Archive | January, 2014

The Carb-iest non Carb Ever.

28 Jan

Well, I’ve been AWOLNation the past few weeks. I’m really sorry about that, but I’m not above bribing you with all sorts of fascinating information to share this week in return for your forgiveness. Pretty please?

Wonderful!

Moving on. Ever since the receipt an artisan bread cookbook that my aunt gave me for Christmas, I’ve been hellbent on trying out a homemade bread. There have been three things holding me back from this: 1.Non-ownership of a bread stone, which apparently is important in the bread-making process. 2. Inability to sweet talk the dough into rising, also apparently important in said process. 3. The recipes are just a bit too time consuming for me to squeeze this in as an after-work project. So yeah…bread fail.

Why bread? Because I am a proud consumer of carbohydrates. Seriously. Even pasta and real bread, if I’m out to a great dinner with the husband or at brunch with the girls.

On a daily basis though, I do try to make nutritious carb choices  – oatmeal, Ezekiel bread, sweet potatoes -but it’s definitely safe to say I indulge some sort of carbs regularly. Which is where the following recipe comes in handy.

So wait, where was I? Ah yes, breadmaking. So my friend Rachele from Fantastically Fresh & Fit posted a recipe for Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Paleo bread on the ol’ Facebook, but I sort of wrote it off (too many “frees”). However, nagged at me a bit and told me to take a second look, and oh – I am so glad I did. In fact, I’ve put together a numbered list about what makes this recipe so rad:

  1. I had all the ingredients in my pantry (rare)
  2. There is not a single sketchy ingredient in the recipe
  3. The pre-baking time was took less than 10 minutes, and….no stone required, no rising necessary.
  4. I nailed the recipe on the first go-round (rarer than unicorns)
  5. It’s high in protein and low in carbs

I could definitely keep going but I think it’s best if you just try it for yourself.

Paleo/Grainless/Gluten Free Bread – adapted slightly from Elana’s Pantry Paleo Bread

PS: All of those fancy “x-free” titles do NOT equate to “eat-an-entire-loaf-of-me-bread,” so carry on as normal in terms of consumption, please.

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Place flours, ground flax, salt and baking soda in a food processor and pulse together.
  2. Pulse in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar
  3. Pour batter into a greased 7.5 x 3.5 magic line loaf pan (<- you can use a different size but it will alter the shape of the bread)
  4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes
  5. Cool in the pan for 2 hours
  6. Cut into slices and serve.

Top with homemade nutella, chia seed jam, use as a the base of the best breakfast sandwich ever, or whatever tickles your fancy ;).

Oh, and naturally I was so delighted that I had to push my luck a little bit, and fell across this gem of a grain-free, white-flourless Pumpkin Bread recipe, which I’m eating as I write this. 🙂

bread1

bread7

Kale N’ Eggs Breakfast Sandwhich

22 Jan

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to food. I find something I like and I’ll eat it over and over for weeks on end, until I stumble across something I like more. Right now, I’m really into breakfast.

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal but lately I’ve been eating it for lunch and dinner, too. One of my favorite on-the-go breakfasts ever is the Gjelina Egg Sandwich from Gjelina Take Away on Abbott Kinney (guys, I can’t even begin to explain its wonders), but more often than not, the line is around the block and I’m running late for work.

So I began making my own version at home.

Kale might not sound like much of a breakfast food, but I promise you it’s the life of the party here. The whole thing takes less than 15 minutes to throw together, and can be (carefully) eaten wrapped up in a paper towel on your way out the door.

This also happens to be one hell of a hangover helper, if that happens to be a problem you suffer from.

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 slice bacon, cooked

big handful of kale

1/2-1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

lemon

Ezekiel English muffin, toasted ((teaser alert ->> or homemade grain-free bread!! Post on this coming  soon))

Hot sauce of choice

sprinkle of Parmesan

**

Heat your pan on medium-high and coat with a splash of olive oil or cooking spray. Once hot, add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant and add kale. Squeeze half a lemon on top, and cook until soft and wilted. Set aside.

Re-coat pan and crack egg, flipping once. Cook until desired doneness,

Add cooked bacon (broken into 2 pieces), kale, and egg to toasted muffin (I eat mine open faced, but you get down with your bad self and make an actual sandwich if you feel like it!). Top with hot sauce and a good sprinkle of cheese, kosher salt, and pepper.

2

4

She might not be the prettiest girl at the prom, but I’m telling you, she’s worth it.

XO
M

Soul Psycho

17 Jan

Welp, it was just a matter of time before I got back on my soapbox.

You knew it was coming, and I’ll get to the point 🙂

There is this article that was written about Soul Cycle – it is actually a couple of years old now, but has recently made its way back into the social media circuit, spurring quite a number of other anti-Soul Cycle articles and editorials (also floating around Facebook and the like). In short, I find them frustrating because I think they’re silly, vague and full of contradictory arguments.

I should preface by explaining that I very much enjoy Soul Cycle – I think it’s fantastic. But it’s not my primary workout. I don’t own a drawer full of wheel-stamped Nike pants and Tap It Back hoodies. I do own one single grey tank top, which is mostly used for sleeping because I underestimated my size and it’s a bit too short. Don’t get me wrong: I’m absolutely a fan and I think it’s hands down one of the most fun workouts out there right now, but I probably won’t have my birthday party there. I’m telling you this so you don’t think I’m simply defending my favorite workout or validating an expensive habit.

I’m sharing because I find the arguments made in most of said editorials to be fairly weak and strike me a cheap attempt to stir up controversy or defend an authors fitness “craft” of choice. And since I’m never one to hold back my opinion, here you go 🙂

soulcycle

Argument one: You aren’t burning as many calories as you think you are.

I guess I’m just a little confused about why this is important. Soul Cycle is very clear on their FAQs page that the workout can burn between 450 and 550 calories. The majority of claims floating around the Internet from folks who’ve taken class wearing heart rate monitors support this. But one author goes to far to make the argument that going 3x a week will only burn at most, 1500 calories, yet it takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat. Well, to quote half of Instagram #fitspo uploads, abs are made in the kitchen. It would take an exorbitant amount of exercise to lose weight without reducing your daily caloric intake. Cardio is supplementary, and it’s no secret that cardio alone won’t change your body.

The authors bemoan the upper body element and try to “expose” it as nothing more than a catchy gimmick to differentiate itself. Maybe I’m missing something, but I was never under the impression that Soul Cycle was trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. I simply assumed they were switching things up from the standard indoor cycling class.  I even took a class in which the instructor skipped over the weights section (which really, is all of like 5 minutes, and for you authors who have never taken a class and whine about how 2 lb weights allow you to “noodle arm” your way through, this fitness junkie begs to differ) because we had started late after a rogue fire alarm, and she said very candidly “we figured out that it actually burns a few more calories to skip the weights.” No one is trying to trick you.

I cannot count how many people have told me that they never enjoyed working out a day in their life until they took a Soul Cycle class.  If there is anything that can get someone off the couch and feeling better about themselves, then why try and find fault over silly things like this? If “only” burning 450 calories as opposed to sitting on ones ass all day is the worst that happens, so what? I say, rock on Soul Cycle, for igniting a new-found interest in sweating among many an ex-couch potato.

Argument two: Soul Cycle and it’s spin-offs ((<- see what I did there?)) are unsafe because of the upper body element.

If there is going to be a real, single argument against Soul Cycle or any fitness routine, I suppose this makes the most sense to address. One author interviews doctors, cycling coaches, and folks from the Indoor Cycling Association (<- do you really think a competitor is going to give a fair assessment?)  who caution against the long-term potential negative effects of this kind of cycling.

But here’s the logic flaw: Google any single workout and you will find a plethora of medical professionals etc who warn of the long term effects of a given exercise. Running, weight lifting, boot camps, hot yoga – very few of these activities are without risks. Outdoor cycling, sports, competitive cheerleading- all of it.  Don’t believe me? Type “dangers of _______” into your search bar and you’ll get pages of returns, and plenty of quotes from professionals. The bottom line? Use enough resistance, take class from an experienced trainer who will take the time to explain how to work out safely, and do your homework. This is applicable to every single workout that exists.  If you’re going to attack one workout, be objective. Take a broader look at the entire industry.

Argument three: It’s Cult-y and Expensive.

At over thirty bucks a pop, Soul Cycle is expensive. But you know what? People spend money on what they place value on, logical or not. Obviously, the Soul Cycle devotees put enough value on something that they are getting from the workout to spend that kind of money on it, so who are you to judge? I can think of far worse things to spend $30 on.

More than a handful of authors make the argument that the price alone makes members feel important. First of all, that’s a helluva generalization.  To anyone who only takes Soul Cycle because it’s expensive? You have issues, sir/ma’am. But hello, there are people with issues everywhere you look: at church, feeding the poor, in the office, walking down the street, looking back at you in the mirror, and in an indoor spin class. Fact.

Do I feel like a member of the elite class for spending 30 bucks on an indoor cycling class? No, I feel like an a-hole. But you know what? For an entire year I left Soul Cycle feeling better than when I left my therapist. I cannot recall a single instance where I walked out of a Soul Cycle class and didn’t feel like a million bucks. True story.

***

I’m sharing my opinion because I see Soul Cycle as a company run by intelligent, hardworking women who left there careers to follow a dream and take a chance. In turn they have built a hell of a brand, and more importantly, a product that is absolutely adored by its clients. They’ve built a class that has the magic formula to turn folks who have never set foot into a gym into addicts. Every time I leave a Soul Cycle class, I walk out with a bunch of sweaty, tired men and women who are grinning from ear to ear, and I think that’s freakin’ cool. As someone who’s entire life was changed (another story for another time) after finding the workout that worked for me, it’s frustrating to see them made into an easy target because of their sweeping success.

In summary, I’m not saying Soul Cycle is the end-all be all of workouts. Indoor cycling alone probably isn’t going to change your body if you’re still eating cheeseburgers for breakfast and I’m not even saying it’s without risk. But do I think the haters out there who are complaining about anything other than potential for injury come across as awfully insecure. If you were thinking of giving the class a shot, I strongly encourage you to do so. Do your homework, go early to talk with the instructor about safety, and draw your own conclusions.

And in the words that so irritated one of the authors ragging on Soul Cycle, Namaste, badasses.

XO

M

Garlic & Shots

15 Jan

Now you know I love me some turmeric, ginger and lemon juice shots, but lately I’ve been cheating a little bit. I’m into something new and the affection I feel toward it has really taken me by surprise.

Garlic Shots.

Say what you want about it, but they’re amazing. Swear. Sure, maybe garlic conjures up a few less than pleasant images: vampires, bad breath, a bar in London specializing in garlic-laced vodka shots (btw —>>> I am so glad not to be 22 anymore).

But despite Edward, Bella, and raging hangovers, Garlic is the business. Let’s be honest: kale, collards, chard – they’re all front and center these days, so when my husband recently started raving about the health benefits of garlic, my internal dialogue was something like this: “that is so 80’s or something.” But he kept pressing so naturally I did a little bit of research.

garlic

Turns out that garlic gives some of your daily greens a run for their money: Allicin, the potent sulfur compound found in raw (<- we’ll get to that) garlic, serves as a very strong antibiotic, even stronger than some of the leading pharmaceuticals. Many legit studies link garlic to cardiovascular health, as it helps lower blood pressure, lower “bad” cholesterol, and increases “good” cholesterol. Garlic is shown to help prevent many types of cancers, and can even help heal alcohol-damaged liver (now I have your attention), along with a laundry list of other exciting stuff.

So here are the catches:  it’s most effective (like, by a significant degree) consumed crushed or chopped…and raw. Then there is the whole breath issue, which makes the idea of chomping on garlic cloves on the way to work sort of a non-thing.

But get over it because lemon juice will cut both the taste AND the bad breath, so you’re out of excuses and free of reasons not to this to your morning routine. Here’s the easiest-ever recipe for my new little morning to-do (BTW- this is a great preventative measure to take at the early onset of a cold!!):

Chop 1-2 cloves of garlic and let sit for 10 minutes (muy imnportnante, as this step  maximizes the health benefits)

After 10 minutes, add to juice of 1 lemon, a teaspoon or so of raw honey, and a good shake of cayenne pepper.

Toss back like your 22-year-old self (sans vodka) and soak in the benefits- if you’re still worried about the taste, finishing with a lemon wedge should do the trick. You know how that works.

XO

M

Seven Days of Salads

13 Jan

Last week I decided that a week of salads for dinner was in order.

There were two driving reasons for this:

1. I’ve been feeling extra busy, with some new undertakings at work and on the homefront, and when I get busy the last thing I feel like doing is cooking in a hot and stuffy kitchen. Salads are a quick and easy solution – and something that I rarely make for myself, although I too often spend $14 making them at Whole Foods.

2. I’m sorry to keep dwelling on the holidays, but let’s be honest – not many greens were consumed. Like not many at all, and I start to feel pretty yucky when I don’t have my greens. And while I do try and supplement my meals with a daily green juice, I don’t like counting it into my total daily veg intake since most of the fiber has been removed.

I like fiber.

Anyway I was extremely pleased with the salads that came out of this experiment, but one of my favorites was this bad boy. Probably because it was super easy, tasty, and didn’t require any meat prep – one of my least favorite things to do in the kitchen.

Yet Another Great Kale Salad. serves one

A couple handfuls of dinosaur kale

Buttnernut squash, cubed and roasted (Admittedly, I buy the pre-cut bags at WF to save me the trouble and about 3/4 of the bag is perfect…but I happen to know they also sell large bags at Costco). I didn’t have a clever name for this guy. so we’ll just call him

A half cup or so of cooked quinoa

A good sprinkling of Percorino cheese

Pomegranate Seeds

1/4 Avocado

A small handful of toasted walnuts

Grilled Onions to your taste

A dressing made of equal parts EVOO, lemon juice, white wine, vinegar, as well as chopped shallots, and dried mixed herbs, drizzled on top and tossed.  These aren’t the finest pictures because I took them at night, but you get the idea.

salad2

salad3

Oh-so-easy, extremely tasty, and full of antioxidants! It’s delish on its own but would be a great side to a main. I promise to share my other favorite, the modified Cobb, a little later on this week.

XX

M

5 Things Food +Fitness

8 Jan

Happy hump day! A few suggestions while you shop online…

1. Prettify your ponytail, even at the gym – l.o.v.e. these caauuute hair ties from Anthropologie

hair ties

2. The people behind Lyfe Kitchen (FYI: created by an ex-McDonalds exec who wanted to offer a healthy and wholesome fast food alternative) have begun selling Luvo frozen meals– free of preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated fats, Luvo features growth hormone and antibiotic- free meat ((and even favor local suppliers!!)). Each meal contains less than 500mg of sodium and clocks in under 450 calories. With meals like farmers market frittata and oat bran and ricotta pancakes, these sound like a good option in a pinch.

luvo

3. Hello, Juicy Couture Sports Bra. Leopard. Mesh. What else does anyone need? It would totally go gym to happy hour with a high waisted pencil skirt…except for the whole sweat thing. vra

4. Edible gardens supply the food at Lumeria Maui‘s farm-to-table restaurant, yoga and mediation are daily practices here, and the resort lies on 6 acres on the North Shore of Maui. I think I just got a little more motivated to get my downward dog on. Om. maui

5. No comment on the Nike Flyknit Air Max. Ok fine. One comment…wait for it…obsessed.

nike

 

XO

Meg

A Smarter Way to Snack

6 Jan

Let’s be honest here: there is a lot of running around in this day in age. It often feels like we’re always on the go, trying to cram as many activities into our day as humanly possible. I can name off the top of my head a handful of things that are frustrating about this, but one of the most obvious consequences of a chaotic lifestyle is the fact that it can wreak havoc on our diet.

For instance: raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself going through a drive through for your third burger of the week, or realizing that it’s 3pm and all you’ve had to eat is a cup of coffee and two pieces of dry toast.

Yeah.

I’m not a meal or snack skipper because I turn into a real psycho when I’m hungry, so for the longest time my standard grab-and-go snack was a protein bar of some sort. They’re high in protein, usually have enough calories to be a respectable snack, and have some protein. What’s wrong with that? Welp, here’s what was bugging me about protein bars:

1. They can be high in sugar or sugar alcohols (<- btw… YUCK)

2. The ingredient list is full of weird artificial $hit

3. Most importantly, they aren’t really real food.

So I don’t count calories or exclude food groups, I don’t do diets and if I really want something, no matter what it is, I will almost always have a little to keep me from obsessing about it because I love to eat. But when I eat, I like to eat food. As in real food, that makes me feel good and fuels my body & brain for a crazy busy day. Having a protein bar means missing out on a chance to eat real food and it didn’t take long for me to realize they really just weren’t doin’ it for me anymore.

bra graphic

Here are a couple of my favorite low-maintenance, high-protein snacks that I make ahead of time and grab on my way out the door:

1. Green shake

The green shake is still my favorite because, well, it’s full of greens and protein- a hard combination to find on the go, so this has become my usual go-to. A cup of unsweetened almond milk or water, a scoop of vanilla or flavorless protein powder, some ice, a handful or spinach, a handful of kale, a handful of frozen berries and a half a banana if I want some sweetness is basically my standard mix. If I’m out an about and find myself shake-less and hungry between meals, I’ll grab a green juice (there are juiceries popping up everywhere these days, but if there isn’t one near you, Whole Foods carries brands like Suja and Blueprint, even Starbucks has a low-sugar cold-pressed green juice by Evolution available at most locations), add some protein powder and shake it up.

2. Protein Power Balls

There are so many recipes floating out there for nutritionally dense, protein-packed “power balls” now that a simple Internet search will yield plenty of results, but my favorites can be found here and here.

3. Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are the ultimate easy fix- they take about 15 minutes to make, they’re considered by many to be a perfect food, and they just happen to be quite filling. Two large eggs have about 14 grams of protein and 140 calories.

4. Chia Pudding Parfait

I’m obsessed with the texture, flavor, versatility, and ease of chia seed pudding, and it really does feel a bit like eating a naughty dessert. In a jar, shake 1/3 cup chia seeds, 1.5 cups of your choice of milk (I use almond), 2 tbsp of maple sugar or honey, or stevia/sugar to taste, and 1/2 tsp vanilla (2 servings). Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but the longer you leave it the thicker it will become. Layer the pudding with fruit, nuts, dried unsweetened coconut, etc.

5. Homemade Trail Mix

Any combination of nuts, seeds, and naturally dried fruit will do. My favorite is about a half cup of almonds, pumpkin seeds, goiji berries or mulberries, and a little bit of dark chocolate.

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