Things I’m Loving 3!

Click here to read Things I’m Loving 1! and Things I’m Loving 2!.

Now for Things I’m Loving 3!

1.) All your comments yesterday on my blog post about making good girlfriends as an adult. Thank you! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one struggling with this. Now, if we could just find an easy way for everyone to connect.

2.) This infographic I found on the web yesterday. I would never have understood this 6 months ago but I know it all too well now. Although we’ve yet to have that day in March, this is exactly how the seasons in New England feel.

Seasons Screengrab

[Source]

3.) Coconut Oil: I originally bought this to cook with but I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer. I love the idea of not putting a bunch of random chemicals and fragrances on my face so I thought I would give it a try. Turns out, I love it! Besides smelling amazing, it’s not as greasy as you’d expect, much less so than mineral oil. It makes my skin super soft and I might be making this up but I think it’s smoothing out some little wrinkles near my eyes too. It’s also unbelievably cheap. For $4.99 a jar you get months of moisturizer.

There are a ton of articles on the benefits and other uses for coconut oil. Here’s just one.

One caveat: I have extremely dry skin so I found this perfect. If you have oily or combo skin you’ll have to experiment with whether it’s too much.

trader joe's coconut oil

4.) The Soda Stream!

Michael and I love bubbly water. We used to buy 12 huge bottles every time we went to the store. Not only was it a pain to lug all those bottles upstairs, it’s wasteful and not very green. We bought a Soda Stream a few months ago and haven’t looked back since. It’s not cheap, we bought ours for about $120 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and the CO2 cartridges run about $30 a pop. We get about 30 bottles out of one cartridge averaging out to about a dollar per bottle. Pretty much the same as if you buy it at the store. But the ease and the green factor completely outweigh the costs. If you love bubbly you may want to consider it.

Soda Stream

5.) Writing for WalkJogRun. In the past couple of days I’ve shared two articles with their readers and thought you might like them too.

The first is how to pick the right yoga class for you. It’s a brief overview of the different styles and how to find the right studio and teacher. Check it out if you’re interested in yoga but feel overwhelmed by all the options.

yoga

The second is a smoothie recipe. Really refreshing and light!

breakfast smoothie

6.) A couple of weeks ago we saw the jazz band People vs. Larsen play. They were really good and are on Itunes. They are Brooklyn based so if you live in the NYC area check out their performance schedule.

People vs Larsen

That’s it for today’s list.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Triple Ginger Smoothie

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. Sorry about that. This one was worth the wait!

ginger smoothie

A few weeks ago my aunt and uncle requested a smoothie recipe made with the candied ginger I used in these.

My first thought was a cherry ginger combo but I only had dried cherries and that didn’t sound particularly appealing. I may revisit this when fresh cherries are in season or if I think to pick some frozen ones up.

Then I played around with the idea of a chocolate ginger smoothie but I just made this Chocolate Peanut Butter version and they seemed to similar.

Finally I spotted a bag of dates and figured, why not? I’ve never used dates in a smoothie before but I’d seen it done on other blogs. All I can say is, wow! You’ll be seeing a whole lot more dates around here. They added the perfect amount of sweetness and a creamy texture that blew me away.

I couldn’t take the pictures fast enough and quickly gobbled up the entire thing before the photos had even finished downloading to my computer.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but if you like ginger…Make. This. Smoothie. The fresh, powdered and candied ginger all add a different kind of kick. It was so delicious and refreshing. I’m seriously contemplating making a second one.

Triple Ginger Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 dates, pitted

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely minced

4 ice cubes

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Cut the skin from the fresh ginger. Chop fresh and candied ginger into small pieces.

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Top with more candied and powdered ginger if desired.

ginger smoothie ingredientsminced ginger DSC_0184triple ginger smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Winter Running and Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies

I haven’t talked much about running in the last few weeks but I’m still at it. I try to get out 2-3 times a week regardless of the snow, wind and extreme cold; although I do pay a lot of attention to the weather and try my best to run on warmer days when there won’t be ice on the ground. I’ve found the trick to surviving the cold has been to get a good running hat and layering up on top. Personally, too many layers on my legs is more annoying than helpful.

I can’t say my times have been particularly good but my main goal these days is just to get out there and not worry too much about the pace. Here are some of my latest stats. For some reason I can only get the time on my latest workout to show but I’ve put the pace below the other two.

This was the first run I’ve done without Eli in a long time. I thought I would be faster without him but it seems his excitement fuels us along.

IMG_3747

Run 2. Pace 8.28.

IMG_3748

Run 3. Pace 8.09.

IMG_3750

As you can see, I’m holding steady, not really improving my pace right now. But my hope is that all this winter running will make my summer running faster when the weather improves. We’ll see.

From my love of running to my love of smoothies.

Even with the cold weather I’ve been making a ton of smoothies. They make meeting my daily calcium quota so much easier and the flavors are endless.

The smoothie below has quickly become my new favorite. I’ve made it two days in a row and it was just as good today as it was yesterday.

It tastes a lot like a chocolate milkshake with much healthier ingredients. I’m sure you could add a handful of kale to it as well without affecting the flavor too much if you’re looking for some added nutrients.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened or vanilla flavored almond milk

3-4 ice cubes, depending on how icy you want it (see note)

————

smoothie ingredients

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined.

Note: I often have almond milk that is about to expire. When I have extra I freeze the milk in ice-cube trays then store in Ziplocs. I often use a couple of almond milk cubes in place of the ice cubes. If I use almond milk cubes, I cut back the fresh almond milk to half a cup.

Also,the glasses pictured below are teeny tiny, this recipe yields enough for one smoothie.

Chocolate Peanut Butter SmoothieChocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie DSC_0127

 

Dessert for breakfast.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Farewell to Football

I have come to dislike the Ravens A LOT! I care about three NFL teams and Baltimore beat all three of them in consecutive order leaving me feeling frustrated and sad. Okay, a little dramatic I admit. But we’re now so far away from football season, I would really like to have spent the next 6 months happy about the 49ers being so awesome. Oh well. Enough. I can see the virtual eye rolls from all you non-football fans. The silver lining is that with the end of football also comes the start of baseball and spring so not all is lost.

With no segue at all I’ll just move on to my weekend. Friday night I met a friend for drinks and snacks at a new-to-me bar called the Hawthorne. We got there early and managed to get a set of big, comfy chairs in the corner. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The service was stellar. The drinks were bubbly and cold. The food was tasty.

sparkling rose

We shared a hummus platter with veggies and potato chips and the pretzel rolls with honey mustard sauce. I love soft pretzels and these were soft, warm and accompanied by the perfect spicy mustard.

hummus platter pretzel rolls

I’ll definitely be back.

On Saturday morning I headed to All One to teach my Power Yoga class. That class is so fun to teach. There was a great crowd to heat up the room as we balanced, twisted and backbended our morning away. The collective sigh at the end of class when everyone peacefully surrendered into savasana filled me with certainty that I made the right decision to teach full-time. I’m really loving teaching and although I often tend to focus on what I don’t know, it’s good to remember that I have a lot to give in this very moment.

Saturday night I had my first opportunity to meet one of the friends I’ve made through blogging. Courtney over at Healthy Girl and the City was in town for the evening and we met up for a few hours. It was so nice to put a face and personality to the blog! Looking forward to more chances to meet my fellow bloggers.

Yesterday was all about football, duh!

Our friends came over for the game. For food, I made the typical Superbowl fare, mostly.

Southwestern Quinoa, 7-layer bean dip, guacamole and chips, veggies with vegan ranch, a vegan artichoke dip that was not good and will not be shared 🙂 and some gluten-free peanut butter cupcakes from my friend Nicole’s soon-to-be cookbook that were excellent. Hopefully when her cookbook is out later this year I’ll be able to share the recipe with you all.

Superbowl spread

Superbowl 2013

After the world’s longest game we crawled into bed to get ready for another week. Hello Monday!

Tomorrow, this smoothie that pretty much tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

chocolate banana smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Works in Progress

I’ve made three recipes over the last few days. They are all good. Tasty. Consumed. But none of them made my taste buds do handstands and arm balances at first bite. My official taste tester was also less than impressed with one of the three recipes, he didn’t taste the other two. I believe his exact words were ‘it’s a little bland.’ I’m not going to share a little bland with you all.

But, because I still wanted to post something and say hello today I’ll share the works in progress. Not so secretly, I also wanted to show off my new camera which makes my bad photo skills a little more palatable. However I’m still hoping to find a Photography 101 class I can take over the next few months. I don’t think good equipment equates to stunning photos without some knowledge behind them.

On to the recipes or lack there of, I mentioned this beet quinoa salad yesterday. I liked the earthy mixture of the beets with the quinoa and I love the addition of slivered almonds. I also made a cashew garlic cream to go on top which was exceptional on it own. The salad just didn’t sing when everything was mixed together. It has potential and I have another beet waiting in the wings so I’ll work on it. The color is pretty fabulous though right?

beet quinoa salad

Next up, another calcium rich smoothie. Yep I’m making smoothies when it’s 10 degrees outside, God knows why. This smoothie was a mix of banana, apple, pineapple, almond milk and chia seeds. It was perfectly fine. I drank the whole thing this but it wasn’t amazing. I probably wouldn’t have shared it at all if not for the fact that the picture is nice. I’m going to try coconut milk instead of almond milk and may also add some sunflower seed or peanut butter. I’ll report back when I’ve got a winner.

Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Lastly, I tried to make gluten-free banana bread this morning. I wasn’t in the mood for dates so following my recipe for Banana Bread Muffins was out. The recipe I concocted seemed promising as I mixed the wet and dry ingredients separately. When I combine everything though it resembled something oddly familiar. This! It was by far the tastiest of the three recipes and I ate two slices for breakfast but this is not banana bread. It’s more of an oat loaf. It was lacking the airiness of bread with all its heaviness. I think I’ll play around with the flour mixture, maybe try my hand at some gluten-free baking flour that’s been sitting in my pantry since the pancake debacle of 2012.

Banana oat loaf

As you see, a lot of WIPs but not a lot of results. I suppose that’s all part of the process though. You have to cook a few duds or semi-duds to get to the really good stuff.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. It’s still supposed to be bitterly cold here again tonight. But never free, we have a hot date planned with our fireplace and a bottle of wine.

I’m also teaching a bunch this weekend. My usual classes tomorrow at 9 and 10:30 and then subbing Sunday at 9 at Crossfit and teaching a special community class at Athleta on Newbury at 10. The community class is free if you’re not busy.

Happy Friday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Blueberry, Banana Grapefruit Breakfast Smoothie

There hasn’t been much cooking going on here this week besides Monday’s soup. As soon as Michael started to get over his cold, I got it!  I’ve been sniffling and sleeping my way through the week but think I’m finally turning the corner. After my first restful night’s sleep all week I woke up to sunshine and motivation to have more than just tea.

I wanted something filled with nutrients and flavor that could cut through a stuffy nose while also keeping the Calcium Challenge in mind. This smoothie packs a whopping 46% of your daily calcium needs: 30% coming from the almond milk, 6% from the chia seeds and 10% from the kale. Plus it tastes great. Although it definitely needed to be followed by a hot cup of tea to warm me back up!

The week is finally starting to look up…just in time for the weekend and the playoff games.

Blueberry, Banana, Grapefruit Breakfast Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana, thawed

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Juice of 1 grapefruit

1 cup kale

1 cup vanilla or regular almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

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Thaw frozen banana in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Place banana, frozen blueberries, grapefruit juice, kale, milk and chia seeds in a blender or use your immersion stick. Blend for 1 minute until everything is well incorporated.

blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie

Serve in a pretty mason jar, optional, but makes it more fun to eat.

Enjoy and Exhale!