#FiveThings {Jan 23 2015}

Why hello there, Friday.  Nice to see you’ve decided to show up.

It’s Friday, people and that means another edition of #FiveThings!!  Here’s what I’m digging this week…

American Sniper

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, please go this weekend.  It is a powerful, powerful film.

Jimmy and I went to go see it on Wednesday night, and I don’t think I’ve ever left a theatre where the entire audience was silent once the credits finished rolling.  It was eeire, and the ending was quite honestly a lot to process.  I knew that it was a true story, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to end.  Having both friends and family in the military, it sheds a light on the sacrifice that our soldiers and their families make every day.  I know that there are other military-based movies out there that do the same thing, but this one….this one was different.  I always have been, but it reminded me and made me even more proud and thankful for our military and their families.

Huntington Bound

Some of my friends are getting together in Huntington this weekend.  I get to see them.  I’M SO EXCITED!  And it’s much needed.  Cue the nostalgic warm fuzzy feeling.

This Moisturizer

Stop what you’re doing right now and go buy this.  During this time of year, like many people, I struggle with dry skin.  I’m all about moisturizing, especially at night.  Recently, the body butter that I had gotten from a certain Shmath and Shody Works just wasn’t doing the trick anymore.  I originally learned about this product from a sample out of an old Birchbox, and I went to Sephora pretty much the next day to buy it.  The FAB {First Aid Beauty} Ultra Repair Cream can even be used on your face.  It even works well with my skin, and we all know how cooperative my face can be {that’s sarcasm if you’re just joining us}.

LUSH Bath Bombs

Remember that time I said anything but an Epsom Salt Bath was stupid?  I would like to formally retract that statement.  My friend Abby raves about the LUSH Bath Bombs, and I decided to give one a try.  Holy moly, what have I been missing out on?? {Side note:  I still shower after a bath, I can’t quite justify the whole bath=clean idea}

They’re fairly inexpensive, especially for a luxurious bathing experience.  As a whole, I LOVE the LUSH company.  They’re a clean company of handmade ingredients, with green, ethically purchased products…oh, and they’re also against animal testing.  Click here to check out the full story.

Dairy Free Yogurt

What I thought was once an oxymoron is no more.  When I found this this week, I felt like I discovered Pluto.  Since leading a mainly dairy-free diet, the main thing that I’ve missed was yogurt.  While grocery shopping for Jimmy and his wisdom tooth surgery diet, I found this in the yogurt aisle.

This is the same company that makes the Coconut Creamer that I love.  It’s kind of obvious that this isn’t regular old dairy yogurt, but it is a great alternative.

What are your #FiveThings for the week?

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Breakfast and 2×4 Ab Workout

This morning’s breakfast was kind of a “cook whatever’s in the fridge” type of deal.  The great thing about veggies is that as long as you saute them, they go great with eggs.  Today’s veggies included some organic kale, asparagus, red onion, red bell pepper, and basil chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, spinach is like the Houdini of vegetables.  You can put it in a smoothie or virtually any meal, and you barely taste it…if you even taste it at all.  Kale, on the other hand is kind of like spinach’s knobby kneed thirteen year old cousin.  It’s still awesome and has a lot of great benefits, but you can definitely taste a difference when included in a meal/bev.

Kale, God love it.

To include kale in something like this, I will first steam it with the red onions in some type of a broth.  I had veggie broth on hand today.  This was also going to turn into a “scramble”, but at the last minute I made a game time decision and fried the eggs instead {with some Cajun seasoning}.  I heart dippy eggs.  Plus some avocado and coffee, because what’s breakfast without it?

I found this mug at World Market before Christmas.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make the purchase.  As a tall girl, I identify with the giraffe.  Plenty of people have referenced a giraffe when speaking about me over years, including my friends.  Who call me a “baby giraffe” when I’m in heels and have had one too many adult beverages…

And then this little motivational piece on the other side.

One thing I’ve really been needing to focus on lately is the mid section.  With the holidays, and sitting 24/7 with work, all I have to say is, thank goodness it’s not bikini season yet.  Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I can get bored with ab workouts.  So to make sure I get through the whole thing, I like to break it up.  Just like with this workout below, take two moves at a time and run through three sets of each before moving on to the other pair of ab workouts.

If you’re not sure what one of the moves means, click the links below:

Spidermans

Criss Cross

Flutter Kicks

How did everyone’s day go?  How do you get through Ab Workouts?

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Post Run Green Drank

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but it has been down right beautiful in the Carolinas the past few days {part of the reason why I moved back 😉 }.  Had some time today to squeeze in a 4-miler before the sun goes down, and I wanted to share my post workout recovery drink with you guys!

The Ingredients::

::1 cup of coconut water
::1 cup/handful of kale
::2-3 spinach cubes {spinach, blended up and formed into ice cubes…I’ll discuss later} OR 1 handful of organic spinach leaves
::1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
::1 Tbsp Flax Seeds
::1/2 avocado
::1 cup pineapple {can be frozen}

Blend the ingredients above and viola!

I also hand a handful of almonds for a protein kick while I cleaned the kitchen. {it neeeeeds it}

Disclaimer::

This drink tastes very GREEN.  I know some people still can’t quite get over the “veggies in liquid form”taste//texture…which I can understand, it takes some getting used to, it did for me as well.  One way to still get all the benefits of this bev is to add some additional fruit to overpower the kaley-ness of it all, like an apple or a ripe banana.  Or even a few drops of agave nectar/raw honey.  Just a thought.  If you’re wanting to be able to handle the taste of a GREEN drink, but you can’t quite get past the taste, start by adding different fruits and then week by week remove one piece of fruit until there are zero fruits {not sure if this is proper grammar here…probably not}.  But you get the idea, it’s like weaning yourself off of a fruit smoothie.  Works like a charm.

Tonight Jimmy and I have plans to see American Sniper and I absolutely cannot wait.  I’ve heard nothing but good things!

See y’all tomorrow!

What do you guys like to recover with?  Have you seen American Sniper yet?

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Rain Delay

At no one’s fault but my own, the weather derailed my workout plan last night {okay, okay…I didn’t check it before mapping out my plan of attack..rookie mistake}.  In addition to regularly visiting the gym, I’ve also been pretty great about distance running 3-4 times a week.  A problem I’ve been struggling with the past few months.  Last night it poured the rain and to be honest, running five miles on the treadmill was the last thing I wanted to do, so I rearranged my schedule and spent some time indoors with the Tone It Up girls.

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Love these babes.

Like I said, I have been running a lot again lately and although I know that how you recover is just as important as how you workout…I’m not a big “stretcher” {yikes!…hence why I had to purchase a Foam Roller and MELT Balls}.  I decided to take last night to do some circuits and focus on stretching/taking a “personal” workout day.

Here are the TIU videos that I covered:

Kettletoning {personal fav}

HIIT Training {this is a great one to wake up 15 minutes earlier for before you hop in the shower!}

Bikini Abs {the reason why I’m sore this morning}

And then wrap it up with the Foam Roller Routine

Once I was done I made dinner for Jimmy and myself– sauteed brussels sprouts and lemon pesto chicken. Very simple, very tasty, and a very nice way to make sure I’m cleaning out the fridge before Christmas break {we’re down to the basics here, people}.

Bluuugghhhh, I hate the awesomely horrible fluorescent lighting in our kitchen…oh well, the food still tasted great!

I even went through the MELT Foot Treatment while I was food prepping {aka chopping/sauteing brussels sprouts and waiting for the chicken to bake}.  It definitely required some extra brain power moving my hands and feet simultaneously {hopefully that makes sense…you know, like when you move you hand counter-clockwise and your foot clockwise?  It’s difficult.  Near impossible}.

What did you have for dinner last night?  What do you do when the weather messes up your workout plan?

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A Very Grinch-y Recovery Drink ‘N Other Festive Shakes

After a nice, long, and unseasonably warm 5 mile run yesterday, I came up with this incredibly tasty recovery drink.  It’s Christmas in your mouth.

Below are the ingredients:

1 cup of coconut water
1 banana
1 Tbsp of cocoa powder
2 Tbsp of Almond Butter
1 Tbsp of Flax Seeds
1 Handful of Spinach
1 Candy Cane {or a few drops of mint extract}

Did I add cocoa powder, peppermint, and spinach {for the green-effect} in my Ninja just so I can say it’s a “Grinch Themed” bev?

Yes, yes I did.

Keeping in line with the holiday spirit, I’m quickly reminded of the two other smoothies that I created last year while writing the Marshall Rec blog…the Peppermint Mocha Protien Smoothie and the Cranberry Salad Protien Smoothie {yes, inspired by Grandma’s Cranberry Relish Salad}.

Another seasonal drink I’ve been interested in trying was recently posted on Fabletics’ Insta a few days ago.  Doesn’t this Gingerbread Smoothie looks to die for?

The ingredients:

1 cup almond milk
2 pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1.8 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup ice

What do you guys think?

Any holiday smoothies/bev’s your currently crushing over right now?
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Nutty Soup && Christmas Vacation

Last night I rushed home from work because I had BIG plans.

My frat bros and I were going to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at 7pm.  Always all about that Christmas spirit.  First, I wanted to make sure I squeezed in a quick workout, so I hopped on YouTube and completed the Tone It Up Kettletoning workout that I talked about a few weeks ago.

{Yep, there’s a little sneak peek of my headboard!  I’m obsessed with it, but to be honest I want to wait until I have better pillows so the pictures turn out all pretty…gotta wait until it’s in the budget}.

Then it was time for dinner.  I was initially inspired by a post from the Women’s Health Insta account earlier {blogger, Keri Glassman, took over for the day}.  Knowing I wanted a warm but hearty meal, I decided to heat up some organic creamy tomato soup from Trader Joe’s, but with a twist.

Flax seed and nuts for added nutrition!  Right now I only have these cashew pieces, so I added a handful {1/4 cup-ish} of cashews and a tablespoon of flax seeds to the soup while it was warming.

I also sauteed the rest of my brussels sprouts with a little garlic, S&P, and raw honey.  It was deeelish!

Top the soup off with some fresh parsley and you’re good to go.  This was the first time I’ve ever added anything like this to soup, but I was incredibly please/shocked/full with the new addition.  It will definitely be something that I will continually add to my soup in the future.

As I’ve said before…I have no pretty bowls, but I have tons of pretty mugs.  So we’re gonna mug the soup today {for the pictures sake}.

And that about sums up my night…cashew infused soup, honey brussels sprouts, water, wine, Christmas Vacation, and a pine scented candle.  Pretty much everything I wanted last night in one picture.

What did you guys have for dinner last night?  What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

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Healthy Cranberry Relish Salad

Since it’s my first time back to the blog since the weekend, let me first start out by saying…We Are…

CHAMPIONS!

Wahoo!  After an at times stressful, nail-biting, almost get a noise complaint from your neighbors type of game, I can proudly say that The Thundering Herd are CUSA Champions!  I was freaking out, jumping up and down on the couch and running around my apartment like a crazy person after the W.  Not to mention, I was riding such an adrenaline high that there was a solid thirty minutes of my life where I was about to drive up to Huntington for the night {both Jimmy and Andrew went up for the weekend}.  Long story short I didn’t go, but I’m still so proud of the Herd.  Ready for the Boca Bowl on the 23rd…

Today I wanted to share a healthy holiday family recipe, passed down from my grandmother.  It’s one of my favorite holiday sides, and extremely simply to make.  There isn’t a holiday where I don’t remember this being on the table.  If you’re not a cranberry person, this thing will change your perspective the festive fruit.

Prep pic from Thanksgiving

Ingredients:

\\ 1 bag of cranberries, washed
\\ 4-6 {organic} apples, diced
\\ 1 can of unsweetened, crushed pineapple
\\ 3-4 cups of Red Seedless grapes, halved*
\\ 3/4 cup-1 cup of walnuts, chopped*

*amount adjusted to your own personal preference

Directions:

1.  In a food processor, grind cranberries until fine.
2.  Chop apples and halve or quarter the grapes.
3.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

See!  Super simple, and not to mention delicious.

And here’s a much prettier picture of the salad…

This holiday season, make sure that this side makes it to your table.   This is just one of my grandmother’s many amazing recipes.  She was such an incredible woman {and not to mention cook} and I’m proud to be able to share this with you all today.

Happy Holidays, from my family to yours.

What are some of your favorite holiday sides?  Any family traditions out there?

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Must Love Pomegranates

After work on Monday, I was lucky enough to get to go to the Hornets/Clippers game with my brother and his friends!

It was my first time at the TWC Arena, and our seats were actually pretty awesome, even though you can’t exactly tell from the picture.

Since then it’s been go-go-go trying to get everything done before heading home for turkey break.

I wanted to stop in and share a quick blurb about my annual winter obsession- the pomegranate.  Known for a variety of health benefits {which we will get into later}, the pomegranate is one of my favorite fall/winter snacks.  You’ll find them available at any grocery store between September and February.  However, you can purchase pomegranate juice year round, the most popular brand arguably being POM Wonderful.

So why are pomegranates so great?  Not only are they rich in that buzzword, antioxidants {one of the highest of all fruits}, it also is shown to aid in heart and joint health.  They are extremely high in vitamin C, K, and B5, among a list of others to help to support things like your immunity, bone health, and metabolism…pretty nifty, right?  They’re also extremely high in fiber.

One benefit that surprised me while researching, somewhat ties in with the Beauty Brief Wednesday: Teeth Whitening Tips//Mouth Health.  Apparently, pomegranates can also keep your teeth clean {but no, I’m not saying ditch the toothbrush}.  Pomegranates are packed with polyphenolic flavonoids {say that five times fast}, which contain anitbacterial properties.  It has been shown that pomegranate juice can clear the mouth of the bacteria, plaque, and gingivitis that can cause cavities and other dental issues.

Crazy, huh?

That pom, pom-pom-pom-pom {okay, maybe I’m not Sisqo}.

So, sweet…it’s super healthy….but how do you break into it?  I sliced it in half to show the inside of the pom for the picture above, but basically just cut off the crown and cut the pomegranate into wedges to start peeling away the skin, pulling the pomegranate seeds away from the center.

AND THEN YOU’LL END UP WITH THIS

A container full of juicy, sweet, and nutrient packed pomegranate seeds…the best winter time snack out there.  They also work as a great winter time salad topper…just a little tip.

Have you guys ever eaten any pomegranates before?  Why do you like them?

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Spaghetti Squash How-To

Spaghetti Squash in the house!

Thought I would stop in today and leave a quick little how-to on some spaghetti squash.  It’s going to pop up on the blog more than a few times, so I decided to get this out of the way so that it can be a quick reference throughout space and time.

Spaghetti Squash {also known as Winter Squash} is the perfect alternative to any spaghetti noodle/pasta dish.  I always remember my mom making it growing up, but I never realized how “health forward” it was until I found this to be my passion as well {healthful living, that is…not so much spaghetti squash}.  Coming in at about 30 calories a cup and virtually zero fat, you’d be foolish to not give it a try…and it’s super easy to make.  Typical to my “make ahead” mentality, even if I don’t have a plan to cook the squash for a certain meal, I’ll make it in bulk and have it on hand to use as a base for any meal throughout the week.

Here are the basic steps to making Spaghetti Squash:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 and fill a 13×9 baking dish with water about half way.

2.  Slice the squash in half “long ways” and scoop out the guts {seeds, insides, etc} and sprinkle with any combo of spices that you want.  For a basic squash I use garlic salt, pepper, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.  Then flip the squash, open side, down.

and thennnn….

3.  Bake upside down for 40 minutes, remove from oven and pour out the water/flip the squash halves right side up and let cool.

4.  Once they have cooled, use a fork and scrap out the meat.  To every first timer’s shock and awe, the squash will shred and resemble that of noodles!  Serve as a dish with any marinara, pesto, meat veggie combo or store for later use.

When I’m making it in bulk, I’ll just put it all in a Tupperware container so I can pull out one, beautiful 31 calorie a cup at a time for a meal.

Two recipes in a row?  Who’s blog is this?

Hope you guys enjoy this basic how-to, and spaghetti squash as much as I do.  Just a head’s up, while this is a great substitute, taste wise, this won’t exactly resemble the carb-ey goodness of pasta.  However, if you’re considering spaghetti squash, that’s probably not the top priority on your list anyway.

Have you ever made spaghetti squash before?  What are your favorite ways to serve it?

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#FiveThings {Nov. 2}

Good Morning SF-er’s!  Is everyone fully rested and recovered from their candy coma and extra hour of sleep this weekend?  I know I am, and although I counted down the days to the night we were “falling back”, I still had a solid 5 seconds of confusion when I woke up this morning after looking at my smart phone and then the clock in the kitchen.

Let’s get on with another edition of #FiveThings, shall we?

Ali in Town

This past weekend, my best friend from high school, Ali, came to visit!  It was great to see her and be able to spend a whole weekend with her.  In addition to it being Halloween weekend, it was fun to take her around to some of the places that I love in Charlotte.  She went to school here, but now lives back in Durham.  We spent Saturday night having dinner at our mutually favorite food spot, Cabo Fish Taco.  It’s located in the NODA area of Charlotte, and if you’re ever in town you HAVE to visit this place.  Margaritas and Fish Tacos make for some happy people.

Lemon Grilled Shrimp and Jerk Shark Tacos with their signature Avocado Pasta Salad…get in ma belly!

She even came with my headboard in tow!  Post on that later….can’t wait to see her again soon for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Halloween

As we all know, this past Friday was All Hallow’s Eve.  As I mentioned in my Costume Dilema post the other day, Ali and I weren’t sure what we were going to do until the very last minute.  We went with Candy Rappers and it was a success.  I love a good play on words.

As seen on insta…Candy Rapper Nation.

We tried hard to create a #crnation logo on the back of our jackets, it held up for awhile, but Ali clearly did a better taping job than I did.  We all met up at my friend Emily’s apartment before heading out.  That adorable little nugget in the bottom left is her dog, Ollie…he wanted to be a Candy Rapper too.  All in all it was a fun {and packed} night out in CLT!

TJ’s Fruit Bars

These things have been on my snack radar the past few weeks.  Trader Joe’s Fruit Bars…two ingredient, raw, fruit bars {and only about 90 cal. a piece- kill my sweet tooth and any of that midday hunger}.  This one is hands down my favorite.

Cold Weather Running

Call me crazy, but I enjoy cold weather running much more than warm weather running.  Not sure why, but I always have.  Even though it was 80 degrees this past Monday, it’s now 40 degrees today… {welome to the piedmont region of NC} ….which means pulling out all of my cold weather gear {yes!}.  And maybe, just maybe I’ll be motivated to start running longer distances again.

Speaking of cold weather running…special shout out to my former boss {and boss runner}, Michele Muth, who is running in the NYC marathon as we speak!  Go Michele, go!!

The Walking Dead

A few weeks ago, one of my Five Things was the fact that, ’tis the season for my shows to come back on TV.  One I forgot to mention was The Walking Dead.  With the past few weekends being full of travel I have missed the last two episodes {and another one is coming on tonight!}.  I’ve been a Dead fan from the beginning, and although it has been slow at certain points over the course of the series {admit it…you know it too…still love it anyway}, everyone has been telling me that the past two episodes have been insane!  Once I get some things done today, I plan on spending my evening catching up on everything before I watch the new episode tonight.  Are any of you Walking Dead fans as well?  I can’t wait {and don’t spoil anything for me!}

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One holiday in the books.  Up next, Thanksgiving {no Christmas until Nov. 28th here, people}.  Hope Halloween found everyone with a spooky good time!

What are your #FiveThings for the week?

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