Monday, March 31, 2014

A Week in Highlights and the BEST Brownie

Happy Monday friends!

I have to admit that I am feeling particularly happy this Monday – I finally feel like I’ve got my head above water at work, and things are slowing down a bit personally too.

Last week sort of got away from me, so instead of going day by day, I thought I would just hit the highlights for you guys!

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I treated myself on Thursday night. Pookey’s Sweet Life does it again! The BEST brownies ever: Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

Crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside – Plus they are CRAZY easy to make! Just oil (I used coconut) and two eggs. Boom! In fact, two of my gluten eating friends thought they were delicious too – the true test of a gluten free dessert!

I started Friday morning with an early Pure Barre class, and then rushed to work to meet up with Google.

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We had the Google 360 Team come out to do a virtual tour – I can’t wait to share the inside of our store with you guys soon!

Saturday morning started even earlier than Friday, but I actually woke up 30 minutes before my 6am alarm. It was race day!

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In fact, the FIRST race of my season!

To help raise money for our Fair Trade artisans, the non-profit I work for signed up to do a 5K/10K race. I was so excited to run for something I’m passionate about, but I was nervous about running with my knee.

Ice, Ibuprofen, and Foam rolling helped for sure – the race course was a bit hilly, AND it was raining the entire time, BUT I was still super STOKED with my time.

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Especially since it turned out that the race course was actually a bit over a 5K. My actual end time for the 5K was 29:02! I think this is a great starting point for this year, and I’m hoping that I will be able to actually ramp up my training soon. Fingers crossed PT works.

Our Board President Bruce ran the 10k in 54 minutes! In fact, the whole One World Market team was pretty impressive!

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We all ranked in the Top 15 for our Age Groups!

After the race I was ready for breakfast

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at my local favorite, Daisy Cakes! I had been looking forward to this treat ALL WEEK!

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I started with an AMAZING Vanilla Latte complete with a gluten free cookie on the side. But the real star of the show:

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An EPIC gluten free breakfast sandwich. Gluten Free bread – Two Sunny Side Up Eggs – Cheddar – Sautéed Arugula. DELICIOUS!

I really wish you guys lived in Durham and we could all eat at Daisy Cakes together – it’s just so good!

Saturday ended up being a day of treats for sure. I rested during the day and watched The Wolf of Wall Street with Parrish. It was pretty funny, but just a bit too long. That night we went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I discovered my NEW Summer Drink!

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Tiny Sparkling Wine – complete with a mini straw!

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Love it! Between Pineapple Habanero Margaritas and these little babies, I am set for Summer Time!

Now if the weather would just cooperate!

So there you go – we’re all caught up! What about you? Did you have a great weekend?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greek Quinoa Cakes

I’d be lying if I said I was having a great day today.

Yesterday afternoon I started having a pinch of pain in my lower back, and it’s continued until today. I’m not quite sure what I did – possibly something at PT yesterday? Either way, I’m beginning to feel like my body is waging a war against me.

Or…I’m just feeling a bit whiney this morning and can’t seem to shake it off.

Which honestly is crazy because 1. I am an OPTIMIST. 2. I had a super yummy supper last night and a delicious breakfast this morning. Good food typically makes me feel better!

But even an optimist can have a down moment, so I’m just reminding myself I don’t need to be perfect. I can be a bit grumpy. Most likely I’ll feel tons better later today, and if I’m grumpy until tomorrow – so be it. So long as I don’t take it out anyone at work – I’ll be good!

Winking smile

Now, let’s talk about that super yummy supper.

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Greek Quinoa Patties with fresh avocado and herbed Greek Yogurt.

I love it when recipes work!

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Crunchy, Crisp Quinoa – soft pillows of feta – a light lemon zest

Ugh. SO GOOD!

If you’re nervous about trying Quinoa, then this is the recipe for you! It’s easy and the texture is drastically changed. You’ll get all those great health benefits and the protein punch without feeling like you’re eating tiny seeds.

Greek Quinoa Cakes – adpated from Popular Paleo and Spoon Fork Bacon

gluten free - vegetarian

You’ll need:

4 cups cooked quinoa (one cup raw makes 4 cups cooked)
2 cups Baby Spinach, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup flaxseed meal ( I used King Arthur’s Gluten Free)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup feta
5 eggs, whisked

Plus oil for cooking: I used 2 tbsp. coconut oil

I highly recommend cooking your quinoa ahead of time. You’ll need it cooked and cooled for this recipe, so you could totally make it a day or two ahead of time.

In a large bowl, mix together your spinach, scallions, lemon zest, flaxseed meal, salt, garlic powder, and feta. Mix well. Add your cooled quinoa and mix well.

Heat your oil of choice over medium to medium high heat. While your oil is heating, add the whisked eggs to your quinoa mixture and stir well to combine.

Once your oil is hot, add the mixture in heaping spoonfuls. Use the back of your spoon to pat out the burger to 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness.

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Let the cakes cook until they are golden brown – then flip.

Waiting until they are golden brown:

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is KEY! Otherwise they won’t hold up to flipping.

Cook on the other side until golden brown and you’re ready to serve! Halfway through your batch, you may need to reduce your heat a bit. I started on medium high but reduced to medium for my third batch.

Serve with toppings of your choice!

Salsa, Tomatoes, you decide!

Enjoy! Smile

Monday, March 24, 2014

This Week’s Plan: Meals & Workouts

Another week begins – Another week of planned meals! Organization for the win! Smile

But first, let’s recap the weekend!

Parrish and I had a SUPER EARLY start on Saturday morning because we were volunteering at the Merge Records 25K Road Race.

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Our station was the first turn the runners had to take, so we were there to make sure they took the right turn. We also had to delay motorists – which sucked honestly – but luckily they only had to wait about 10 minutes total. Some drivers were totally nice and understanding, others….not so much.

Either way, volunteering was super fun. It was awesome to cheer on racers as they ran past us. And it was great to hang out with my best friend

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who makes everything way more fun!

After volunteering we headed out for our own run and ended up doing just a bit over a 5k. I’m working with a knee issue, so I’m trying not push it distance-wise. Which honestly can be hard when it’s such a beautiful day!

Later that day we enjoyed lunch with friends, and treated ourselves to milkshakes from our local ice cream shop for dessert:

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They didn’t last long.

Sunday morning was a day for rest and relaxation. I started the day the slowly – Max started the day and then decided to delay his start for a few hours.

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He’s such a sleepy old man these days.

Parrish and I also worked on finally getting some of my Lululemon workout clothes up on eBay.

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We’d been talking about doing it for weeks, and I’m glad we finally made the time. When I first started working out, I would reward every 5 pounds lost with a new Lululemon piece.

But now, as much as I love those pieces, they don’t fit. It truly makes no sense to hold on to workout clothes that were barely worn and are now to loose.

So eBay it is! You can view the shop here if you’re interested: http://www.ebay.com/usr/marlowravelli

In the afternoon, I settled in and worked on the Menu for this week:

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This Week’s Meal Plan:

Monday: Greek Quinoa Patties

I’m going to try a spin on my classic quinoa patties but use feta cheese and olives for a new twist!

Tuesday: Crockpot White Bean Turkey Chili

We have another batch of cold weather headed our way, so it’s time to break out the crock pot once again!

Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

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It’s just so darn good. Enough said!

Thursday: Shrimp Tacos

I’m using the Cilantro Lime Shrimp recipe from last week and using it as a taco stuffer.

Friday: Big Salad

I like to plan a big salad towards the end of the week to use up any fresh produce that’s still in the fridge.

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In addition to planning out my meals, I also checked my calendar and planned out my workouts for the week. This week:

Monday: PT in the morning; I’m dealing with an issue in my right knee. Fingers crossed PT can calm it down. Otherwise this will be a rest day.

Tuesday: Pure Barre

Wednesday: Pure Barre and a run

Thursday: Pure Barre

Friday: Pure Barre

Saturday: The Great Human Race 5k

Sunday: Pure Barre

I’ve got a busy week, but I’m happy that I’m still able to fit it all in. And yeah…I’m still loving Pure Barre!

I do miss weight training, and I hope to add that back in soon. But honestly with my knee issues, I’ve been happy to just focus on an overall balance for my body. I’m planning on signing up for the next Shred from NHerShoes in the Spring, so I’ll be picking the weights back up soon.

What about you?

What’s on the menu this week?

Friday, March 21, 2014

EASY Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I have a weird relationship with shrimp.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. Some days I love them, and other days just the thought of eating them makes my stomach turn. I’m not sure why this happens (no. I’m not pregnant) but it’s happened to me for years.

The trouble with loving/hating shrimp is that Parrish LOVES shrimp. In fact, he loves ALL seafood. Oysters, mussels, crawfish, fish…you name it – he loves it. A true beach boy.

So this week I added shrimp to our weekly menu and figured if by the time I cooked them I didn’t want to eat them, then I would make myself a salad but still prepare the shrimp for Parrish.

I’m so happy I ended up eating these shrimp:

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because they were so good!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

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Plump, Juicy Shrimp that were nearly effortless to make. I was amazed by how quickly this recipe came together! And it was a nice, fresh and light meal – perfect for a warm day!

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Cilantro Lime Shrimp

adapted from Skinnytaste – original recipe here

You’ll need:

1 pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp ( I used frozen and thawed them before use)

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

salt and pepper

1 1/2 tsp. coconut oil

4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 limes

cilantro, chopped ( I ended up using about 1/2 cup)

Whatever you want to serve it with – I made a big salad with avocado, onion, and radish. You could also serve it on a bed of rice, use it for tacos, or toss it in pasta.

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In a bowl, toss your shrimp with the cumin, a pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper. Toss to coat.

In a large sauté pan, melt the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the shrimp have started to pink up on both sides, add in the garlic. Stir frequently and continue cooking until the garlic starts to brown.

Remove from heat and place the shrimp in a clean bowl. Squeeze the 3 limes over the shrimp and add in as much chopped cilantro as you desire. Toss to coat evenly.

And you’re done! Serve however you like!

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The only thing that took time with this recipe was chopping the garlic! I will definitely be adding this to my rotation, and I think next time we’ll serve them as taco filling with purple cabbage and avocado!

Happy Friday!

What about you? Love shrimp or hate shrimp?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chicken Florentine Meatballs

I can’t believe I didn’t have time to tell you guys about my latest success in the kitchen yesterday!

Wait. Let me back up.

I TOTALLY believe I didn’t have time yesterday – it was a super crazy day at work. I started the day bright and early at Pure Barre. Then rushed over to work to change and get started with my day. It was one of those eat your breakfast while you’re moving days:

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But in between meetings and shipments, something really REALLY exciting happened! My co-worker and I had been talking about window decals for months and yesterday they were finally installed!

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We had two other windows done with stickers that say “Non-Profit” and “Fair Trade” and I absolutely LOVE them! Yes, it truly is the little things in life – like stickers – that can make your day!

So yeah, my day was really really busy yesterday, and I really wish I had had the time to tell you about my latest kitchen success. But better to be a day late than never…right?

The success:

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Chicken Florentine Meatballs – gluten free & paleo

Moist, hearty meatballs with a hint of spinach and lemon served on top of Roasted Spaghetti Squash. I call this a success because I got half way through the food prep and realized I didn’t have any eggs to bind the meatballs!

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Guess what – they didn’t need it! These meatballs were perfectly sticky and totally held together. No problem!

For this dish, I followed THIS RECIPE from Popular Paleo with only a few minor differences.

1. I didn’t use an egg

2. I couldn’t find chicken sausage. So I used AlFresco Italian Chicken Sausage. I removed the casings and then smooshed up the links to make the sausage crumbly.

3. I specifically used King Arthur Golden Flax Meal because it’s Certified Gluten Free.

4. I served my dish with a bit of marinara sauce and loved it!

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I highly recommend this recipe! You could definitely prepare the meatballs ahead of time – even days before – because the leftovers the next day for lunch were still DELICIOUS!

The next time I make them I’m going to skip the paleo route and try adding a bit of cheese inside the meatball. I’m interested to see if it will still hold shape.

I hope you try this recipe!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pure Barre Results and the Return of Cold Weather

Happy Monday friends!

Am I the only one that hasn’t adjusted to this time change yet? I swear every morning I hear my alarm go off and I think it has to be a joke. I’m used to my internal clock waking me up well before my alarm, but I think it must be broken.

Did you have a good weekend?

I started off Saturday morning with a killer Pure Barre class. In fact, it was my 6th class in a row, and my 25th class overall. I think it’s safe to say that I still LOVE Pure Barre! Fingers crossed when my current package expires in April that I can scrape together $185 to continue!

Yeah…it’s not cheap but I have definitely come to realize that it is SO worth every penny! I love how low impact it is but I’m still pushing my muscles to fatigue every time. And I’m definitely seeing some major changes in my body – for example:

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The left is before I started Pure Barre, and the right is just after my 13th class. Yes they’re different shorts, but the change is pretty obvious. It’s been hard work to go 5 days a week, but coupled with a healthy, clean menu each week, I’m seeing the results I want without dieting. I can’t wait to see the adjustments after 30 classes!

But back to Saturday.

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After Pure Barre I headed in to work. It was my weekend to cover the Saturday shift, and luckily we were busy busy busy all day. I did have a bit of a break for lunch, and I enjoyed yet another delicious salad:

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In fact, I was pretty excited about this salad because BABY KALE was back! My local Whole Foods had been out of my favorite Organic Girl I Love Baby Kale mix for weeks, but it was back in stock this weekend! Woo Hoo! It is such a delicate, mild – not bitter in the least – mix of greens, and my personal favorite for salads.

Also in my salad: romaine, red onion, cherry tomatoes, Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing, and the PERFECT avocado:

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Seriously, how awesome is it when you cut in to your avocado and it’s perfect?!?! Love.

I was also a smartie and had packed:

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a bacon treat on the side. Yum!

After work on Saturday, I met up with Parrish at Geer Street Garden. Yep. Twice in the span of 6 days.

Whatever. It’s delicious!

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I once again ordered a Grilled Pimento Cheese on gluten free bread and fries. Call me boring or Call me a Genius – either way, I was beyond satisfied. So good!

Sunday morning Parrish and I woke up early and headed to see my MIL compete in a horsey competition. It was great to see Emily and Jeff, and of course, Novio but the weather was definitely lacking.

Saturday I was wearing sandals. Sunday: boots, flannel, and down.

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Boooooo NC weather. Get it together already.

After our fun morning, we headed home, and thank goodness because soon after that, the rain started. AND continued all day!

I am definitely a person whose mood is affected by weather.

But it was good to rest and relax on the couch and watch…err….6 episodes of Veronica Mars….in a row. Yeah. Killing my brain but my body loved the rest. I also read nearly 200 pages in a book I just started:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It is SO good! Incredibly well written and I just can’t seem to put it down.

And that was about it for my weekend! Exciting times Winking smile

What about you – did you have a great weekend?

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Makes a Smoothie Even Better

After a chilly day in Durham yesterday, I really wanted something warm and comforting for supper. I knew it was going to be a cold day when I planned the menu for the week, so I chose Cheesy Grits for Thursday night.

It’s funny, because Cheesy Grits don’t actually sound all that exciting. Warm? Definitely. Comforting? Sure. But exciting? Not so much. I was even talking with one of the volunteers at work yesterday and I said I was heading home to make cheesy grits. We both sort of giggled – yeah, cheesy grits.

But cheesy grits are the BOMB!

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Especially when they’re topped with tasty sautéed mushrooms and bacon – duh!

I used Arrowhead Mills gluten free corn grits and prepared them according to the box. When they had thickened up I added half a block of shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar. (<------ oh yeah! HALF of a block. Just do it)

While the grits were cooking, I baked bacon in the oven (method explained here) and slowly sautéed baby bella sliced mushrooms in my cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of butter. I let the mushrooms cook until the edges started to brown. Then I added a splash of Marsala wine and cooked for another 5 minutes on low heat.

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I sprinkled the mushrooms and bacon on top, which was the best idea ever. That way with every scoop of grits, I had a small bite of the topping too. So good!

It really was a satisfying supper after such a chilly day. Parrish and I had turned our heat off since we had had such beautiful weather over the weekend, so heating up with a hot supper was great!

I finished off the night with a hot cup of  Republic of Tea’s Peppermint Chocolate tea:

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in bed! I am still loving this tea – it’s so yummy. I went to bed early since I’m still trying to adjust to Daylight Savings. My internal body clock is so thrown off!

I started the morning today with a GIANT cup of coffee while I packed my lunch for work. I was making my smoothie for breakfast, which I would enjoy after my Pure Barre class, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I opened the freezer:

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How easy would it be to throw some ice cream in my smoothie! Instagram friends agreed – it would make a yummy smoothie!

In the end I just went with the basic Almond Milk and Whey Protein, but man oh man a milkshake would have been delicious!

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Who am I kidding?

When I get finished with Pure Barre, I’m so hungry that EVERYTHING is delicious! And today’s smoothie was no exception.

Now I’m off to work. I’m working the weekend – so no big plans here BUT I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Product Review: Modern Oats

It’s no secret that one of the big perks of being a food blogger is having the opportunity to receive food samples from companies. Over the past 6 years, I’ve had so many amazing chances to guinea pig new gluten free foods and snacks for free.

And while I’m always grateful for the offer, within the past year, I haven’t said yes to as many offers. I used to say yes to everything, but I’m at a point in my life where I don’t feel comfortable just eating anything. I’ve raised the bar for ingredients in my food, and I’m not willing to eat a bunch of starch and sugar, even if it does taste okay, when I know the blood sugar spike will leave me feeling sluggish and most likely give me a headache.

With that said, I still get excited by some of the offers I receive, and I was thrilled to say YES to reviewing a line of Oatmeal from Modern Oats!

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I am constantly on the hunt for healthy, FAST gluten free breakfasts. I love eating oatmeal in the morning – it’s a complex carb, so it digests slowly without spiking my blood sugar. I stay fuller longer which really helps on busy work days.

My first impression of Modern Oats: impressed!

I was happy to see the fiber and protein content right on the front. Each flavor ranges from the high 200 calorie to the low 300 calorie range, which is a perfect total for my breakfast.

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The prep is SUPER easy. You simply add boiling water to the cup, cover with the lid, and wait a few minutes. This is perfect for mornings when I head to Pure Barre first thing and then straight to work. We have an electric tea kettle at work, so it takes less than 5 minutes to have a hot and healthy breakfast while I start checking my email.

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The taste? SO GOOD!

I absolutely loved the 5 Berry and the Goji Blueberry flavors. So much in fact, that I just ordered 12 more from the online store.

Each cup is chock full of super foods. I love THIS EXPLANATION on the Modern Oats website of the tasty ingredients they use. Check it out, I learned a lot – like who knew blackberries were beneficial to the metabolic process?!

So there you have it! My new FAVORITE on-the-go breakfast. Perfect for a quick break at work or packing in your suitcase for travel.

You can buy Modern Oats in a select few stores (some Whole Foods locations and Bristol Farms in CA or Central Market in TX) but they are also easily purchases through their online store HERE.

Enjoy!

What about you?

What’s your favorite on-the-go breakfast?