Broccoli Apple Salad

One of my favorite things about summertime is all of the vegetables in season that I can throw into a salad but it’s eas to get stuck into a salad rut (yes, even with the help of Pinterest). So when I see new-to-me ideas, I keep it in the back of my head and pull it out on a rainy day. I saw a salad just like this at King Soopers deli and after perusing the ingredients, knew I had to come home and make my own rendition. I also loved this because it was something new to do with broccoli. I tend to stick with what I know when it comes to broccoli-stir fry or steam it. Sometimes I even get a little crazy and eat it raw but beyond that, my broccoli skills are non-existent. This was a great way to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new–even though I had it for lunch last week, this would be a fun dish for dinner, bbq, as a side or just to nosh on!

Broccoli Apple Slaw
Makes 6 servings

2 heads of broccoli, chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup almond slivers

½ cup light sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated carrots

¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and let sit. Once chopped, diced and sliced, add all other ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the dressing to it and let sit overnight. This allows the broccoli and apple to soften up and the lemon juice prevents the apple from going brown (because no one wants an ugly apple). The dried cranberries and Granny Smith apple are perfect additions because it brings a tart edge to the slaw and livens it up a bit.

Let the salad sit overnight if possible, if you don’t have that much time a few hours will do (it’s more about tenderizing the broccoli and apple). After that, just serve up and enjoy! Fill me in, what;s your favorite way to enjoy broccoli? I need some inspiration!

Greek Chicken Salad

I love all things Greek–food, men, liquor, way of living, you name it. Not only do I love going out for Greek food but it’s so much fun to make at home! Some of my favorite homemade dishes I’ve made in the past have been

 Greek eggplant tacos

Greek pasta salad

Greek Quinoa Meatballs

I bought some Greek seasoning from Penzey’s a few weeks back and have been itching to make something absolutely delicious but the inspiration has been lacking.  I looked inside my cupboard one day for some ideas and found ingredients that would pair up well with the Greek seasoning. And now I have another favorite to add to the list, a new spin on a classic recipe-Greek Chicken Salad!

 Ingredients (makes 5 servings)

2 cups chicken, cooked and diced

7 oz 2% Plain Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 cup roasted red and yellow peppers, chopped

1/2 cup marinated artichokes, chopped

2 tbsp Penzey’s Greek seasoning

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

    

Once again, Trader Joe’s to the rescue!

Really after the chopping there is only one direction on making this–combine all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit. I had this about an hour after I made it and it was awesome but then I had it the next day and it was even better! The flavors really gelled together overnight and the greek seasoning along with the lemon juice and greek yogurt was a perfect savory flavor to the chicken salad. This is perfect on salads, sandwiches or even by itself and is a unique way to mix up plain old chicken salad plus check out how colorful it is! When it gets warmer out (because it’s May and dropped down to 35 degrees and snowing today!), this will be returning to my recipe rotation!

Eating in Indy

 I went to Indianapolis to see my sister recently and I feel like all we did was eat. Edit, no, really, all we did was eat, do food related stuff or go thrift store shopping, all of which I love. Travel,food and deals? Those are three of my favorite things and it’s even more enjoyable when the company you keep enjoys the same things.  Indianapolis isn’t a tourist detination but I’ve always had a great time there plus I get to kill two birds with one stone by visiting them and checking out new-to-me places.

First things first, I had to get my regular fixes–sushi at Tian Fu.

 This place completely wowed me with their service and specials. We got there just in time before their happy hour special ended with 50% off all rolls! The 007 and green dragon roll were perfect in their own ways, full if flavor and not too much sauce. The were 8 pieces to each roll and it was so good I almost went back for lunch the next day, which would have been the smart thing to do instead of grabbing lunch at Sawasdee Thai.

After reading stellar reviews, I stopped by for a late lunch and it was packed-always a good sign! Service was quick and their lunch specials are wallet friendly (around $7 for pad thai plus two sides) but their pad thai was pretty forgettable. Even writing this right now I’m trying to remember it and all that comes to mind are two things 1) even though I ordered it spicy, I had to pour Sriracha on it to liven up the flavor and 2) the noodles they used seemed more like a thin spaghetti noodle rather than glass noodles. I wondered if I missed something with my experience or if they were just having an off day since there were so many great reviews but alas, I guess I will never know. I chuckled when I walked out because I saw a picture of Peyton Manning with the owners and can only he has found some better pad thai in Denver!

I also had a reunion with The Kolache Factory, a place near and dear to my heart.

Oh sweet kolaches! The Kolache Factory in Denver closed last year which is a tragedy because kolaches are a gift from the gods. They’re basically buns filled with sweet or savory fillings, like cherries, apple, sausage and gravy, bbq pork, etc. I usually opt for the more savory options and this time was no different, I got the bbq pork, sausage and cheddar and steak and cheddar (hey, I had to get my fix while there!) She also had a Buy Three, Get Three free coupon so that made it even better….what can I say, frugalness runs in the family :)

After a deal of successful thrift shopping, we stopped by South of Chicago Pizza.  $8.99 for AYCE deep dish pizza, salad and sausage and peppers? Count me in! When my sister told me about this place I was perplexed by the idea of AYCE deep dish pizza. I’ve been to other places with the option of regular pizza but never deep dish, so I was geeked. We got there and it was pretty empty for a Tuesday afternoon and rightfully so, who wants to eat that much at lunch then run the risk of falling asleep at their desk?  They had a nice salad bar and it was stocked but I didn’t want to be an amateur and load up on the salad bar and not get my moneys worth in pizza.

Ok, so if you’re wearing pants that are snug you really can’t go TOO crazy with the pizza. The slices are huge and I killed a slice of the pepperoni and sausage, both were terrific and filling but my only complaint was that the sauce lacked flavor. For my veggies out there, they did have a vegetarian option so that’s thoughtful of them. It was definitely redemption for being so close to Chicago without being able to visit this time around!

And even though we now have one, a trip to Trader Joe’s because you never know what treasures you may find there!

 I couldn’t go the entire trip without cooking so I tried out something new to me after seeing this recipe for chopped salad on Pinterest

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

1 lb cooked chicken, shredded or diced

2 cups broccoli slaw

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

1 cup green cabbage, shredded

1 cup matchstick carrots

1 bag edamame, shelled and thawed

1 cup light poppyseed dressing

1 can mandarin oranges (12 oz).

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

1 block dry ramen noodles (no seasoning)

This has a lot of ingredients but it’s worth it, trust me! I usually don’t buy pre-packaged veggies like broccoli slaw or matchstick carrots but chose to do so this time since I didn’t want to waste time chopping my life away. I combined all the ingredients in a huge bowl and let sit for four hours. It was perfect by the time I took it out, just enough dressing to soften the cabbage and slaw but not so much to make the salad soggy.

This made eight huge servings and was a much welcomed break in between eating out the entire time. I had it for dinner the first night I made it  and even took some to the airport for dinner when it was time to go home (I always travel with chopsticks, you never know when they might prove themselves to be useful) I will definitely make this again, especially with the warmer temps heading our way.

 Even though I love going to Indy to see my sister and nieces, I was ready to get back to Denver into pants that fit comfortably.

 

Foodie Fun Day: 34 Degrees Crisps

Snacks are my fave and given the choice, would eat snack foods for most meals if I could. One of my favorites that I’ve discovered this past year has been 34 Degrees Crisps. They are a super thin, all natural cracker 50 cals/serving (nine crackers), ultra thin yet sturdy plus they are delicious so they’re optimal for snacking or pairing!
I recently got an invitation to go on a behind the scenes tour of their production facility in Lousiville, CO at the Fresca Foods production facility so to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement. 34 Degrees was started by Craig Liberman after he studied in grad school abroad in Australia ands got a taste for foods and wines down under  (34 Degrees is the latitude of Sydney Australia, hooray for knowledge!) He brought his idea of thin crisps back to the states and instead of importing the crackers from Australia, set up shop in Boulder County exclusively in 2008 and has been at it ever since. This was a really special opportunity, not only for the generous invitation, but also because it’s really cool to see the production and learn the history of a product you already love. We got to see their production plant, how they make their crisps, how they’re packaged and where to find them.
Legit production tour means no hair showing, no jewelry and closed toed shoes. (source) I don’t think I’ve ever worn so much white in my life! I couldn’t stop singing the Laverne and Shirley theme song because I’ve never really been in a production facility before, it was quite amusing to me at least. 
Even though dressing in all white sanitary gear is fun, the fun part came soon after when we did a cheese pairing! We had two special guests—Devin Lamma, Cheese Monger at Whole Foods Denver Cherry Creek and 34 Degrees’ Chef Libby. Devin took us through a tour of cheese from all over and how to pair them with 34 Degrees Crisps. Cheese novice I am not but even so, it was nice to get some education of why certain types of cheeses go with their regular and flavored crisps.
We tried different combinations such as:
*Natural Crisps and Triple Cream Brie
*Sesame Crisps and Gruyere
*Cracker Pepper and Idiazabal
*Rosemay and Pecorino Toscano
*Whole Grain and Haystack Mountain Snowdrop
I usually just eat the crisps on their own so this was really eye opening for me….and my tastebuds! The possibilities are endless when it comes to pairing with 34 Degrees and Chef Libby stepped it up a notch when she brought us two very different regional crisp creations to try.
Trying the Denver one was a given—Smoked Trout with Goat Cheese—salty, savory and fresh but the New York took my heart—Classic Deli Reuben!
The Reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches ever! Because it’s so deliciousness (and not the healthiest for you), I don’t indulge in them as much as I would like so this was perfect! I would have never imagined putting the Reuben on a crisp but it was absolute perfection from the pastrami to the pickle on top! I kinda wanted to steal the whole tray but knew that would be in bad taste…..once again social graces got to me.
They sent us home with some crisps and goodies and automatically my mind started wondering what I could do with the crisps. Like many, I get a hankering for sweets in the afternoon and Saturday afternoon was no different, I wanted something sweet but semi-healthy.
Fig and honey goat cheese crisps 
2 oz honey goat cheese
2 oz fig butter
4 34 Degrees Whole Grain Crisps
Spread goat cheese on each cracker then top with chopped figs or fig butter and voila, you have an sophisticated snack that tends to both your salty and sweet desires!

And since the people at 34 Degrees were so kind to me, I want to spread the love by giving one reader a variety pack of 34 Degrees Crisps along with a snazzy purse hook to tote around with you (there’s nothing worse than a dirty purse!)

There are four ways to enter (one entry per number)

1) Comment with your snazzy idea for a 34 Degrees crisp creation

2) Like 34 Degrees on Facebook

3) Follow 34 Degrees on Twitter

4) Spread the love—Tweet or post about this contest on Twitter or FB and comment with the link or your name example “I want to win a variety pack of 34 Degrees Crisps from @SnackSnarkBark http://wp.me/p1K1ws-1DY” or something to that effect.

Contest ends at 11:59PM MST Monday 5/12/14, a randomly selected winner will be announced via Twitter or through email. Good luck—I can’t wait to hear your ideas about what you would make with 34 Degrees!

Workout Wednesday: My legs

Happy Wednesday friends! This Workout Wednesday is all about the legs. I despise doing leg exercises and maybe that’s why my legs aren’t in the best shape. I’ve been trying to make conscious effort to work on them more and focusing on what I can do to change their look especially with bathing suit season right around the corner (how the hell is it that time again, I swear summer sneaks up just like that!)

Something I started doing recently was challenging myself to go up 200 steps a day. My workplace is only three stories and in stairs that’s 66 steps up to the top, which leaves me winded after climbing up the three flights. I hate walking up the fairs with other people, feeling out of breath by the time I get to my floor, barely being able to spout out a sentence. I seriously hate taking the stairs and would rather walk up an incline instead of taking stairs if given the choice.

I know taking the stairs is the healthier option so again, I’ve made a conscious effort to take the stairs instead of the elevator and aim for 200 steps a day. It’s become a fun little game with myself, see how many steps I can fit in in a day and I’m stoked to say that most days I go above and beyond my goal. Anytime I need a little burst of energy, I go up and down the stairs and it does the trick! I get a little bit of exercise in, stretch out my legs and have some time away from my desk. Since I’m a dork who likes to look busy at work, I’ve created a spreadsheet to track my progress throughout the week along with the number of miles walked.

I’m going to keep doing this for the next month and I’m interested to see the progress within a month’s time. My legs are definitely feeling this each day, I feel like I’m getting stronger and no longer as winded as I used to be. I found this awesome article from Transformation Trainer on stair climbing with these fun facts!

  • Just 2 minutes of climbing stairs a day can keep off the pesky 2 lbs that most adults gain in a year.
  • Taking the stairs firms up your glutes and quadriceps while increasing your bone density.
  • While climbing stairs, you’re burning an average of 10 calories a minute!  That’s 7x more calories a minute than standing in an elevator.
  • A brief session of stair climbing does you more good than walking or running for the same amount of time because you have to work againstthe force of gravity. 
  • According to a study done at Harvard university, if you can fit in 8 flights of stairs a day you could reduce your death rate by 32%.
  • Stepping on each stair with your entire foot can help prevent injury and straining of your Achilles tendon.
  • A British study states that 11 minutes a day spent climbing stairs at “a brisk but comfortable” pace will not only burn calories and improve your cardiovascular endurance, it will also help lower your LDL cholesterol level (that’s the bad one)

Instead of doing the same hum-drum workout at the gym. I’ve been on the hunt for new classes and activities to do. I was on Yelp last week and saw that Empower Cycle was having a weekend of free classes to celebrate their recent grand opening. Since I love all things free, I made it a point to check out their site and classes. Turns out there are right around the corner from one of my favorite people ever, Kelly, so that meant I could get a free workout plus spend time with her. Win Win!

I’ve only done spin once before and it kicked my butt but in a stellar way. I’ve been wanting to take another class at my gym but I keep getting intimated because the people I see walking in there look really hardcore so I never follow through with going. Plus it’s in a dark, jenky room that looks like it just locks stench and sweat in and that just really doesn’t appeal to me. So when I walked into Empower and saw their open floor plan with the bikes set up right in the middle, I was taken aback. Natural light, air flow, turquoise blue walls, I fell in love!

I was a little hesitant about going to a spin class since it’s been awhile since I’d been to one but the 45 minute class was great! There were about nine other people in our class so it was intimate but we weren’t on top of each other. There was a lot of EDM and dance music which kept me on my toes and brought a smile to my face since a lot of the songs are on my workout play list. Our instructor Sophie was awesome, she did a lot of “stand up” moves off of the seat which I prefer because the seats always kill my lady bits and butt. My only gripe was that my booty was hurting the next day which is annoying enough but even more so when I was in an associates meeting the next morning for five hours straight. Something I loved was she incorporated push ups as well as spin and that did a number on my back and shoulders….but in a great way! I was definitely feeling it the next day but oddly enough, wasn’t feeling too much pain in my legs as I had before. Perhaps I’m getting stronger? That’s something I can get behind! They had free food, coffee and goodies to celebrate their grand opening and something awesome happened–I won a month of unlimited spin classes at Empower!! I love workout and free stuff so this was a pleasant surprise! Since it’s a bit of a hike for me I can only go on the weekends but I will be back for sure to get in as many classes as I can!

Sweaty with no makeup on=great workout!

What’s your favorite way to keep your legs in shape?

Winning

Ever since the food processor has made an appearance into my life, I’ve been all about the salsa lately. I’m equal opportunity when it comes to salsa but there’s just something about homemade salsa that just hits the spot and can be used on anything–chips, quesadillas, tacos, eggs, you name it! Tomatillos have been especially cheap lately at $.69/lb so I’ve been whipping up batches of salsa verde lately and wanted to share my new, spiffy version.

My original recipe can be found here but I’ve tweaked it a little since then.

Salsa Verde

10 tomatillos, cut into quarters

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 jalapeños, sliced

2 tbsp lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

So easy, so fresh and hi–so cheap!

My apartment complex hosted a movie and game night and it was potluck style with snacks so this was the perfect time to bring chips and salsa! There wasn’t any left by the end of the evening so it was a successful batch! Now I need to learn canning so I can make this and enjoy year round plus give it as gifts to friends and love ones!

Even Linx made an appearance at movie night!

Well, in photo form at least :) Linx dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow for Halloween a few years back and when I heard they were showing Pirates of the Caribbean, I  just had to send them the picture of him. He’s kind of a big deal with the leasing office and I like to think he’s the mascot of our apartment complex :)

While everyone brought snacks, the office set up a popcorn bar for all to enjoy. I’d never heard of a popcorn bar before but just think of a salad bar-replace the lettuce with popcorn and veggies with candy and that’s a popcorn bar! They had a few types of popcorn along with sweet toppings like M&M’s, Junior Mints, caramel bites and more.

Yeaaaaah, if I ever get married this or a nacho bar is so happening at the wedding. This idea was genius and of course they found it on Pinterest because Pinterest is home to all wonderful things! After the movie there was an Oreo stacking contest and it was between Alex and me and a pair of guys. I’m stoked to say that we strategized and worked together as a team and won the gift basket for stacking the highest Oreo tower! We finally don’t have to go on a date on Groupon or Living Socials dime which is very exciting. And even better we got to keep the Oreos which is great news for Alex since he loves Oreos (me not so much).

Also, I’m kind of on a winning streak lately and would like to keep it going. If you remember, I posted a Nasoya Tofu giveaway a couple months ago and it featured my recipe for Buffalo Tofu Tacos.

 In lieu of March Madness, Nasoya put out a tofu recipe contest to in $500 Visa gift card and I entered my recipe in annnnnd great news is that I advanced onto the second round! I’m asking practically everyone I know to vote for my tacos so I can advance onto the third round and win! If you could please vote for my tacos, I would deeply appreciate it!

Click here to go straight to the voting sheet, like Nasoya and vote for my Buffalo Tofu Tacos. Voting is open until Sunday, April 13th at 11:59pm EST. Please vote, share on your blog, with friends, etc. Thank you so much!

And speaking of winning, have you entered to win a Magic Bullet yet?? There’s only a few days left!

Blerg’s the word (Magic Bullet giveaway!!)

I don’t know if it’s the weather lately or what but I have been in a funk this past week. Blerg is all I can say. I blame it on the wonky weather (seriously, 60  and sunny one day, 20 and snowy the next) or maybe the fact that quarter end this week was on a Monday which has made it for a very long week.  I’ve been unmotivated, tired and just don’t really feel like doing anything.

I recently went to The River Yoga for an afternoon of yoga and smoothies sponsored by Fairlife Milk. Honestly, I had no clue who they were or what they were all about. Once I got to River Yoga and saw Fairlife products there I had a duh moment because I have seen their milk in stores before but never knew how it was different from regular milk or what their hook was. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with paragraph after paragraph with information from their media kit but I will give you the short version :)

Fairlife was created by a husband and wife dairy-farming duo who want
to make better milk for all of us to consumers. It has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar which is fabulous since I’m always looking for ways to sneak more protein into my diet and try to avoid high sugar products.

Their Believe in Better Promise :
*Great tasting real milk
*No rBST growth hormones
*Extraordinary care for their cows
*Pursuit of sustainable farming

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I’m all for products that reinvent  what we know and love and Fairlife is one of them. Plus,  I love their current ad campaign with women in pin-up poses wearing milk, so much better than a boring milk mustache!

We started with yoga with an acrobatic spin on it and even though the
class seemed to full of willow-y 20 somethings, I actually did well
and enjoyed it. I liked that it was more of a playful yoga than intense, breathing focused yoga class like I’ve done in the past. My best friend from Colorado Springs was in town that
weekend and came along with me for the event so it was relaxing to be around good company and enjoy the event with someone who I’ve known forever.

After the yoga, we finally got to try Fairlife in the form of smoothies (because bloggers love smoothies). Even though I don’t drink milk as much as I should, I tried a number of their smoothies featuring their regular and chocolate milk and all of them were wonderful! The chocolate-avocado one was amazing and I may just have to start buying Fairlife so I can make smoothies like they did that day.

Ever since the event at River Yoga, the Magic Bullet has once again made its way into my life after a brief hiatus. I had mine for almost four years before it died on me, that’s a really good run for as much as I used it! Even though I’m funkalicious, there’s something fun for you–the chance to win a Magic Bullet blender of your own!!

You got four ways to win!

1) Leave a comment with your favorite smoothie concoction–I need some inspiration!

2) Like Fairlife on Facebook and leave a comment once you have.

3) Follow Fairlife on Twitter.

4)  Tweet about this contest or post it on Facebook and leave a comment with the link once you have.

So easy to win and you don’t have to be a blogger to win! Giveaway ends at 11:59PM MST on April 11, 2014, winner will be picked by random.com number generator and is open to US residents only. Good luck!

Hopefully next time we meet I won’t be feeling so blerg.

Foodie Fun Day: Live Basil Pizza

I’ve been to Live Basil Pizza a few times and absolutely love the concept-authentic, natural, live food in a fast casual atmosphere. Think of the Chipotle and replace Mexican food with pizza with the freshest of ingredients and you got Live Basil! You walk in, order and in 150 seconds after your pizza is placed in their stone hearth oven, it’s ready. It’s thin crust Neopolitan style (which personally I love because I don’t feel like I’m eating a greasy, fat ridden pizza) and the menu is simple—they offer a handful of salads and pizzas with do-it-yourself options as well. The name of the establishment speaks for itself–they grow lots of live basil in house and you can add it right onto any item you order! Plus, they call Denver their home so I love supporting local businesses! I recently got to check out their new Stapleton location here in Denver and it was a night full of food, drinks and new friends….some of my favorite things!

We got to meet the owner, Tom Ryan, along with Chief Culinary Officer (how cool of a title is that?), Andrew Selvaggio and Executive Chef, Jason Dowd who were there to tell us about the ingredients, menu and how everything came together. The event was amazing, the service was exceptional and the food? Well…..let’s get into that!

We started with two family style salads which were completely opposite but perfect in their own way.

*LBP Chopped Salad

Anything with goat cheese has my heart so that made the salad a winner in my mind. Then I tried the green chile ranch and it knocked my socks off! It had such a savory flavor with a perfect amount of spice, it had me wondering why I’ve never had it before at Live Basil Pizza. Add in bacon, chicken, fire roasted corn, tomatoes, cilantro and eggs over greens and you have a kick ass salad!

*Arugula, lemon and pistachio salad

This is a fresh salad with a punch thanks to the lemon vinaigrette. I was a bit skeptical about this salad since it was a complete 180 from the chopped salad–nothing snazzy with minimal ingredients but when they all come together-pow-it’s full of flavor! I’ve never had pistachios in my salad before but this may be a new salad thanks to that, I could come back alone for this salad…..and I’m never the girl at the pizza place ordering salad.

The main event followed—the pizza! We got to try five of their pizzas and having one to two slices of each on top of the salad and drinks filled us up really fast!

*Margherita

Look at that basil!

*The Hot One

*Arugula, Truffle and Wild Mushroom


*Maui BBQ Natural Chicken


*Chef’s Pick of the month-Asapagus 

Whoa to all of these pizzas. Even though three out of the five we tried were vegetarian, they The Hot One is my go to when I go to Live Basil Pizza. It features pepperoni, spicy giardiniera,  jalapenos, red pepper flakes and spicy oil but the Asparagus pizza won my heart this past time. I’ve never heard of asparagus on top of a pizza and had never had it sliced –it was straight up magnificent! They are doing a Chef’s pick of the month each month with fresh, in season ingredients and toppings so be sure to check it out when you go to Live Basil Pizza. It was just my boyfriend and me at our table so we ended up with a lot of leftover pizza-um-five boxes of pizza to be exact. To say that we were lived on Live Basil for days after is not an understatement….and I’m ok with that. Currently they have locations in Denver and one in Los Angeles but I hope they expand nation wide one day just like Smashburger has done because I want everyone to be able to enjoy Live Basil. Their concept of fast casual along with authentic, natural, live and organic is something I support 100% and I will be back for more soon!

Loving It

Just a few things I’m loving at the moment…..

*New breakfast ideas

Sometimes I go all out with breakfast, other times I get in a rut and have the same thing over and over again. During the week I tend to have English muffin breakfast sandwiches but have been getting a little bored with that. I looked for inspiration in many places, even Rachael Ray knew what was on my mind!

I finally found something looked easy, delicious and most importantly-portable that I could make on nosh on the entire week Quinoa Oatmeal Bake with Apricots from Uproot from Oregon.

Marisa has so many recipes that look absolutely mouthwatering that I swear I’m going to make but never get a chance to. I like to think of it as breakfast fate that she posted this because it was just when I was thinking of new breakfast ideas! I had it for the entire week and would heat it up each morning at work for about 40 seconds and top with peanut butter or greek yogurt. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a peanut butter fan (unless drenched in chocolate) so for me to actually enjoy it is HUGE. If you’re looking for something protein packed and simple for breakfast, try out this recipe! And check out her blog while you’re out it. It’s chock full of goodies!

*Clean dogs

Lincoln went from homeless chic to dapper gentleman gentle dog this week. I can’t believe how puffy he was, he is once again presentable and pleasant to the senses.

*Nice sunglasses

I’ve never owned a nice, quality pair of sunglasses. Mine have always been from Target, Ross or other discount stores that I would keep for a few months, forget about, scratch up and move onto the next pair. I recently got to check out RedStar sunglasses, RedStar Shades is a brand that specializes in high quality polarized, sports, and fashion sunglasses.  As well as crafting state of the art sunglasses, they also have a variety of watches and accessories. Not only are they a sunglass company, but they are also involved with many promotions that include the sponsorship of over 1,000 charity and sport events.

They’re currently running a special offer for a $500 gift card! Save money and get some fashionable eyewear? Hell yeah.  You just have to pay shipping and handling, click here to get started!

*Grazebox

Grazebox has been a saving grace for me when it comes to snacks. Grazebox sends you four healthy,  individually packaged snacks every two weeks to try out. Once you sign up, you can log on and set you preferences for items you want to try or for items you’ve tried and didn’t like (there’s nothing worse than getting a fun package in the mail only to find out it’s a crappy snack).

I tend to snack more at work than anywhere else and sometimes I mindlessly snack while working without realizing how much I’m taking in. portion control is my main issue when it comes to snacks so the single portions that Grazebox sends is perfect for a girl like me! If you want to try out Grazebox, please feel free to use my friend code (my friend sent me hers and that’s how I got started on Grazebox and I believe in sharing the love!)

*The Blacklist

Does anyone else watch this show?? It’s my current obsession and after binge watching seven episodes, I need to talk about it with someone!

*Friends

Seriously, my friends are just wonderful. The past few weeks have been especially rough for me due to a combination of personal and work issues. There were a few times that I broke down crying because I was overwhelmed and really thought I was going to break down even more. Sometimes I feel like everything bad happens at once and this past month has been a lot of stuff coming down on me. I know I’m going to get through it and have been through harder stuff than this and am grateful to my amazing, supporting friends for this. After a particularly long rant session with one of my best friend Colorado friends, Kelly, I went for a walk to clear my head. I got back to work and found that I had flowers waiting for me. I had no clue who they could be from or why but there was a nice note from Kelly with some encouraging words (so encouraging I started crying at work but in a good way).

*Weekend getaways

Colorado is full of fun, mountain towns to get away to for the weekend! Last weekend I went up to Winter Park with a group of girlfriends for a short ladies weekend full of good food, drinks and bonding.

I just couldn’t end this post on a negative thought and that trip while only week ago, seems like so long ago already–where does time go??

What are you loving lately?

Workout Wednesday: Iron Clad Fitness

Last week, Yelp held a Spring into Fitness event at Iron Clad Fitness for a night of kettlebells and yoga. I’ve been using a kettlebell for the past four years but have never taken a class so this was much welcomed and needed. When I started working out with my kettlebell I checked out videos online and the book “Enter the Kettlebell” as a reference but it’s not the same as being in a class and learning correct form.

Enter in Iron Clad Fitness.

Iron Clad has been open for the past 18 months and the owner, Shari is certified in Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) and is also a TRX trainer and nutritionalist. It’s funny we had an event there because I remember perusing their website about a year ago while checking out gyms in the Denver area. I guess it was fate that finally brought me here….or Yelp….but I prefer to think of it as fate!


We had a smaller group great so we could all learn the moves, take our time and not be intimidated by a large class. We started out with the basics of kettlebell. Holding and lifting with the legs bent, instead of using the back. Almost all of us were new to Iron Clad and we started out with 12 kilo which I later learned was 26.4 lbs! I usually work out with a 20 lb kettlebell so this was new for me but it didn’t seem too much heavier. We started to do a circuit—planks, deadlift, swings, squats and then row,

Planks
Then planks, deadlift
Then planks, deadlift and swings
Then planks, deadlift, swings and squats
Then finally planks, deadlift, swings, squats and row

So it doesn’t seem like that much but when you are doing a circuit then adding move after move on top of another, it gets tiring. I was breakng a sweat like no time and the planks were killing me due to a TRX workout two days prior. Since I suck at planks and my abs hurt, I wasn’t going down as far as I could and I know that I wasn’t. They kept instructing me to get my butt down a little lower and I obliged every single time with a slow, quiet whimper.

We did KB for 45 minutes followed by yoga with the instructor Maddie, who’s studying to become certified in RKC.  The yoga wasn’t too intense and the planks and downward dogs were limited so I was a happy gal. When I was driving home, my legs felt the intense workout and the next four days were not a walk in the park. Literally. I go walking every day at work and try to fit in three to five miles of walking a day and I couldn’t even walk 30 minutes without being in complete pain. Depending on how you look at it, this could be a really good or really bad thing. I had muscles I didn’t know I had hurting, I even had to limit my water consumption because it hurt to squat down to go to the bathroom, it was that bad!

That being said, I really enjoyed the class and loved the people at Iron Clad. It’s a warm, inviting environment and I didn’t feel embarrassed if I wasn’t doing something right and didn’t feel judged like I’ve felt in other classes I’ve taken. I tend to do weights at home or at the gym at my apartment complex. The meatheads tend to take over the area at my regular gym and if I wanted to hear intense grunting I would watch porn. Besides that, Bodypump is really the only weights I do and class I’ve enjoyed. I’m too uncoordinated and clumsy for Zumba and have a difficult time finding my chi in yoga. Taking a kettlebell class was just what I needed because it showed me what I’ve been doing incorrectly in the past with my form.

Would I go back to Iron Clad Fitness? Yes! However, I’ve in the middle of a Dietbet that ends April 7th and I can’t afford to have four days of barely being able to walk and not do my normal workouts. I am going to look into it in the future though. The whole-entire-body-being-sore thing is the only thing keeping me from signing up right away. I felt so strong while in the class and afterwords! And after checking out the owner’s guns (primarily from working out with kettlebells, there’s not a reason NOT to try it out. Thank you Yelp and Iron Clad Fitness for a wonderful night of learning, lifting while having fun!