Afternoon Drinks

15 Mar

After a long day of work all I want to do is have a drink, you know to take the edge off. A protein drink from Protein Bar!

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly

This place is right around the corner from my office and whenever I’m in the mood for a sweet (protein) treat I head out to the Protein Bar. You can customize your drinks with your choice of protein: whey, egg or soy; your choice of milk: skim, almond or soy and your choice of fruit and extras. Lately I’ve been loving something they call The Daley Grind. It’s a warm protein shake and has coffee, chocolate and espresso protein.

Today I wanted to pretend that it was spring in Chicago so I got a cold drink, the Pier-Nut Butter and Jelly. This one’s got vanilla protein, almond milk, peanut butter, blueberries and strawberries. YUM! I am very lucky to have such an awesome spot so close to work. Ok, it’s back to work for me.

Do you have a favorite protein shake?

Breakfast on the Go, (Almost) the Same as at Home

10 Mar

By now I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to cook and breakfast is no exception. I eat breakfast every single day. I don’t change it up all that much. I find something I like and stick to it for several months. Kind of like when I was eating breakfast burritos all the time. Lately the standard has been oatmeal and eggs.

Even when in a hurry I don’t skip breakfast nor do I grab anything processed. I am excited to share with you a way to have the same kind of breakfast you would have at home on the go: overnight oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs. (I didn’t say it was going to be glamorous.)

It’s simple you prepare the whole thing the night before in less than 15 minutes and as long as you don’t forget your spoon you can eat it anywhere. I think I’m the last person on the planet to discover this breakfast delicacy. I first read about it on Carrots and Cake or Kath Eats,  I don’t remember which one. After a year of reading about these women preparing this culinary treasure, I decided to give it whirl. All you have to do is soak your oatmeal overnight in a liquid of preference. I’ve been using unsweetened almond milk topped with a sliced banana and walnuts. The oats soak up the liquid and are just as soft as when cooked. Now there are no excuses for not eating breakfast.

Anyone have a another tip for taking a home cooked breakfast on the go?

Four Steps for Drinking Success

9 Mar

I’ve had a few people ask me what my thoughts are about drinking alcohol, I think this is a great excuse for a post. I have a pretty unique view on drinking. This one is specifically for you Alyssa.

Memorial Day margaritas (margarita, Memorial D...

Image via Wikipedia

So what is my drinking philosophy?
The short answer: I don’t drink alcohol (hardly ever).
The long answer: I don’t like drinking alcohol. It upsets my stomach, I’ve never acquired a taste for it, I see it as empty calories (I would rather eat than drink) and I don’t like the way I feel when I’m buzzed. This makes my choices at parties and bars very simple, I choose tap or sparkling water or if the option is available I drink tea or coffee. I am not 100% abstinent from alcohol, I occasionally have a drink or a shot. When I do drink it’s only premium liquor. My philosophy for alcohol is not that much different from my philosophy for food, only the best ingredients go into my temple of flesh.

I also know that this may not be the right choice for everyone but this is what works for me. If you are going to drink at a party or bar, I’d like to offer you these Four Steps for Drinking Success. You can apply this to eating at parties too, I do this when I know I will be around my favorite greasy foods.

Step 1 Remind yourself of your health or fitness goal. This will put you in the right frame of mind and give you a context to start from. For example, while I’m getting ready to go to a party I might say to myself, “OK you want the body of a fitness model and you’ve never been this close before. This is your dream and you’re going to make it happen.” If you have a photo that inspires you, look at it.

Step 2 Make a game plan. Figure out what you want to drink and how many you will have before you arrive. You have a much better chance of sticking with a plan if you actually make one. If you have friends going to the party get a couple to support you in making your best decisions. For example, I decide that I am going to have one shot of Patron at the party and one Margarita without salt and 3 glasses of water. I will call my friend Suzy Q and ask her, “Hey can you check in with me a couple of times at the party and ask me what I’ve had to drink? I want to make sure I don’t go overboard with drinking tonight. I want to be full of energy tomorrow for my workout. You asking me will help keep me in check, I would really appreciate it.”

Step 3 Drink plenty of water. You can mix it up here, you can drink a sparkling water with a strawberry or an orange slice or go with tap and a cucumber. This way you stay hydrated even if you drink more than you planned.

Step 4 If you go overboard, don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect and sometimes all the planning in the world won’t keep you from caving in. It’s OK, you are human and humans screw up. If you are beating yourself up call a trusted friend and talk to them. When I’m beating myself up I usually dial my brother’s number. (Thanks Pete! You’re the best!) He simultaneously tells me not to beat myself up while having me see where I screwed up so I can learn from my mistake and motivate myself to keep moving forward. Know who that person is for you and call them. 

Most of my friends are drinkers and we get along just fine. But I am curious, are there any readers who share in my philosophy? Those of you who do enjoy your adult beverages more than me how do you handle your liquor at parties?

Random Report: Balls, Hancock and Lunch

3 Mar

Remember that bowling party I went to a couple of weeks ago? Remember how ballsy I was and asked to order off the menu? Well my request was granted and I ordered a grilled steak salad with extra arugula. They prepared it just how I like it, medium-rare and dressing on the side.

Steak Salad

Steak Salad

It’s a good thing I made the request because it was an after work party and I was very hungry by the time I arrived. The buffet food included pizzas and fried mac and cheese balls, which I would have resorted to eating. This way I got to stay on track with eating clean.

This past Sunday was my second Hustle Up the Hancock race. I participated last year and ran up 94 flights of stairs in 20:30. I had a goal of 18 minutes and I DID IT! My final time was 18:05.

Hustle with my trainer

Hustle with my trainer

This is all thanks to my trainer. He had me on a weight-lifting, stair-climbing regimen specific to meet my goal. There’s no better feeling than accomplishing a fitness goal after training hard!

It’s been a busy week this week and I haven’t had much time to prepare meals and shop for groceries, luckily where I work (in the heart of Chicago) I have an abundance of  lunch spots to choose from. Yesterday I chose Freshii and ordered off their Freshii 15 menu. The Freshii 15 is a menu of low-cal, portion appropriate options created by Ashley Koff, RD. I like that they have this option, I think it helps if you aren’t confident with choosing healthy off a menu on your own. It does the work for you.

Freshii 15 menu

Freshii 15 menu

The thing that I really like about Freshii is that everything is customizable and they have almost endless combinations for creating soups, salads and wraps.

Freshii Boostii-q salad

Freshii Boostii-q salad

For lunch I chose the Boostii-q salad because it has all the ingredients I would use at home: greens, bbq chicken (skip the cheese), avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and a splash of Sriracha (which I have never put into a salad before but now is going to become a staple salad ingredient).

I can’t wait to recharge this weekend. I’ll be registering for races, planning meals, hitting the gym and creating some running plans for the spring and summer.

What have you been up to this week? How do you manage eating healthy during a busy week?

Raw Delicious Decadent Dessert

25 Feb

I was able to salvage all of the photos from the memory card from the camera I killed earlier this week! I am very excited to share with you an amazing dessert that I made twice last weekend: sliced pink lady apples with slices of raw Gruyère cheese topped with raw honey and chopped pecans.

Raw apple dessert

Raw apple dessert

It’s 100% raw. 100% delicious. 100% decadent. 100% healthy.

It’s very easy to be this fancy. As long as you have some small plates you can easily impress your friends and family at your next dinner party.

Chop up some apples, place cheese slice on top, drizzle with raw (unheated) honey and sprinkle with raw pecans. The sweetness of the honey, the savoriness of the cheese and tartness of the apples create a unique blend of flavors that won’t be forgotten. I’m already thinking of variations of this with pears, brie, slivered almonds and honey.

Do you have a favorite raw dessert? I’d love to try it.

P.S. I’ve been so immersed in sharing delicious healthy food that I forgot to mention that I am doing the Hustle Up the Hancock on Sunday, 95 flights of stairs baby! I did the climb last year in 20:30 and my goal is to finish in 18 minutes. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I killed the camera

22 Feb

Last night I spilled water all over my purse and drowned and killed my camera. I tried to dry it out, that didn’t work. There won’t be any food photos for a few weeks. I have yet to check the memory card to see if some great weekend food pictures survived.

I’ll still be posting, but no photos or recipes for a little while.

 

Be Ballsy

18 Feb
Cover of "Ballsy: 99 Ways to Grow a Bigge...

Cover via Amazon

A few years ago I attended a graphic design conference in Atlanta, GA where Karen Salmansohn was the keynote speaker. She’s an author and self-help guru “for people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading self-help.” Although I don’t remember most of what she said during her speech I do remember that I loved her and loved her message.

My favorite of her book titles was Ballsy: 99 Ways to Grow a Bigger Pair and Score Extreme Business Success.

And that’s exactly what I want to tell you, be ballsy about your fitness and nutrition needs.

I’m an observer I watch people, I listen to them and I hear all kinds of reasons why people don’t have the bodies they want. I understand there are some things you can’t control, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about having the balls to demand having healthy food around you all the time no matter what! Guess what, it’s very simple, all you have to do is ask.

Let me give you an example, last week I got an invitation to attend a bowling party. Along with the invite the hostess sent details of the buffet menu and every single item on that menu was deep-fried, highly processed or heavily salted. That led me to a crossroads of decisions. The way I saw it I had three options:
01 Go to the party, eat like crap and feel like crap
02 Don’t go to the party and be an anti-social hermit
03 Grow some cojones, go to the party and ask for a special menu item

I chose option 3. If you think for a second that I was apologetic about being difficult or thought twice about asking for what I wanted, you’re wrong. I was being ballsy! I think Karen would be proud.

For those of you who know me, you know I am bold and don’t mind asking for EXACTLY what I want when it comes to food. Eating healthy and reaching my fitness goals is too important to me to throw away on account of someone else’s menu decisions.

As for the outcome, I’ll have to let you know exactly what happens next week, the party is tonight. The hostess sent me a menu listing of what my options were and there was a grilled steak appetizer over a bed of arugula that would be perfect. In her words, “It shouldn’t be a problem. We’re paying them a lot of money.”

Most people these days are accommodating to all kinds of diets including vegan, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, low sodium, various allergies etc. This is no different. So please to all of you reading this (who aren’t doing it already) ask for what you want. Not just in your food choices, but do it in life!

Who says you can’t have it all? I say you can! Just grow some balls and ask for it.

Have you ever been so ballsy that you asked for something you really wanted and got it? What was that experience like for you? Would you have the balls to do it again?

Vegan Valentine

16 Feb

On Monday night my valentine and I ate a five course vegan dinner at Karyn’s on Green. Neither my date nor I are vegan but we both love vegetables, culinary adventures and healthy food. The dinner was excellent, each and every dish we ordered was amazing. Living in Chicago I am blessed with all kinds of cuisine options and good vegetarian and vegan options are becoming more and more abundant. The only thing that was questionable was the fashion show. There were men and women walking in between tables wearing lingerie. Maybe it’s just me but butts in my face while I eat food isn’t all that sexy.

Anyway, back to the food, my date and I shared each plate so we could try as much as possible.

First Course
Both of the items from the first course were delicious.  The Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers on a Bed of Arugula and Extra Virgin Olive Oil were delicious. The salad with fresh figs complemented the savory peppers perfectly.

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

Fig & Walnut Stuffed Cherry Peppers

After sampling the Avocado & Pomegranate Ceviche on Sliced Zucchini and Mignonette Sauce I learned that not only can I eat raw zucchini, but I like it.

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Avocado Pomegranate Ceviche on Zucchini

Second Course
This Zinfandel Poached Strawberry & Almond Rose Soup was raw, gluten-free and soy-free. It was very light and had a unique flavor. I enjoyed it.

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

Raw Strawberry Almond Rose Soup

I definitely preferred the Cauliflower Bisque with Roasted Beech Mushrooms. It was savory, hearty and warm. Perfect for a chilly February night in Chicago. I prefer warm soups in general so it was no surprise that I preferred this one over the strawberry soup.

Cauliflower Bisque

Cauliflower Bisque

Third Course – Salad
Both salads were excellent. I ate most of the Beets & Ruby Red Grapefruit on Spinach & Red Cabbage with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. I don’t usually eat salads with dressing but the Pomegranate Vinaigrette was perfectly seasoned and light enough that it didn’t bother me.

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

Beets with Spinach and Red Cabbage

The Baby Bok Choy & Spicy Kimchi on Mixed Greens with Sesame Vinaigrette was also excellent. I personally don’t think you can go wrong with a plate of mixed greens. The dressing was excellent, however it was a little overpowering and very salty.

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Baby Bok Choy with Mixed Greens

Fourth Course
Next were the large plates, Stuffed Roasted Chicken with Braised Spinach, Figs & Pearl Onions on Fennel Cous Cous. I am not a huge fan of soy however in this dish the ‘chicken’ was excellent. The dish was savory and bursting with flavor.

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

Stuffed Roasted Chicken Braised Spinach Over Cous Cous

The Roasted Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese Shavings and Grilled Asparagus was on the sweeter side and hearty as well. This was my first time eating cashew cheese and I loved it! I want to get my hands on some more. This plate was extremely filling, I had a hard time finishing it.

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Red Beet Risotto with Aged Cashew Cheese

Fifth Course – Dessert
I only took a photo of one of the desserts but both were equally awesome. I’m not the biggest chocolate person but the Red Velvet Chocolate Terrine with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream was divine and decadent. I couldn’t tell that this was vegan.

Chocolate Terrine

Chocolate Terrine

The other photo-less dessert was a raw, gluten-free, soy-free Almond Crusted Strawberry Cheesecake with Cocoa Nibs and Strawberry Coulis. Heaven on earth. I’d get both desserts again.

If you live in Chicago or are passing through I highly recommend Karyn’s on Green. My super-meat eating date and I left full, satisfied and happy with our dinner.

Happy Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

I used to be one of those anti-valentine’s day people but not anymore. I’ve softened up over the years. What not to love about a day of hearts, warm and fuzzies and lovie dovies!?!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers!

Flourless Fruit Hearts

Flourless Fruit Hearts

Curried chicken chili and clubbing

11 Feb

What do chicken chili and clubbing have in common? Absolutely nothing but I’m going clubbing this weekend and I’ve been enjoying chicken chili all week.

As years go by people’s interests and hobbies change. One of my favorite activities used to be clubbing. Yeah, I used to be a Jersey-Shore-fist-pumping-dance-your-butt-off-til-5am-at-the-club type, I’m not kidding. For some of you who have met me over the last few years or who have been following this blog you may find it hard to believe. In my late teens through mid-20s I was at every club opening and DJ night in Chicago and even traveled Europe visiting the biggest clubs in Berlin, Mykonos, Athens, Madrid, Ibiza, London and Barcelona.

These days I prefer to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, go to the gym and cook delicious meals at home. My latest invention in the kitchen is Curried Chicken Chili.

Curried chicken chili

Curried chicken chili

Ingredients:
2 free-range chicken breasts, fat trimmed and pounded
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp green curry paste
1.5 TBS coconut oil, divided

1 medium onion diced
1 medium red bell pepper diced

28 oz can of no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp curry powder (this is optional and to your preference, I added sweet curry powder)
15 oz kidney beans

Step 1:
In a shallow dish brush lemon juice over the chicken until covered on both sides. Then sprinkle with chili powder and cumin, covering both sides. Spread green curry paste on the chicken with butter knife. Cover and let stand in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2:
Preheat skillet to medium and add half of the oil. Sautee chicken until cooked through, about three to four minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and let cool. Once cooled dice the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Step 3:
In a medium-sized pot over medium heat sautee onion and red bell pepper until soft, about three minutes. Add diced chicken and mix ingredients.

Vegetables and Chicken

Vegetables and Chicken

Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, coriander and curry. Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

With Tomatoes

With Tomatoes

Step 4:
Add beans, mix thoroughly, cover and cook for 15 more minutes. You can serve it straight out of the pot or over a bed of quinoa. Enjoy!

Are there any other chili-loving club heads reading my blog? If you’re out there what are your favorite dance tracks?

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