Monday, February 16, 2015

battle of the brownies

One of my favorite baked goods is the brownie! I love them gooey and kind of raw in the middle. And definitely not the corners. I want all middle pieces. MMMMMMM. And they have to be straight from the box. But then I can also eat tons of batter...and half the pan. But okay, let's get back to the point.

For my lovely friend Rebecca's birthday, I wanted to make some vegan brownies so she could indulge (long story, she's cut out dairy because her cutie pie baby girl was having reflux while nursing). So I scour Pintrest and come up with a recipe that sounds like it could be good. And holy crap - they were!The recipe had no milk or eggs - just oil, flour, cocoa and sugar! The batter was even pretty good. It was no Betty Crocker - but I still licked that spoon.

The cooked brownies were also good! I ate one warm, and it had that gooey and yummy consistency. And Rebecca gobbled them down and agreed - very soft and delish! Hooray for vegan brownies.

So this weekend I was sad I had no brownies (or box mix), but I did have a can of black beans, so I decided to check out what my friend Pintrest had to say about black bean brownies. I figure, if they stink, I won't eat them and save the calories! Well, well, well. Pintrest did me well! Again!!

I used the Skinnytaste recipe - it was easy and yummy! In this case, the batter wasn't good. It tasted bean-ish and like a strong coffee aftertaste. I didn't have a good feeling about it. I baked them for about 25 minutes and the pick came out clean. I let them cool completely (as instructed) and then cut myself a brownie.

SUCCESS!!! These brownies were also soft and chewy, but in a different way than the vegan ones. The vegan ones felt soft in an oily way (to me at least) - while these ones felt soft in a different way. I loved the chocolate chips in them too. It made them extra chocolately. They had that gooeyness too. I was sad I couldn't eat them warm, but they were worth the wait!!

For me - the black bean brownies win! Great flavor and a brownie like consistency.  It doesn't mean I won't ever want boxed brownies, but if I can make these babies and get SO much fiber in a sweet treat, why wouldn't I?

What are you favorite Pintrest recipes for healthified foods?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

fitbit accessories

When I got the Flex, the first thing I thought was - YAY! I can get all the cute Tory Burch accessories. But then I read some of the reviews and didn't buy any of them. So I'm rocking this ugly rubber bracelet everyday and feeling very sad about my life. #firstworldproblems

Then I got my butt on Etsy and found the wonderfulness that is this Fitbit cover! She makes them out of spandex material and they are cute and fun! She makes them without or without the little window in TONS of colors and prints. It is the perfect accessory for your Fitbit without breaking the bank. She makes them for all of the Fitbit types and they are custom made. It does take about a week for them to be shipped out - but WOAH. Worth the wait. I'm in love!

In the meantime, I also found another site that is making cool covers, Design.UX. They are in Canada but ship anywhere (and for free - my fave!). They don't have as many choices and they don't have little screen openings, but I'm also loving the ones I received from them. I find you don't really need the screen - since the lights show through. They sell them in packs of three - so it's a really great deal. And you can gift some to your Fitbit friends if you don't love all the colors.

Now that I have all these great covers - I'm loving my Fitbit Flex again. It doesn't look so dorky AND I can accessorize it. But I'm still hoping that other big designers make some accessories like Tory Burch has done.

How do you accessorize your Fitbit and make it your own?

Monday, February 9, 2015

ch ch chia! (seeds that is)

I'm a picky eater, but I'm also a creature of habit. I eat the same 'ol stuff for breakfast and lunch most days. For breakfast at least, it's partially due to the fact that I'm time crunched and it's easy to have a routine and prep done the night before. My current breakfasts have included hard boiled egg whites (that I make on Sunday nights) and a multigrain English Muffin with a bit of Smart Balance spread. It's filling and easy (I take the muffin on the road).

BUT - I'm getting sick of the same thing and am starting to think about how my food choices will change with my upcoming commuting changes (more about that later).

Enter: Pintrest. I was apprehensive to join, but I am enjoying it for things like recipes and cleaning tips. I also bought some chia seeds that I haven't known what to do with. But Pintrest has introduced me to the world of chia puddings. Except one thing, I don't like the weird consistency. So I treated myself to this baby - Magic Bullet Mini! It comes with a mug that is the perfect size to make a single serving smoothie. The other little cup it comes with is also perfect for shredding small servings of veggies or puffed up chia seeds!

I am a chocoholic - so I knew that for me, a chocolate-y peanut buttery shake would make for a good first try. I had two canisters of Slim Fast powder, so I knew that would be a good way to get some chocolate sweetness with protein in. I added PB2 (powdered peanut butter) for additional peanut butter and flavor without the fat. I cut up bananas and froze them for more potassium and creaminess without watering it down.

Here's how I did it.

I took a tablespoon of chia seeds and let them soak in 1/2 cup of almond milk, along with a tablespoon of PB2 and a scoop of Slim Fast. I mixed it up and let it sit overnight. First thing in the morning, I blended that mix up. It becomes the consistency of pudding (and would probably make a fabulous little dessert as is!).

Then I added another 1/2 cup of almond milk and the cut up, frozen banana and blended again. And voila! You get this amazing, milk shake consistency yumminess! I thought it had the perfect amount of sweetness and creaminess. Plus, the prep the night before makes it just as easy to blend up in the morning.

You can easily drink it out of the cute little blender cup from Magic Bullet Mini or you can transfer it to any to-go cup that you like! I love that I can drink this while I'm getting ready or even bring it in the car or while I walk. New breakfast success!!

What do you like to have for breakfast? Any smoothie ideas? When the weather gets warmer - I want to try one with Vanilla powder and peaches!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

getting my 10k on

because i may actually win? lol
It's official! I've signed up for my first race of 2015. A 10k that overlooks the most fabulous city in the world (New York, duh). I know that for me, having a goal helps me stay on track. I'm using the Couch to 10K app again and I love it. One thing I don't love is winter. So, much to my own disappointment, I'm back at the gym. For now at least. I'm starting on the treadmill until it gets nice enough to run outside regularly.

I'm a little worried that my upcoming vacation will mess with my training plan! But at the same time, I'm trying to be realistic about running while on beautiful Caribbean beach. How do you stay on track with your fitness goals when traveling?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

pampered princesses

I don't know about you, but I could get a massage or a facial (or hell a mani or pedi) every day and be happy with life. There's something to be said about having relaxation that just makes me less crazed. I'm always looking for great places and great deals. Because my skin isn't the best, facials are actually therapeutic for my routine. And since I've been more active, I guess I can say the same about massages!
the lounge at bliss spa. brownies. mmm.

I seriously don't mind polishing my own hands and feet, but sometimes it's just nice to have someone else do it. That being said, I'm also a life long nail biter. I know, it's gross. I've stopped a few times for upwards of six months but then I get off track with keeping them painted and I start biting again, blaming it on stress.

But since I'm back on track with focusing on me and my own wellness, I'm also not biting. I've been trying to create more non-food rewards for keeping on track and losing weight and reaching fitness milestones, so a mani or pedi is the perfect reward. I'm focused on getting my nails a little longer so I can treat myself to a gel manicure. And then I get bored and wind up adding my own "art".

What are some of your favorite non-food rewards? I'm also trying to spend all of my dollars on rewards, since let's be real - I like the good stuff :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

running in the artic tundra

christmas day in new jersey

If you're experiencing freezing cold weather in the single digits - I FEEL YOUR PAIN! I absolutely despise the cold. I try to never wear a coat unless I have to. If I could wear flip flops every day, I most certainly would. I don't particularly love having tons of heat on in my apartment but it has been so frigid that I have to! My slippers are certainly getting worn these days!

Since I've only just been getting back into the running groove, this cold weather is making it super hard to stay consistent! I'm still on my break from the gym, so I can't just go to the gym (plus I hate the treadmill in general). I'm not sure how I can get and stay on track in the winter months. I've been hitting Soul Cycle hard, which is great for rest and cross training days, but I'm just feeling disappointed in my run progress. I can handle being out there in the 30's, but not when it is only seven degrees! And freezing rain?! I just can't!

How do you stay warm for winter runs? How can I stay consistent without getting frostbite?!

Monday, January 19, 2015

vacation countdown

There is nothing better than a warm weather vaycay during the cold and dreary months. It's also fabulous when you book it a little more than a month before - so the countdown is already so close! But with that shorter countdown comes less time to get beach bod ready.

I've been focused on exercising more and being in a running schedule since Christmas, but knowing that a bathing suit need to be on my bod in a month is a good push! I ordered a few new summery cover ups and sandals to keep me motivated and on track.

I can't wait to get my toes in the sand (and a drink in my hand!). What are your best strategies for staying focused and on track with a short term goal?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

fitbits for life

Last summer, after hearing all about my lovely coworkers' Fitbits, I bit the bullet and bought the Zip. It was cute and pink and it definitely helped me be more accountable about my steps. My Zip traveled to Italy and had a good little life. Keyword: little. I often wore it on my bra or on the loops of my jeans, but part of the clip kept falling off. Then one day - poof - it just stopped working.

In the meantime, I had upgraded my iPhone and was using it's step tracker. Helpful, but not the same. I reached out to Fitbit about the problems and found that they have a fabulous customer service department! They walked me through troubleshooting steps, and when ultimately it still wasn't revived - they shipped me a brand new Zip. (Note: I was under warranty and still had my receipt, so be sure to hold on to yours too!)

awkward thumbs up, fitbit style
But being the brat that I am, I decided to upgrade to a Flex! Welcome home little bracelet :)  Not going to lie, this was partially motivated by the fact that Tory Burch has some super cute FitBit accessories. I haven't purchased them yet - because I want to see them in person. But I am looking into other Flex accessories. Stay tuned for reviews on some of my favorites. But for now - I'm enjoying keeping track of my steps and testing out the sleep tracker! What tracker do you use? Any tips on keeping authentic with your steps? It kills me I don't "get" all my steps when I'm at SoulCycle!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

the ultimate playlist

Music plays such a big role in my exercise life. Spin class, one of my favorite workouts, is only as good as it's music. And I know that my run is usually only as good as my playlist. I'm always looking for help in creating the ultimate playlist. I don't how I will be able to run in a long race without seriously amazing tunes!

Thanks to Spotify, I love being able to create new lists featuring tons of artists. But I never like any of the lists they make. So I spend hours creating my own. What are you favorite songs/artists/playlists to run with?

Some of my fave songs to get pumped include: Born to Run (duh, of course The Boss is big on the list), Mr. Brightside, and Dog Days Are Over.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

pumped up kicks

As a self-proclaimed (and not ashamed to admit) shopaholic, nothing is better than the high of getting a new purchase in the mail. I think online shopping is even better because you get the high twice -- when you make the purchase, and again when it arrives. I know, I have a sickness...and I digress.

ANYHOO - these babies arrived! On sale and fabulous. I haven't worn Asics for running, so I'm eager to try them out. In the past I've gone for neutral shoes but these are labeled for stability so I'm ready to try something new. When I'm running the roads I find shin splints to be a problem so I'm hoping these help.

What kind of sneakers are your favorite to run in? Favorite brands for stability? I've been reading that maximalist styles of running shoes are "in" right now. This really is my time to get my run on!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

living life as the pickiest eater

So I may not be the pickiest eater ever, but I'm definitely one of the pickiest 31 year old eaters ever! I've come a long way and I eat a lot more than I used to but I still have a lot of food issues.

(a few of the) Things I can't even have on my plate:
Cooked tomatoes

I don't really care for red sauces (hence the cooked tomato issue), so that cuts back on the healthy sauce choices. It's not that I don't like the flavor - it's that I don't like the texture. I can dip things in tomato sauce or salsa, but only because I have control over how much will be on the piece. And to be sure that no chunks make it into my mouth. I know, I know - I'm slightly insane.

That being said - it's hard for me to just go online and find a recipe. I'm always having to adjust things - which sometimes changes the flavor too much. But I have had some successes!

The Spicy Parmesan Shrimp skillet from How Sweet It Is was fabulous! Next time I make it, I may cut it in half - there was a lot of marinade for the amount of protein/pasta in it. And I definitely threw in some extra red pepper flakes to kick it up. I also halved the pasta and added in veggeti-style carrots. It was delish and easy! I marinated the shrimp Sunday night and cooked the pasta - and then just cut the carrots and threw it all in a big pan Monday night, plus I have leftovers! 

What are some either flavor combos that work olive oil and soy sauce? This one used both - but definitely didn't have a strong taste of either - probably because of the Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

the blueprint cleanse

If you're like me, doing a cleanse is something you think about, heck - you may even talk about it, but you don't actually do it. I like eating. I don't want to drink my calories all day.

But now that Target carries the Blueprint Cleanse AND it was on sale, I figured this was the time to give it a try. The juices range from about $6-$11 each and according to BPC you should be drinking six juices a day. There's a green juice, a cashew milk juice and some other fruit juices. You can go on the actual BPC website to see which juices you should get depending on which level you want to juice at.

I went with the introductory Renovation cleanse. It includes two green juices, a pineapple juice, a spicy lemonade, a beet juice and finally a cashew milk. They advise that you eat light leading up to the cleanse to help ease your way into a day without a food. I did my best, but I didn't want to cut back on runs/spin so I definitely still ate - just cleaner.

First juice of the day:

Green juice. Eek. This was scary. I didn't know this at the time, but celery is a super overpowering flavor. And definitely one that I'm not a fan of. I choked it down, but it wasn't pretty.

The next juice was fruity - pineapple, apple mint.

I thought I was going to love this one. Don't get me wrong, it didn't taste bad. It was pleasant enough (I mean, it would've gone down a lot easier with some Malibu, but I digress)...

By the time I finished this one, I was over drinking. I felt bloaty. I was trying to drink water as well and some tea to have something warm, but I just felt full!

The next juice was another green one. I couldn't even finish it. 

My afternoon snack consisted of a spicy lemonade - lemon cayenne agave. I was surprised how good it was! Definitely not very spicy. But again, this is a lot of freaking juice. It was hard to get down because I felt so full of liquids!!

 The last clearish juice was the beet (you can see it in my cart shot above). I didn't like it.  I think the ginger was overpowering and I just didn't enjoy the flavor. But I wasn't tired or starving. But I was ready to leave work!

I saved the so-called "milk shake" of cashew milk for last (as suggested) - and I was SO excited for it. People described it as a milkshake and said it was thick and creamy and filling. Well let me tell you, those people LIED.

It tasted like a combination of chalk and milk of magnesia. It was so gross. Whoever called it a milkshake has never been to Dairy Queen. I took a few sips and declared the juice cleanse OVER. I did lose a few pounds, but probably because I peed more than I ever have in my life, so it was definitely just water weight.

If you like the flavors (and plenty do, I shared with my work friend who loved them) then this could be a great cleanse. I liked focusing not on food - but on me for the day. Not sure I'd ever want to do it for multiple days, but I am glad I tried it!

Do you juice? Which are your favorite?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

breaking up with the gym

I became a bit of a gym rat in college. But let's be real, it was easy back then. You just walk across campus. There's hotties to stalk. You have tons of friends who will meet you there. At one point, I went twice a day regularly. In the morning by myself - and in the evenings with my bestie before we had fro yo for dinner. I was slim and pretty strong. But I also didn't have a full time job. Or any of the other real life obstacles in the way now.

Since college, I've been in an on and off again relationship with my gym. I love spin classes, but they've changed the way you sign up for them and I'm not sure I want to keep paying the premium price to be able to sign up. I can downgrade but then I can't sign up. But I can still use the gym as I wish. It's a tough choice. I've been running - but I realize a time will come over the winter where I just don't want to run outside. Or I'll be in pain and would rather cross train on an elliptical. I'm afraid to pull the plug on my gym membership. I have been Soul Cycling - but it's expensive. And not around the corner from me.

While I debate the breakup, I'm focusing on Daily Burn videos. They have some quick ones that are great. I'm currently crushing on Ben Booker and LTF. Easy and you feel the burn. Plus runs and spins for cardio.

What is your fave non-gym workout?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

taming the ta ta's

As a big boobed gal, I understand the PAIN of finding the best sports bra. Too tight and you can't breathe (let alone run) and not tight enough and you are risking hitting yourself in the face. I went to a Soul Cycle class the other night with only one weak sports bra on and I thought I was going to lose a boob while sprinting in the saddle. It was awful. I almost wish I could see how awful it was to remind myself to keep extra sports bras with me at all times!

So the hunt for the best sports bras continues!

My current fave: Moving Comfort - Endurance
Don't get me wrong, this bra isn't easy to get on and off, but it does the job. The girls stay in place and I don't feel unable to breathe. I got lucky and found it on sale in Jack Rabbit, but it's carried in many stores, like Nordstroms (free shipping, who doesn't love that!?) and Road Runner Sports -- and  both stores have great sales. Coming from a girl with double D's, any bra that can keep me tamed is a winner in my book. Before this bra, I often wore two sports bras. Not fun. Nor is it good for my laundry basket.

Any other recommendations? I hear mixed reviews on the Lululemon bras. I need the ultimate in bounce protection!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

getting back in the zone

I don't know about you, but when I slack off from exercise and eating well, it's super hard to get back on track. And each time I try to get back hardcore, I fail. I need to gradually work at it. While I certainly haven't been eating super healthy over this break, I've made an effort to eat more veggies (um, hello vegetti!) and less crap. It's great being able to make an egg white omelet every day, but I'm back to planning for the work week ahead.


I'm no early bird. I AM trying to start morning workouts again. Whether it's a run or just a Daily Burn video, it has to start happening. It's too easy to make excuses after work. I make hard boiled eggs on Sundays and eat an egg white (or two) each morning while I'm getting lunch ready. Then I take a multigrain Fiber One english muffin for the road. Once I'm at work, I have two apples throughout the course of the morning. Repetitive (I switch up the fruit more in the summer), but it works and I like it.


This meal is the bane of my existence. I hate lunch. I don't work somewhere I can run out and get something yummy or healthy, so it's up to me to pack it or be miserable. My current plan is grilled chicken and black beans (in taco seasoning) in a spinach mix salad. Throw in some avocado and a bit of low fat colby jack cheese and it's a done deal. Filling, a lot to chew and yummy.

My snacks consist of apples, Fiber One bars, nuts, Babybel cheeses (I can't live without cheese), Cup of Soups (I know, high in salt, but sometimes I crave it!) and peanut butter.


Again, TRYING to plan better. So that I don't say F it and order something fatty in take-out or just eat a ginormous bowl of cereal.

The newbie on this week's dinner menu -- Spicy Parmesan Shrimp from How Sweet It Is. I plan on using way less pasta and adding in some veggies to bulk it up.

My other go-to dinners as of late include some kind of chicken in a high fiber wrap. I throw in the grilled chicken (with buffalo sauce or taco seasoning) with a bit of low fat cheese - and grill the wrap to make it a quesadilla. Pretty easy and definitely yummy. And filled with fiber!

What else can I eat for dinner?! Help me. Shrimp and chicken breasts are my main proteins, it's the sauce/flavoring I need help with. I'm red sauce-phobic so it cuts down on my options.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year - New Me!

How cliche can I get? Sorry!

But this morning, I saw that 2015 is the year of the sheep. Those who know me well know that my mom calls me lamb - so what's closer to a lamb than a sheep?! This IS my year!

Zucchini, carrots, soy sauce. Amazeballs.
I've been trying to channel my inner fit chick since my winter break from work started. I bought a package at Soul Cycle (obsessed) and made the decision to run a super big race in 2015. I'm ready for change! Plus, I bought a Vegetti. What could be more exciting than veggies masquerading as pasta?!

And today is the Sugar Bowl. Houndstooth is in full effect. 

I'm not setting any resolutions. I'm just focusing on feeling great - inside and out. And I figured today was as good a day as any to start blogging again. So here goes nothing...