Breakfast Mess

Breakfast for me is usually a no brainer. Oatmeal. Hot or in the style of overnight oats. Sometimes I do the whole eggs thing. Sometimes I get my pancakes or french toast on. Greek yogurt bowls of deliciousness sometimes happen. And I’ve been also known to go into the world of weird breakfast sweet scrambles.

For the past handful of months though- it’s pretty much always been about the oatmeal. And, not that I’m bored with it, trust me, I love getting creative with my oats, but I’m a curious lil cat and have been trying out some different things.

One new thang on the breakfast scene I’m loving is roasted sweet potatoes and bananas cooked in coconut oil and cinnamon! I cook them till their all mushy together in the pan and then transfer it to a bowl full of cottage cheese (or greek yogurt), fresh fruit, flax, and a big scoop of nut butter! Just another way to get in your carbs, protein, and healthy fats! And I mean… any breakfast in my life without fruit is just blasphemy. Even if I eat eggs or something more savory for breakfast, I always need to munch on some fruit to keep my sweet tooth satisfied.

Anyway, I was inspired by Tina of Carrots ‘N’ Cake for this new breakfast creation. She always helps me think outside of the box with my breakfast options. She has been enjoying similar mushy breakfast messes with chickpeas and butternut squash! Yes, for breakfast. Her pictures made it all look so good not to try. So, this weekend I cooked up some extra sweet potato wedges (sans skin) to have on hand during the week to add to breakfasts. Thinking ahead for the win.

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Not only does coconut oil taste delicious- but it’s good for you too! It’s been dubbed a super food by many, but all you need to know is that it’s easily digestible and good for those with tricky digestive systems (ahem, me) and it supports heart/immune health.

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If you can’t tell, I roasted my wedges a littttttle too long this weekend. Just slightly burnt- whoops!

This combo in the pan reminded me of another Tina recipe that I love… Lemon-Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Bananas {brown sugar, lemon, bananas, sweet potato, and butter}. It’s like… really good.

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While the bananas and sweet potatoes were getting gooey, I assembled 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, a handful of blueberries, and a tbl. of flax into my breakfast bowl.

Recently I told you about how I’m trying to embrace cottage cheese these days after having it in Russia a couple times. It’s going well! I find that I enjoy it when its blended well with sweet foods. Still not really a fan of straight up cottage cheese (even if its combined with some fruit for a snack). I definitely need other things to take its flavor level down a couple notches. Otherwise, I enjoy the creamy texture it adds and the “sweet cheese” element it brings (sort of like cream cheese which is sort of like cheesecake… that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).

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When I was satisfied with the consistency of the potatoes and bananas, I transferred them to the bowl and added my almond butter.

I was going to take a picture after I mixed it all together but um- it did NAHT look very pretty. Trust me, you’d rather look at the picture above before it was all combined. But even though it was a giant breakfast mess in a bowl- it was so yummy. Warm. Gooey. Sweet.

And can I just say- HOW IS IT THE LAST DAY IN JULY. INSANITY. Guys, August is tomorrow. That’s just not even real. I’m slightly bummed because I really wanted to try the Blueberry Cheesecake special July Georgetown Cupcake and never got the chance #firstworldproblems. I guess that just means I’ll DEFINITELY have to try the August Banana Split or Peaches and Cream flavor. Yeah I’d say my priorities are definitely in check. Anyway, July has been one crazy month. I can’t even believe that Russia still happened. How was that my actual real life? It seems like a dream now.

Well I started this month with a trip and I’m also starting this next month with a trip. Thattttt’s right- tomorrow after work I fly up to Boston for the weekend! WAHOO. I literally cannot wait to spend the weekend with Will and my family. It’s so rare that he gets to come with me when I go home. The last time my family saw the two of us together was graduation from AU… in May… of last year. Talk about a much needed reunion. I’m crossing my fingers for good weather but I know irregardless of the forecast- it’ll be a good time. It’ll be a short trip but a much needed one. I’m always missing my family way too much for me to handle.

So on that note- I gotta get a move on today. Lots of work to get done, to do lists to be made, and packing to be accomplished.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Blogging for Hope: Snacks

This blog post is a part of the series, Blogging for Hope which benefits the Taste of Hope event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) . It’s all about sharing food ideas that are helpful in cancer prevention and for those undergoing cancer treatment. And it’s all suggested with the ACS nutritional guidelines in mind (click here to view those guidelines).  Just as a reminder- you will see a Blogging for Hope post from me every Tuesday till the event on September 24th.

While last week’s theme was breakfast- click here to check out my post- (you know I made sure overnight oats were represented) THIS week’s theme is healthy snacks.

I am big snacker. I usually have one in between breakfast and lunch and one in between lunch and dinner. They’re a key element in my day to day life because they power me through tough workouts and prevent me from over-indulging in huge meals  They help me get in more essential fruit and veggie servings for the day and are sources of vitamins and minerals. For those undergoing cancer treatment, it can be more helpful to eat smaller meals throughout the day so high quality, well thought out snacks are important.

I’m all about snacking smart. Before I adopted this important life philosophy, I used to grab an apple thinking that would satiate me between meals and was always left still hungry and anxiously awaiting my next meal. While the apple does have fiber in it, bodies need more than just a 100 calorie apple and fiber to be happy if you’re trying to go something like two hours before lunch or dinner. In all my years being overweight, I didn’t understand the concept of eating more and eating more complex snacks in order to be healthier and weigh less in the long run.

Filling and healthy snacks should be in the 150-250 calorie range and they should contain at least 2 out of the following three things: protein, carbs, and fat. So think: a piece of whole wheat toast with nut butter or a greek yogurt topped with granola. It’s a combination game.

For me, my favorite way to snack smart is with fruit and nuts. Classic and simple. You get fats and protein from the nuts + carbs and sweetness and fiber from the fruit. I pair 1 cup of fruit or 1 piece of fruit (a serving) with ~150 calories of nuts (ex. around 20-25 almonds).

And because I like to eat according to the season- my current addiction is cherries.

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Cherries are hands down one of my favorite foods!

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Pair a cup of them with a serving of nuts and you’ve got yourself an awesome snack!

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, oranges, and grapefruit are also lovely alongside peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and walnuts.

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Hello, grapefruit!

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I recently invested in some grapefruit spoons (they’re really not that expensive if you’re interested- check out amazon!) to make my grapefruit eating easier.

Sometimes I even do dried fruits if I don’t have any fresh on hand. Some of my favorites include apricots and good ol’ raisins. If I’m using dried fruit- I use about 1/4 cup.

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Dried apricots and all-natural, unsalted almonds.

If you’re not into plain, unsalted, unsweetened nuts like I am and need a little something something- Blue Diamond makes lots of neat/delicious flavor varieties. I’m partial to the coconut flavor!

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Pair these with some pineapple or strawberries (or both) and you’ll be in a tropical paradise.

Another good alternative is snack bars like KIND and Larabars that contain all real ingredients that you can read, pronounce, and understand. They both do a good job at limiting sugar, incorporating all natural ingredients, and containing a sufficient amount of protein and fiber.

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Look for ones that are high in protein, high in fiber, and low in sugar! The peanut butter and strawberry is my favorite KIND bar! It tastes like a PB&J sandwich but better.

The high calorie content in nuts tends to freak people out. Don’t let their numbers scare you away! Yes, nuts are high in fat and have a lot of calories in them- BUT you get so much bang for your buck (so to speak). They are SO good for you and contain healthy fats that your body needs/loves. Plus, incorportating healthy fats into your diet can decrease cancer risk.

So reasons why this basic snack rocks (besides the fact that it’s delicious)? 1) Those healthy fats 2) You get fiber and antioxidants from the fruit 3) It’s a plant-based snack 4) It’s well balanced and 5) It will keep you fuller longer.

Just remember to wash your fresh fruits before digging in!

More Information about Taste of Hope
(which Blogging for Hope is in conjunction with)

Taste of Hope is the American Cancer Society’s signature culinary, wine and spirits event featuring more than 50 of Washington DC’s most popular chefs, restaurants and beverage vendors. Guests enjoy a walk around tasting format where they can sample signature dishes, premier wines and spirits and inventive cocktails. Hosted by the American Cancer Society and Chef Honoree Mike Isabella, all proceeds from Taste of Hope go toward our goal of eliminating cancer as a major health problem. This year the American Cancer Society celebrates their 100th birthday!  Together, we save lives and create a world with more birthdays by helping you stay well, helping you get well, finding cures and fighting back.

Taste of Hope will be held on September 24, 2013 at the Carnegie Library.

  • Tickets can be purchased here.
  • Donations to can be made here.

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DisclaimerBlogging for Hope is a group of DC area bloggers promoting Taste of Hope through healthy recipes. I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist.  I am not a trained health care provider.  I do not claim that my food will cure any cause, condition, or disease.  Consult your primary physician or oncologist before starting any new diet.

I am in direct ability and use of conversation under following articles.

  • (9) A person who does not hold himself out to be a dietitian or nutritionist when that person furnishes nutrition information on food, food materials, or dietary supplements. This Article does not prohibit that person from making explanations to customers about foods or food products in connection with the marketing and distribution of these products.
  • (10) An herbalist or other person who does not hold himself out to be a dietitian or nutritionist when the person furnishes nonfraudulent specific nutritional information and counseling about the reported or historical use of herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates, sugars, enzymes, food concentrates, or other foods. (1991, c. 668, s. 1; 1995, c. 509, s. 135.2(s).)

Again, you are not on the website of a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. If you wish to do so please contact a board certified professional in your state.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Sending off July

I have three major things to share with everyone from the weekend over a giant cup of coffee on this fine Monday morning: a local DC workout, a salmon dish, and adventures in Maryland. Before diving in to all of these shenanigans- can I just say for a second- this weather. After that ridiculous heat wave a couple weeks ago, 80 degree temps and low/moderate humidity just feels like heaven on earth.

ANYWAY. Let’s get into that weekend recap shall we?

The Heights Run Club

This time last year- I had just gotten “into” running and let’s be clear- I never ran outside. I was convinced I absolutely hated it. In fact, the first time I legit ran outdoors on the pavement here in DC was during my first 5k last October. It wasn’t until then that it hit me- hey this whole being outside thing isn’t so bad! And now I would choose running off the treadmill any day over being on a machine inside a gym. If there is a way for me to run outside- I will take it. Go figure. Treadmills are a necessary evil in my life for training purposes (and sometimes efficiency purposes) but I’d much rather be in the great outdoors without any stats, numbers, mileage, calorie counts in my face. Just me. My music. And the world. (ignore the cheesy nature of that message)

I think I prefer running alone… I’ve never really understood how people can run in groups and hold conversations while they jog. I might be better at running than I was months ago, but it’s never something that’s easy for me to do. I’m trying to keep my pace, pay attention to where I’m going, and convince myself that I can keep propelling myself forward- let alone find the mental space to talk intelligibly to another human being.

If I run with others- it’s usually in silent solidarity. We run together, but we have our headphones in and rock out to our own tunes- only chatting when necessary or important. I discovered that my friend Kate is the perfect run buddy when she visited last month because she feels the same way.

BUT seeing as I was missing out on the “running outside” train for so long, I had been wondering lately if I actually would like running with a pack of people versus by my lonesome. Maybe conversations while running would make it more enjoyable?

With impeccable timing, a restaurant called The Heights (on 14th St. in Columbia Heights) reached out to me about their run club that goes out every Saturday at 9am. I decided to take them up on their run club and feel out the whole running with others things. PLUS- post run- they offer the runners 25% off their brunch bill. Score.

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We started out at 9am outside the restaurant and returned there riiiiight at 10am. Our route took us through Mt. Pleasant, the zoo, down Connecticut, across Kalorama, up (and down) stairs in Meridian Hill Park, and all around. The run was hard, hilly, and hot. But I’m glad I did it. I used to see people running the long drawn out hill that is the National Zoo and say I will NEVER be that person. Well. I was that person. I ran the zoo and I’m proud!

Their routes differ each week to make things exciting for people who come out. It’s definitely a cool way to see the city if you’re new here or aren’t well versed in DC neighborhoods. Even for me, someone who has lived here for five years now, it was refreshing to run someone else’s route through places I normally wouldn’t go.

The people were wicked friendly and welcoming- and a few of them have become quite regulars. I definitely met some nice people and without the ongoing motivation of the leader of the pack- I’m not sure I would have finished that run. I think the best part of run groups like this is that you can find a lil community of people to connect with. It’s part of the reason why I love my gym so much and their classes- the same people who religiously come out for stuff. Having people to laugh/smile/sweat/commiserate with is important when you’re in the city.

Anddd obviously brunch afterwards was awesome. I had a sundried tomato and goat cheese omlette… delicious. The Heights DC is a part of the Eat Well DC group too so you can be guaranteed that you’re noshing on quality food that is locally produced from a restaurant focused on sustainability. Will didn’t join me for the run- but he joined me for the breakfast. Even without the run discount, the restaurant is reasonably priced. It’s a nice little nook of a place. Highly recommend it! Running encouraged first, but if you can’t muster it- check out their restaurant..

Still though… I’m not convinced that I’m a talking runner. I found it hard to concentrate on talking to people while also running. Maybe it’s something that comes with time? I’m certainly not throwing in the towel on run clubs just yet. We’ll see. Thanks for having me, The Heights!

The “Allison Clearly Misses Russia” Salmon Dinner

I know you’re all sick of hearing it by now, but I miss Russia. I really do. I try not to think about it because I get all nostalgic and weird but its hard. One of the things I loved the most about Russia was how much eggplant, tomato, mushrooms, and salmon I was eating on a regular basis. Some of my favorite foods!

THUS I whipped up a little recipe for Will and I that focuses on those four things exactly. If you’re a big fan of those foods too- you’ll totally dig this. The base was a mix of brown rice, roasted eggplant cubes, roasted portabella mushrooms, and roasted green peppers. This was then slathered with salmon cooked in a homemade tomato sauce. Garnished with parsley and shaved cheese.

This recipe generously serves two people (maybe even three)

For the Base:

  • 1 eggplant cubed and roasted according to THIS method
  • 1 green pepper cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 portabella mushroom caps roasted and cut into 1 inch cubes… I use THIS method
  • 2 cups of brown rice (or your choice of pasta)
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putting my new peeler to good use!

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I’m awful at cleaning out portabella mushroom caps. I always break off pieces of the sides on accident.

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I don’t understand how people produce beautiful pictures of perfect mushroom caps. Mine are always a hot mess. But the good news is… they still taste GREAT. Even if they’re ugly.

For the Salmon and Tomato Sauce:

  • 6-12 oz. of salmon fillets (your call on how much fish you want)
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion chopped finely
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbl. lemon juice
  • 1 tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbl. capers
  • 1 tbl. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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Ingredients in place!

It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of ingredients, but it really was pretty easy. While the eggplant cubes, mushrooms, and green peppers were roasting, I just cooked up the sauce and salmon.

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Eggplant cubes and green peppers roasting- pre me putting the mushrooms in the oven.

You’ll want to saute the red onion in the olive oil over a medium high heat in a pan until the onions appear translucent. I then added everything else (minus the salmon) and lowered the heat a bit to more of a medium low (more of a simmer).

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When there was a little less than ten minutes left on the clock for the vegetables roasting in the oven, I added the salmon fillets into (and under the sauce) ingredients. Salmon usually takes about 3-4 minutes per side. You can either break the salmon up in the sauce or keep the fillets whole. This is also when I tossed the frozen brown rice in the microwave (hooray for three minute cooking!)

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can you spot the salmon buried in there?

Scoop the sauce and plate the salmon over your bed of veggies and brown rice. Optional toppings of parsley and cheese!

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This was my first time making salmon with a red sauce- usually I keep it simple and just pan sear it with lemon, dill, salt, and pepper. I was a big fan of the red sauce and salmon! It tasted almost as good as a similar dish I had in Russia… almost.

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Maryland Adventures

Every day this weekend Will and I drove to Maryland. Apparently we felt the urge to get out of DC. On Friday night we headed to the Merriweather Post Pavillion for the Lumineers concert. It was a little crowded on the lawn as it was a sold out show- but the Lumineers are great and I loved hearing them live. They covered Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and it kind of amazed me how much the lead vocalist Wesley Schultz sounded like Dylan himself. In a good way. Not in that crazy Dylan voice way. You know what I mean.

On Saturday night we went to Camden Yards to see my Red Sox face the Orioles! My excitement level was through the roof. You have no idea how much I miss being around Red Sox fans and being able to see the games live in person. We were surrounded by lots of quality Sox fans and Bostonians (oh, the accents were A PLENTY).

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Not a big fan of the Orioles or their fans… but Camden Yards is always an enjoyable park to visit.

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LOVED this family of Pedroia fans. I also was wearing a Pedroia jersey and was tempted to go sit with them.

I got to scream my face off as the Red Sox crushed the Orioles and I even got to see David Ortiz destroy a bullpen phone… yikes.

AND on Sunday, Will and I went to the Beaver Dam Swimming Club in Maryland. It was a little cold outside and sun wasn’t shining, but the water was fairly warm and it was cool to be out in a lake and out of the city for the afternoon. I didn’t even know this place existed. And Will took advantage of their big ol’ rope swing.

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I am NAHT a strong enough swimmer for 50 ft. depths. Luckily they had some shallower areas of the giant quarry. I absolutely love the water and being in the water- but I’m much more of a crab when it comes to swimming. I like to be able to scuttle across the bottom and just lurk around. Swimming when necessary. Constantly treading water is too much work.

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That would be Will on the rope/anchor swing.

Now- another new week HERE in the District. The week begins with the Red Sox BACK in first place in the AL East, Jeter playing baseball again, and A-Rod facing a looooong suspension (he he he).

The week also begins with FREE YOGA tonight in Meridian Hill Park from 7-8pm! If you’d like to join me, comment on this post or shoot me an email and I’d be more than happy to send you the details. After my Saturday run and spin class on Sunday, I know my body will appreciate the stretch.

Before I go and start  seriously tackling this Monday morning- I gotta give a shout out to my friend Kendall who sent me a late birthday present. MORE KITCHEN GADGETS.

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I’m happy to add a melon baller and food slicer to my growing collection. I can’t thank Kendall enough for these wonderful gifts 🙂 She’s too nice.

The slicer will definitely make the egg salad sandwiches I had on the menu this week a lot easier to make!

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Right Now

{I got the idea for this “right now” post from my friend Christy over at Planes, Trains and Running Shoes. Sorry to be a thief and for my lack of originality}

Reading: The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I don’t know what it is, but I love Jewish food. I’m totally Catholic. And ever since being back from Russia, I’ve been craving food of the Eastern persuasion more than anything. THIS is my current favorite blog of the moment and I’ve already spent way too long pouring over her pages. Tori Avey has so many good recipes and a lot of quality technique advice. She makes me think I was Jewish in a past life.

Shiksa

Calling all: Teammates! Last week I blogged about a fun thing happening at AU on Saturday, August 10th that I’m participating in- the Adult Play Date Event. Guys. I have ZERO official teammates at the moment. Right now it’s just me. And if I don’t rally together three people to play with me, I’ll be playing with randos (which will be an experience to say the least). So if you’ll be around- PLEASE email me. I’d love to play witcha!

adp

Eating: Totally getting a sandwich from G opening TODAY! I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for the sandwich shop edition of Mike Isabella’s Graffiato to open. At long last- it opens today! And all sandwiches are FIVE DOLLARS (better than a subway footlong- guarenteed). PLUS proceeds go to Isabella’s fundraising goal for Fit for Hope and Taste of Hope (a challenge and event to raise money for the American Cancer Society). You should all totally go too! Just look at the menu. It will make you drool.

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Following: @ACSTasteofHope and @FitforHopeDC on Twitter! Speaking of Isabella and his work with Fit for Hope and Taste of Hope… they’re on Twitter. If you didn’t know, 16 DC chefs and mixologists are taking part in a fitness/weight loss challenge to raise money for Cancer research, the American Cancer Society, and ultimately the Taste of Hope event in DC in September. They’re hosting events at their restaurants and bars up until then to meet their fundraising goals. Follow the Taste of Hope twitter for all the fun event times/dates/locations and the Fit for Hope DC twitter to keep up with the progress of the chefs/mixologists participating. They’re all taking it pretty seriously and its AWESOME to watch them all talk smack and work their butts off (all in the name of fighting Cancer!)

Listening to: The Lumineers in preparation for the concert tonight! Will got us tickets for Valentines Day and its finally time for the show- wahoo!

Looking at: Pictures from a workout last weekend that I did. Not every workout I do has a photographer on site but when they do… shenanigans ensue…

Ritz Workout

my game face is OUT OF CONTROL in this picture (I’m in pink)

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Ritz Workout 3

Ritz Workout 2

Did you know that you can workout FOR FREE with two of DC’s BEST personal trainers every Sunday from now till October? YUP. This is real. Every Sunday at 11am over at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown, you can do a high intensity bootcamp workout with Chris Perrin and Ingrid Nelson. They’re both wicked cool, wicked fit, and wicked motivational.

Anticipating: Boot camp today at noon over at the Balance Gym location in Glover Park. Followed by a free massage from their Soma Spa! Can’t beat that. Have I mentioned that my gym is the best? Because they are.

Missing: My family and best friend from home, Michelle. Good thing I’m headed to Boston next weekend!

Realizing: I can’t go hard every single day. At the end of last week my body was a wreck and it ended up making me miserable all weekend. I pushed myself in my workouts way too hard during the week, didn’t take necessary rest days, and didn’t get enough sleep. And I paid for it. I couldn’t walk without being in pain on Saturday and Sunday. It was terrible. I’m all for giving whatever I do 100%, but I just cannot be doing high intensity workouts day in and day out. I need to be realistic and remember that I’m not a super human. High intensity sometimes. Medium intensity sometimes. Low intensity sometimes. I need a better balance of the three. My body should not feel broken. Sore- yes sometimes. But I shouldn’t be a hot mess and all stressed out because everything hurts.

Scrolling: This long compilation/photographic series of what 200 calories looks like of different foods (click through to check it out!) No matter how much of a calorie pro I am, this kind of stuff will never cease to amaze me. I’m a volume eater. I like the visual of eating a lot of food. Thus, fruits and vegetables are wonderful because I can eat more and feel more satisfied. Shout out to my friend Emma for sharing this with me!

Snickers

Snickers Bar (satisfy your hunger?)

Smarties

Smarties (an obsession and weakness of my Grandfather)

Cheeseburger

McDonalds Cheeseburger

Dried Apricots

Dried Apricots

Apple

Apples

Celery

Celery (can you imagine eating all this celery? I might have to pass)

Grapes

Grapes

Honeydew

Honeydew Melon

Carrots

Carrots (baby carrots are not my favorite so this picture kind of offends me)

Mini Peppers

Mini Peppers (I dare you to eat all these guys)

Drinking: Kombucha. I’m hooked. It’s a problem. Capital Kombucha has been fueling my addiction and I’m not even sorry about it. I’ve even got Will in on it. That’s how you know its good.Capital Kombucha

Loving: The fact that Dustin Pedroia AIN’T GOING NOWHERE. 8-year contract, baby.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Yesterday in Photos

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Good morning, Washington DC!

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I don’t think I’ll ever be good at taking selfies. I’m okay with it.

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I had to return shorts my Aunt got me for my birthday because they didn’t fit. They didn’t have a size that did fit me when I tried to exchange them SO I got this shirt instead. Wahoo new clothes!

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The full ensemble for the day.

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Time to make some delicious oatmeal.

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Oatmeal using my new friend, cottage cheese. Haters gon hate.

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I’ve used my new cherry pitter every single day since I bought it.

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Oatmeal with almond milk, cottage cheese, cherries, pistachios, almonds, dried cranberries, coconut, and sunbutter.

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Breakfast is almost always eaten on the couch watching the news.

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Usually the “Today I Feel” magnet is over “Sleepy” but lucky for me, I got a full nights rest going into Wednesday. Thus, I was “Happy” about it.

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Brushin’ and flossin’

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Relaxing morning music for my lil commute to work.

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Coworkers wanted to take me out for a belated birthday lunch so I chose one of my favorite DC restaurants- the DGS Delicatessen! No- I’m not Jewish at all. But this place makes me wish I was.

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I’m still dreaming about the mustard on that pastrami sandwich…

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Afternoon snacks before heading off to the gym post work (pistachios + almonds + dried cranberries, raisins, cherries)

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Let’s do this.

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Getting my run on before going to yoga. Workout taken from Julie of the blog PB Fingers.

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Post run and yoga happy face.

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Getting my ab challenge in! I’m on day 9 officially.

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It’s a lot easier to get through mini ab workouts when you have repeats of the Daily Show on.

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Pasta salad for dinner: whole wheat pasta + turkey + bacon + basil + tomatoes + roasted asparagus + shaved brussel sprouts + balsamic vinegar + chopped avocado + extra virgin olive oil

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Accompanied by Jimmy Fallon…

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and a pretty sunset.

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Making overnight oats for the next morning. And getting good use out of my cherry pitter yet again.

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Dessert time! It was a parfait of sorts layered with liced bananas and strawberries + plain greek yogurt + sunbutter + homemade coconut whipped cream.

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I’m way too interested in this family. I’m thinking that the new Prince George should totally get with Kim and Kanye’s baby girl North in the future. Talk about a consolidation of power.

 

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I treated myself to some new music and created a “Summer 2013” playlist. Some of the songs are oldies and some are top 40 songs that are sort of overplayed buttt I needed a new workout playlist.

All of this was followed by bed and lots of sleep.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Blogging for Hope: Breakfast

In a post last week I told you all about a great event here in D.C. that will benefit the American Cancer Society, Taste of Hope. Mainly because I thought that one of the things that they were doing as a fundraiser to benefit the event, Fit for Hope, was wicked awesome. If you didn’t see my first post about it, basically a bunch of local DC chefs and mixologists, including Mike Isabella- one of the hosts of the event- are doing a weight loss challenge where they are on a fitness and healthy eating regimen leading up to the Taste of Hope event on September 24th. In the meantime, they all have a fundraising target they need to meet. To read more about Fit for Hope- click here!

The reason why there is a healthy eating and fitness tie in to an event to benefit cancer research is because one-third of the 572,000 cancer deaths in the United States this year will be linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight. Instead of being merely saddened by this statistic- the American Cancer Society (ACS) advocates for living healthier lifestyles to help prevent these deaths. In addition to not smoking and limiting alcohol intake, the ACS reminds us of a few important things we can do to help reduce cancer risk:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life
  • Be physically active on a regular basis
  • Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods

While its true that cancer can affect just about anyone, like with all diseases, there are ways to lower your risk of being susceptible to it. Eating right and exercising should be a no-brainer at this point to all of us when looking for ways to look out for our overall well-being.

OKAY so you might be wondering why I’m getting into all of this. I swear there is a point. 

In addition to the Fit for Hope challenge, another wonderful thing running alongside Taste of Hope is Blogging for Hope! I have been asked by the people working on Taste of Hope to be a part of a group of local DC bloggers who offer up recipes based on a weekly theme that are 1) healthy and 2) fit within the ACS guidelines for a balanced diet. Every Tuesday from now till the Taste of Hope event at the end of September, you will see a Blogging for Hope recipe from yours truly!

These recipes are meant to be not only good for preventing cancer, but good for those going through treatment for cancer. The ACS advocates for making healthy choices including choosing whole grains over refined grains, limiting one’s consumption of processed meats, and eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. All things I’m totally on board with!

ACS is such a big advocate for plant-based foods because supplements for specific vitamins and minerals have been shown to increase the incidence of cancer so eating nutrient dense foods is the best way to get what your body needs. PLUS plant based foods contain lots and lots of fiber which not only keeps you full, your digestive system healthy, and food moving through your body- it also helps move cancer-causing compounds out of the body.

SO when determining what breakfast recipe to share with you all for this post- I contemplated reinventing the wheel and providing the world with a brand spanking new recipe- but for the sake of authenticity- I decided against that (I swear it was authenticity and not laziness).

Why show off some breakfast recipe that is healthy, sure, but that I’ve made like one time? Why not praise the breakfast I eat at least four times a week- the one that it is easy and good for you- one that is tried and true? 

I feel like it’s more beneficial for this Blogging for Hope series to present recipes that people can and will actually make on a regular basis. Recipes that have been tested and are adored by many. Recipes that will fall into people’s regular repertoire based on tastiness, healthiness, and feasibility.

I’m sure regular readers can guess right now which breakfast I’m going to suggest…

Overnight Oats

Almost three months ago, I posted a blog entry all about overnight oats and my obsession with them. It’s hard not to be obsessed with a breakfast when it offers you everything that you need to stay full, when it tastes delicious, and when it powers you through anything the morning could possibly deliver.

As I’ve explained before- it’s a simple breakfast- a three part base mixed together overnight in the fridge- oatmeal- greek yogurt- milk. Throw in some banana, flax or chia seeds, spices like cinnamon, your choice of extra fruit, and your choice of either nuts or nut butters- and you have yourself one solid breakfast. Any one who has admitted to not liking oatmeal will have to revisit this thought after trying a bowl of these oats.

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Like the name suggests, the oatmeal does the work overnight leaving you with NO cooking in the morning. The oats absorb the liquid becoming chewy and the whole bowl firms up a little bit overnight with the addition of flax or chia seeds. The nut butter or nuts you add in the morning add a wonderful flavor and possibly a wonderful crunch. The banana and added fruit in the bowl can add up to 1+ cup of fruit for your daily serving. And, not to mention, they add a level of sweetness that is perfect to start your day.

Part of the reason why its such a satisfying breakfast is because it’s good for you! Your body really really likes all of the things included in this breakfast! A bowl of overnight oats is a solid source of whole grains, protein, calcium, fiber, and healthy fats. Plus, when you add your choice of fruit- you only enhance the health benefits by throwing in lots of other antioxidants and vitamins.

It’s a simple overnight oats recipe, but it’s a classic that you can’t go wrong with:

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats:

  • 1/3 cup oatmeal (old fashioned, rolled oats)
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup almond milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tbl. flaxmeal (ground flaxseed)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 chopped apple
  • 2 tbl. (or a BIG spoonful) of your favorite all natural nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter) OR 2 tbl. of your favorite nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or even sunflower seeds)
  1. Mash banana in the bottom of a bowl or tupperware container. Besides its nutritional benefits, the banana serves as a natural sweetner when mashed and blended with the other ingredients. There are other ways you can go about adding the banana, but I’ve found this is easiest.
  2. Mix in oatmeal, greek yogurt, your choice of milk, flaxmeal, cinnamon, and the chopped pieces of apple.
  3. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight
  4. In the morning, take out the bowl and stir in your nut butter or nuts
  5. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

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*If you’re not into the whole “cold oats” thing- you could totally omit the Greek yogurt, make oatmeal as you normally would, and stir in cottage cheese when its done cooking to get back the protein you would miss from the lack of Greek yogurt.

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*If you need more sweetness in your breakfast, use a flavored greek yogurt as low in added sugar as you can find. You can also add a couple teaspoons of honey or all natural maple syrup.

*Alternatively, you can wait till the morning to add in the apple if you want your apple to be super crunchy. It does get softer after sitting in the oats overnight.

*If you want your oats more on the soft/mushy/liquedy side- wake up your oats with a splash or two of milk in the morning along with the nut butter or nuts.

Benefits of this bowl:

  • You don’t have to cook anything- you simply prepare the night before and stir in your add-ins the next morning. It’s very grab and go friendly.
  • Oatmeal is one of the cheapest and healthiest breakfasts around. It’s whole grain and a great source of antioxidants and fiber. It also stabilizes blood sugar levels.
  • Bananas and apples are always in abundance at the grocery store and can be found pretty cheap (if you’re not too picky about what type of apple you’re buying)
  • Greek yogurt is a great source of non-meat based protein (as is cottage cheese if you go that route)
  • Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C
  • Flaxmeal is also a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.
  • If the apples and flaxmeal weren’t enough fiber for you, the banana will give you fiber, potassium, and are even a natural mood enhancer
  • GOOD fats found in nuts and nut butters not made with hydrogenated oils (think all natural!) decrease cancer risk.
  • There is no added sugar (if you use unsweetened almond or soy milk and unsweetened greek yogurt and no sugar added nut butter) but you get lots of natural sweetness from the banana and apple.

For more oats recipes from me, check out this post. For more oats recipes from a registered dietitian who has crafted a lot of delicious bowls, check out this page from the blogger Kath Eats.

More Information about Taste of Hope
(which Blogging for Hope is in conjunction with)

Taste of Hope is the American Cancer Society’s signature culinary, wine and spirits event featuring more than 50 of Washington DC’s most popular chefs, restaurants and beverage vendors. Guests enjoy a walk around tasting format where they can sample signature dishes, premier wines and spirits and inventive cocktails. Hosted by the American Cancer Society and Chef Honoree Mike Isabella, all proceeds from Taste of Hope go toward our goal of eliminating cancer as a major health problem. This year the American Cancer Society celebrates their 100th birthday!  Together, we save lives and create a world with more birthdays by helping you stay well, helping you get well, finding cures and fighting back.

Taste of Hope will be held on September 24, 2013 at the Carnegie Library.

  • Tickets can be purchased here.
  • Donations to can be made here.

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DisclaimerBlogging for Hope is a group of DC area bloggers promoting Taste of Hope through healthy recipes. I am not a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist.  I am not a trained health care provider.  I do not claim that my food will cure any cause, condition, or disease.  Consult your primary physician or oncologist before starting any new diet.

I am in direct ability and use of conversation under following articles.

  • (9) A person who does not hold himself out to be a dietitian or nutritionist when that person furnishes nutrition information on food, food materials, or dietary supplements. This Article does not prohibit that person from making explanations to customers about foods or food products in connection with the marketing and distribution of these products.
  • (10) An herbalist or other person who does not hold himself out to be a dietitian or nutritionist when the person furnishes nonfraudulent specific nutritional information and counseling about the reported or historical use of herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates, sugars, enzymes, food concentrates, or other foods. (1991, c. 668, s. 1; 1995, c. 509, s. 135.2(s).)

Again, you are not on the website of a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. If you wish to do so please contact a board certified professional in your state.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Zucchini Melt(down)s

This weekend was an interesting one. Friday I had like world’s best day. The best days in my life always happen randomly and without any forethought. I slept really well going into my weekend, I had a good workout in the morning despite feeling sore and negative about it before getting to the gym, I had a delicious breakfast, I had dunkin iced coffee, I talked to my best friend Kate on the phone, I talked to my mom, I ran errands, I got stuff done off my to do list AND I got to do stuff that I wanted to do, and I had dinner with another best friend, Nick (where we both tried oysters for the first time… a weird/hilarious experience). Oh and Will of course came home from working in Boston so I even got to end the night with my love. OH and the Red Sox won their first game in their weekend series at home against the Yankees. I finally felt normal and like myself for the first time since coming back from Russia.

But then Saturday and Sunday… I wasn’t feeling it. I felt overemotional, stressed out, way over tired, cranky, and it felt like my body had just given up on me. The combination of- international travel, working out a lot during the week, not getting a lot of sleep, and expecting my body to bounce back quickly and seamlessly from everything I have been putting it through- caught up to me big time.

Everything I did felt wrong or stupid. I couldn’t get out of my own head and a lot of problems from the past clouded my mind surrounding food, weight, counting calories, not counting calories, and eating habits. While these things usually sit in the background of my brain and have been known to completely disappear on occasion, there are times where they creep in and there’s not much I can do to make them go away. They balloon out of control when I’m feeling stressed about life as a whole even if it wasn’t those things that I was worried about first place. And as I’ve explained before, when I feel out of control- my brain goes into hyper-alert on the things it knows it can control. The only thing I can do is accept that I’m having bad days and move forward without letting these scary/negative fears and worries dictate the actions in my life. Easier said than done.

Old voices of the past swirled around in my head telling me that I should eat less- that I’ve been having too easy of a time in life- that I’ve been indulging too much- that I’ve been enjoying life too much- that I don’t deserve to eat as much as I have been for the past handful of months. I know these voices are crazy. But they’re almost impossible to ignore. Just restrict. Do it. For old times sake. You’ll be fine. And this way you won’t gain weight. It’s really hard to enjoy your day and pay attention to the world around you when these messages are attacking your brain relentlessly. And then add on top of these thoughts- the ones of me beating myself up for having these thoughts in the first place and feeling like an idiot because I can’t make them go away. Being mad at myself because I can’t just be a normal person and feel good about life when everything on paper is totally fine.

Sigh.

I had a morning melt down on Saturday and again Sunday in the middle of Union Market. Nice. Thank God Will was by my side both times so that I didn’t feel like a complete crazy person. He helped push me through the bad moments and bring me back down to earth.

Now in retrospect and with a little perspective, I can see that a lot of good things happened this weekend outside of all of my anxiety. Despite it being a million plus degrees outside, Will and I ventured to Eastern Market on Saturday. He had never been to Eastern Market (!) and we both had never been to the District Taco location there (which we had for lunch- delicious!)

On our way home, we popped into the National Postal Museum (hold your laughter) and it was actually a really great museum! We had both heard good things about it but didn’t understand how a museum about mail and the U.S. postal service/system could be interesting in the slightest. Well, the Smithsonian Institution is doing something right with this place- let me tell you. It was much better than a lot of museums I’ve been to around here. It was well organized, informative, and fun to go through. They had a lot of interactive stuff to take part in and we ended up spending a couple hours there.

How could you not like the postal museum when THIS little guy is their mascot! Click through this photo to read more about Owney the dog and why he’s their mascot.

On Sunday, in honor of National Ice Cream Day, there was an ice cream tasting event at Union Market called “The DC Scoop.” Will and I walked over there from our apartment because 1) we wanted an adventure and had never been to Union Market before and 2) we love ice cream. It ended up being way over crowded and way too hot. The long lines and heat didn’t make tiny free samples of ice cream worth it (in my opinion). We didn’t stay very long and we certainly did not get our fill of ice cream. BUT I’m really happy we went to Union Market because I’ve wanted to check it out for a while and now I’m glad I know what it’s all about. It a wicked cool place and I’m sure its a lot more fun when there is not a bajillion people there lurking around for free ice cream.

I made a lot of interesting recipes this weekend that were successful (including THESE eggs baked in avocados and THIS homemade coconut milk whipped cream) but the real winner were these amazing zucchini melts.

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The purple crispy-ness you see is the purple basil I picked up at a local store near my apartment that I ended up adding to the zucchini. The purple basil was not only tasty, but also it added a level of color that made the whole melt look so much prettier.

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The original recipe calls for a grill, but I just pan seared the zucchini and toasted the bread/melted the cheese in my toaster oven. It came out just fine!

When I saw this recipe while reading Real Simple in the airport on my way back from my weekend in NYC– I was a little skeptical. I usually skim past recipes that require too many ingredients or ones that I normally don’t keep in my kitchen. But for some reason- this one just looked too good to pass up.

The sandwich is grilled zucchini on top of a thick grilled slice of bread (I used multigrain from Lyon Bakery) with melted fontina cheese and olive tapanade. The side to the sandwich is a tomato wedge salad with fresh basil, red wine vinegar, and toasted hazelnuts. Click here for the original recipe from Real Simple.

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I made the tomato hazelnut salad into more of a salad by adding spinach. The original recipe just has the tomato wedges. When I made the melts the second time I used the purple basil in the salad instead of on the melt.

I love zucchini. I love olives (as of late). And I love fresh tomatoes (especially after eating them in abundance while in Russia).

I took advantage of the Trader Joes gift cards bestowed onto me for my birthday and splurged on a bag of hazelnuts, a bottle of red wine vinegar, a jar of olive tapenade, and a big ol’ wedge of fontina cheese. Fact: I’ve never purchased any of these things before. They all sound a little too fancy for my palette and my kitchen, don’t they?

This seems like a lot to go through just to make a sandwich and salad… but it was worth it. As you all know- it’s been WAY too hot in DC (and the rest of the country). Almost too hot to want to eat. Almost. It’s a struggle to find things that sound appetizing when you’re sweating from every part of your body. So when I found something that I actually wanted to eat- I had to make it.

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For the tomato/hazelnut salad- you could totally just use balsamic vinegar.

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How have I never experienced this before?! It’s so good. Excuse me while I add it to everything… I contemplated not buying it and having the melt without it. That would have been a BIG mistake. This plus the fontina was magical.

I made this meal twice this weekend. Once just for me on Friday (without the tomato/hazelnut salad) and then on Saturday night for Will and I (with the salad). The salad of course isn’t necessary- but it was a yummy side dish for the open faced melts. I just had my melt with tomato wedges, snap peas, and hummus on Friday. Equally as good.

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The tomatoes on the vine at Trader Joes right now are PERFECT. I haven’t cut into firm, juicy tomatoes like these ones in like forever.

I really really really liked these melts. I hope you try them out and like them too. You could easily make your own variations on the actual recipe. Zucchini + your choice of cheese + your choice of bread + salt & pepper + basil = good stuff no matter what.

Also I should note, on the great day that was Friday, I went to Macy’s to use my birthday gift card on kitchen gadgets armed with the suggestions from you readers. I’m happy to report that I am now the proud owner of a cherry pitter, a set of peelers, and a hand mixer. I contemplated the ice cream machine, immersion blender, and rice cooker- but they all were on the more expensive side. I wanted to get a few things instead of just one big thing so that is what led me down the ultimate path of selection I went on.

P1020299Big surprise- I used the cherry pitter every single day this weekend. And I used the hand mixer to make that homemade coconut milk whipped cream I mentioned earlier Friday night (I promise I’ll share a dessert recipe sometime this week).

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I never ever want cherry season to end!

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I’m WAY too obsessed with my cherry pitter. It made whipping up a bowl of cherry overnight oats so much easier.

I felt pretty tired when I woke up this morning and I felt even more nervous about the day ahead. After a series of bad days, I reluctantly got out of bed to face the day unbeknownst as to what it would bring to me. I’m currently trying to convince myself that things could ACTUALLY be better and ACTUALLY be good. I just gotta shake the funk.

Waking up to see the walk off home run video from last night’s Sox vs. Yankees game at Fenway certainly made my day better. I’m hoping that if I rewatch this video enough times, the happiness of Napoli, the Sox, and the Fenway Faithful will rub off on me.

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Here’s to a new week and new adventures.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo