Tag Archives: healthy

Calling all Cavepeople

13 Nov

Per my 30 in 30 challenge for National Health Blog Post Month, today’s prompt encourages me to “write about my favorite book and tie it to your views on health.”

Instead, I want to float an idea about a book. I’ll be in a car for upwards of 13 hours this weekend, and I’m thinking of giving this one a whirl:

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. (source)

I know, I know. Everyone is doing the Paleo thing. If you’re unfamiliar, the Paleo approach centers itself around foods that our ancestors could digest – and avoids those that simply weren’t around at the time, believing that many of these foods aren’t as easily digested by the body. Super basic explanation, and I’m not fully edumacated (hence my desire to read the book), but that’s how I understand it thus far.

But I’m genuinely interested in learning more because I have a couple of things going on with my health that are starting to point to sugar problems/insulin tolerance issues. I am beginning to wonder if my body responds negatively to grains. I’ve mentioned this before, and I already monitor my high carb foods like grains (Even whole grains) very carefully – avoiding those that are refined carbs completely.

So has anyone read this book? Done a Paleo challenge? Think liverwurst n’ junk is crazy talk?

Menu Monday: Road Snacks

29 Oct

Happy Monday! If you live on the east coast and find yourself reading this post – congratulations on your electricity. Cheers to surviving off of more than candles & saltine crackers! Jokes aside, I hope you’re all staying safe – thoughts and prayers are headed your way from us sassy Midwesterners. (You’ll have your turn to watch us get pounded by bad weather, trust me on this.)

Just a quick post from the road – today is not an ordinary Menu Monday because I’m headed to Austin, Texas for work. I have my favorite go-to road snacks with me – I don’t like to leave town without them for fear that I will default to eating airport frozen yogurt for lunch and a happy meal for dinner.

Plus this stuff all tastes awesome anyway. Like special travel treats!

trader joe’s apple rings / larabars / think thin bars / plum kids organic squeezable fruit / justin’s nut butter packs

Are you that weirdo who packs a lunch box full of airplane snacks like me? Loud & proud – own it!

Fall Salad Scramble

25 Oct

If I were tasked with plucking the perfect autumnal afternoon out of thin air …

I would probably choose today. 75 degrees, a little breezy, crisp leaves abound — all inspired an office jailbreak to enjoy a simple & solo lunchtime stroll. Sometimes just taking in the city sights and sounds, no music and no company to converse with, proves so relaxing. I end up more energized for an afternoon of work than I would have been if I had just munched through lunch at my desk (which is what I usually do.)

And because this October weather is the definition of sheer perfection, who wants to be stuck inside slaving in the kitchen right now? Hey, I enjoy cooking as much as the next food-obsessed chick, but 75 degrees in October? In Chicago?! Gotta take advantage of that Vitamin D before it’s all gone!

I thought I would share a simple & quick weeknight meal I’ve recently devised – I can hardly call this a recipe, since it actually involves a mere mixing of pre-arranged ingredients you can pick up just about anywhere. But it takes just minutes, leaving me more time to crunch leaves and take in the sun before I forget what it looks like.

It’s sad how little I was joking in that last sentence.

{Serves 1}

2 eggs
1 pre-made salad – I prefer Trader Joe’s Raspberry, Walnut & Gorgonzola
1 apple chicken sausage link
sprinkling of low fat shredded cheese (optional)

Ready for this complexity? Cut your chicken sausage into bite-size slices, and prepare your salad by … opening the lid.

Begin scrambling eggs in a skillet over medium high heat. When nearly cooked, add all salad components (except dressing) and saute until lettuce is wilted. Add sausage.

Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with cheese, if using. Top with 1/2 provided dressing.

That’s literally it. I LOVE the combination in this salad – hearty greens, gorgonzola, walnuts, dried cranberres and a raspberry vinaigrette topping made for such a satisfying meal with fall spice. Couldn’t be easier than picking up a $3.99 salad and transforming it into a hot dinner plate in a flash.

Think you can out-Fall me? It’s got to be impossible at this point. I have a problem.

Your turn! How do you guys take advantage of beautiful weeknight weather without sacrificing balance?

Fall Favorites: Six Things I’m Loving Right Now

24 Oct

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

1. New Project: Fancy pumpkin painting! You might be asking yourself, why in the name of Martha Stewart would you want to paint a pumpkin when you can just carve the thing like a normal person? To which I might answer, you do have a point, if you can get past weird rotting shriveling gourds. I would argue that a patterned pumpkin makes for a superior interior display. Plus, who can argue with a chevron pumpkin? Not I.

Also you might find yourself painting pumpkins in lieu of carving, too, if you had 8 functional fingers. Fact is, apart from setting the kitchen on fire this weekend, I actually seriously dropped my iPhone into a smoothie last night (seriously). Consuming my liquid dinner whilst flipping between the Bears game & the debate proved an insurmountable task, and pretty soon I dunked it in. Think that’s funny? So did my doctor. You people are cruel.

2. New Purchase: What do I have to say about this 12 cup coffee maker SLASH instant hot water dispenser from C&B? Nothing. It speaks for itself. I haven’t owned a coffee maker since college, and I finally bit the bullet on this one. It’s currently marked down to $99 and works like a dream. Get you some!

3. Healthy Helper: I’ve been guzzling milk thistle tea with a splash of almond milk a couple times a day this week. Allegedly it supports kidney & liver health – if you’ve attended nearly as many football games as I have this year, you get why this is important. Also, I think I’m just obsessed with the new coffeemaker.

4. Favorite Fallwear: “Scuba hood” zip up from Lululemon. I know I know, I too had to take out a small loan to acquire this piece. I’ll go on record and tell you it’s worth the small fortune. Ultra thick, great fit, dresses up or down. If you live in Chicago, look for the walking graffiti art — it’s probably me, sporting this hoodie for the 5th time this week.

5. Favorite Treat: I mean. Do I have to say anything else about pumpkin butter? If you think you enjoy yogurt, oats, baked goods, or the way you currently perceive the world, just put pumpkin butter on top and see what happens. Mind. Blown.

6: Can’t Stop Watching: The League. Everyone has been telling me I’d love this show for years – why did it take me so long to listen? Hilarious + fantasy football banter + couple who bet on football constantly (sounds eerily like my life). Highly recommend. Even if you aren’t a “football person”.

One Pot Turkey Pumpkin Chili

23 Oct

Full disclosure…

If you hate pumpkins, or are annoyed by the pumpkin thing, or if pumpkin offends you in any way, you should probably not read my blog for the next few weeks.

Pumpkin related products thrill me. Even the simplest of goods can make me squeal when pumpkin-ized. Candles? Cream Cheese? Butter? Yogurt? Oats? Ice cream?? Vodka??? (Ok, so I’ve made better decisions.) Mini trees for the home?!!

{source– I would show you my own, but technical difficulties over here.)

It’s all happening. I love it all – not just because I genuinely adore the flavor of pumpkin and its affiliated natural products (I stress natural here – because knockoff pumpkin tastes like bubblegum and cinnamon got in a slapping fight.) I also worship pumpkin like it’s going out of style because, to me, it encapsulates that warm, festive fall feeling that makes you want to reach for a blanket, watch some football and slow down a little.

I realize not everyone consumes this crop as though they are trying to turn their insides orange. In fact, I tested out a dish this weekend that will have your pumpkin enthusiasts and those who turn their nose up at the idea of pumpkin coming within 6 feet of their chili (read: JC) sitting down happily at the same pumpkin-adorned table.

Try it. The pumpkin flavor is subtle, and just makes for a creamier, more velvety chili base.

{Barely adapted from this recipe – makes 4 hearty servings}

2 TBSP EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1 LB ground turkey
1 15 oz. can Organic pumpkin puree
1 14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, in their liquid
1 C. water
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP natural taco seasoning
a few hearty shakes cayenne pepper
ground black pepper, to taste
1 15 oz can kidney beans
a few slices fresh goat cheese

Heat EVOO in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, peppers and jalapenos, cooking until fragrant, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add turkey to pot and cook until turkey is browned.

Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water and spices, bringing mix to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover & simmer for 30 minutes.

Top with goat cheese (other toppings: shredded mozzarella, greek yogurt, sour cream, or if you’re JC, crunched up tortilla chips!)

A delicious one, and a one pot dinner makes for a speedy clean up – leaving you more time to watch football!

Or whatever you are into.

How do you feel about pumpkin – love it or leave it?

Menu Monday: Zombie Hunting

22 Oct

Here’s a confession.

When I posted last week’s Menu Monday, I had every intention to diligently stick to the plans. That’s half the reason Menu Monday is a thing — so I’m forced to get my act together on a Sunday and fight the urge to wing it.

Usually that works out for me, but last week I threw all caution to the wind. It was a social week – that means lots of friend face time, but also many beverages and too few opportunities to properly prep my lunches. I ate pumpkin oats for dinner a few too many times as well, while we’re being honest. Probably not a coincidence that I was hiding from the internets last week …

But if this morning’s new breakfast creation is any indication of how this week will go, I think I’m on the right track.

I mixed 2% Greek yogurt with 2 TBSP pumpkin puree & stevia (alright fine and pumpkin cream cheese – I DIE), topped that mixture with torn up dried apple slices, almond butter, pumpkin butter and a smattering of pumpkin pie spice.

+ Zombie tea on the side. It’s really just a very light tea with almond milk, but I’ve been feasting on too much television and frankly I’m checking every corner of my life for a Zombie apocalypse.

(T Dog is such an underrated Walking Dead dude. Anybody else keep forgetting he’s alive?)

Onto the good stuff. This week’s Menu Monday is a little funky because I typically plan each night’s menu and just make enough to bring to work next day. That backfired miserably last week (a lot of it has to do with my broken finger and the fact that knife wielding is less than safe. I literally set the kitchen on fire this weekend.) This week I’m rolling with simple concoctions to insure I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

All I can think about are zombies here…

  • Dinners most nights: huge green smoothies (spinach, frozen blueberries, banana, greek yogurt, almond butter)
  • One “project” dinner: spaghetti squash with roasted butternut squash, ground turkey, cheese
  • Lunches: packed full of veggies salads (spinach, chopped bell pepper, chopped onion, crumbled feta, black beans, apple chicken sausage )
  • Snacks: pumpkin amazeballs (get the recipe from the Fitnessista)

Weekly prep also lightened the gimpy load – last night I chopped all salad veggies, cut the sausages into rounds and sautéed and made amazeballs.

Since I also only attended maybe 2 out of my 5 planned workouts, I’m setting a more serious agenda for that as well.

  • Monday: 20 minute interval run
  • Tuesday: hip hop class
  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: 20 minute interval run
  • Friday: Pilates
  • Saturday: club remix class
  • Sunday: OFF

Here’s to a happy, well-planned, zombie-free week!

Menu Monday: Sugar Rush

1 Oct

Miss me over the weekend? Oh sorry guys. I’ve just been a little busy hanging with Michelle.

Pretty epic wedding photobooth corner.

This weekend we traveled to Columbia, SC, where we saw the sights

{South Carolina’s state capitol building}

And even managed to squeeze in a broken-finger-burn session

Lunging around the state capitol. Casual.

A fabulous weekend was had by all, but the weekend (and last week serving time as a gimp) didn’t exactly revolve around the high produce, low sugar diet I strive for.

When I feel this way, I’ve learned over the years that the key is to avoid panicking and/or guilt, emotions that come naturally in the wake of sugar hangover.

The fact of the matter is that today marks a new day, a new week, AND a new month, and by the looks of it so far, seems like all good things lie ahead.

First October sunrise.

I think I’ll outline my steps to curbing sugar cravings later in the week, but I will say one of the very first steps is to make a plan.

Menu items this week:

  • Monday: Trader Joe’s chili for lunch with spinach salad, Italian vegetable salad during the Bears game tonight
  • Tuesday: spinach salad with lentils, slaw vegetables, onion & veggie burger patty drizzled with balsamic, tofu stir fry for dinner
  • Wed: leftover stir fry for lunch, tuna salad (salsa instead of mayo) over spinach + lentil salad for dinner
  • Thursday: leftover salad for lunch, grilled veggie burger patty + cauliflower mashed “potatoes” for dinner
  • Friday: leftovers for lunch, parents in town on Friday so unplanned dinner
  • Breakfasts: 1 egg + veggie juice
  • Snacks (I’ll have a morning & afternoon snack this week): cheesestick, greek yogurts, hummus + veggie dippers

I almost always create a week’s menu on Sundays, otherwise I’d probably just eat almond butter and Chipotle 3 times a day every day. I have to admit, I’m not nearly as diligent with my workout “menu” — I usually fly by the seat of my pants, which shockingly translates into working out about half as much as I intend.

Not this week! I know with the broken finger situation I’ll be even less motivated than usual, and I’ll have to get creative. On this week’s agenda: a new hip hop DVD I was given at FitBloggin, trying a new hip hop class near my apartment (!!), making up a finger-less boot camp circuit, and a couple of elliptical sessions.

Bring it, October!

For the peanut gallery: Do you make a plan for the week’s menu items or do you make it up as you go?