Time to Hit Pause

Time or lack there of — it’s our biggest struggle in life, isn’t it? Sometimes you wake up one day and you’re just exhausted. Drained. Need an all-day nap. For me, this morning was that morning. The morning I wanted nothing to do with to-do lists, obligations and the like. Unfortunately, life doesn’t just stop moving when you ask it to… even if you ask really nicely. (Seriously where do I get one of those Zack Morris time-out buttons?!)

In short, I’m exhausted, but I’m pushing through… for 6 more weeks. Why six more weeks? Because until then I will be juggling a full-time job, three summer courses and prepping for graduate school. I’d surely be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days. 

As you’ve probably noticed, blog posts have been few and far between lately and I just can’t put anything else on my plate at this time. So for now, it’s time to hit pause on this space. However, I’m not going away forever — just until I can get my focus back. And I look forward to sharing a new journey with you at that time. Life’s only about to get 100x more exciting!

See you in August!

As Seen in the Kitchen

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When it comes to choosing a favorite day of the week, I’d guess most people wouldn’t end up choosing Monday. I know I wouldn’t… but truth be told, some Mondays I’m extremely grateful to have a fresh slate and to settle back into a new (or old) routine — especially when it comes to eating. 

The month of June is jam-packed with celebrations and this past weekend alone I consumed three different pieces of cake. While I don’t exactly hate that (cake = delicious), my body is definitely craving some fresh fruits and veggies and a lot less sugar. Making sure I plan meals packed with whole foods ensures that I stay on track during the week and helps to offset some of the treats from the weekend. 

In fact, one of my favorite ways to start a Monday morning is with a big ol’ green smoothie, which is exactly what I’ll be doing this week. This week’s green smoothie has a tropical twist and is packed with kale, mango, pineapple, banana and Greek yogurt. In my opinion, the best way to make healthy choices throughout the day is to start first thing in the morning. 

Here’s the rest of this week’s meal plan:

Weekly Meal Plan

Lunch: Black bean veggie avocado wraps (packed in whole wheat tortilla) plus strawberries (grabbed 2 pints of organic berries on sale for $3.00 each!)

Snacks: Homemade granola bars, Skinny Pop, apples & almond butter, peanuts, carrots & hummus

Monday: Veggie fried rice topped with pulled pork (leftover from my Grandpa’s birthday party!)

Tuesday: Black bean and roasted red pepper tostadas

Wednesday: Baked coconut shrimp and roasted sweet potatoes

Thursday: Bell pepper and chicken quesadillas with a side of Mexican rice

Friday: TBD — we’re running a 5K on Saturday morning so maybe some pasta? Always fun to carb load even if it’s not really necessary.:)

Be sure to follow along on Instagram throughout the week to see how these meals turn out!

As Seen in the Kitchen

One of my biggest hopes for this blog is that I can accurately portray what living a healthy lifestyle is really like because believe me, it’s not all kale smoothies and hot yoga classes. It’s not about perfection or restriction. It’s not about shopping exclusively at Whole Foods or eating according to the {insert trendy diet name here} plan. 

Although I’m far from perfect, I try to eat foods that nourish my body, to sweat most days of the week and to keep stress at bay. I’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t always easy and their are many ways I know I could improve my habits. And well, I’d like to talk about those things on the blog. So today you’re seeing the first of a new series, As Seen in the Kitchen

Each Monday, I’ll be detailing what’s on the menu for the week ahead. I’ll talk about meal planning, why I chose the meals I did and what sort of prep went into each particular week. I’m sure every week will be slightly different, but hopefully it will provide some real guidance as to what planning out meals for the week looks like for me. 

In an effort to not have a super long post today, I’m going to touch on my breakfast choice for the week and then simply share our list of meals for the week. 

Breakfast

I love making smoothies for breakfast because it’s an easy way to start the day with lots of fruits and veggies, plus they’re portable so I can drink mine on the go. However, I’ve been stuck in a bit of a frozen berry and spinach rut. While it’s a tasty combination, I wanted to switch things up and experiment with using more veggies in my smoothies. So I dug through my Pinterest boards and found this Clean Strawberry Smoothie (spoiler alert: it has red cabbage in it). I chopped and froze all the ingredients ahead of time to make the mornings easier. Hoping this one is a winner!

Weekly Meal Plan

Lunches: Mango black bean salad (hope to share this one soon!) & fresh strawberries 

Snacks: Almonds, no-bake peanut butter granola bars, carrots & hummus, apples & almond butter

Monday: Collard Green Pasta (Haven’t tried this recipe before – looking forward to it. I love how simple it is.) 

Tuesday: Tacos from Barbakoa (Treating ourselves by using a Groupon & taking advantage of $1.50 tacos!)

Wednesday: Salmon and roasted veggies 

Thursday: Easy freezer fried rice

Friday: I usually leave Friday open since it’s hard to predict what will happen at the end of the week, but we try to eat something fun like homemade pizza or burgers. 

Gia Mia Pizza Bar

One of the things I love most about pizza is how many different variations there are for one simple meal. Whether it’s stuffed, Chicago-style, grilled or fired-up in a brick oven, I’m sure to love it. And well, being from the Chicago-area I consider myself to know a good pizza when I bite into one. 

It should come as no surprise then, I’d been anxiously awaiting the opening of Gia Mia Pizza Bar, a new Italian-style wood-fired pizza place in our town. Apparently, so was everyone else. We attempted to go opening week, but the wait was too long and the restaurant jam-packed. We tried again last Friday and were luckily able to get right in (arriving at a restaurant at 5:15 on a Friday night usually has that effect). 

So was it worth the wait? Absolutely. The decor and ambiance of the restaurant was welcoming, casual and refined. Lots of rustic touches, black and white culinary photos showcasing the pizza-making process and sunlight pouring in through large windows at the front of the building. Our waitress promptly came to our table and was incredibly friendly and enthusiastic about the menu. She even suggested her favorite dishes to us and helped me choose a glass of wine. 

Gia Mia Pizza Bar

Everything at Gia Mia is meant to be shared — sort of an Italian twist on tapas. The menu was extensive and featured much more than just pizza. I was thrilled to see vegetables had their own section on the menu. I love a chef who can appreciate veggies and make them taste delicious! Walking in, we knew we would order a pizza, but were unprepared to have so many other options. I’m pretty sure I would have tried one of everything if I could have managed.

In the end we chose to start off with the Fresh Local Burrata. Cheese handcrafted close to home? I’m sold. The burrata was smooth, flavorful and topped with a delicious pesto. It was served with charred grapes which I thought was incredibly unique and tasty. The grapes were extra sweet, yet retained a grilled flavor. They paired perfectly with the cheese.

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For pizza, we chose The Livia which featured  extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, mozzarella, spicy soppresseta and roasted onion. This pizza was loaded with flavor and had just the right amount of kick to it from the soppresseta. Again, I loved the mozzarella and savored every bite of the pie. 

Gia Mia Pizza Bar

I wish we could have tried more, but we were full after that. I’d love to return to the restaurant with a larger group so we can try even more dishes. Until then, I’ll just be counting down the days until we visit again. On my list are the smashed potatoes, little gem lettuces salad and the wild mushroom pizza. 

Time to go make some breakfast… my stomach is growling just thinking about our meal all over again. 

7 Day Exercise Challenge

7 day fitness challenge
I don’t know what it is about habits that make some so easy to keep (nighttime pre-bed routine) and others so difficult (going to the gym in the morning), but I’m surely trying to crack the code. This includes reading as many articles as I can about habit creation, willpower, etc. I know, real fascinating stuff. Anyway, a few days ago a friend sent me the link to this 7 Day Integrity Challenge and it got me thinking. 

Seven days. One week. How hard could it be to do something for one week? Well I guess I’m about to find out. I’ve challenged myself to exercise/be active for at least 30 minutes each day for seven days. I’m not just counting gym sessions, but time spent outdoors going on walks, riding my bicycle, etc. 

For the last several months I’ve struggled to find a workout routine I love and want to stick to, so I’m hoping this little baby step will be one in the right direction. I’ve also been pushing myself to be more active in nontraditional ways as well. Riding my bike to brunch, walking more at work and taking the stairs whenever possible. While logging time at a gym is certainly important for our health, doing more physical activity all around is important to combat sedentary habits. As an office worker, commuter and student, I spend way more time in a chair than I’d like. 

I’m not expecting monumental changes to occur over the course of a week, but rather I’m hoping it will help me start to think in a different way such as how can I be more active outside of the gym. The brevity of the challenge makes it more realistic and approachable than other challenges, yet still provides enough action to make it a catalyst for other positive changes. Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll challenge myself to something different.

Speak up: What you challenge yourself to do for seven days? What’s your favorite way to be active outside of the gym?