it should only take about 12-15 minutes. Make sure to check periodically, fish should be flaky when ready to be taken out.

For your asparagus, simply sauté the spars in a non-stick pan with the olive oil, garlic cloves, salt & pepper. This process should take about 15-20 minutes. I find it helpful to cover the pan to help the asparagus soften quicker.
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When you’re ready to serve, top your fish with sliced avocado, then top it with the mango salsa and a side of asparagus. Enjoy!! And Happy ALMOST Summer! 🙂

Healthy Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad

Healthy Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad

Healthy Tuna Salad:

I hear it alllll the time, people either absolutely hate or absolutely love tuna out of a can. I used to be one of those people that hated it. However, I’ve finally found a way to taint the smell a bit and to make this tuna super healthy AND tasty for a delicious lunch! How so?
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Here’s what you’ll need:

• 1 can of Tuna (I buy mine in water, no salt added)
• 2 TBSP of Plain Greek Yogurt (I prefer Fage Greek Yogurt)
• 1-2 finely diced celery sticks
• 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
• 1-2 tsp of spicy brown mustard
• ¼ finely diced yellow onion
• Salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder – I give each a few shakes, but I also love my dishes highly seasoned – make sure to test a little out and slowly add more to your liking

Salad additions:

• A bed of spinach or kale
• Chopped beets
• ½ avocado
• Mixed bag of red cabbage, carrots, broccoli (you can find this combo at most grocery stores in the veggie area by the bag of lettuce)

For the salad dressing:

• 2 tsp of honey
• 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp of spicy brown mustard

Mix all these above ingredients together very well before serving over salad.
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Now, top your salad combo with the healthy tuna mixture and add as much or as little of your honey Dijon vinaigrette to finish it off! For those picky eaters out there who still find this tuna difficult to eat, bring a whole wheat 100 cal pita pocket and stuff your salad combo in there. It makes for a great pita sandwich combo!

What’s HOT in the Fitness World Right Now?

What’s HOT in the Fitness World Right Now?

As the majority of you likely know by now, I’m not a certified nutritionist or fitness trainer. I’m just your every day health nut who works an 8-5 job, but still finds time to get my workouts in and cook up some nutritious meals throughout the week. That’s one thing I won’t ever give up. That being said, you can find me scrolling through health and fitness blogs, instagram, twitter, and pinterest accounts. That’s where I do my so called “research”. What I like about this is that I’m not just reading facts, but true experiences and real time feedback. I pretty much discover the new “hot” foods, ingredients, supplements, workout routines, etc. simply through following various fitspo accounts. The other thing about these accounts I follow is that they’re real people just like me. Obviously, there are accounts I follow that 100% dedicate their life to fitness and healthy and likely have over 100K followers. But then there’s also accounts I follow where they may be attending grad school or have a 8-5 job like myself. These people may not have 6-packs and they may only have 2k followers, but their posts and “fitspo” still inspire me, regardless of how well known they are in the fitness world.

All of that being said, I find myself trying out new ingredients, products, supplements, and workouts based on the feedback I hear from the accounts I follow. So, based on what I’ve been reading up on lately, here’s a look of the hot supplements, products, and workouts I’ve been keen on adding to my daily regimen.

Hot Products:

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Arctic Zero and a new brand I just ordered called “Wink” Frozen Desserts
Purely Elizabeth Granola
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– 18 Rabbits and Raw Vegan Macro Granola Bars
Frozen or Freeze Dried Acai Powder
– Quest Bars

Supplements:

Spirulina
Chlorophyll
– Fish Oil Pills
Apple Cider Vinegar “shots”
– Plant Based Protein or Designer Whey Protein Powder

Workout Routines:

Tabata Workouts: Typical workout would look like 4 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off of cardio (ex. burpees and jumping jacks or skaters and high knees); then 3 x 30 seconds of strength (ex. lunches w/ weights and push ups); then do 2 more sets of cardio and 2 more sets of strength — REALLY great way to get a hard, fast, full-body workout in. More Tabata Workouts Here!
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Booty Exercises – I’ve been incorporating a lot of Barre and Pilate moves into the ends of my workouts. Lots of leg raises w/ ankle wights, donkey kicks, bridges, etc.
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– Continued focus in nighttime yoga (15 – 20 minute sessions and always ending with handstands against the wall… WILL GET THERE ONE DAY!)
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What’s in my Lunch Box?

What’s in my Lunch Box?

Hey guys! Apologies for the lack of posts in the past week…works been pretty busy…so unfortunately, when I get home, all I want to do is be lazy : ) Anyway, wanted to update you all in what has been in my lunch box over the past week or two.

Summer Couscous Salad:

Ingredients (Serving: Enough for 5 days of lunch):

1 cup Tri-Colored Pearl Couscous (follow instructions for cooking on package)
1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1-2 cucumbers diced
1/3 Cup Finely diced Scallions
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Optional: Baby Kale and Baby Spinach

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Directions:

Cook your couscous according to package directions. Once cooked and drained, put aside to let cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together your dressing and vegetables. Once your couscous is somewhat cooled, add that into the large bowl. Set aside in the fridge. When you’re ready for lunch, top your couscous on a bed of mixed greens (I prefer baby kale and spinach with mine).

Breakfast Options:

Mint-Chocolate Chip Green Protein Smoothie:
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Ingredients:

1 frozen banana
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tsp of peppermint extract
2 heaping handfuls of fresh spinach and kale
1-2 drops of vanilla stevia
Cinnamon to taste
3-4 Ice Cubes
APPROX 1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (slowly add this into your blender in order to get the right consistency…)

Blend and Enjoy!

Snacks from the Week:

Smores (I’m still obsessed…sorry…) Quest Bars
Buddha Bowl Himalayan Popcorn (Coconut Oil, Himalayan Salt, and plain old popcorn…such a great healthy popcorn brand)!
Carrots and Hummus (LOVE LOVE the cilantro jalapeno hummus from wegmans)
Apples, mixed berries
Greek Yogurt (Fage Plain 0%)
Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruit

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Does the WF App Replace the Satisfaction of Shopping at Whole Foods?

Does the WF App Replace the Satisfaction of Shopping at Whole Foods?

Let me start be emphasizing that I’m not a HUGE mobile app person. I probably have 5 to 8 extra apps outside of the typical ones such as instagram, twitter, Facebook, etc. You’d think that after living in Silicon Valley for 9 months, I would have come back super hip and tech savvy on what the top apps were before they even became “big”. Sadly, that was not the case. However, I am always trying to find useful health and nutrition related apps. One app that I’m more inclined to use on a day-to-day basis has become the Whole Foods App. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, I’ve fallen deep, deep into the whole “check” trap. I will admit, I’m an avid whole foods lover and I’m VERY much aware that I’m spending far too much, unnecessary money on food that I can get at my local price chopper. But, I know you can all relate, that the second you walk through those sliding doors into Whole Foods, you are automatically smacked with the fresh smell of Kale and the nutty taste of almond butter. I instantly feel the urge to run down every aisle and grab all the new health food items and tossing it into my cart. As you can see, I’m addicted to Whole Foods and there’s nothing I can do about it.

OR …is there?!?! As I mentioned above, I found the Whole Foods App, which weirdly ALMOST gives me the satisfaction of shopping at Whole Foods, without actually shopping there. Why? Well for one I’m crazy and noone will quite understand my thought process when it comes to this health/nutrition department of my brain. Secondly, more importantly, this app is fantastic when you’re in a dinner dilemma and in need of a meal “Whole Foods” inspired, without spending that extra bonus you just received on your paycheck.

What features does this Whole Foods App provide for the ultimate customer experience?

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Whole-Foods-Recipes

As you can see from the above images, the app offers a whole range of different features:

-A wide range of recipes from apps, lunch, dinner, desserts, sandwiches, drinks, breads & muffins, and more…
-Ability to create a shopping list based on the recipes you choose
-Nutritional Information provided for each recipe
-Nearby store locator
-Kitchen “101” – Ex: Smoothie tips, benefits, smoothie basics
-Ability to filter based on needs, allergies, etc.

Believe it or not, my boyfriend and I will go on the app before grocery shopping and pick out 1 or 2 meals that each of us will cook for that week. Personally, I utilized the app section for some Game Day foods this past Sunday for the Superbowl. Two awesome, easy recipes that came out of that were the Spiced Almond Date Balls and a simple apple, goat cheese and pistachio app. Like I said, I’m not a big app person by any means. You can see all of my apps on just 2 screens of my iPhone, but this app has proven to be my best cooking side kick, so I felt the need to share this with the rest of you! Try it out, download it, and be honest…let me know what you think!

So, back to the original question…does the Whole Foods App replace the satisfaction of shopping at Whole Foods? Well, not quite to be honest. But, if you’re a 23 year old like myself, with half of your paycheck going to your retirement fund and the other half into your savings…then you likely will resort to the Whole Foods app when faced with this internal struggle. Oh and did I mention this app is FREE..? Didn’t think you’d hear free and whole foods in one sentence, did ya??

What’s in my Lunch Box?

What’s in my Lunch Box?

This week, I’ve cooked up something exciting…Stuffed Peppers for Lunch! Haven’t made stuffed peppers in a while, figured this was a filling, nutrient loaded lunch I could easily meal prep and have for the entire week. See below for my recipe…

Stuffed Peppers:
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Ingredients:

Rice Select Royal Blend Quinoa Rice – 1 cup cooked (follow directions on container)
1 can of No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
1 Can of No Salt Added Black Beans
1 can of No Salt Added Red Kidney Beans
1 cup of chopped mushrooms (I bought the container and just used all of the mushrooms there)
1 Cup of Frozen Veggie Mix (I used the corn, edamame, green beans, and carrots mixture)
2 Cups (or more) of Spinach
3 Finely Chopped Garlic Cloves
1/2 Finely Chopped Red Onion
2 TBSP’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A selection of Peppers (Red, Yellow, Green)

Seasonings (optional):
Ground Cumin (to taste)
Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)
Oregano (to taste)
Paprika (to taste)
Chili Powder (to taste)

Directions:

Start the rice first in a separate pot. Follow directions for cooking rice on back on container. Next, in a large, deep sauce pan; add your Olive Oil, Garlic, and Onion. Let that cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then add in the rest of the above ingredients EXCEPT for the peppers. Set the oven to bake at 375. While you’re letting the rest of the veggies, diced tomatoes, and beans cook on a low, simmering heat – carve out the inside of your pepper disposing of the core. Then spray a pan with coconut oil spray (or PAM) and place your peppers on the pan and into the over. Let these bake until sides just begin to light brown. Take out the peppers, stuff them with the veggie/rice/bean mixture and place back into the oven to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Take out and serve …enjoy!!

What else was is in my lunchbox…?

Snacks >> Any assortment of fruit, Quest Bars, Granola Bars, Nut Thins, Rice cakes, Peanut Butter, Hummus & Carrots
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Breakfast >> Fage plain greek yogurt, berries, and mixed nuts
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What’s in my Lunch Box?

What’s in my Lunch Box?

Hey everyone! A while back I had started a series of posts called “What’s in my lunchbox?” I’m going to try and start this up again consistently, so I’ll start it out with this weeks meal prep for lunch. Let me introduce you to my Healthy & Sweet Tuna Salad first.

Healthy & Sweet Tuna Salad:
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Ingredients:

– 1 Can of Tuna (a prefer to buy the kind “in water”)
– 1/4 of a ripe avocado
– 1.5 – 2 TBSP of Plain Greek Yogurt
– 2 TBSP of crumbled Pecans
– 10-15 red seedless grapes (either slice in half or throw in whole)
– Small drizzle of honey (.5 tsp or so)
– A shake of ground cinnamon
– A small shake of salt and black pepper
– 2 Large handfuls of spinach (optional – but I enjoy topping my tuna on a bed of greens)

Directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients together (may need to take a fork to really mash the avocado). Toss in the fridge and serve cold over spinach for lunch. Enjoy!

In addition to my pack lunch, I typically stick to the following for breakfast and snacks throughout the day:

Breakfast >> Fage Plain Greek Yogurt, large handfull of bluberries and strawberries, and 2 TBSPs of 1/2 Raw Almonds, 1/2 Roasted (no salt) Almonds.

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Snacks >> 1 Banana, 1 Apple, 1 Cup of Hot Coco (sugar free/diet hot coco w/ almond milk or coffee OR 2 TBSPs of raw cacao mixed with stevia) and either a Kind or Quest Bar (SMORES = SO GOOD — heat up in microwave for 10 seconds for ultimate deliciousness!!) for my sweet tooth.

Additional Snacks >> Apple Cinnamon Rice Cake with PB2 Powder and Banana’s (optional); Lightly salted rice cake with hummus and avocado; Blue Diamond Brand Nut Thins (Honey Cinnamon Graham and Honey Mustard are the bombbbb); Carrots and Hummus

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The Best 15 Minute Pizza You Ever Did Have

The Best 15 Minute Pizza You Ever Did Have

After an early start to the day, a long day of work, and possibly a late night workout, the last thing I usually want to do is spend an hour cooking my dinner. Lately, I’ll admit I’ve been extremely lazy with cooking. I’ll usually come home and stop at one of the many healthy fast-casual restaurants by my apartment or make my usual trip to Whole Foods. This habit that I’ve fallen into has become quite pricey (as you could imagine) and to be honest, I think I’ve actually missed cooking!

If you’re like myself and have gotten stuck into this rut, I can help you! First of all, clear a Sunday for yourself. Take the entire day and find your zen. Sounds silly, but this will help set you in the right state of mind! Start your day off with a cup of coffee and some water, hit the gym or whatever workout you enjoy doing on a beautiful Sunday Morning! Then grab yourself a hardy breakfast and while doing so, start prepping your grocery shopping list. Going to the grocery store on a full stomach is important!

Now here is a quick dinner that I promise you won’t get sick of, you can mix it up throughout the week, and it’s super healthy, quick and easy to prepare!
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Ingredients:

– Lavash Bread
– Organic Tomato Paste
– Fresh Garlic Clove (chopped finely)
– Yellow Onion (Optional) Chopped Finely
– Veggies of your choice (I suggest high fiber/filling veggies such as Asparagus, Broccoli , cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, red bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.)
– Spices: Oregano, Basil, Salt, and Pepper
– Coconut Oil or EVOO
– Farm Fresh Cottage Cheese (Whole or Low Fat)
– Fresh Basil (optional)
– Organic Pesto (option – I bought mine from the local Farmer’s Market, you could also make your own with just a few simple ingredients!)
– Any protein of your choice

Directions:

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Then in a medium sauté pan, add about a TBSP of Coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Then add the garlic and onion. Let this cook for a few minutes, next, depending on what veggies your topping on your pizza, add those to the pan.* Next add a dash of salt and pepper to your mix. Let that cook for about 5-10 minutes or until softened with a golden brown crisp.

While the veggies are cooking, take out a baking sheet that will fit your lavash bread. Next cover that in aluminum foil, spray it with EVOO or Coconut Oil spray. Then place your lavash bread down, spread on about ½ the small can of tomato paste. Next sprinkle the oregano and basil throughout the pizza. Next, you’ll add about ¼ to ½ a cup of cottage cheese. You don’t need as much as you think! Just spread a thin layer throughout the pizza. After this, you can choose to add your optional toppings such as the pesto and fresh basil leaves. Finally, top your pizza with all of the veggies.

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Now, toss it in the oven and let it bake for about 10 minutes. Next, turn your oven to broil (and depending on how fast this heats up), let your pizza brown a little bit around the edges so that it turns into that nice crispy crunchy texture we all love about pizza! Make sure to keep an eye on your pizza as it is broiling – you should only need about 5-8 minutes on broil!

Once your all set, take it out, let cool for a few minutes, then slice it and enjoy your masterpiece! Throughout the week, switch up your pizza toppings that you switch up the meal! For example, one night I made an asparagus pizza, the other night I topped it with broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc. – get creative 😉

Finding Motivation Between Balancing Work and Exercise

Finding Motivation Between Balancing Work and Exercise

Ahh…the question I get all the time AND the question I’m constantly asking. Unfortunately folks, there is no correct answer to how exactly I or others consistently succeed in balancing work with exercise. For me, this is an area I’ve found to be the largest challenge so far since I’ve graduated college and become a “NARP” (Non-Athletic Real Person). For those of you who are still feeling the struggles of becoming a full on NARP, I feel ya!! It’s quite a challenge going from having a structured practice time in place, with dedications and commitments to the sport, to having a full days of work and no one jumping down your throat to get a workout in. Either way, for those who are ex-college athletes or for those who are just athletic, yet have trouble finding the time to fit in workouts post-college, then I’m here to offer my own advice and assistance!

I wish I could say I had this work-life balance down pact, but unfortunately I’m no master at this. Each day is a struggle and each day, I find myself fighting the urge to sleep in or attend a happy hour after work instead of getting the workout in. There are a FEW tricks I try day-by-day to overcome these “speed bumps” that I’m willing to share with you for a SMALL fee.

Just kidding, all my advice is free! My only ask of you is to not judge me on these as some may sound slightly insane. But, hey, I’m okay with that. You got to do what you got to do, right?!
Below are a few mechanisms I use to get me back on track in a time when food, drinks, and One Tree Hill (my latest Netflix binge obsession) is calling my name!
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– Personalize iPhone alarm label. When you set your alarm on the iPhone, there is an area you can edit and input a small personal message. Usually my messages to myself vary depending on events that may be coming up or just inspiration to myself! A few examples of messages I’ve used have been:
-Current Message: “Get in shape for EDC.”
-Previous Messages: “__ Days until Spring Break!”
-“Get that beach bootay!” (like I said, no shame in these messages)
-“It’s a new day”
-“WAKE UP. WORKOUT. NOW” (sometimes, you just got to be blunt)
-And sometimes, you just need to break out the bitch mode: “RUN, bitch. NOW.” (excuse the profanity, please)

– Lay out your workout clothes the night before…or better yet, WEAR those workout clothes to bed. This way, you have no excuse to not wake up and get that workout in for the morning.
– Don’t shower before you go to bed. This way, when you wake up, you may as well workout before getting a shower in for work. Unless of course you don’t shower…that’s fine too.
– For my running friends out there who may just be into running for fun, training for a 5k, half marathon, or a marathon…put a plan together. Recently, I created an excel worksheet using the McMillan Running Calculator and laid out my running/workout plan for all the weeks leading up to my next half marathon race on July 27th.
– Once you’ve created this workout plan, the important part is holding yourself accountable. In the past, I’ve used sources like running2win.com. Currently, I’ve added another column in my excel sheet where I fill out the actual amount of mileage I do on that given day. I also have printed out my overview week-by-week plan and hung it up at my desk, which I’ve found to help as well!
– If you can, plan on biking to and from work! Now I realize this is not always possible and it actually works out in my situation, but any extra movement you can get throughout the day pays off!
– If you can’t bike, take a local commuter rail to work. Why? If you are in walking distance to the train, this again, adds extra exercise to your daily routine!
– Use the stairs throughout the day!
– Get up and walk A LOT at work (I drink A LOT of water throughout the day so I’m constantly getting up)
– Create a standing work station at your desk or sit on a stability ball like I’ve been doing!
– Find a workout buddy! I have running “appointments” with a few co-workers automatically saved in my calendar.
– Attend a workout class with a friend!
– Come prepared with a healthy lunch and snacks for the day. Trust me, if you eat better, you’ll more likely be ready and motivated to workout.
– GET ENOUGH SLEEP!! You need energy to work out and to be healthy!
– Sometimes, you just need a little coffee in the AM to get you going and motivated 
– Allocate a “day off” once a week, that way you can look forward to some resting each week, which in turn will keep you on track for the rest of the week days.
– If you missed your morning workout, bring your workout clothes to work that way it taunts you until you get your workout in!
– With that, try using your lunch break to get a workout in…throw in some dry shampoo and you’re good as new!
-Find out if your company offers workout classes either for free or at a discount. You’d be surprised what may be offered that you didn’t even know about!


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Now, I know I just listed quite a number of ways I practice a balance with work, fitness, and all the other good stuff, but that’s what works for me! Most of the time, I try and get my workout in early before work so I can go on with my day and not stress about when I’m going to run. But, sometimes it works out that I just want to sleep in! So, on those days, I try to make sure I get my run in during my lunch break, or I hit the roads right after work when the sun’s still shining. And, of course, some days, I just ditch the run. I hate these days, but my thoughts on this is that it’s really my body and mind telling me I need a rest day. So, I quickly give-in and know that tomorrow is a new day!

Mediterranean Quinoa and Bean Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa and Bean Salad

Hey all! So this past week, I finally decided it was time to start doing some meal prepping. I know that if I were to keep eating out, I would literally be in debt before the month was even over. So, as hard as it is to resist eating out at all these new, healthy, organic restaurants…HELLO home-cooking!! Also, I still get the opportunity to nom on free lunches every Tuesday at work which is always brought in from local vendors. This past Tuesday was delicious Moroccan cuisine…eggplant, seasoned beets, carrots, lentils, and couscous…my kind of meal!

Anyway, the following two recipes are great dishes that can easily and quickly be made in bulk and used EVERY day of the week for lunch. So if you’re looking for an easy go-to meal…read on!

Mediterranean Quinoa Pasta Salad
quinoa
Ingredients:

1 cup dry Whole Grain Quinoa – following instructions on box for cooking.
1 Whole Orange Pepper (sliced into small chunks)
1 Cup sliced cherry tomatoes
4-6 Large Fresh Basil Leaves (shredded)
½-1 chopped Cucumber
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 TBSP of Whole Grain Mustard
2 TBSP of Rice Vinegar
1 TBSP of Organic Tahini
Sprinkle of Himalayan Salt & Black Pepper
Dash of Chili Powder & Oregano

Directions:

Cook the Quinoa according to directions. While this is cooking, begin chopping all of your vegetables into bite size pieces (Pepper, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Basil, and Garlic). Once your Quinoa is cooked, place in the fridge to cool for about 30 minutes. Once the quinoa has cooled a bit, add in your chopped veggies. Next, add in the mustard, vinegar, tahini and the additional spices. Of course, feel free to add more or less depending on your preference.

Keep refrigerated. This can be served as a side, served over a salad, or even stuff into a cooked sweet potato!

Black Bean, Corn, & Avocado Salad
beans
Ingredients:

1 Can of Black beans (unsalted & rinsed)
½ bag of Frozen Corn (approx. 1.5-2 cups)
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 whole chopped Avocado (make sure it’s not too ripe/soft, otherwise you may find it difficult to chop and toss in the salad)
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 TBSP of Whole Grain Mustard
1 TBSP of Rice Vinegar
½ TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sprinkle of Himalayan Salt & Black Pepper
Dash of Chili Powder & Oregano

Directions:

Take can of black beans (I like to rinse, but that’s optional), frozen corn defrosted in microwave and add both of these to large mixing bowl. Next chop your garlic and onion to add into the bowl. Next, you’ll want to add your dressing of mustard, vinegar, and olive oil. Finally, add your avocado and spices…mix these in well. *Again, feel free to add more or less according to taste preference.

Keep refrigerated. This can be served as a side, served over a salad, or even stuff into a cooked sweet potato!

The Perfect “Rainbow [salad] Bowl”

The Perfect “Rainbow [salad] Bowl”

So when I “turned” vegan, I became a little hesitant on what on earth I would eat everyday, most specifically for lunch. Lunch is tricky because I have to pack my meal ahead of time, including my snacks for the day, so I want to assure it’s going to be filling and substantial enough to carry me through the rest of the day! Anyways, I began following Vegan instagrammers and bloggers and noticed a trend in this BIG bowl of deliciousness, otherwise known as a “Rainbow Bowl”. Bloggers like “deliciouslyella” and “theblondevegan” all seem to have mastered these protein packed, green filled, and carb loaded salads to perfection!

So, I took to their examples, and prepped my first rainbow bowl using the few ingredients I could whip up in my kitchen. I was SO impressed with this first rainbow bowl, that lately it’s become my staple for lunch everyday now. I have absolutely nooo problem making these salads as dense and [large] as possible.

So I figured I would share with you guys the key to making a perfect rainbow bowl, much of which was inspired by many of the Instagram health food/vegan bloggers I follow!

1. First you’ll need a large container or bowl (this salad can get quite large, so you want to have ample space!)

2. Next you’ll need a “green” base. This could be served cold (raw spinach, kale, arugula, mixed baby greens) OR it could be served sautéed in coconut/olive oil (spinach, kale, swiss chard, etc.) OR it could be roasted/baked (an example of this could be Kale Chips!)
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3. Third, you’ll want some grainy carbs. We’ll start with non-veggie carbs first. So I usually like to use 1 serving size (1/4 cup dry) brown rice or quinoa.

4. Next, let’s get some protein in that bowl with some legumes! Black beans, garbanzo beans, canelli beans, pinto beans, lentils…any of these will do the job!

5. More Protein! Tofu, tempeh, or Vegan “Chicken”

6. The sweet potato is CRUCIAL! If you haven’t tried a salad yet with sweet potato, you’ve been missing out. This simple ingredient is essential to a perfect rainbow bowl! I typically cut 1 in half, then slice that half into “potato chips” and toss them in the micro for 1 minute and 30 seconds to soften it. Then I toss them in paprika and cinnamon, place them in the oven to bake for 5 mins and then broil for another 3-5 mins. Then I just add it directly to my bowl!
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7. Avocado. Yes, another ESSENTIAL ingredient to making your salads BOMB. I always slice ¼ an avocado to add to my salad.

8. The Hummus. I’m sorry there are just SO many essentials, but truly, the hummus makes or breaks this bowl. Try making your own homemade hummus OR just by a natural brand. Serve about 2 tbsp’s in your salad. You can also try some babaganoush, pesto, tahini, or guacamole >> all of which make an excellent addition to your salad!

9. The Veggies. Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be a salad without extra veggies! You can serve them raw (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onions, carrots, peppers, sprouts) OR sautéed/roasted veggies (eggplant, brussel sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, garlic, peppers, broccoli). Also, pomegranates aren’t veggies but they’re a great sweet addition to your salad as well!

10. Add some crunch! Try adding some homemade or store bought (Mary’s Gone is a great brand) flax seed crackers. Or crumbled up brown rice cake. These are yummy crunchy additions!

11. Go nutz for NUTS (or seeds or dried fruit)! Yes, wouldn’t be a salad without some type of nut! Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisins, craisins all are yummy salad toppings!

12. For additional “dressing” >> Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar are always my go to!
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There you have it folks…your key to a PERFECT, AMAZING rainbow bowl!!

Vegan Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Vegan Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Happy Sunday Everyone! (Wish I could say I was actually happy for Sunday…but let’s be honest, who ACTUALLY enjoys Sunday…knowing that Monday is soon to follow…) Anyhow, I was REALLY craving pancakes this morning. Actually, I’ve been craving pancakes since I decided to go Vegan. I omitted from testing out eggless pancakes for a while now because I was certain they wouldn’t be the same and I just didn’t want to be disappointed knowing that I would never be able to have the same old fluffy pancakes I used to know and love. Heartbreaking, right? Well fast forward to this morning where I finally decided I was fed up with myself and my fear of giving eggless, dairy free pancakes a try. I was clearly being dramatic and there was NO need to be selfish and leave my food craving feelings aside. I’m a big girl, I can handle this.

Well, let me tell you all, these Vegan pancakes were a success in my book! All of this time, I was certainly missing out and depriving myself of my all time favorite breakfast food, just because I was afraid of a little eggless pancake action. Psh, what a silly reasoning looking back on it now…

ALright, let’s cut to the chase, whether you’re Vegan or not, these pancakes will leave you feeling all giddy and warm inside on a chilly Sunday morning, while wrapped up in an oversized sweater, with your LL Bean slippers, and a cup of joe in hand. I’m holding true to my girl scouts honor with this one, I promise.
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Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1/4 Cup of Buckwheat flour (I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand of Buckwheat flour, but anything will do!)
– 3 TBSP of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used tbsp because I slowly added more for consistency, so start with 2-3 tbsp’s and slowly add more to fit the texture of your batter)
– 1.5 soft medium-sized bananas (I put these in a bowl, into the micro and heated them up for 45 seconds to soften them even more so)
– 1/2 tsp of baking powder
– 2 drops of vanilla stevia (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
– 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
– 1 tsp of chia seeds
– 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
– Coconut Oil Spray

Optional Toppings:
– Goji Berries
– 2 TBSP Frozen Blueberries (Warmed up in micro for 40 seconds to create a “syrup” like texture)
– You could also use greek yogurt, nuts, granola, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, pure maple syrup, sliced banana’s or apples, apple sauce, additional cinnamon, etc! >> Get creative!

Directions:

>> In a medium size bowl, heat up the bananas in the microwave (as mentioned above). Then add your buckwheat flour, baking powder, and stir that up well. Once the banana’s are well mashed and thoroughly mixed in with the flour, add the cinnamon, stevia, chia seeds and slowly add the almond milk until you reach the right consistency (this should be relatively thick, so not watery at all)!

>> On a non-stick pan, heat up on med/low and spray some coconut oil spray (or PAM, whatever you have will work). Then using a measuring cup, add about 2 tbsp worth of batter to each pancake. Flatter the batter out as it comes out a little thick. Then add your blueberries and let cook for a few minutes. You should easily be able to flip the pancakes without sticking once they’ve lightly browned on both sides. Your batter should serve about 6 pancakes, enough for 1 person!

>> Finally, serve pancakes with additional toppings and enjoy!


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