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!

The Butte

 

Cross off another Colorado town off my Must-Visit list–we hit up Crested Butte recently for a short weekend getaway. First question I had when I booked the trip–”Where is Crested Butte?”
On the map it didn’t look too far from Denver but the damn mountain get in the way so it turned out to be a four hour trip one way. I would have never picked Crested Butte but I found a Living Social deal for a two night stay for the Inn at Crested Butte. I love all things from deal sites but have never bought a travel deal so I was a bit nervous and skeptical about doing so. After reading reviews of the Inn I knew we were in for a treat! And since it was my boo’s birthday, I thought this would be the perfect little getaway for the two three of us!
Yep, Linky came with us to make it a family vacation! The Inn is pet friendly for a low price of $15/night so it worked out perfectly for us. I haven’t been southwest of Denver since I went mountain biking in Salida so I was stoked to see more of the Colorado countryside.  Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a play by play of the stay but we will go over some highlights and lowlights of the trip.
 Highlights:
*Happy hour wine at the Inn 
The Inn has happy hour every day from 3-5pm. Free? Wine? Yes indeed.
 
 *Continental breakfast at the Inn 
Usually continental breakfast tends to be crusty, bland and undesirable but the Inn’s was pretty legit plus they had locally roasted coffee. I took advantage of not only coffee but the abundance of fresh berries on the breakfast bar.
*Beautiful weather 
Crested Butte’s elevation is 9,000 feet which is almost a good 4,000 feet more than Denver so colder temperatures and lots of snow were expected. They got record snow this past winter but luckily didn’t run into too much snowfall during our trip. There were snow walls and walkways everywhere, it was truly a winter wonderland with a good amount of sunshine and temps in the 20′s.
*Crested Butte Mountain Resort
One of the cool thing about CB is that they have a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from downtown to the Crested Butte Mountain Resort so no need to use the car! We hopped on the bus and 10 minutes later we were at the resort and wrapped up in the ski culture. I still haven’t tried skiing (because of the frugal girl and still a bit paranoid I’m going to break something if I try skiing) and I keep telling myself one of the these weekends I’m gonna try a lesson (bonus time is soon so it may actually happen). We watched the skiers and snowboarders go up and down the mountain and it looked like so much fun and they somehow made it look so easy. In a way I was thankful though that we weren’t skiing, we just take in the moment and enjoy the scenery without waiting in lines to go up the hill.
*Lots of R&R
After a day of sight seeing, we got back to the hotel and did nothing…..and it was actually nice. We played on our iPads then the guys dropped like flies, first Alex then Lincoln then I fell asleep. It sucked as I have major issues with relaxing but I enjoyed doing nothing for a little bit.

*Sushi

Because it’s us, we found the one sushi spot in town. We did happy hour with drinks and sushi at Lil’s Sushi. They have a short happy hour running from 5:30-6:30 so we got there promptly and found a seat at the sushi bar. We started with the Cizz roll and Spicy Tuna roll then moved onto the House roll.

I honestly wasn’t expecting that great of sushi in CB but this place knocked my socks off! I later found out the owner gets fish flown in daily. Stellar!
*Drinks
When the sun goes down there’s only one thing to do in town-drink. We drank, drank ….and drank some more.
It started with the wine happy hour at the Inn, then happy hour drinks at sushi. Then we stopped by Montanya Rum Distillery for a nightcap. Colorado is new for primarily beer so seeing something new like a rum distillery was much welcomed. I used to drink rum in college (I blame the $3 22oz. Captain Morgan specials a certain bar ran every Thursday night). We just stuck to one drink each by the time we got to Montanya and that was more than enough!
Lowlights
*Finding a piece of metal in my cole slaw
 Our meal at the Avalanche Bar and Grill started out wonderful. I killed two birds with one stone with the Avalanche coffee with chocolate and almond liquors, brandy and whipped cream. Yes sir, it was just what I needed with a perfect combination of hooch and coffee! Then I ordered the Reuben with cole slaw(love that they out the sauce on the side without me asking).
But then a fail happened, I found a metal piece of something in the coleslaw.
 
I got the servers attention and she promptly brought me out another side plus compted our drink. Regardless, it was a great restaurant and experience, but if you go, be cognizant of what you’re putting in your mouth.

*Lack of things to do

Being in a mountain town in the winter is fun but if you don’t ski or have bookoo bucks, it kinda stinks. Even though it’s a ski/snowboard destination, otherwise it’s a small town which means one local grocery store, shops that close after dark and a limited selection of restaurants. I think our experience would have been amplified if we partook in winter sports.

All in all, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend Crested Butte! We were away for the weekend in a quaint bed an breakfast so I really can’t complain that much about the trip and the highlights outweigh the lowlights. My boyfriend was completely surprised by the trip and it was just another memory for us to hold in our hearts (so sappy but true!)

Lasagna Eggrolls

So I try to eat clean but when I don’t, I try to eat healthy. When I don’t eat healthy, I indulge, I’m a firm believer that it’s good for the soul to just not care what you’re putting in your body sometimes (meth and heroin excluded). My boyfriend had talked about making lasagna cupcakes for the past two years or something along those guidelines, something like lasagna but portable and individual. I’ve made lasagna soup before but never something more compact than lasagna itself. So I started to think of what we could make (because I don’t have a muffin tin and for once in my adult life, didn’t get around to going to Target, and a new idea came to mind–lasagna egg rolls!

I bought eggroll wraps a couple weeks ago and they had been sitting all lonely it the fridge.  I had a brief stint with eggrolls last year when I made breakfast eggrolls a few times but it’s been about a year since I’ve made them so it was time. I had everything on hand which was great because I wasn’t in the mood to spend any more money and it was a snowy night, perfect for some more comfort food.

Ingredients (makes 10 eggrolls)

10 eggroll wraps

2 Hot Italian chicken sausage links, casing removed

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced and cooked

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced and cooked

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 block Neufchatel cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved

2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/4 cup marinara sauce for dipping

In a bowl, combine parsley, onion, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and garlic. Let sit and cook chicken sausage without casing on the stovetop until cooked thoroughly.

Lay out the eggroll wrap and place the parsley mixture, chicken then top with cream cheese and cheese.  I did a small slice of cream cheese then sprinkled some cheese, you can add more or less depending on your love for cheese!

Folded in the edges, roll and wet the edges with a dab of water to make sure it sticks.

Now for the frying, I chose to fry because I’ve done baked eggrolls in the past and they turns out dry and didn’t pack a lot of flavor. While I try to limit my intake of fried goods, I think fried was the way to go with this. Oil wise, I’m honestly not sure how much I used. I coated a pan with vegetable oil and had excess after frying almost all of them

Place four eggrolls in the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat the process until golden brown.

Set on a paper towel and let that oil slip off!

Slice in half and enjoy with marinara sauce!

These were out of this world!! I thought lasagna soup was awesome but this flew me to the moon and back! You can substitute ricotta cheese for the Neufchatel cheese if you please. I’m not a huge fan of ricotta and most importantly, didn’t have it on hand so Neufchatel cheese it was. Next time I’m going to add spinach or another green just to get a little more nutrition in there because this time I was too lazy to thaw out frozen spinach and press out the water. I ended up only making eight of the eggrolls and froze the other two for a rainy day. I joked around with my boyfriend that this was Italian-Asian fusion at it’s finest, just like our relationship ;) These are a must try if you’re looking to mix it up one night!

Caulirice….Dynamite!

One of my bad habits with food is that when I find something I like, I stick with it until I get so sick of it that I never want to see it again. In a never ending effort to keep things fresh, I’ve been trying oldies but goodies near and dear to my heart. Dynamite is one of my favorite things to order when I go out to Japanese restaurants (except sushi!) I try not to have it as much as I crave it since it’s mayo based but every now and then it’s nice to indulge. It’s a treat and we decided to make it the other night, so instead of just another chicken dinner, we made it extraordinary by topping it with scallop dynamite.

Scallop Dynamite

Scallops
1 lb scallops
1 tbsp butter
Juice of one lemon

Sauce
¼ cup mayo
¼ cup Sriracha
2 tbsp dark sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp green onions
2 tbsp panko crumbs

Cook scallops on the stovetop medium heat with butter and lemon for about seven to eight minutes. While they are cooking, mix all ingredients except panko in a mixing bowl. Once scallops have finished cooking, place on a cookie sheet or baking pan then top with dynamite sauce and panko crumbs. I separated the portions so it would be easy to scoop up and used about 2 tbsp so I could use it on leftovers throughout the week.

Broil for 10 minutes at 525 degrees then place atop chicken, rice, pasta, whatever your heart desrires! I made quinoa and tossed with lime juice and basil, topped with chicken then the scallop dynamite. The panko gave it a nice crunch that complimented the tender scallops. This was like a restaurant quality meal for a helluva lot cheaper and healthier!


Another thing that enthralled me was caulirice aka steamed cauliflower pulsed to a rice-like consistency. I’ve seen this time and time again in the blog world and wanted to try it out but my food processor was on the fritz. I finally got a new food processor and this was the first thing I made with it! I saw orange cauliflower at the supermarket and had to buy it once I saw it packaged as Fiestflower.


Fiestaflower? Um, ok. Call me a sucker but I had to buy it (I was thisclose to buying the purple cauliflower but it was $.40 more so maybe I’m not that big of a sucker).  I steamed the cauliflower for about 10 minutes then let cool and threw into the food processor. I pulsed for about six seconds and it was instantly turned into a much easier and more pleasing way to eat cauliflower. It’s just so damn bulky and cruciferous that I can’t bear to scarf down it at times unless it’s garnished nicely. But that could be a lot of work so this was a fun and easy way to choke down way to have cauliflower. Unfortunately the orange coloring faded during the steaming process so it looked more like polenta once it was pulsed. I added 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, this is completely optional but I was making burrito bowls and wanted to spice it up instead of it having no flavor. I threw in a bowl then topped with chicken, black beans, red pepper, jalapeños, onions and cheese, it was a great to use this as a base instead of the same ole rice or quinoa!

There is caulirice under there…..somewhere.

Both of these items were fantastic and then these two things converged one day during lunch. I went to the gym and by the time I got home from the gym and had to shower then out to run errands so I needed something quick. I made a plate of nachos using chicken, cheese, caulirice and dynamite sauce. I hate to waste food so I tried to use whatever was in the fridge and this was it.  Call it Asian fusion, call it lazy, call it genius, this lunch was awesome.

Psh, like you could ever go wrong with nachos!

What foods are you loving lately?

Tending to the Temple

Last month while flipping through one of my new favorite magazines, 5280 (a Denver magazine for the Mile High City) I stumbled across an interesting article, Tending to the Temple. The article goes over 5280′s food editor, Amanda Faison, participating in a two week cleanse. She had to eliminate 17 different foods from her diet including grains, soy, gluten, sugar and other usual suspects you give up during a cleanse. But in turn, she could feast on natural foods such as lean meats, vegetables,  cold water fish, nuts and even some sweeteners. This article really pulled me in since I try to eat clean as much as I can and consider myself healthy (my jeans seem to think otherwise). Even though I tell others how great eating clean is for you, I’m not fanatical about it by any means (nothing says heaven like a plate of wings and some processed cheese) but I try to stay conscious about it and make the best decisions I can on a daily basis. It’s amazing how I feel after a day of eating clean vs. going out to eat and not being in control of what’s in a dish and not knowing what the ingredients are (most of the time words I can’t pronounce).

A big thing for me the past few months has been cutting down on my sugars-real and fake. In no way have I cut it out completely but I have almost stopped drinking diet soda, putting aspartame products in my coffee and tea and instead of having sugary snacks in the afternoon, I opt for something natural like kiwi or an apple. I used to have headaches four to five times a week when I woke up and would be groggy throughout the day and oddly enough that doesn’t seem to happen as often anymore. I’ve been eating more natural and real goods and feel wonderful, I think I may just be onto something here…..cut down on food and drink produced in a laboratory and feel better in return!

I love that she mentions a 80/20 principle “Adhere to the cleanse blueprint 80 percent of the time, and enjoy those can’t-live-without foods (guilt-free) 20 percent of the time”. As much as we like to think, none of us are perfect and I’ll have days where I’m batting 1000—eating fruits, veggies and lean meats with minimal carbs and processed foods, walking on my breaks and lunch break and feel stupendous. But then boredom or a craving will strike and I’ll reach for chocolate, chips or a beer and feel like I’ve ruined a great day. Instead of beating myself up about it, I try to focus on how far I’ve come and how much my mindset has changed in the past few years.
For so many years I concentrated on calories, carbs and how much fat items had. I shopped the inside of the supermarket more than the perimeter and bought a lot of items I had coupons for. I figured if something was 0 calories,like diet soda, it couldn’t be bad for me or affect anything going on inside this wonky body of mine. But after doing tons of reading online whether it be studies or books, I found out that was wrong. It took weaning myself off of diet soda to open my eyes to how hooked I was. Now when I add even a half packet of Splenda to my tea or coffee, I can tell a difference….I don’t like the taste, how I feel or the experience of having that drink.
In the article, Ms. Faison also raved about how clear headed and aware she felt on Day Seven. I would absolutely love to feel that way with doing a cleanse but I seriously feel at this point, I need coffee, tea and caffeine to get through my day. If I had a job more fulfilling that could possibly change but at the time, it is what it is. Props to her for giving this challenge a try and adopting some of the ways into her every day life. This article made me believe that perhaps one day I could be as strong as she was and try something like this. I also started to reflect after reading this article a countless number of times, what do I do to tend to my temple?
Walk at least three miles a day
This is what a normal day looks like for me when I don’t have a lot going on at work. I love that I have a job that allows me to just get up, leave and get my walk on however a career where I’m making a difference and contributing is much preferred over that.
Have an apple cider vinegar cocktail at work before diving into breakfast
ACV has a number of benefits ranging from lowering blood pressure to helping your immune system stay strong. It’s a little ridiculous how much one little thing can do!
Eat less processed foods
Find new ways to incorporate vegetables and fruits into my diet
No not like this……well not most nights at least…..but my juicer has come in handy with this. I don’t have a problem getting my eight servings of fruits and vegetables in on most days but there are so days where I struggle to get half of that in. Add that in with a hatred of wasting food and my juicer has been a godsend! I can add pretty much anything to it to make a tasty, healthy concoction.  
Get creative with vegetables
 
One of my faves lately has been caulirice, steamed cauliflower pulsed in the food processor to make a rice-like consistency. Whoa. If you haven’t tried this, you need to. This is an amazing low-carb option and you’re getting vegetables in instead of rice…..more details to follow on this!
  
Cut down on fake sugars
This has been HUGE for me the past few months. As I stated before, I used to love diet soda and used Splenda like it was going out of style (When I lived in Charlotte, three Splenda packets PLUS flavored creamer was standard for me every morning. And I wonder why I couldn’t shake off the pounds). But now I get a sour look on my face when I taste something made with aspartame and would rather have it be unsweetened. I went cold turkey then started using pure sugar cane in my coffee and have now switched to raw honey which is wonderful alternative to the latter. If only they made little packets of it like they do with Splenda…..what am I supposed to stuff in my purse so I can keep up my 80 year old persona?
Love myself
 One of my goals this year was to pamper myself and I finally got to indulge this past weekend. I’ve been putting $25 away every paycheck and putting that towards Spafinder gift cards. Costco offers two $50 gift cards for $80, such a great day! I booked a massage and facial after a particularly stressful week at work and it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself lately! Even though Spavia was located in a strip mall, it was so nice to get away from the world, boyfriend, cell phone, life and just relax. I got into a comfy robe and sipped on Hibiscus Strawberry tea while waiting for my massage to start and almost fell asleep in the process. Soon enough, my masseuse came to get me and that’s where my two hours of utter relaxation and pampering started. After a tough Bodypump session earlier in the day, my body was in need of a massage and the one I received hit the spot! I had my facial right after and just like the massage, it was perfect. I wash and moisturize my face on a daily basis but that doesn’t come anywhere close to what they perform. I worked hard for that massage and facial and it was so nice to treat myself for the sole reason of just because.
How do you tend to your temple?