Almond Butter

Fittest City

Good morning and happy hump day! I had the worst time falling asleep last night. We were out and about until around 10:30 and then had to make a few trips up from the car so didn’t really settle down until almost 11:30. I always need some time to decompress, so by the time I got in bed it was 12:30 or so and I don’t think I fell asleep until 1! The past few days I’ve woken up before my alarm, but today my alarm brought me out of such a deep place in my sleep. For a second my eyes opened and I had no idea what was going on, and then I realized it was time to get up. Sad story.

Putting my lunch together today was really strange. Usually I have an idea of what I feel like and go with it, but today I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for breakfast OR for lunch, probably just because I was sleepy/cranky. A coffee is in order for sure! The biggest redeeming quality about today is that its supposed to get close to 90º and sunny and clear alll day. 90 is a little hot for my taste but I’ll take sunny over the rainy and chilly its been since the weekend any day.

Another thing that perked me up was reading Shape magazine on the metro into work. It had an article about the top 10 fittest cities in the US, and guess which was number one!?

  1. Washington, DC (YAY!!!)
  2. Boston
  3. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  4. Seattle
  5. Portland, Oregon
  6. Denver
  7. Sacramento, California
  8. San Fransisco
  9. Hartford, Connecticut
  10. Austin, Texas

GO DC!! Woohoo. 🙂 This list was put together by Shape magazine in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine. They looked at the 50 largest cities in the country and assessed them in 30 areas, including personal health indicators (such as how often residents exercise, smoke, and eat their fruits & veggies) and the rates of chronic health issues. It also looked at community/environmental factors like the number of parks, trails, farmer’s markets, pools, rec centers, etc. You can check out the whole listing at americanfitnessindex.org if you don’t see your city on there.

Now, onto breakfast! I always see on Kath’s blog how she puts muffins on top of oatmeal and it always looks so good, but I never really have muffins laying around. Today though, as I was browsing around my kitchen trying to figure out what to make, I saw that I have some Vitatops left in my freezer – perfect compromise!

This bowl of Vegan Overnight Oats had:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana nut vitatop
  • 1 tbsp almond butter

Soooo good. I microwaved the vitatop which dried it out a little bit, so next time I would toast it and be more patient while it got warm. 🙂 It was still delicious though and made a great, new-to-me topping for the oats.

Question: What’s your favorite oatmeal and/or yogurt topping?

Have an awesome day!!

Chiacake Tacos

Good morning! It’s Fridayyyyy! Woohoo! I looked at Women’s Health Mag’s Day 5 Tips for National Women’s Health Week and loved the tips because they are all about healthy weight loss, something I can totally relate to. The tips are very simple and straightforward, but I think its good to see them put out so simply to get back to the basics.

  1. Eat when you’re hungry! This one is a lot easier said than done, but obviously makes a lot of sense. You don’t want to limit yourself and not eat when you’re physically hungry, but you also don’t want to give into emotional eating out of boredom, sadness, happiness, etc etc. For me, this is a constant struggle. When food is in front of me, my impulse is to eat it whether I’m hungry or not. Recently I’ve been working on listening to my hunger cues, but also controlling my environment. If there are chips and salsa (or guac!) out, I will eat them, hands down. So, I try to either move away from the snacks (after having a few, of course) or just put them away if I’m at my own house. I’d love to have the self control to have them out there and just resist, but I’m not there yet.
  2. Be realistic. This is why I love Weight Watchers so much. I tried Atkins and was quite successful on the program, but gained back nearly all of the weight I lost once I started eating carbs again. Cutting out any food group is just not realistic longterm (for me – especially carbs!), and you need to be able to make lifestyle changes, not just quick fixes. Weight Watchers is great because it helps you learn how to navigate certain social situations, gives you a supportive group of people who struggle with the same things you do so you don’t feel alone, and doesn’t have you cut out any one food group, even cake and sweets. I think being realistic is also super important in terms of time frame. The longer it takes you take off the weight, the longer it’ll stay off. I think having milestones or mini goals can be a good motivator to help you stay on track, but not if you’re going to set unrealistic goals and beat yourself up if you don’t reach them. My weight loss journey started in 2005 and I’ve been working hard and focusing on weight loss for over a year and am not even there yet (but am getting very close).
  3. Get moving. This one goes without saying. You don’t NEED to exercise to lose weight, but you do need to exercise to maintain weight loss, and to be healthy overall! It doesn’t mean you have to compete in triathlons or run for hours on end (see point #2 – be realistic!) but you do need to do something. Walking can be a good starting point for a long of people, but its good to change up your activity, and find something you love! And don’t be afraid to try new things – you might surprise yourself. I never in a million years thought I’d love running – I literally used to do anything in my power to avoid doing the mandatory laps at soccer practice when I was a kid and would call out sick during the day of the mile run in gym class. But for me, I love the challenge of running and even though I’ve had a brief hiatus from it recently, I’m happy to be back to it!

What do you think about these tips? Any other big ones you think are important to be mindful of?

Now, today’s breakfast! This one was pretty amazing. I made Chia Cake Batter with:

I couldn’t decide what I wanted for toppings on the pancakes, so I did something a little different on each one!

One with almond butter & banana, one with greek yogurt & strawberries, and one with coconut flakes & hershey’s syrup. I picked these up and ate them like tacos, as seen on Kath’s blog (except she actually cooked them in taco shapes, I made mine normal and just rolled ’em up!). I’ll use any excuse I can to eat with my hands.

Do you see how thick and fluffy these pancakes are? The chia seeds soak up all the liquid (which is why I used more than normal today) and make for the fluffiest, most delicious pancakes.

Nom, nom, nom.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Hiya! Can you believe tomorrow is already Friday and there’s a whole night of great TV ahead!? Sounds good to me! 🙂

After work, I stopped by the Farmer’s Market. I had brought $20 to spend with me, so I did a loop first to check out what they had, and then went back and bought the things I wanted. I spent exactly $20, and did REALLY well.

I got:

  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 bag of kale
  • 2 turnips
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 pink lady apples
  • 2 fuji apples
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 white potatoes

My CSA starts the first week of June, so I cannot wait! I’m basically paying $22 a week and am supposed to be getting 6-8 types of produce every week. I’m so excited to see what they give me and to try new fruits and veggies. I’ll probably still go to the Farmer’s Market a little bit to supplement what I get in the farm share, but I’m going to play it by ear because this is my first time ever doing a CSA so I’m not even sure how much I’ll get exactly/how long it’ll last. All I know is I’m excited for it to start!

My post from earlier really did pump me up a bit and reading all your comments about loving biking made me smile. I went for a nice ride after work and was speedier than usual! I think I’m getting the hang of biking more, and I came back and was a bit sweaty so I feel like I got a good workout. Here are today’s stats:

Distance: 8.01 miles

Duration: 34:25

Avg. Pace: 4:17 min/mile (!!)

Avg. Speed: 14.0 mph

Calories Burned: 449

I felt so good during the ride, and I kept glancing down at my Garmin and was going over 15.0mph during a lot of the ride. On the past few rides I was struggling to get up to 15, and this time I wasn’t even focusing on speed too much and was going that fast or faster! Exciting stuff. 🙂

For some reason I woke up today and my first thought was Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Now I have never in my life made gnocchi, or even attempted it, and the thought of making homemade gnocchi makes a lot of people cringe. I decided to give it a go and looked up some recipes today to get an idea of the process and then sort of made my own. While I was biking, I baked 2 sweet potatoes for 1 hour at 400 degrees (not advisable but no fire here) which sped up the whole process greatly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • ~2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

I started by putting the cooked sweet potatoes in a large bowl after removing the skin (which came off easily). I mashed the potatoes up with a potato masher, but a ricer is supposed to work better (but I don’t own one).

I let that cool for about 15 minutes (so the egg doesn’t scramble!) and then added the egg, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

I mixed that together, and then started adding the whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time.

I used 2 full cups of flour, but you’re supposed to go by texture, not measurements, because it depends on the size of the egg, potatoes, and the humidity in the air. You want the dough to not be sticky, but want to be careful not to add too much flour so it stays fluffy. Once you’ve gotten it to your desired texture, put flour down on your counter and place the ball of dough on top of the flour.

Cut the ball into 4 segments.

And keep the flour close while you roll each of the four sections into logs. You’ll need extra to keep it from sticking to your hands/the counter. Not gonna lie, this part was a bit tedious.

Then you want to cut the log into gnocchi sized pieces, about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick.

Repeat until all of the dough is cut.

Salt and boil a pot of water, and gently place gnocchi in the water. Once they start to float, leave for another 1-2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon into a colander, and then top them with your sauce of choice.

I made an Almond Butter Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Microwave for 30 seconds and stir together. I tossed 1/2 of this sauce with a batch of the gnocchi.

Tada! It turned out pretty good! Not the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, but I enjoyed it and the sauce went really well with the sweet potato. This would be a great sauce to make with the Sweet Potato Ravioli. The gnocchi were a little heavier than ideal because of the whole wheat flour. Most recipes called for white flour but I really wanted to use whole wheat. Next time I might do half whole wheat, half white, and I’ve also heard its good to mix some white/russet potato in with the sweet potato to get the right consistency. Either way, I’m pretty impressed with my first attempt ever at gnocchi and it was a lot less scary than I was expecting!

For dessert, I had an ice cream-less sundae that was out of this world!

I didn’t even miss the ice cream! In the bowl:

  • 1 chocolate walnut vitabrownie
  • 1 sliced banana
  • sprinkle of coconut flakes
  • drizzle of light Hershey’s syrup
  • drizzle of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate chunks

Amazing way to end that meal. This post is getting long so I’m going to go relax. Have a good night!!

Pancake Heaven

Morning! I hope your week is off to a good start… mine is! I got to take my time getting into work today because I am working late tonight, so I woke up and decided to do the Shred Level 1. Jillian Michaels is not pleasant to wake up to, but I was very happy when it was over. I love how its only 20 minutes so its easy to squeeze in and it kicks my butt. It’s really the only strength training I’ve been doing lately, so I have to step it up because I’ve only been using 3 pound dumbbells. I know that sounds SO light and easy, but I promise you it is still very hard with the 3 lb weights. There are a few moves where I wish I had a little bit heavier weights though, so next time I have a chance I’ll pick up some 5 lb dumbbells.

Is it sad that what gets me through my workout is thinking about what I will eat after I’m done? You don’t know have to answer that, I already know. 🙂 Today I dreamed up some pancakes during my workout, and got to making them immediately after I was done. I’ve been using this mix:

Its sort of random that I’ve been using gluten free… I just found this all natural mix at Target on sale so I bought it. I don’t think it tastes that different from regular pancake/waffle mix, its just a little sweet. I decided to experiment a little bit and made the batter with:

  • 1/4 cup of pancake mix
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup light soy milk
  • 2 tbsp egg whites (I used AllWhites)

It turned out great! Adding the rolled oats added a nice texture to the pancakes and this recipe made 2 good sized ones. The batter seemed a little on the thin side when I first mixed everything together so I was a little nervous, but it thickened while standing when I was waiting for the pan to heat up.  They came out great and I finished them off with some delicious toppings.

On top I put:

  • 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • 1 small sliced banana
  • small handful of dried cherries (from the bulk bins!)

Amazing! I love experimenting with things and not going exactly by the box. Adding the oats and changing the ratio of liquid a bit made these have an awesome texture and added some whole grains. They were heavenly!

I’m off to work for a few hours and then heading back to the conference hotel in the afternoon. I should be back on my regular blogging schedule starting today. Happy Monday!

Oops

Morning! I ended up staying up way too late last night because I was watching Changeling with Angelina Jolie. Well, not with her, she was just in the movie. 😉 It was so good that I couldn’t turn it off and before I knew it, it was almost 2am! Eek.

I made a mistake last night because after I posted, I waited until I was ravenous to start thinking about food. I had been craving pizza, so I figured why not. I ended up ordering from Domino’s and I got a Medium thin crust pizza with green peppers and onions, no cheese. This was the first time I ever ordered a pizza with no cheese, and it was really good! I didn’t even miss the cheese, and I feel like I cured my pizza craving. So I started eating the pizza:

And then before too long:

It was all gone! I ate an entire medium pizza myself… Oops. I made the mistake of waiting until I was way past the point of hungry, so I inhaled the pizza so fast that I didn’t even realize it was disappearing before my eyes. This morning, I woke up with a stomach ache…

I went on the Domino’s website to look up the nutritionals and found all the information here. They have nutrition facts for entire pizzas (so I guess I’m not alone here) and to be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking. The entire pizza had 765 calories and 26 grams of fat. While this is more than I usually eat for any meal, I was thinking it was going to be a lot worse than that. I still am not too proud of myself, but oh well! I think next time I need to make a salad or something else to go with the pizza and ration out half of it at the beginning and put the rest away before I eat it all. 🙂

This morning I woke up and was craving waffles! I used the same mix as last time, which is gluten free. I just randomly bought this mix and a few people asked if it tastes different than normal waffle mix, and the answer is not really, but its a little bit sweet. I love having time on the weekends to make whatever I want for breakfast!

I had two waffles with nonfat Fage 0%, almond butter, and 2 sliced kiwis on the side. (Side note: can you tell that I got an enormous box of kiwis last weekend from Costco? I’ve been having them every day and there’s still a ton left!) These waffles were awesome! I love the addition of almond butter (to anything) and I’m feeling really satisfied. I’ve missed waffles!

I’m now sipping on coffee on my new mug from Wisconsin:

🙂 My boyfriend got me this as a souvenir from his cheese tasting trip this past week. I love it!

I’m off to run a few errands then go to work! I’ll be back later. Happy Saturday!