|July 14, 2014|
I love meeting new bloggers and reading other blogs. But lately, I find myself browsing Instagram a lot more than I do the web. That’s when I found Lauren Lives Healthy. Her Instagram is very similar to what I post: yummy healthy food & fitness.
Lauren nominated me for the Liebster Award! What’s that you ask?
Liebster – adjective: meaning dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant… (I think you get the idea that it’s pretty flattering to be nominated)
The Liebster award is an award BY bloggers, FOR bloggers. It’s a way to get to know other bloggers and a way to share the love and let them know, “I think your blog is cool.”
Lauren asked me to answer 10 simple questions. Here’s a peek into me and my current favorites:
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live and why?
I would love to live in Hawaii. I used to go there every year as a kid on vacation and I have some family out there too. I wanderlust over the photos they post sometimes. A lot of people say I’d get island fever or get bored but everything I enjoy is there in abundance. I love to swim and hike and kayak… I would miss my regular trips to Disneyland but with a backyard that’s the ocean, I wouldn’t complain.
What’s your favorite website right now?
Oh Pinterest. How did I ever live without you?
Could you ever go a month without your phone and internet?
Yes and no. I would love to go on a month long vacation and purge myself of all outside connections. I’ve done it for weeks at a time. But as long as I’m home and everyone around me is using the phone and internet, I think this would be very difficult to do and I probably wouldn’t last more than a few days.
What’s your all-time favorite meal?
All time favorite meal is hands down the old fashioned burger. If you hadn’t noticed, I LOVE burgers. Sure, I could eat sushi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner … and I crave pho on a daily basis. I have some pretty tough competition for my favorite food, but at the end of the day, the nostalgia of a good juicy burger is always welcome to my tastebuds. I know it’s not the healthiest, but it’s sure tasty! (ps. Did I make your mouth water?)
What is your favorite quote and by whom?
“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” -Annie, the broadway musical
It was the quote I put next to my picture in my high school year book and it’s still relevant. I just love to smile, but more than that… when I’m happy I feel so good about everything in life. I feel like I can do anything. I make better diet decisions. I am more social. I am overall a better person. Smiling and happiness come naturally to me. I hope its true that smiling is contagious
If money were no object, what would you do all day?
If money were no object, I’d move to Hawaii and buy a house with plenty of yard space to raise chickens and grow my own vegetable and fruit garden. I’d wake up and hike in the mornings, tend to my garden and house during the day and go for a swim in the afternoon. Then cook dinner with my freshly harvested veggies and read a good book next to the fire. Sounds like a dream. Hopefully when I retire, I can make it happen.
What’s been the biggest challenge since you started blogging?
Balancing time. Between working full-time, blogging, going to the gym, regular house chores, friends, family… my schedule is fully booked. I’m often blogging at midnight after my long list of to-dos is done.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why?
I would love to play the piano. I have always loved singing and there’s something magical about singing with a piano. I’d love to play and sing along all day. I actually took lessons when I was younger but was never serious enough to practice. I recently started picking it back up in hopes that I might be able to teach myself.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
A bottle of Stella Rosa and a good book. Bonus points for a view of the ocean added to the mix, but there’s no drinking at public beaches in SoCal so that only works when I’m on vacation.
Describe your personal style in 3 words.
Casual. Comfy. Athletic.
Now it’s my turn! I am nominating: Alanna (Eats Real Food), Lindsay (Lindsay Living Vegan), Erin (The Almond Eater), and Parita (My Inner Shakti) for the Liebster award. I can’t wait to get to know you more! Here are my questions for you to answer:
- What are your top 5 workout playlist songs?
- What’s one food you wish you could learn to like?
- Your biggest pet peeve.
- Your go-to snack.
- Your favorite quote.
- What is one thing you try to do every day?
- Name one TV show you feel guilty or embarrassed to admit you actually like.
- How and why did you pick your blog name?
- What is your favorite workout? (Running? Yoga? Crossfit? Kettlebells?)
- Who inspires you?
|May 10, 2014|
I was SO excited when Fairfield Farms invited me to take a tour of their organic blueberry farm. I’ve never been on a commercial farm before and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect.
Fairfield Farms is in Pauma Valley, San Diego County CA. I drove with Tanaya from Tanaya’s Table, and driving there seriously felt like we were lost. We got off the freeway and it looked like there was nothing there. But as we kept driving, there were fruit stands and little mom & pop cafes … then we found the farm.
It was absolutely beautiful! We got to the gate and I was just in awe. Maybe other farms have beautiful gates, but I’d never seen anything like this other than movies. So for me, it was a little surreal.
What was even more exciting was Fairfield Farms has previously never been open to the public. We were invited the week before they officially open the gates to the public to launch their U-Pick weekend events. (More info on how you can visit to pick your own organic blueberries after the recipe.)
Meet Harrison (in the middle), our tour guide and blueberry expert for the day. He is also one of the family members that owns the farm. Yes – Fairfield Farms is not only organic, but also family owned! (I made him take a selfie, haha. #shameless)
It was really interesting learning about organic farming and what it’s like to work on a family farm with your parents and siblings. I asked if he ate a lot of blueberries and he said there are literally more blueberries than can ever be eaten. I guess that makes sense when they’re producing just over a million pounds of blueberries a season.
The packaging factory was definitely not what I expected. I guess when I think of any food that has a label, I think big, sterile, overwhelming warehouse, but this was nothing like that. Sure they label their berries and you can find them at major grocers on the west coast like Whole Foods and Sprouts, but it was very family friendly and Harrison knew everyone by name.
In the packaging warehouse, first the berries are measured by weight. They’re tracked by who picked them and where they were picked. And when they go through the sorting machine (which makes sure all the berries that get packaged are ripe and beautifully blue). At the end of this machine, they are packaged and the Fairfield Farms label finishes it off like a bow and stored in the biggest fridge I’ve ever been in.
Picking the berries was a lot of fun! I will definitely be going back with my mom and sister and making a day out of it. The views are spectacular and you can’t beat fresh blueberries right off the bush. They were so juicy and sweet! And the neat thing I learned was that the blueberries you buy in the store are actually a variety of blueberry types. This is why sometimes some look larger than others. It was so much fun tasting the different varieties as we picked. You can tell the different varieties by the bush. Some bushes leaves were greener while others had a yellow hue or rougher leaf. The difference in taste was very slight. I mostly noticed that ones on the first two rows (my favorite rows) were big and luscious and much sweeter than the other berries down the row. But of course, taste also has to do with when you pick them and those first two rows Harrison said he made sure no one touched so when Tanaya and I arrived, they’d be full of juicy fruit.
Want the insider secret to keeping your berries fresh?
I asked Harrison for the insider tip… He said the most common mistake people make is washing the berries and then putting them back in the fridge so they are ready to eat. But blueberries are very prone to mold when introduced to moisture. Only wash the berries you plan to eat or cook immediately. If you wash more than you need by accident, make sure they are completely dry before putting them back in the fridge. They can literally grow mold within hours of being exposed to moisture if you put them back in the fridge wet!
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Macros: 1.5g Fat, 72.5g Carbs, 4g Protein
- 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2-3 ice cubes
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 large handful of fresh blueberries (or 3/4 cup)
Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until all the ingredients are well pureed. If you have a lower speed blender, you might not be able to fully liquify the blueberry skins but that’s ok. It will just look a little different but the taste will be the same.
Thanks you Fairfield Farms for inviting me to tour the farms and pick some berries to take home. If you want to visit the farm in Pauma Valley to pick organic blueberries, join them Thursday thru Sunday from 8am-6pm. The season ends June 1 so get out there before all the blueberries are gone!
14224 Old Cole Grade Rd
Pauma Valley, CA 92061
Blueberries are $5 a pint and they accept cash and all major credit cards.
|March 25, 2014|
(Although technically I got a coupon to go pick up my bottles because sending alcohol via mail is illegal. You learn something new!)
There is a TON of buzz going around the benefits of açaí berry. It’s everywhere. It’s the super fruit, the Brazilian “purple gold.” I have dark chocolate covered açaí in the cupboard, açaí smoothie packets in the freezer … seriously it’s in everything, including alcohol. Yes, VeeV is the world’s first açaí spirit.
Now I can’t really say if an alcohol has all the same health benefits of the berry … it’s alcohol. But why not give it a try, right? AND Vita Frute Cocktails are organic!
Pre-mixed cocktails are always convenient. I love being able to throw it into a picnic basket and head out for some fun. But one of my least favorite things about pre-mixed drinks are that they’re usually super sweet.
I like my margarita’s on the rocks (which is exactly how the label said to serve it). When you order it on the rocks, it’s generally a different mix than the ones in the frosty machine behind the counter. The frosty, mile-long drinks you find in Vegas make my stomach feel sick from a sugar overload. A lot of the pre-mixed drinks on the shelves usually have the same level of sugar overload, made with syrup and who knows what other kind of crazy stuff. It’s sweetened with agave!!!
The Vita Fruite margarita was surprising really fresh and crisp. It tasted like my margarita recipe. Definitely has a nice kick of alcohol (this girl likes it strong) but wasn’t syrupy or overly sweet. The alcohol was not the usual overpowering tequila that burns your throat as it goes down. It was really smooth, similar to a vodka. And it tasted like the limes were freshly squeezed.
It probably was made with real fresh limes … when I got the bottles, I noticed there was a little bit of pulp in it. And if you read the label, it even says to “shake up those all-natural ingredients.”
Now let’s get to the serving size. The bottle boasts 125 calories a serving. After reading the label, the 125 calorie serving is 3 ounces … I’m pretty sure 3 ounces is less than what you’d get when you ask a bartender for a margarita on the rocks. It took me 2xs their serving size to fill my glass so it’s more like 250 calories a serving. Still better than a lot of drinks out there. Sure it’s not a skinny drink, but it also doesn’t have all the artificial sweeteners and other crazy ingredients most skinny drinks have.
I definitely liked my cocktail and pretty excited that I have a whole other bottle in my fridge!
I’m looking forward to trying the other flavors like lemonade and cosmopolitan next time I see it on the shelves. You can pick it up at your local grocery or liquor store.
Thank you VeeV for the cocktails! I am definitely a fan!
|March 6, 2014|
Mac & cheese is definitely one of my favorite guilty comfort foods. It’s a funny story though, because generally a lot of comfort foods come from when you grew up with, but when I was little I LOVED the blue box mac & cheese and wasn’t the biggest fan of the home-made stuff.
When I was a kid, my Grandma would pick my sister and I up from school every Friday and we’d all have dinner together. When it first became a weekly thing, she asked my mom what my sister and I liked to eat. My mom said macaroni. My Grandma, being the AMAZING cook she is, made it from scratch. And of course, me being the child I was, I said it wasn’t the same as having the blue box mac and I liked “my mom’s” better. Although we all know “my mom’s” was really my way of saying I liked the boxed kind. To this day, I still feel a little ashamed because the next time my grandma made mac & cheese for us, she made it out of the box. Sure I loved it at the time, but looking back on it … I was young and ignorant … what can you do?
I can confidently say that my palate has gotten a lot better (and I no longer prefer boxed foods, haha). But either mac & cheese recipe, blue box or from scratch, can put a damper on the diet.
Mac & cheese is full of fat and carbs. But I wanted to make a skinny version that didn’t just replace everything with fat-free labels. Can anyone honestly say that fat-free cheese is better than the real thing? No.
I wanted to keep the essence of mac & cheese intact by not touching those two ingredients. I used full fat cheeses and normal pasta (because I’m also not a fan of wheat pasta) but just replaced the heavy cream and butter with cauliflower. With the added fiber, it’s definitely more filling than the heavy buttered up mac. Not to say this is an every day “healthy” meal, but it’s certainly better than the traditional recipe, twice-baked with bread crumbs on top.
The serving size is for a full bowl of mac, so if you want to indulge without using this as a cheat meal, eat it as a side dish with some chicken and spinach. Who says macaroni has to be a main dish?
Side note: This recipe passed the boyfriend test. I gave it to him and didn’t tell him it was cauliflower. About half way through, I asked him what his opinion was and told him it was cauliflower. He didn’t taste it until I told him. #winning
Skinny Mac & Cheese
Makes 4 Servings ~ Macros per serving: 28g Fat, 68g Carbs, 34g Protein
- 3 cups uncooked pasta of choice
- 1 small/medium head of cauliflower
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to tast
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour in your favorite pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Personally, I like to go for the fun kind like fusille (spiral) or farfalle (bow-tie, although it technically means butterfly in Italian). Radiatore pasta is what can be seen in the photos.
While the pasta is cooking, cut cauliflower into florets. Place cauliflower, garlic cloves, and chicken stock into a covered pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let steam build in the pot. Cook until cauliflower is tender (about 5 minutes depending on the size of florets).
Drain pasta and set aside.
Pour cauliflower, garlic cloves, and chicken stock into a high-speed blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot used to cook the cauliflower. At medium heat, slowly stir in the cheese until melted smooth to create a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Gently stir sauce and pasta together. Depending on your pasta and how well it absorbs the sauce, you might have extra cheese sauce. Add it in slowly and put any extra sauce in a tupperware. (You can use it as a sauce for veggies, chicken, etc.) Serve immediately.
I topped mine with a little cayenne (optional!) for an extra kick, but feel free to add your favorite topping. Some tasty ideas: bacon, green onions, jalapeño, diced ham (probably not all these ingredients at the same time)
Play around with different cheese options. They all have different nutritional value to them so have fun experimenting. For instance, the parmesan was lower in fat and higher in protein than the cheddar. I added it to balance out the fat content so there would be more protein than fat per serving.
|February 13, 2014|
Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Have you gotten your loved one a gift yet?
It’s pretty standard to buy a girl flowers and chocolates. For me, of course I like the flowers, but when I get chocolates I say, “thanks, yum” but I’m really thinking, “I won’t be able to eat these.”
For all those guys out there, do a girl a favor. Don’t give them something they can’t eat. I complied a list of great ideas for those last-minuters. So instead of turning to the nearest 7-11 to pick the shelves clean of the left over reject chocolate boxes (because by now the good ones are gone), head to the sporting goods store. I promise they won’t be sold out.
- I’m nuts about you - While a box of chocolates is traditional, a package of nuts is far more enjoyable for a health nut. Even chocolate covered almonds is more likely to get eaten than traditional chocolates. I’d eat nuts. If they were covered in chocolate, I’d just pace myself. Just don’t confuse a chocolate truffle with a whole almond with a chocolate covered almond. Still two completely different things.
- You got me all shook up - Can you really have too many Blender Bottles? I only have one, so maybe someone that has 5+ might tell you something different. But I keep loosing mine or forgetting it at the office. To me, I could definitely use a few extra bottles. Might as well get some in a few colors and sizes too
- I like how you roll - Having a good foam roller is good for any fitness junkie. Foam rolling is a sweet treat for your muscles. There are a TON of foam rollers and other similar products, everything ranging from $5 to $50. It does make a difference to have a good foam roller. Sure my black PVC pipe does the job, but having the actual thing would be a nice gift. I’ve borrowed the RumbleRoller from my trainer and I can tell you for a matter of fact – it works better than my PVC pipe.
- Your pace or mine? - What girl doesn’t love a new pair of shoes? And when they’re a dedicated gym goer or regular runner, getting new fitness shoes is a treat. If your Valentine is a runner, steal one of his/her running shoes and take it to the store with you. Tell the staff that you are looking for a shoe that has a similar amount of cushion, stability and motion control. If they are not as experienced in shoe fitting for runners, you can pick a shoe out and just keep the receipt. Pictured are the new Reebok ZQuick. Aren’t they cute?
- You get my blood flowing - Compression socks help improve blood flow, resulting in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster, more efficient recovery. Not to mention you can get some really cute colors and designs. I picked up a pair of Pro Compression Marathon Socks from an Active.com deal and have been in love since. I’m looking forward to adding more colors and designs to my sock drawer. Compression socks are the way to go … especially for long distance runners.
- You’re whey out of my league - Whey … It’s pretty much a standard. Just like anything in the cupboard, it eventually runs out. I’m nearly out of my vanilla whey. But it could be cute to get chocolate and do a play-on-words with that … “whey better than a box of chocolates.” I had trouble with my last whey powder clumping when I used my blender bottle so I’m on the prowl for a new brand. My trainer Emily recommended I get Gnarly, so that’s why this one is on my list. Hoping to try this one next.
***All opinions are my own. I was not compensated by any mentioned brands.
|February 11, 2014|
Lately I have been craving cake batter. Maybe it’s my lack of baking cupcakes … I usually bake cupcakes at least once a month so I guess I’m used to spoon-licking and have been missing it. I actually impulsively bought a cake batter protein powder.
But I’m impatient. So this morning I made my own cake batter shake.
I actually got my package in the mail later today and tried the protein powder I purchased for dessert and I like my Strawberry Cake Batter Protein Shake recipe better.
Strawberry Cupcake Batter Protein Shake
Macros: 4g Fat, 6g Carbs, 26g Protein
- 1 cup ice (or about 8 ice cubes)
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 6 medium-sized strawberries
- 1/4 tsp butter extract
- 2 tsp stevia
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- Optional: whipped cream & sprinkles
Blend all the ingredients together. Pour into your favorite jar, mug, cup, or tumbler. This recipe should fill a venti size cup. If you don’t want to add the protein powder, add 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Optional: Top it off with whipped cream and sprinkles.
Note: Macros were calculated with a 25g protein scoop and without whipped cream and sprinkles.
|January 28, 2014|
So I finally broke down and bought a juicer. I love my Vitamix but some times you just want a juice. There are definitely pros and cons on both sides of the juicing-blending spectrum. Since I bought my juicer, I really can’t say which one I like better.
Blending vs. Juicing
When you juice, most of the fiber is stripped from the fruit. However, with the lack of fiber, fresh juice requires minimal digestion giving the digestive system a break. The concentrated form of nutrients can be more quickly absorbed in the body. That being said, that also means the natural sugars from the fruit and veggies will also be absorbed quicker and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Blending only breaks down the fruit you put in so all the fiber is left in there for you to drink. It’s still in a liquid form so it still delivers nutrients faster than eating the whole fruits would be, and without significantly spiking blood sugar levels due to the high fiber content. However, if you’re comparing how much fruit and veggies yielded one cup of your drink, juicing uses more fruits and veggies, packing in more nutrients. And when blending things like carrots, it is very unlikely you will get a juice consistency without watering it down.
Having now been juicing for a week (supplemental to solid foods), I do think despite the fact that juice is not rich in fiber like smoothies are, it does not mean it won’t “clean you out.” Haha! So really, it’s personal preference and up to you to do your research. There really isn’t and answer to which is better for you because our bodies all take what we eat differently. But I CAN tell you I am kinda addicted to my juicer now. It’s super fun! I already have some more juice recipes planned for you all
Orange Carrot Juice
Macros: Fat 1g, Carb 56g, Protein 4g
- 2 oranges (peeled)
- 4 large carrots
- 1 apple (cored)
- 1 cup fresh spinach (or one large handful)
Follow your juicer’s instructions and juice those babies! Feel free to try different apples and figure out which is your favorite. I personally went the cheap route and bought a bag of whatever was on sale. Recipe should give you 2 servings as a snack or one serving if you’re having it as a meal. (Macros were calculated on the whole recipe, not by servings.)
And if you’re new to juicing, my friend Catherine from Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth wrote a great post called “Juicing for Dummies.” It covers everything from shopping for your fruits and veggies to cleaning your juicier.
Note: Some say it’s ok to juice whole apples because the seeds don’t have enough cyanide to be harmful. I decided why even eat ANY cyanide at all when it only takes a few seconds to core it. But if you core it you might not get as much juice because you’re wasting some of the apple. It’s up to you.
|January 27, 2014|
|January 2, 2014|
I know I have been a little MIA the past few months… let me explain. The past few months I have been on a roller coaster. One minute I am super motivated and eating right and the next I am picking up old habits and saying things like “tomorrow I will go to the gym” and “tomorrow I will be more strict on my diet” … but waiting until tomorrow is the oldest cliche in the book.
Yes, every day is a new day and new opportunity to start fresh and make good decisions, but every time you take another bite is a decision. You don’t have to wait until the next day to make a change. Why not start (or re-start) with the next fork full of noms?
I know very very well how temping the gooey artichoke dip can be or happy hour at the local sushi place. Trust me, I will admit that in the past 3 months I have gained 10 pounds. I felt like I couldn’t preach to the blogging world about my weight loss journey when all I was doing was gaining – sitting on my couch while eating Thai take-out. That’s not a positive journey at all – a journey to the dark side. I was feeling so guilty about my new habits but didn’t have the motivation to do anything about it. Even my trainer started to get more on my back about what I ate and my lack of exercise because it was noticeable.
So what happened? I had the right mindset and I was on top of my game…. life happens. No one said it was easy. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be so many people out there struggling with the same things I am. You have to make time for your goals because no one is there to micromanage your every decision.
I was talking to a friend of mine on new years eve who recently lost 50 pounds. There are no miracle diets or workouts any one person can do that works for everyone across the board, but the true secret to her success was and is her mindset. I know it sounds cliche but even I have said that in the past (when I was on my weight loss streak). She told me that every day she took some “me” time to keep her on track, just thinking about the future.
This leads me to my new year’s resolution:
I will wake up every morning and stretch. Side Tangent: I am not a fan of yoga. I’m going old school with traditional stretching because if your muscles are tight, you have a far higher risk of injury when working out. While stretching, I wont think about my scary long to-do list. This time is for reminding myself who I want to be. Where do I see myself next year and how do I get there? I am the only one holding me back from my goals. This year will be a year of change.
Also, from now on I am counting macros (macronutrients). So all my new recipes will have the fat, protein, carbs and fiber listed (throwing in fiber for good measure). My trainer Emily Mraule thought it might be easier for me and my creative cooking to calculate my macros rather than just tell me what to eat. So I am keeping a food journal to keep me on track. Too bad I didn’t get that food scale I wanted from Santa this year, haha.
Did you make a plan-for-sucess to keep you on track for your new year’s resolution?