Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIAW: Trying New Recipes

This is probably not surprising, but I am one of those people who loves going grocery shopping. I love the whole process. I peruse my favorite food blogs for recipes I want to try, pick out a few, and make a list, heading to the store prepared. I'm pretty speedy too! I am in and out of the store in 30 minutes or so, and I'm shopping for two.

This past Monday evening, I was home alone, and spent two hours cooking in our tiny kitchen. The window and our screen door were wide open, and I was listening to my Bon Iver Pandora station, and life was good. 

Spending even just an hour or two once a week to prep some healthy snacks, sauces, and/or meals, can make a huge difference in the food choices you make throughout the week. If you're stocked with some healthy snacks and ingredients for easy-to-prep, quick meals, you're going to find it a lot easier to nourish your body. 

This week, my Monday food prep happy hour involved me trying out a recipe for Endurance Crackers by Oh She Glows (her pictures always make me want to eat allthevegetables), as well as making Marla's Raw Tomato Sauce, and finally, some cookie dough by PaleOMG (simply love her recipes). 

So lets get to it. It's What I Ate Wednesday!

Breakfast involved one of my favorite foods - fried eggs. Seriously, I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump when I talk about fried eggs. You can put them on anything and everything. For so long, I feared the drippy yolk. But fear no more - that rich, drippy yolk is packed full of nutrients, such as Vitamin D and choline, and it is delicious. Each egg has around 6 grams of protein, and I shoot to get in around 15 grams of protein (at least) at breakfast. Protein and healthy fats from eggs + avocados, check. Carbohydrates from gluten-free bread, check. 

Also not pictured, two glasses of water and a cup of coffee. I've been focusing a lot more on hydration the past few weeks and have felt an incredible difference. More on that in a future post...

As I mentioned, one of the new recipes I tried out for this week was Oh She Glow's Endurance Crackers. They are jam packed with various seeds, and ended up tasting way better than I thought they would. I did alter the recipe a bit; I used flax seeds instead of sunflower seeds, added lots of garlic powder, and sprinkled red pepper flakes on top. They are so crispy and good! I'll definitely be making these 'crackers' again soon. 

Lunch also included some peppered turkey breast along with a kale salad in which I massaged with sesame and olive oils, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and topped with Pecorino Romano and nutritional yeast. And of course, a small glass of KeVita on the side. The mango flavor is my absolute favorite. KeVitas are not exactly cheap, so I'll buy 2 or so per week and slowly savor each sip. From when I arrived at work to when I left for yoga, I drank around 45 or 50 ounces of water. Yup!

My pre-yoga snack was a Larabar. I was craving something a little sweet, as I hadn't really had a sweet taste all day. This bar was perfect an hour before what turned out to be a very hot, challenging, 90 minute Vinyasa flow class. 

And finally, dinner. After yoga, I am never very hungry but rather, extremely thirsty from all the sweating. This isn't going to be the greatest picture, but I promise you, this mixture tastes amazing. I used my spiralizer (I'm pro now; it's the best $29 I ever spent) to make zucchini noodles. I then topped the zoodles with a jalapeño chicken sausage, Marla's Raw Tomato Sauce, and some Pecorino. 

...By the way. Have you made Marla's Raw Tomato Sauce yet? I hadn't had it in over a week, so naturally, I made some Monday night. I recommend going to your Farmers Market this weekend, hoarding Heirloom tomatoes, and making multiple batches of said sauce to freeze. I may be doing this asap...

And finally, I had a chewy chocolate cookie. I wanted a little sweetness. And it was worth it. These cookies are just, beyond.

I'm already excited to plot which recipes I plan to try next week (dork). What recipes have you tried lately that have been successful?

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Running FOMO & A Little Monday Inspiration...

Did you have a nice weekend? 

Are you feeling, perhaps, a little meh on this Monday? 

Me too. It was uncharacteristically sunny and gorgeous this weekend in San Francisco. While this weather is normally welcomed by this fog-overloaded city, it came on the weekend of the San Francisco Marathon. So, it was a pretty hot race as you can imagine.

The San Francisco marathon has a very special place in my heart. It was the first marathon I ever ran and completed in 2009. I followed a realistic training plan with plenty of long runs and had a running buddy to help keep me motivated throughout the training. 

However, two weeks before the race, I had my heart broken for the first time; like really broken. This heart break struck me suddenly and deeply and I turned into a zombie. I didn't know if I would be able to run the marathon I had committed the past five months of my life to training for. These two weeks before the marathon, when hydration and nourishment are key as you rest or taper, I didn't really sleep or eat; I couldn't. But I decided I'd run it, because life had to go on, and although the pain I was feeling was getting in the way of many other things in my life, it sure as hell wasn't going to stop me from running my first marathon. And truthfully, I was pretty malnourished, so maybe it wasn't the smartest decision to forge ahead, but if I'm being honest here, I sure don't regret it.

And so, the day before the big race, my best friend and I went to a pancake place in Hayes Valley in San Francisco and I forced myself to eat and "fuel up" before the marathon. [Note: After lots of nutrition education, I have a fairly different take on how to appropriately fuel for such a race, but on that day, I was just trying to get some calories in me.]

On race day, energy-wise, I felt great. I was running, quite literally, on adrenaline, anger, and delirium. I still remember parts of the race really well. I remember my Mom poking her head out of my cousin Jimmy's car window on the Golden Gate Bridge yelling "Laura" as I ran across it, smiling. I remember my big Sister waving a handmade poster with a Hershey bar taped to it (no joke...whatever motivates you right?) cheering for me as I made my way through Golden Gate Park. And I remember crossing the finish line and thinking, it was worth it. I want more...after a nap.

I needed those endorphins and post-marathon high so badly at that time. They served me kindly. I finally got a good night's sleep that night. I remember that too. 

So, where am I going with this? 

Running the race was not in my cards this year. I suppose I just have to accept that. It was really hard for me to be there as a cheerleader, and not, as a runner (major FOMO - fear of missing out). I worked for Vega at the finish line of the race. I helped serve electrolyte drinks and recovery accelerator drinks (made with natural ingredients, of course!). I talked to lots of runners, of all ages, even some friends stopped by, each one, inspiring in his or her own way. I witnessed a lot of dehydration, tired muscles, and salty faces. And it all refueled my desire to run, which has been a little absent lately (and that is OK). It also forced me to reflect on how far I've come in the past five years; I'm in a different, healthier and happier relationship, transitioning into a new career (more on that on Friday), and I've become better at listening to my body and trusting my intuition. All, good things. 

I can't wait to run the San Francisco [1/2] Marathon next year. Plotting...

My blog isn't strictly about nutrition. That'd get old real fast. I like to practice holistic nutrition because it means, to me, finding nourishment and happiness from not just food, but relationships, exercise, spirituality, and so much more, too. 

On Sunday, I witnessed my best friend's husband crush his first marathon. I saw my best friend shortly after killing it with a new personal record. I met a man who has run 111 marathons; he assured me he was taking a break soon. 

I felt inspired. 

So, did anything inspire you this weekend? 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Peanut, Almond, or Sunflower Seed Butter)

When I was attending Bauman College for my Nutrition Consultant program, every week one student was in charge of bringing a snack into class for everyone to enjoy. After all, we were studying FOOD, so, we had to be really good at both eating it and appreciating it. And sort-of-kind-of-good at making it, right? 

My classmates brought a variety of healthy, impressive dishes: Roasted organic tomato bell-pepper soup, home-made vegetarian sushi, organic black bean and corn salad, homemade flax crackers with a sardine dip. These recipes packed lots of nutrients, flavors, and superfoods. 

And then, there was what I brought. At first, I did the traditional healthy thing. I made a lovely Brussels sprouts and sweet potato salad with toasted pecans. And then my second time, a smokey soup with lots of green vegetables (I love making soups). And then for my third snack, I brought kale sautéed in pasture-raised (of course!) bacon fat with chunks of salty, delicious bacon. I was starting to give into my roots, I suppose.

And for my last snack I baked. No one else had baked anything, and baking was sort-of associated with unhealthy in a way, since our minds went immediately to baked goods with lots processed ingredients. But I baked anyways.

Lets be honest. I'm a baker at heart. I always have been, and always will be. Growing up, every Sunday morning, I'd prance into the kitchen with my messy bed-head and get my arms elbow-deep in flour helping my Dad bake biscuits, cobblers, or pies. We'd listen to James Taylor and groove just enough.

Anyways, I baked a paleo-friendly bread for my dear classmates, and served it with raw, drippy, almond butter. I realized that every time I thought about which snack I would bring to class, I was getting so caught up in how healthy I could make something, that I completely lost my sense of enjoyment actually making it, and sharing it with others. And isn't that kind of what it's all about at the end of the day? So I embraced my roots. And my classmates loved the baked paleo bread, which was actually pretty darn healthy (in moderation, of course), as it was made of all minimally processed, unrefined ingredients. 

When we focus on eating strictly whatever we think is "healthy," it is easy to become obsessive to a point where we lose the enjoyment of food itself. 

As a Nutritionist, I see a lot of clients who are focused on eliminating certain things from their diets, or restricting certain foods. While eliminating may be necessary on the road to improved health, I think it's healthier, from a spiritual level, to not obsess over elimination and restriction. 

Because, I can bake if I want to. 

Gluten-free [Peanut, Almond, or Sunflower Seed Butter] Chocolate Chip Cookies
Paleo-friendly (if made without peanut butter, butter), gluten-free, & delicious 

2 cups almond meal (I buy Trader Joes almond meal because it is affordable)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter or sunflower seed butter; I used a natural, more-drippy, organic kind
1 egg
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips or your chocolate chips of choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Melt the butter or coconut oil. Combine almond meal, sea salt, baking soda, vanilla, maple syrup, egg, nut/seed butter of choice, and melted butter or coconut oil. Mix well. Then, add in the chocolate chips and mix. 

Wrap dough in foil or plastic wrap and place in the freezer for an hour or so, so that the dough hardens a bit. Then, take out and scoop cookie dough balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with coconut oil. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy!

*I love eating these out of the freezer.
**These are not going to spread on the cookie sheet very much.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Long Weekend, in Pictures

I had a nice, very long weekend. 

I met my boyfriend in Princeton, New Jersey, for a wedding, and then we ventured into Manhattan for the rest of the weekend. One of my oldest girlfriends' and her husband just moved there, so we couldn't not visit them while back east. But I'm back in San Francisco now, and despite the roughness that is a 6am NYC flight to SFO, and rolling straight into work, after over two weeks of traveling, it feels good to be home. 

These are some of my favorite pictures from the end of my trip. 

Oh, and on Friday, I'll be sharing a cookie recipe. Life is pretty good sometimes.

The gorgeous, lush, green campus that is Princeton

The most beautiful crab cake with pickled cabbage - delicious wedding appetizer!

Sunday evening at Central Park

Obligatory Central Park shot

Our friend's amazing terrace, complete with happy pups, on the Upper West Side 

My Fortune Teller Fish after a wonderful meal at The Mermaid Inn

Beautiful chocolates at a wine bar in NYC 

Suckling pig with garlic yucca at Cuba, an amazing restaurant in Greenwich Village. Pretty sure they marinated the yucca in a garlic butter - it was rich and divine.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Marla's Raw Summer Tomato Sauce

So while I was in Southern California for a health training this last week, I met a woman named Marla. Let me tell you about Marla. 

Marla is a traveling Registered Nurse. Her last gig was in Hollywood, and in a few days, she's heading up north up to Seattle. She likes it up there, and hopes to maybe become a not-so-much-traveling nurse if you know what I mean. Marla has the best stories. She's an ER nurse, after all. 

When Marla was 21 years young, she decided to join the Marines. She wrote down her preference as staying on the West Coast, since it was the Coast she was most familiar with. And she got put real far West, to her surprise. As in, Hawaii. Marla has the best stories. She was a female Marine stationed in Hawaii, after all. 

About 10 years ago, Marla quit smoking. She had been addicted for years. And then, she cleaned up her diet. And now, she follows a Vegan diet. 

In my short time spent with Marla, I learned a few things. First, Marla really does have the best stories ever. Maybe it's my innate curiosity for all-things military related (I know so little about it) or maybe I'm just super nosey, but I was asking her to tell me more, all the time. Second, I've learned that Marla is all-business when it comes to her nursing career, something she takes great pride in. And by all business, I mean that as a nurse, she is constantly putting the patient's best interest first, even if it means admitting to the crying kid that the needle will hurt, but that he'll feel much better after. And finally, in talking with Marla, it reminded me that when it comes to our diets, it's important to eat what makes us feel good - physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I don't follow a Vegan diet, and that's my prerogative. Marla does, and that's hers. We have our reasons, just like you have yours, I am sure. 

But one of the things I love most about food is that it is a universal connector despite our differences. Marla and I both loved the same green coconut smoothie with berries, Medjool dates, and anything with nutritional yeast on it. 

One night, Marla volunteered to make a raw tomato sauce to complement my roasted spaghetti squash. And this sauce, well it worked. It worked really well, to the point where we made about 6 jars worth in 2 days. It has all the right Summer flavors - fresh heirloom tomatoes and fragrant basil. 

I'm so happy I met Marla. Not because of the sauce (but that's legit a reason), but because she reminded me of how much fun it is to share the kitchen with others.

Marla's Raw Tomato Sauce 
Vegan, gluten-free, raw; makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (preferably Heirloom and Cherry, but just Heirloom would work)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
About 5 or 6 sundried tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 Medjool date...or 2
Nutritional yeast, copious amounts for topping

Soak the date (s) and sundried tomatoes in a cup of water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Then, put everything in a blender or food processor. If you are blending, pulse the blender. If you are food processing, use the pulse button. The sauce is best a little chunky, rather than fully blended smooth. 

Pour this sauce, in loads, over hot spaghetti squash, pasta of choice, or just eat it by the spoonful. We poured a ton over roasted spaghetti squash and then literally doused it with nutritional yeast. 

*This recipe could easily be de-veganized using cheese and/or adding animal protein. But it's so good and simple as is. So I'm going to stick to Marla's way. 
**For nutritional yeast, you can find it at a lot of health food stores such as Whole Foods. I like this kind.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WIAW: Clean Eating

I'm coming off of a great week filled with lots of learning, new friends, and clean eats! The phrase clean eating can mean something different to everyone. So, what does clean eating mean to you? 

For me, it means scaling back big-time on sugar (sorry Hersheys), and really incorporating lots of vegetables into my diet. It also means a lot more mindful eating - appreciating my food and eating in parasympathetic mode aka relaxation. Mindful eating is truly important and critical for good digestion! 

Normally, I try to base my diet around eating whole foods, but life creeps in, and by "life" I mean dessert. Sugar is something I've always struggled with because, well, sugar is truly addictive and my Mom is a chef who knocks it out of the park with her desserts. 

But I don't like to focus on restricting foods - with myself or with my nutrition consulting clients. That's no fun, right? I like to focus about which foods I get to add in or which new fun recipes I plan to try. That's much more my style. 

So, on this What I Ate Wednesday, lets focus on all minimally processed foods and whole foods that taste really good. Like, worth-it good.

Pre-run: a bite of Larabar, which really means half of a Larabar since they're so dang small, with a spoonful of almond butter - this is certainly a processed food, but as someone who struggles to eat before a morning workout, this is working for me as of lately

So, the whole sugar thing. My Nutrition mentor, Lisa, has a rule. This is funny to type out since she is the ultimate rule breaker and loves to challenge the norm. Which is why I love her. But anyways, her rule is to aim to keep sugar around 20 grams per day. Let me tell you - that's an apple. Or not even a whole Larabar (this one had 23 grams of sugar). And sure, that rule may need to be modified based on individual needs, but still. Food for thought, right? I bet most of us are eating at least 50 or 60 grams of sugar daily. At least.

Immediately post-run: I ate the rest of that Larabar, which equaled out to one bite. Darn, those bars are tiny.

Breakfast: The grossest looking smoothie, which tasted delicious: blueberries/3 handfuls mixed greens/ice/almond milk/coconut water/Vega One/almond butter

Lunch part 1: Farm-fresh, pastured eggs hardboiled with sea salt & pepper + new-to-me gluten-free Chia seed crackers. Look at those yolks! So much Vitamin D.

And while we're on the subject of sugar, I am not a huge Kombucha fan, as it's made from mold and so people with mold-sensitivities or candida, for example, aren't benefiting from it. Research shows that craving sugar is a common symptom of candidiasis. Kevita is made from fermented coconut water, as well as some other natural ingredients. I like KeVita because it is light, refreshing, bubbly, and filled with probiotics; highly recommend.

Normally, I drink a half-bottle at a time, but this cold beverage tasted so delicious in the hot weather that I finished the entire bottle. This flavor tastes like a mango bellini - truth.

Lunch part 2: Apple slices with almond butter & cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon is a super-powerhouse spice with lots of cool nutritional properties? It can help with digestion and it can help stabilize blood sugar. I like to sprinkle it on apple slices or sweet potatoes as it adds a hint of sweetness.

So on this clean-eating WIAW, lets focus on the fun that comes with exploring new foods that make us feel darn good and don't leave us with a sugar-high. Switch it up! For example, zoodles! While I've been at this health training, I've been in a committed relationship with my friend's spiralizer as I try to perfect all-foods with the potential to become curly. 

Zoodles - zucchini noodles served as the basis for a healthy,veggie, fiber-filled dinner

This recipe knocked it out of the park. I made two modifications, which were adding about 1/4 cup more nutritional yeast as well as sauteed mushrooms as a topping. I can't wait to serve this to a certain midwesterner who has refused to go grocery shopping while I've been gone these past 9 days - how can one hate grocery shopping so much!? It's one of my favorite activities. Lets just say for him, thank goodness for Sprig

So on this WIAW, I may have gone slightly over the 20 grams of sugar "rule," but I'm okay with that because I ate so many delicious, healthful things. And the sugars I did consume, were from {mostly} real foods like dates and apples, and didn't leave me traveling on the sugar rollercoaster

Best of all, I enjoyed each bite throughout the day. So this, to me, is a pretty clean-eats kind of day. I felt nourished, satisfied, and happy. 

So on this WIAW, what are you looking forward to eating, cooking, or baking?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Virtual Smoothie Date

Lets have a virtual date. With a green smoothie. Or coffee, tea, even a latte, if that's your style. Right now, I'm still living in hot weather, so smoothies are a daily thing. #getyourgreens

Vega One Vanilla/Organic Greens/Coconut Water/Almond Milk/Coconut Oil/Ice

If we were having a smoothie date together, I'd tell you that the past week I've been at a special health training with six unique women in Hemet, California (near Palm Springs & San Diego). We've been learning some really cool stuff and I've been refreshing (and expanding) my knowledge on the human digestive processes. Did you know that emotional upset or trauma can alter the pH of your saliva from fairly alkaline to more acidic? This will cause your body to work harder since it has to call upon its mineral supply to re-alkalinize your mouth. If my time studying Nutrition at Bauman College taught me anything, it's that your digestive health is everything. For reals. And my learnings this past week have further confirmed that. 

I'd tell you that I am completely obsessed with Orange is the New Black. I resisted getting a Netflix subscription for a long time simply because I didn't want any more TV-distractions. I always tell myself I should be reading or being productive rather than watching TV. But since I'm technically on vacation right now, I figured I'd indulge. And in the past 3 days, I may or may have not watched the entire first season. Can I just say that Sophia is my absolute favorite? I want her to be my friend and my hairstylist. And Crazy Eyes? Whoever did the casting on that show - just brilliant. The acting is just so darn good, as is the music. Can't stop, won't stop.

I'd also tell you that I've been using my friend's spiralizer these past few nights. I wanted to learn how since my boyfriend is on a "get rid of Laura's kitchen stuff she never uses" phase and mine has been sitting in our cabinet unused since October. So I've set a goal, because goals are good, right?  I'm trying to perfect crispy, curly sweet potato fries. Both nights, they've come out delicious (I've got the seasoning down), but not crispy. I've tried soaking them in ice-cold water and patting them down before baking them, but no luck on the crisp factor. Help! Is there a sweet potato fries hotline? I suppose this means I'll keep having to work on my technique back in San Francisco. Which means my boyfriend cannot throw out my spiralizer. 

Oh! And I'd tell you that on Friday, I'm so excited to share with you the perfect Summer recipe which involves spaghetti squash, fresh tomatoes, and dates. My awesome new friend Marla kindly shared with me her recipe for a fresh, raw, knock-your-socks-off tomato sauce. And it's to die for. I've had it for dinner two nights in a row and will absolutely be making it when I return to San Francisco. 

And finally, I'd tell you that lately, I've been feeling really grateful. I'm so happy to be writing this little blog again. And in addition to being surrounded by friends and family who constantly support me, I'm feeling especially grateful for the things to come. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

True Life: I'm obsessed with Shishito & Padron Peppers

I don't love kale. I like it, dressed in peanut sauce. But it's not love.

I've never really craved a big ole bowl of steamed broccoli. 

And collard greens are not my favorite. They've got a pretty strong taste, in my opinion.

I'm not going to pretend with you that because I am a Nutritionist, I love all healthy green foods. I'm human, for goodness sake. I love chocolate, and no, not just the darker, healthier, or fancier stuff! I like the cheap, milk chocolate, in the form of a Hershey's Bar. Anyone who knows me knows that. It's just one of my (many) quirks.  

And, lets get real here. Sometimes, I find it really challenging to get a decent amount of vegetables into my daily eats. That's why I try to sneak them into my smoothies, or cook them quickly in bacon fat

My point here, is that, well, food should taste good. Right? Vegetables, I'm talking to you. So, throughout my adventures in the kitchen, I have figured out how I like to cook my greens to make them taste really freaking good. And that often involves some butter (grass-fed, salted). And maybe some truffle salt here and there. And I'm okay with that. 

But Shishito and Padron Peppers? I absolutely, wholeheartedly, without a doubt, more than Hershey's (like woah), can say that I love these peppers. Have you seen them at your grocery store or Farmers Market? They are only in season during the Summer. I buy 3 to 4 baskets worth, which should realistically last about a week, but I pop these peppers faster than Hershey's kisses, and go through 3 or 4 baskets in a few days. 

These peppers are a game-changer

You don't love kale either? Try these peppers. I think they'd turn any green-veggie hater into a veggie-lover.

The Shishito peppers are less spicy and have a longer shape, with more indents. The Padron peppers appear a little fatter and can be a bit smokier and spicier. Not all are spicy, in fact, most are mild in my opinion, however, occasionally (maybe 1 in 8 peppers) you'll get a real spicy one that will challenge your taste buds. It's pepper roulette! 

I like to heat some Kerrygold butter in a pan, because it's my favorite and because butter is a saturated fat, so it's not going to be damaged as easily when heated as something like, say, olive oil. And then, I dump a bunch of peppers into the pan. And let them sit and start to blister a little. I flip them to my best ability and let them blister a little more. And then grind fresh black pepper and sea salt on top. 

And that's it. I eat them immediately, and usually before my boyfriend can grab more than a few. 

So, don't force yourself to love a vegetable because it's the healthiest one. Find the veggies you like, know how to cook them, and enjoy them. 

Because, when it comes down to it, we should enjoy and appreciate our food, right? 

Pan-fried Simple Shishito & Padron Peppers

1 tablespoon butter, ghee, or coconut oil
2 handfuls of Shishito and/or Padron peppers
Sea salt & ground pepper, to taste

In a saute pan, heat the butter (or fat of choice) over medium heat. Add the peppers, and let them sit and cook for 3 minutes or so. 

Using tongs, press gentle on the peppers as they start to blister - you'll hear a popping sound, perhaps! Make sure the peppers cook evenly on all sides. Depending on how many you cook, they'll be done within 6 or 7 minutes. 

Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WIAW: It's Really Hot Where I Am

Where I am, it's really hot. Like, 100 degrees plus hot. 

I'm down in Southern California for a special health training, more of which I hope to share on this blog in the future. During this training, my fellow trainees and I are eating fairly clean, and drinking tons of water to stay hydrated in the desert-like heat. 

And with the heat, my appetite changes. As in, I am not as hungry all the time. Because really, when it comes down to it, I'm just, 

But here's the thing. I've got to make this hot-thing work with me, right? Right. So, I'm eating snacks and meals that sound good to me, and I'm waking up early to exercise, before it hits 85 degrees. And that's how I'm making it work so I can feel energized throughout the day, and have the brain power to learn lots of cool things. 

So, here is this week's What I Ate Wednesday, the really hot edition.

I woke up around 7am as the light shined in from my room window. Laying in bed in silence is a foreign concept to this city girl who is used to hearing sirens 24/7. As I was getting ready for the day, I sipped on some green tea and ate a few plump dried plums I picked up at Whole Foods. I'll spare you the picture of this, since I've shared one in the other WIAW posts. 

For my first breakfast, around 8am, I ate two fried eggs. These runny eggs were cooked in a little salted butter and topped with ground pepper; simple is best sometimes. I wasn't too hungry, so this lighter breakfast was fairly satisfying.

For my second breakfast, around 9:00am, I had a small green-berry smoothie. This rounded out my morning meals nicely, since the smoothie provided some good, complex carbohydrates, as well as a lot of greens. 

Mixed berries, Vega One, 1 scoop Mega-greens powder, coconut oil, almond milk

We were in training, on and off our feet, for the good part of the morning. Around 1pm, we took a break for lunch, and sat outside in the San Diego sunshine, which was not nearly as hot as where our home base was. I put together this extremely fancy Mediterranean plate - I wanted a lighter lunch, with lots of different flavors. This was absolutely perfect! Mary's Gone Crackers (gluten-free, jalapeño flavor - they are spicy and I like it!), pepper roasted turkey breast roll-ups, 1/2 avocado, and leftover cucumber salad with lots of citrus flavors. So summery.

Now, the rest of the afternoon was very busy, and while I chugged lots of water, I didn't manage to have a snack until 7pm during our drive home. Although I love the taste of a few of the Larabars that are out there, from a nutritional standpoint, they're kind of an empty snack - not a very decent amount of protein, and higher sugar levels, though the sugars are coming from dates, which, I'm obsessed with. However, when I'm traveling or packing meals ahead of time, they're a far better option than a lot of other things. And, during this drive home, I really needed something to munch on and hold me over until dinner. 

Oh, dinner. Dinner was a result of me throwing something together in about 5 minutes and it really working to my advantage. We had cooked a big bunch of lentils with carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes in the crockpot. My stomach was feeling a bit upset, and I really wanted a soothing soup, so I made a quick curry. I dumped a can of coconut milk in a saucepan, added 2 heaping tablespoons of red curry, 1 tablespoon of garlic, and...get ready...some honey-roasted almond butter. Just go with it. Trust me, it worked. I poured this flavorful curry all over the lentils mix, added a cut-up chicken sausage, and it absolutely hit the spot. 

Because sometimes, when it's 80 degrees out at 9pm, you just want spicy, hot red curry. Right? Totally makes sense. 

Learning can be exhausting. And I was indeed exhausted after dinner. I took a big glass of water up to bed and enjoyed a few squares of dark mint chocolate, and called it a night.

Looking back at my eats for the day, I could have used some more veggies perhaps, as well as a solid snack around 4pm or so. However, as I lay in bed typing this, I'm really just grateful to be cooled down and have my belly nourished.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

This Weekend, In Pictures

This past weekend, I slowed down. Finally. I'm not very good at relaxing, or not making plans, but with all the traveling I've been doing lately, as well as the trip I'm about to embark upon, I decided to just go with the flow this weekend. And it felt spectacular. 

We stayed in San Francisco and enjoyed the long weekend in our lovely city. And of course, on the evening of the fourth it was cold, windy, and uber foggy, just how San Francisco does Summer. But I'm not complaining. While my boyfriend, who has been traveling and working like crazy, caught up on sleep (he slept for 13 joke, I poked him every hour to make sure he was breathing), I curled up on our couch and may or may not have watched the Veronica Mars movie while I heard the pops and cracks of the fireworks with the sliding glass door open. I couldn't see a thing through the marshmallow fog, but you bet I could hear the festivities.

I think I realized that when we finally do allow ourselves to slow down and not make plans ahead of time, the experiences that result from being spontaneous are really quite enjoyable. 

And oh the irony, I'm off for yet another trip for the next two weeks. 

I hope you had a lovely weekend, too. 

The morning light on the 4th of July 

Berry Smoothie - have you tried it yet? Mustache glass optional, but recommended

Really darn good peanut butter chocolate chip gluten-free cookies - recipe on the blog soon!

I cleaned my closet out and sent my clothes to ThredUp, an online consignment shop. Easiest thing ever/I wish I thought of this business idea:

If you are looking for natural skin-care products, try 100% Pure. I die for their white green tea moisturizer. 

Fresh salsa sampler at Tacolicious

Carnitas and short rib tacos shared with really good people at Tacolicious - #passionateaboutpork

Love of my life - 'Merica. They really do grow them well in the Midwest...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday: What Would Jack Bauer Eat?

I'm a creature of habit, sometimes to my detriment. My boyfriend can surely attest to this - and he does! I like my routines, thank you very much. I may or may not have been trying to schedule morning meetings around my Monday/Wednesday/Friday yoga routine for the past 6 months. What can I say? I found an amazing yoga teacher who continually challenges my practice, and I'm addicted. 

Another routine in particular that I'm loving right now is my Monday nights. I'll get home from work around 6pm, cook a new recipe I've been dying to make, eat dinner with said boyfriend, and we'll watch the new season of 24. Or rather, I'll watch, and he'll fall asleep half-way through. 

I'm cherishing these Summer nights because for the past two years, I've been attending some form of night school to get my Nutrition Consultant Certification. And now it's over, and I have a good amount of free-time. And it is just completely bizarre to me. No homework? Nope. I can relax. Or try. It's more like, trying to relax in suspense as I watch Jack punch the bad guys. 

He's a good man after all, that Jack Bauer. 

And yes, Jack is most certainly back. I wonder what Jack Bauer would eat if the show ever actually showed him eating? Or is he simply fueled by his desire to clear his name?!

On that note, here's this week's edition of What I Ate Wednesday. 

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, but managed to get up and get dressed in my running gear; a new running playlist awaited me! Sidenote: I love all of Lorde's songs for running - she makes me feel like a badass. I think I ran about 4.5 miles, before coming home and making a hot cup of green tea with a few of my grandma dried plums on the side.

As I've mentioned before, I'm trying to be better about post-workout recovery nutrition. It's hard for me because I am not hungry until a few hours after a run. But come mid-afternoon, my appetite will kick in. I still try to eat a good breakfast because eating a solid, protein-centric breakfast can help to prevent overeating in the late afternoon. Anyone else experience that 3:30 or 4pm slump? Make sure you're getting a good breakfast in!

Breakfast was 2 over-medium (by accident) eggs, plus yummy gluten-free cinnamon raison toast with lots of Kerrygold salted butter and chia seeds sprinkled on top...just because I'm trying to use the bag up. I usually enjoy my eggs a little runnier, but I was completely consumed watching the Pippa Middleton interview on The Today Show while my eggs were cookin'. What can I say? I've got British blood in me, and I love everything-royal. 

Jack Bauer probably eats 8-10 eggs a day.

Before leaving the apartment, I made a smoothie for a mid-morning snack. The smoothie included frozen organic spinach (gotta get my greens!), organic frozen blueberries, coconut milk (unsweetened), sunflower seed butter, and Vega One Chocolate. I've got a large tub of Vega One I'm working my way through. I happily slurped this down around 11:30am to 12pm. I'm aware this looks pretty gross, but it was good and it felt good to get some greens in.

For sure, Jack Bauer drinks green smoothies with crazy stuff in them.

The smoothie held me over for a few hours. Around 2:30, I dove into my kale salad. I bought a big bunch of kale, tore the leaves off the stems, and then chopped the kale into smaller pieces. I massaged the kale with a little sesame oil, then added carrots and some rotisserie chicken I picked up at my Farmers Market, and dressed it generously with my latest dressing obsession. So good. The key is to let the kale sort-of marinate in the dressing for a few hours.

I had a client reschedule her nutrition consulting appointment, so I opted to go to a 6:15pm Vinyasa Flow class to stretch out my muscles from my run. In a happy surprise, I ran into a girlfriend at class, so we flowed together. 

After a class as sweaty as this one was, I was incredibly dehydrated! I made sure to chug lots of water post-class. When I got home, I wasn't too hungry, but knew I needed to eat before it got too late. This dinner was thrown together in 15 minutes. I cooked some chicken thighs and sprinkled them with truffle salt, red pepper flakes, and Pecorino cheese. I also heated up some Shishito and Padron Peppers (recipe post on those to come, soon). Heads up: I'm obsessed. I wanted something sweeter to balance out the savory, so I made a piece of cinnamon raisin toast with butter. Random, but very satisfying and flavorful. 

And ended the night curling up on my couch, watching really bad TV that wasn't 24. And I ate a few pieces of chocolate which didn't last long enough to photograph. 

Happy Wednesday! What are your eats looking like today?