Weekend: This and That

Oh daylight savings, how I love thee. I know this morning was rough but how nice is it to have extra sunlight in the evenings? I taught at 4:30 yesterday afternoon and it was still light when the class let out! So wonderful.

Not in the mood to write a long post so here are just a few highlights of the weekend.

I went out of my way to get a nice wine for us to drink last week at a little wine shop right by Sangha. I spent 15 minutes talking with the wine people (are they considered sommeliers in wine shops or just restaurants?) I was told this would be perfect for our combined preferences of Pinot Noir (him) and Zinfandel (hers). We were sorely disappointed by this wine but the label was cute enough to share and aptly named, as some of this little troublemaker ended up on our couch.

troublemaker wine

Dinner with my friend Naina at the Beehive in the South End. I love that place, we’ve been at least 5 times! Probably should branch out and try some other restaurants in the neighborhood though.

Naina and Me

Mezze platter. Dip lovers dream. 7 dips on one plate!

mezze platter

We went to see a friend’s play.

The Lover Play

I did some yoga in our living room. Pincha mayurasana.

pincha mayurasana

Vrischikasana attempt. Still working on it.

Vrischikasana

We went on a 3.5 mile run an 8:29 pace. Then stopped in at Pavement Coffee while Eli waited patiently outside. Such a good boy.

Eli

Finally had a chance to take Michael to The Hawthorne for a drink and some nibbles.

bar nibbles

He hates this picture. I love it. I write the blog so I get to post it! 🙂

Michael

And with that, we’re back to Monday and everyone is pooped.

Eli napping under the table

Enjoy and Exhale!

New York, New York Part 1

I really love New York. Partly because my sister is there but also because of the energy. That city really is like no other.

We had an amazing visit and were really sad to see it end yesterday. I wish we could have birthdays all the time!

I’ll do my best to swiftly recap the weekend without boring you all but we crammed a lot in the two days so this may seem like a photo bomb.

We drove down on Saturday morning. I’m so used to the long state of California where you drive for 4 hours and are still in CA that it always surprises me when we cross state lines so quickly. It’s like you blink and you’re in Connecticut.

We quickly headed to brunch after dropping our stuff and Eli off at my sister’s place. I would show you brunch photos but to be honest that food was sub par and the service was even worse. We left the meal hungry and disappointed, not a good start.

We were on the Upper West Side so we explored that area for a bit and then stumbled on the Empire Hotel. Considering we’re all huge Chuck Bass fans and we were right there, we stopped in for a drink.

I loved this bar, classy, ornate and relatively quiet. Maybe that’s because it was 3 in the afternoon 🙂

Empire Hotel

Here’s the birthday girl showing off the new watch her beau gave her.

birthday girl

Couple shot.

Michael and me

And a pic of the good company I was in! The conversation was just so exciting. Can’t you tell?

Phone Obsessed

After a drink we decided to go bowling down at the Port Authority. I thought it would be ghetto but it was super swanky! The lanes were really nice and they played top 40 hits with coordinated neon lights and huge screens playing music videos at the end of the lanes.

bowling sisters bowling

I managed to lose best out of two against Michael and am now washing a weeks worth of dishes. 😦

I wish I had taken a picture of the snacks we had. The menu was great for being a bowling alley. We had a huge bowl of hummus with carrots and pitas and some edamame fritters.

We headed back to my sister’s after bowling to get gussied up for dinner. We had dinner at Monument Lane in the West Village. The restaurant was adorable. Loved the decor and the vibe. The food was hit and miss. The brussel sprout appetizer was amazing (you can kind of see it in the background), I hope to recreate it somehow. Michael’s fish was apparently very good and my veggie hash was fine but very expensive for some parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes. It also reminded me of something very familiar…this!

vegetable hash

The company was lovely, of course.

Sarah and Me at dinnerMichael

This post is getting a little long so I’ll recap Sunday tomorrow which includes a delicious veggie burger and Jenga. That’s right you read correctly, Jenga!

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

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!

Grapefruit, Pomegranate Salad with Brown Sugar Sauce

My aunt lives in Arizona with a very productive grapefruit tree. For Christmas she sent me two boxes filled with grapefruit. I’m very fond of the grapefruit but having 20 staring at you every time you walk into the kitchen is a little daunting.

I took six of them to my sister last weekend but that still left a lot to use up! I’ve been juicing some of them but it feels like a cop-out. I needed a recipe that showcases them in all their winter glory. This simple salad is just the recipe. Pairing the grapefruit with another winter fruit star, pomegranate, made this dish really shine.

Grapefruit Pomegranate Salad

Grapefruit, Pomegranate Salad (gluten-free)

1 grapefruit, sectioned

1/2 pomegranate, seeded

2 tablespoons brown sugar or feel free to sub maple syrup if you’re looking to vegan-ise

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons grapefruit juice

Pinch of salt

————

Section your grapefruit. I tried this two ways. If you cut the grapefruit in half and then work a knife around each section you can get the sections out but they won’t look particularly pretty. You can also peel your fruit and then take off the white casing by hand. This was a total pain but the slices looked so nice. If you aren’t worried about how it looks I’d go with the first option.

Grapefruit

While you’re sectioning the grapefruit work over a small bowl. Mine was very juicy and I was able to gather a few tablespoons of liquid while working, which I then used in the sauce.

Deseed your pomegranate. The easiest way I know how to do this is to fill a large bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in fourths, then turn the sections inside out under the water. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl, any white rind will float. Remove the rind and strain the seeds. The water keeps the juice from going everywhere and staining your clothes and kitchen.

Add brown sugar, white balsamic vinegar, grapefruit juice and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes.

Brown Sugar Sauce

Remove from heat and let cool.

Place grapefruit and pomegranate seeds in a bowl, top with sauce.

The sauce is slightly sweet which cuts the acidity of the fruit. I love how pretty this looks. It would be a great first or last course for a dinner party. Adding some avocado and some macadamia nuts to the top would also be nice.

Grapefruit Pomegranate Salad

Have a great weekend.

Enjoy and Exhale!

New Recipes Page

Holy…it’s cold out this morning. I took Eli out for a quick walk an hour ago and I’m still trying to warm back up. January in the northeast, burrrrr. Lucky for me the studios are heated to 90!

Today’s post will be short, I just wanted to stop in to let you know that I put together a recipes page. I realize that the search tab and the tags can be a little cumbersome for navigating specific recipes. Hopefully this will streamline things.

Now all my recipes are on the recipe page at the top of the site sorted by category. You can also click to it here. Please let me know if any of the links don’t work or take you to the wrong recipe as you click-through. I double checked them but you never know.

I’m trying to decide whether to use a more sophisticated app (RECIpage in particular) moving forward. If any fellow food bloggers have opinions on what works best for you, I’ll gladly take them.

In the meantime, check out the page and if you haven’t yet tried the Chickpea, Curry, Coconut, Quinoa Soup you really should. I made it again last night and it was extra special on a cold, dark winter evening.

Have a wonderful day.

Enjoy and Exhale!

 

Christmas in Pictures

We had a great holiday. Hope you did too.

My mom is still here so I won’t spend my short time with her writing a long post but here are a few highlights in pictures.

Eli and Michael

Eli waiting patiently for a little scrap of daddy’s sandwich.

Eli

Eli’s holiday necklace.

Me

Cooking in my father’s daughter apron. A gift from my mom last Christmas.

Sarah and Me

Pearls in the kitchen.

Holiday veggies

Root veggie hash, roasted brussel sprouts with grapes and chocolate soufflè cake in the back.

Christmas Eve Dinner

The Christmas Eve spread.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Close up of my plate.

Mom

My mom by the tree.

Christmas Day Lunch

Christmas day lunch: leftover salad with Field Roast loaf.

Holiday Presents

His and hers gifts. Can you guess which is mine?

Christmas Cards

Our mantle with my sister’s holiday card for Michael.

Christmas Day Dinner

Christmas day meal. Pumpkin mashed potatoes with spinach, brussel sprout and kale salad and a lentil loaf peeking out from the back. I changed up the lentil loaf recipe a little which made it much easier and faster to make. I’ll update the recipe in the next few days.

Sarah and Teddy

Sarah and my brother Teddy.

Sibs

Horvath kids.

Michael and Teddy

Michael and Teddy.

Sarah

My sister’s boyfriend made a custom puzzle from a picture he took during their last visit to Boston. Nice work Will!

Family

Dinner shot.

Now time to get back to work. Teaching at Crossfit at 12:15 and 7, All One Yoga at 4:30. If you’re in Boston come by.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Holiday Prep

Sorry for the silence.

Michael came home on Friday and we’ve been busy wrapping gifts and watching holiday movies, including one of my all-time favs, Elf!Will Ferrell in Elf

[Photo Source]

We’ve also been running millions of errands and cleaning the house.

My family is coming to visit for Christmas. My mom and brother arrive tonight and Sarah is heading up on the train tomorrow afternoon. A full house means lots and lots of cleaning. I’m seriously considering shaving both pets (just kidding!). House guests also means grocery shopping and food prep for 5 instead of 2. Much harder than I imagined, especially for 3 people I don’t live with and don’t really know their tastes.

We’ve planned for a lot of food, some of which I’m sure will be vetoed by my unconsulted family, but here’s our tentative plan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.

Christmas Eve: 

Turkey for the meat eaters with cranberry sauce.

This root vegetable hash from a few months back, yum!

Spinach salad with candied pecans, dried cherries and crumbled blue cheese

Michael’s mom Linda’s roasted brussel sprouts and grapes

For dessert, we’re attempting Jacques Pepin’s Chocolate Soufflè which happens to be naturally gluten-free.

Christmas Day: 

Brown sugar glazed ham for the meat eaters

Pumpkin, spinach mashed potatoes from here. I’ve made this a bunch of times, it’s amazing. If you’re still looking for a potato dish to serve I strongly suggest this one.

Shredded brussel sprout and kale salad topped with a garlic vinaigrette and pecorino

Roasted carrots with tahini sauce

For dessert my mom’s famous green cookies!

I’m very much looking forward to some family time, eating good food, drinking a little wine by the fire and hopefully enjoying my first white Christmas.

Wishing you a peaceful, happy holiday filled with sweetness and love.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Fire Trucks and Blueberry, Orange Salad Dressing

I admit that yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. So much so that Michael’s mom called me just to say hello. Too sweet.

We had a little bit of drama after I posted last night. Around 10 I was watching the 49ers/Pats game and started to smell a little bit of smoke. This isn’t unusual, it was very faint. We have a fireplace and sometimes the wind will blow back down the chimney and make it smell a little smokey. But, then I started to hear sirens at the front of the house. When I looked outside there were four fire trucks and a bunch of cop cars. Not wanting to be the stupid girl who stayed in a burning house I put on my parka, leashed up Eli and headed out in the rain.

Turns out it was next door. Not sure if it was a small fire or just a false alarm but after 15 minutes the firemen started to roll their hoses back up so I headed inside. I did take a few pics of what drama there was though.

fire ladder fire trucks

Also not wanting to let another rainy, gray day dampen my spirits I made something bright and full of citrus. I bookmarked this salad dressing before Thanksgiving. A fellow blogger (whom I cannot locate now to link to her blog) suggested using blueberries instead of cranberries like the original recipe suggests, which I did.

I also added some cornstarch to thicken this up as I’m not a huge fan of the runny-ness of vinaigrettes but feel free to adjust to your liking.

This was tangy and sweet with a bit of spice from the hot mustard. Family take note, you may be seeing this on the table next week.

Blueberry, Orange Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

Recipe originally from Oh She Glows

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

1 teaspoon corn starch

————

Bring blueberries, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup to a boil in a pot.

frozen blueberries blueberries and maple syrup

Reduce to medium heat for 10 minutes.

Let mixture cool then place in a blender or food processor with orange juice, mustard and olive oil. I made fresh juice from some mandarins I had but you can easily use store-bought juice.

The original recipe also calls for Dijon mustard but I didn’t have any. Chinese hot mustard worked well but feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

IMG_2967

Blend or process mixture until smooth. Add salt.

I used my processor and it never got fully smooth. Although I decided not to strain the mixture, you can if you want silky smooth salad dressing. I personally felt like the original recipe was too thin even without straining so I added a little cornstarch.

Mix cornstarch with a tablespoon of the dressing.

blueberries dressing and a bit of cornstarch

Place remaining dressing in a pot. Bring to a boil and add cornstarch. Boil until thick, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Let salad dressing cool before using.

IMG_2975 IMG_2980

Looks a little like a jar of jam.

I served it over a spinach salad with dried cranberries, diced apples and pecans. The perfect holiday salad.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Inside My Shopping Cart

I was recently asked about how I grocery shop and plan our meals. To be honest, there’s no science to it and most the time I don’t even have a plan but I’ll share my pseudo ‘strategy’ here in case it helps someone.

We usually grocery shop once a week. We, like most of Boston, do a big shop on Sundays after a run, breakfast and some football. During the week I may also stop in to pick up odds and ends, especially on Thursday evenings when I’m done teaching at All One Yoga as there’s a grocery store on the same block.

During the week I spend a lot of time on food blogs and Tastespotting. If there is something in particular that catches my eye, I bookmark it. For anyone who is following a lot of blogs and doesn’t use a reader I strongly suggest it. I use NetNewsWire. It’s a great way to aggregate blogs and recipes. When I like something, I flag the post then refer back to it right before we go shopping. See below.

NetNewsWire

If something sounds good to both Michael and me then I make a list of the ingredients we’ll need on my phone.

But only if something sounds good.

Most the time we are very wishy-washy so we just buy staples for our go-to meals. That list is below:

Fruits and Veggies:

Apples, lemons, limes, celery, carrots, ginger and cucumbers. Most of these are for my morning juices.

Onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, avocados, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, new potatoes, kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and asparagus. These are for steamed and roasted vegetables, the base for soups or assorted dinner bowls. I buy onions and sweet potatoes in bulk when I can because we use them so often. I also buy cilantro pretty religiously because it’s my favorite herb.

“Dairy”:

Almond milk, firm tofu, vegenaise and Earth Balance spread. We don’t buy a ton of traditional dairy but we do buy cheese and eggs. Michael likes cheese on his sandwiches and often makes eggs on the weekends. I will eat a quesadilla or panini when I need a quick meal so it’s nice to have in the house.

Bulk Bins:

Garbanzo, black, white beans, quinoa, lentils, dates, gf oats, nuts, raisins. If I’m trying a recipe with new ingredients I will try to buy what I can in the bulk bins in case I don’t like it. That’s how I discovered chia and flax seeds. I’ve alluded to it before but the bulk bins tend to be cheaper than packages of the same item. Save your money and buy bulk. I use a bunch of mason jars to hold my bulk goodies.

Bulk bin mason jars

Freezer Section: 

Gluten-free bread (Udi’s is Michael’s brand of choice), Against the Grain frozen gf pizzas are a new favorite, frozen peas, corn. If we’re at Trader Joe’s I stock up on corn and bean enchiladas, green chile tamales, veggie gyozas and soycatash. I also buy a big bunch of bananas every other week or so and stick them directly in the freezer when we get home for smoothies and baking. I’ve been making this a ton so I’ve gone through a lot of bananas lately.

Beverages: 

We are obsessed with bubbly water. We buy at least 10 bottles each time we go to the store. We really need a soda stream. If I need it I’ll buy Tazo’s Awake black tea and Michael loves cranberry juice so we buy a couple of bottles regularly.

Treats:

We are both big chip fans. We buy a bag or two of Lundberg’s BBQ rice chips and a bag of tortilla chips every week. If you’ve never tried Lundberg rice chips please do yourself a favor and buy some as soon as possible. They are SO good!

I eat Whole Food’s vegan dark chocolate chips almost every night so we buy a bag most weeks. We occasionally buy ice cream. We also eat a lot of salsa, that’s not a treat but I didn’t know what section to put it in, ha.

As for meat, Michael is not a vegetarian and will eat it if we’re out or occasionally when ordering takeout but we never buy it. Below is a shot of our groceries from a trip to Whole Foods.

Typical groceries

Whew, okay, so that’s mostly it. I’m sure I’m leaving a ton of stuff off this list but this is the basic outline. It’s nothing too exciting and we spend way too much money on food but I consider it too important to skimp on. Hope this helped some of you out.

Have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!

Quinoa, Kale and Exhale’s Liebster Award

This post is a little longer than usual, but for good reason.

Earlier this week Quinoa, Kale and Exhale was nominated for a Leibster Award. It’s given to up-and-coming bloggers to offer them a little incentive to keep writing and sharing the love. Plus, it helps add a few new readers which never hurts. Larissa over at Love and Green Juice was nice enough to nominate my blog. Thank you Larissa.

Here’s how it works:

1.) Larissa nominated me, asking me 11 questions, which I will answer below.

2.) I then send a big thank you to Larissa in the form of the link back above and post this award logo.

Liebster Award

3.) Next, I state 11 facts about myself. Then I nominate 11 up-and-coming bloggers and ask them to answer 11 questions and 11 facts about themselves. They then nominate 11 new bloggers and the cycle continues.

Easy peesey.

Here are Larissa’s questions for me:

  1. What do you do to relax? Yoga, of course! It helps balance out the craziness and bring a sense of well-being to my life.
  2. What is your go-to recipe on a busy day? Tofu taco salads. I love Mexican food and to me it’s the simplest of meals to make. Must be my California upbringing.
  3. Which year do you think back on with most fondness? 1998. My junior year of high school. There was something so innocent and exciting about being 17. If I could go back to any time it would be a Sunday night dinner with my family during that year.
  4. What time of day is your favourite? Morning. When the whole day is in front of you. It’s also when I’m most energetic and clear.
  5. What do you see if you look to the left? A napping kitty and puppy.
  6. Whose shoulder has collected the most of your tears? Without a doubt, my sister Sarah’s. My tell-it-like-it-is, laugh-and-cry-with-me best friend.
  7. What activity energizes you? Going for a run with Eli. I feel sluggish if I can’t get out for a good workout.
  8. What have you tried for the first time recently? Living away from San Francisco.
  9. Where do you drink your morning beverage (coffee/tea/smoothie)? I drink black tea at our dining room table overlooking the Charles River.
  10. What was the last gift you gave yourself? The freedom to quit my job and pursue teaching yoga full-time, although Michael also gave me this gift!
  11. What are you most grateful for right now? My family, my friends, my love, my health, my pets, good food, the ability to share my passion for healthy food with you all, sunshine, yoga, quinoa, kale, the power of nature to remind you how small you really are, wine, chocolate, the roof over my head, the warm bed I get to sleep in every night and the sense to know that I should be grateful for all these things and more.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. The fact that I’m doing this cracks me up. I read US Weekly religiously and always wondered what I’d say if I had to answer the 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me column that celebrities answer.
  2. I hit my brother in the head with a golf club when we were kids. He still loves me…I think.
  3. Eating grape leaves makes my nose itch. I don’t eat grape leaves.
  4. I hate when my feet get dirty. It makes teaching yoga barefoot a practice of tolerance.
  5. I secretly want to try out for the Next Food Network Star in hopes of finally getting a vegetarian show on that network.
  6. I’m clutter-phobic. Having too much stuff stresses me out. I apparently got that from my grandma and my Papa.
  7.  When I was little my mom held out a red pepper and a cookie asking me which one I wanted. I chose the red pepper. True story.
  8. I have a super sonic sense of smell and often hold my breath when I pass other people on the street but not when I’m teaching yoga for some reason.
  9. If my sister calls me by my name I think she’s mad at me.
  10. I’m a huge country music fan but have a secret love of Usher and jazz as well.
  11. When I’m cooking I give my dog Eli tastes. I also show him each ingredient as we go while telling him its name so he can have a discerning palette. I’m pretty sure he’s actually human.

Now…

My Nominees:

  1. Courtney’s lovely blog Healthy Girl and the City.
  2. Vanessa’s V is for Vegetables and her latest post on why everyone is so hung up on where vegans get their protein.
  3. Shira’s In Pursuit of More and her beautiful pictures.
  4. Brandi’s The Healthy Flavor with all its yummy vegan treats.
  5. Thom’s Don’t Switch Out the Light with its great message about living life to the fullest.
  6. Anna’s Raised From Scratch that introduced me to mesquite powder for baking!
  7. Gluten Free Glow’s inspiration when I’m in a GF rut.
  8. Jen’s blog Jennovafoodblog and her amazing rock climbing photos.
  9. Bigg Sis and Little Sis’ My Sister’s Pantry and their super cute idea to both write a blog together.
  10. Jess’ blog A Lot on Your Plate offering up creative inspiration and recipes.
  11. The very new running blog Yooperrunnergirl and her post on running for the fun of it.

My questions for my nominees:

  1. If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
  2. Where is your happy place?
  3. What is your favorite quality about yourself?
  4. Which of your 5 senses would you give up if you had to choose one?
  5. If you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now what would you do?
  6. What’s one thing you’ve been too scared to attempt?
  7. Name one thing that makes you lose your temper automatically.
  8. What is your favorite book of all time?
  9. Which song makes you feel like dancing every time you hear it?
  10. How do you de-stress from a hectic day?
  11. Why did you start your blog?

Hope you enjoyed a list insight into my quirky-ness and as always, thank you so much for continuing to read my ramblings.