Friday Favorites

Aaaaaaaand it’s Friday again! After a busy week (and a somewhat busy weekend), I’m looking forward to chilling out tonight! Meanwhile, here are some of my recent favorites, following a similar format from my last Friday Favorites post.

Celebrating…Saint Patrick’s Day! We went out to dinner with my grandmother (the one who made me 1/4 Irish!) and chowed down to corned beef boiled dinner and shepherd’s pie. I even dressed up my fridge for the occasion. Contributing to the green: mixed greens, spinach, dill, beet greens, kale, pepper, fennel greens, dandelion greens, romaine, and celery. Nearly half of that food is for Wilbur to share with us.

St. Patricks Day fridge

Lots of green for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Watching…Vikings

This is the show that holds us over while waiting for Game of Thrones to come back on. It’s not always the best acting or the best plot, but it’s interesting to watch this culture we know so little about. One of my favorite parts of this culture is the strength of the women, whether it’s the female warriors (“shieldmaidens“) fighting beside the men, a female earl, or the ones left back at home to rule while the men are away plundering. I’m trying to convince WHH to do a couple’s costume for Halloween.

Vikings logo

Reading…A Dance with Dragons (aka Game of Thrones book 5). As you may remember, I’ve been slowly getting through this series since last year and I’m nearly done! I’m pushing to finish before season 5 premiers on April 12.

Listening…to A Dance with Dragons. Yes, I know. Pretty ridiculous. I knew I wouldn’t get through the entire book on time for the premier, so I got the free month on Audible and now listen on my drive to work, my lunchtime walk, and my drive home from work. I have to say that even though I don’t love the voices the narrator does (characters seem to be either English, Scottish, or Irish), I am that much more obsessed with the series because I’m able to be that so immersed in it every day, even consulting A Wiki of Ice and Fire whenever I need more information or a memory refresher of one of the previous books.

A Dance with Dragons Audible

Eating…three new recipes this week, all of which I failed to take pictures of! I made Baked Maple Chicken with Wild Rice and Pear Pilaf, Late Winter Harvest Quinoa Bowl, and Curried Chickpeas with Spinach. My favorite by far was the quinoa bowl. I had never tried nutritional yeast before and I’m definitely digging the cheesy flavor. I have a lot of the almond “cheese” left over that I will be sprinkling on top of salads and soups!

Late harvest quinoa bowl

Source

Running…this pyramid interval on the treadmill. I’ve learned that I need to be very careful with my treadmill running. In addition to changing my cadence, running on the treadmill also changes my stance and I do find that it bothers my IT band and previous glute injury site a bit, so I need to be careful and not do it too often. But after an insanely cold winter that still isn’t letting up, I needed to get in a run. This kept me from getting bored and though not overly challenging, it was enough to get on a good sweat.

Planning…our summer vacation! With the Euro way down, me about to be in nursing school the next two years, and some major purchases being probable in the next few years (next house, cars) we decided to seize the opportunity and travel to Europe again! After falling in love with Switzerland the last time around, I knew I wanted to hit up Austria in the future, so that’s on our list of possibilities, along with Germany, Prague, and Budapest. Price will determine where we end up since we’re not as decided this time around as to our destination(s). Any suggestions?

Salzburg

Source

Questions: Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not? Do you prefer to read books or listen to them? Made any new recipes recently or tried any new workouts? Are you making any summer vacation plans?

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Let’s mix it up and do some fun Friday Favorites, shall we? Here are some of my recent favorites:

Watching…Top Chef

I’m definitely getting more inspiration in the kitchen by watching this show. Only one more episode left! I like them all so I’ll be pretty happy with whoever wins. Plus, the fact that it takes place in Boston this season is icing on the cake!

Top Chef Boston

Source

Listening…to sports radio, trying to figure out what the heck is going on with #deflategate. I can’t believe my beloved Patriots, especially Tom, would cheat. I wonder if you tested all balls at every single NFL game if they end up getting deflated by the second half.

98.5 The Sports Hub

Source

Eating…this delicious roasted carrot soup. The recipe is from the January/February 2015 issue of Women’s Health Magazine in which they talk about soups as the juices for cold weather. Couldn’t agree more! We haven’t broken out our juicer since late fall and all I’ve been craving is some nice, warm soup! Don’t have time to make your own? Check out a family friend, The Splendid Spoon, where you can buy delicious soup online.

Roasted carrot soup

Drinking…Emergen-C and Echinacea tea. 😦 Was a bit sick midweek, so I’ve been having it 1-2x a day since my symptoms came on. I swear they made me better within a day!

Echinacea tea Emergen-C

Wearing…my bunny slippers under my desk at work. My feet get so, so cold all the time, especially in the winter. I recently learned that it’s something WH bro and I share, so there’s got to be some genetic component to it.

Bunny slippers

Reducing…my chemical exposure. We asked for stainless steel cookware for Christmas to replace our nicked-up non-stick cookware that creeped me out every time I used it. There’s a bit of a learning curve (e.g., don’t soak in water, don’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t add butter/oil until after the pan has heated up-which is the opposite of non-stick, etc.), but I am happy with how evenly it cooks our food. Plus, it should last us a lifetime! Talk about a win for reducing consumer consumption and being healthier!

Stainless steel cookware

Re-purposing a salad from Portland Pie

Questions: What are some of your favorites lately? Do you watch Top Chef? Made any good soups lately? Have perpetually cold (or hot) feet? Are you concerned with reducing your chemical exposure?

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (Friday Favorite)

Have you heard of the book, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances“? If you’re a runner and you haven’t, you must go out right now, find it, and read it. And if you have read it, I bet you know a runner who would love this for Christmas, a birthday, or really any occasion.
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

I’m guessing you’ve read some running books or articles that are quite similar to some parts of his book, such as inspirational messages:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances book page

So what makes this book different (and, IMHO, better)? Well, take a look at the page that follows the one above:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances page

Few books, comics, or movies can make me genuinely laugh out loud, but this page got a huge guffaw from me. This is exactly how I feel this time of year. All I want to do is hibernate and borrow as these cold, dark days go on.

Some of my other LOL moments included the page below. I’m sure we all know someone like this:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances over-accessorize

It’s not all fun and jokes (though a lot of it is). Some is also a bit more serious. I just love the unapologetic honesty with which he writes and draws, such as when he writes about getting off your butt and going out for a GD run:

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances happy juice

And he perfectly captures some big reasons I run. Seriously, is this guy in my head or something? This is me to a T!

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances demons

He has a bit more of the book on his website. But seriously, for just $11 on Amazon, go out and buy the book.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (okay, maybe you won’t cry, but you’ll definitely laugh), and you may have found the perfect gift for someone. Happy reading!

Questions: Have you “read” this book (do you consider comics reading?)? What are some of the weird or hard to explain reasons that you run?

This post contains an affiliate link.

 

 

Friday Favorite Links

Hi all! Instead of doing a Friday Favorite dedicated to a specific product, I thought I’d mix it up by sharing some great items I’ve come across lately. I love when other bloggers share their favorite random items, whether it be a thought-provoking blog post, a yummy new recipe they came across, or just a funny cartoon. Here’s to Friday!

1. This upcoming Monday is National Coffee Day! I think I’ll celebrate by having a coffee. Oh, wait, I already do that everyday regardless…Have you seen my new favorite way to have coffee on the weekend? Bulletproof coffee!

Bulletproof coffee in blender

See how frothy?!

2. Anne’s great blog post on intuitive eating, which I could definitely use a lot of improvement with.

3.  Since Tuesday was officially the start of autumn, I’ve got pumpkin on the brain. I’ve been adding pumpkin to my breakfasts in the form of yogurt parfaits, pancakes, and overnight oats (it might look like baby food, but it is oh-so-good!).

I want to incorporate pumpkin in more than just breakfast, so I have my eye on trying this pumpkin ricotta gnocchi (substituting GF flour) by Simply Recipes.

Pumpkin ricotta gnocchi

4. This list of 25 gorgeous fall hikes. There’s one near me (Mt. Osceola in NH). Is there one near you?

5. I’m adding this (everyone woman’s dream!) to my Christmas wish list: dress yoga pants! They come in bootcut, straight, and legging. And don’t worry, men. You can get in on this comfy dress clothes trend, too with these dress pant sweatpants.

Betabrand yoga dress pants

I’ll leave you with that thought of comfy clothes, because that’s what the weekend is all about.

Questions: Do you eat mindfully or are you usually doing something while you’re eating? Are you obsessing about pumpkin everything right now? Would you wear dress pant sweatpants? What are you loving lately?

Friday Favorite: Return to Running

Can you believe we’re halfway through May? Where the heck did the past two weeks go?

May 16 2014

Maybe it was the craziness of the last two weeks of my class that made it go by so quickly (which I got an A in, by the way–good to know I’ve still got it!).

Final grade

 You know I’m rounding that up to 95%, right? 

So, I’m sure you probably saw today’s favorite coming from a mile away (or 3,446 miles for Karen). I’ve talked about my experience with the Return to Running program many times over the past six months.

Cool down walk

WHH creeping on me during a stage about midway through the plan.

For those of you who haven’t been following the whole time, it’s a program developed by PhysioAdvisor.com to help those of us who have sustained lengthened injuries to slowly and safely make our way back to running.

PhysioAdvisor.com logo

After I was discharged from physical therapy last November I had no idea how to start on my path back to running. When I had last tried getting back to running last August after recovering from my other injury, I developed the plantar fasciitis that landed me back in physical therapy through November. Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive on how to move forward. I needed a systematic approach, but what? That was when I stumbled upon this great program after spending a lot of frustrating time searching online for a solid plan.

Return to running plan

I followed it to a T. I had a few setbacks, figured out what the problems were, and then moved forward. I’m amazed I didn’t have more setbacks given my year of injuries in 2013. In fact, the last few stages flew  by with very few needing repeats. Though it took me six months, I finally made it to stage 19 on Wednesday!

Return to running all stages

It was really rewarding to see this on my RunKeeper when I finished:

RunKeeper fastest run

I may have been a bit too enthusiastic, though, because my knees became quite sore about halfway through. I think the problem was going a bit too fast for my first full run back:

RunKeeper splits

Unintentional negative splits! 

Thankfully, they didn’t hurt once I was done and they still haven’t hurt more than usual. Going to need to keep up foam rolling the ITBs and running on the grass.

Running on grass path

I would highly recommend this program to anyone trying to negotiate their way back to running following an injury. I couldn’t be happier with the results and am excited to move on to a more interesting training schedule (Tempo runs! HIIT! Hills!) and start racing again! I don’t plan on increasing my mileage by more than 10% a week, nor increasing the speed or intensity too quickly. It’s been helpful to reach out to Nora, who beat me to finishing the program, to see how she’s progressed in her runs.

For those who are coming back from an injury, but want to come back to a sport, PhysioAdvisor also has a plan for that as well. Additionally, they have tons of other resources for dealing with injury, from stretches for your particular injury, to taping technique. Some of the content is locked for members only, but for a nominal fee you can gain a lot of additional helpful information. I haven’t bought a membership yet, but I may to see if there is some extra helpful information for my elbow.

Well, in the words of my Welsh co-worker, there you have it and there you are. Hope you have a great weekend!

Questions: Have you had to come back from injury after an extended period of time? Are there any programs out there that you love, whether it’s a marathon training plan or a HIIT workout? Any fun weekend plans?

Friday Favorite: Yogi Tea

Happy Friday! This week flew by surprisingly fast. Although I should probably wait on that sentiment given that I’m training people on parts of our new electronic medical record all day today.

I’ll keep it short and sweet today given I had a really long April recap earlier this week. Today’s favorite is something I’ve been using for the past few years: Yogi Tea! One of my favorite flavors that I have been unable to find duplicated in any other tea is their Egyptian Licorice.

Egyptian Licorice Yogi Tea

I’m actually not a huge tea drinker (I love my bold, black coffee!), but I  have found myself drinking it more and more, especially in the colder months. I tend toward herbal teas as opposed to caffeinated/decaf teas. The Egyptian licorice flavor is silky smooth on the throat and nice and warming. I often find myself having it on afternoons at work to warm me up.

One of my other go-to’s is the Yogi ginger tea.

Ginger Yogi Tea

As you can see on the front, ginger aids digestion. Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory. I find myself reaching for it when I’m feeling especially sore from a workout or if something’s not sitting well in my stomach. It’s spicy-sweet and definitely wakes me up a bit thanks to the spice. I’m not one for spice (thanks to my 1/4 Irish genes?), but the spice of ginger is different. It’s warming, but doesn’t linger in your mouth the way that chili-type spice does.

I love that Yogi Tea explains the benefits of their ingredients on the box.

Ginger Yogi Tea ingredients

They also include a yoga pose and the best way to brew the tea.

Yogi Tea yoga pose

And one of my favorite parts? The lovely sayings on the tea tags. I couldn’t find a picture of my own, but you can go to their website and get a piece of wisdom any time you want!

One of my other favorites is the Yogi Bedtime tea.

Yogi Bedtime Tea

Like the Egyptian licorice flavor, this has a nice, mellow, smooth and soothing flavor. It definitely helps me unwind at the end of the day and get my mind and body ready for sleep.

Of course, one of the best parts I haven’t yet mentioned is that most of their teas are organic. No need to worry about nasty chemicals on the herbs you’re drinking! They also go on sale frequently at my local grocery store and at Whole Foods. I always snag a couple of boxes when they can be had for less money!

In terms of a running update, I did stage 17 yesterday. I hadn’t run since last Friday because my funky knee felt a little wonky. I was out of work early because of the long day today. I had eaten lunch at 11:30 and grabbed a date with some peanut butter on my way out for my run around 2:30. I don’t know if it was the lack of food or the fact that my run started off with some pretty steep hills, but my legs felt like cement blocks despite a rest day the day before. I guess I now know that I definitely need something in me about an hour or so before a run.

My plantar fasciitis foot was feeling a bit tight last night, but I made sure to do my regular ice massage as well as slapping an ice pack on my foot while reading in bed. Still a bit tight today, but no pain. I need to get back to more regular use of the Foot Rubz and tennis ball to loosen up that fascia.

Foot Rubz ball

For this weekend, I’m looking forward to our annual Mother’s Day brunch that WHH and I host for our moms and grandmothers. I’m not sure of the menu this year, but I often make maple glazed bacon, baked French toast, veggie frittata, a large fruit salad, and mimosas. Mmmm…

Martha Stewart Maple Glazed Bacon

Questions: Do you drink tea? Caffeinated, decaf, and/or herbal? What are some of your favorite blends? Any weekend plans?

 

Friday Favorite: Composting

I cannot believe it’s already the last Friday of the month! Where did this month go?! Did the month go by quickly for you as well?

April 2014 calendar free printable

The good thing? As the month goes on, we’re seeing more and more signs of life here in Massachusetts. The forsythias are finally blooming (always one of the first signs of spring here in New England)!

Forsythia bloom

The crab apple in our backyard is starting to bud. This tree was one of the most wonderful surprises when we bought our house. When we moved in, it had just started flowering and though it only lasts about a week, it is quite a sight to see. It should bloom in about a week or so (always around WHH’s birthday) and I’ll be sure to share pictures.

Crab apple budding

While we’re on the subject of the great outdoors, and since it’s Earth Month, I have to tell you about one of the most-used items in our household: our simplehuman Compost Pail that we received for Christmas nearly four years ago. This thing has gotten daily use since that time and it still looks (nearly) brand new (the hack job the previous owners did on the backsplash is a whole ‘nother story…):

SimpleHuman compost pail

In keeping with a whole health mentality, it was important to us to start composting once we bought our house. Aside from the personal reasons (enriching our own soil), composting can have a larger part in helping to decrease the amount of methane generated via landfills and therefore cut down on climate warming gases. Climate change can have huge effects on our health, from air quality to allergens to a host of animal-, food-, and water-borne diseases. This issue is not going away unless we make conscious efforts to change our ways. And given that the severity of this past winter is probably linked to climate change, I’ll do whatever I can to make it better!

Felt pads on bottom of compost pail

We added felt pads to the bottom of our pail

Shall we take a peak inside? I promise you, it’s not scary. In fact, this picture is a good example of what not to do: don’t forget to take the tags off of your fruit! Those were a couple of apples that had gone bad (for once we had too many!) and we roughly chopped them up before tossing them in. The food will break down more easily if you chop it into smaller pieces instead of keeping it whole or in large pieces, such as a watermelon rind.

SimpleHuman compost pail open

As you can see, the cap has lip in it in which you can put charcoal filters to help with any aromas that might escape. We’ve never bought any replacements, however, and have never had a problem with smell. We end up emptying it about once a week and I can’t tell you how much it has reduced our weekly garbage!

So where does it go when we empty it? To our makeshift compost bin:

Trash barrel compost bin

We had an extra bucket and decided to use it for this purpose. We poked holes in the top to allow for some slight respiration, if you will.

Trash barrel compost bin cover with holes

Shall we take a peak inside this one? It’s a bit scarier, but believe it or not, does not smell at all. I take that back–it does smell, but not like you think it would. It smells earthy. Like really damp dirt.

Trash barrel compost bin inside food

And here it is once WHH turned it and added some yard waste to it to mix it a bit better:

Trash barrel compost bin top off yard waste

We try to mix it up with a good old-fashioned pitch fork and then layer in some yard waste every month or so, just to keep an even balance of nitrogen and carbon (more on that later). We can go months without emptying it. When the sun hits the barrel, even in the winter, it gets quite warm inside, and ends up “cooking” the mixture down.

So what happens when it does get full? It goes off to our larger compost pile beside our vegetable garden, where it joins more of our grass clippings, some leaves, various other yard waste, and Wilbur’s used hay.

Compost pile outside

WHH will turn the larger pile and then bury the newer mixture near the bottom of the pile to keep it all “cooking” evenly. That’s really all there is to it. We do it the cheap and easy way, but you can get fancier and have a tumbler compost bin or cage in your compost pile.

So what do you do with all of this black gold? If you don’t have time for or interest in gardening, you can use it as fill around your yard or topsoil around your trees and plants. If you are more of the gardener type, you can use it as a near-organic source of nutrients for the soil. We try to keep it as natural as possible and don’t use any fertilizer, but we do buy manure to add a little somethin’ somethin’ for our veggie garden. I love being able to go outside and pick what I want for dinner!

Garden foods

We were still picking from our garden into late fall last year.

Peppers eggplant tomato from garden

Plus, you never know, you might get a rogue acorn squash that decided to grow out of your compost pile, which we were pleasantly surprised with last year:

Acorn squash from compost pile

That giant acorn squash plant on the right outside of the garden grew from our compost pile!

Here’s a quick list of what we do put in our compost bin and pile:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Leaves, grass, and hay
  • Charcoal from the fireplace (once it’s been out for a few weeks)
  • Occasionally, rabbit manure
  • Newspaper

And here’s what we do not put in:

  • Anything animal-derived (no bones, flesh, dairy, etc.)
  • Anything cooked (unless it was fruit or veggie cooked without any added oils)
  • Anything containing oil
  • Typical carbohydrates (breads, pasta, etc.)

You want to have about a 3:1 mix of “browns” (carbon-rich materials such as wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves) to “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps). We honestly don’t pay attention to this much and ours comes out okay. I’m sure if we made more of an effort it would be even better. So you’ll get out of it what you put in, but even minimal effort is worth it!

That’s just the quick and dirty way, but if you’re interested in learning more, here are a couple of useful links to help get your started:

EarthEasy Compost Guide

EPA’s Composting at Home

In running news, I’m heading out to do stage 15 this afternoon along the river. I can’t believe I’ve finally gotten this far! It’s been such a long time coming. I still don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but for the first time in over a year I’m seriously thinking about training for races. Sure, there’s still that crazy marathon idea I have in the back of my mind, but I need to start with a 5k or two and then a 10k!

Return to running stage 15

Questions: Do you have a garden? Do you compost? If you compost, do you have any secret tips? If you don’t compost, would you think about trying it? Any races you’re eyeing lately?

 *In an effort to maintain transparency, please note that Amazon links are affiliate links.

Friday Favorite: Food Should Taste Good + Recipes!

I’m so excited to be able to partner with Food Should Taste Good for today’s Friday Favorite.

*Please note that I was not paid for this post, but was given the product to try. All opinions are my own and not influenced by the company.

I would like to start off by saying that while chips are not a health food, I strongly believe there is room in every diet for some treats. I regularly eat a few chips throughout the week as it is. I am happy to support any company that works to make a traditionally unhealthy food into a more healthy version. Food Should Taste Good uses non-GMO ingredients, zero trans fat, and real ingredients, and therefore falls in line with what I look for in a processed food (when I eat them). I am not reviewing these simply because they were free, but because I genuinely like them, have for a while (as you will see), and believe the company is doing good things. With that said, on to the food!

I was first introduced to Food Should Taste Good about five years ago when I worked at Boston Children’s Hospital. I was new to eating gluten-free at that time and didn’t really know how to eat a filling meal. Some days a salad just wouldn’t do it for me and I’d go in search of something else healthy. I often found myself wondering over to the Au Bon Pain instead of the caf…

Au-Bon-Pain-Boston-Children's-Hospital

Au Bon Pain at Boston Children’s Hospital c/o Osama F., Foursquare

One day while looking around Au Bon Pain, I stumbled upon some chips that, lo and behold, proclaimed “Gluten Free” on the front! I took a look at them to see if they were even healthy, and I was happily surprised to see that they were! The Multigrain flavor, which contains corn, brown rice flour, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds, and quinoa, has been my favorite ever since.

Fast forward to last Friday when I came home to find this package from Food Should Taste Good.

Food-Should-Taste-Good-box

To say I was excited by my stash of FSTD chips is a bit of an understatement.

Food-Should-Taste-Good-chips

In case you can’t see the flavors above, they sent me Kettle Corn, Blue Corn, Chocolate, and Cantina.

Food-Should-Taste-Good-chip-flavors

I soon began plotting how I would incorporate all of these delicious chips into my meals and snacks over the next week. First up were the blue corn chips on Saturday night. I had bought some chipotle sweet potato soup from a local farm and wanted to add some texture to the smooth puree, as I often do with soup. It was a delicious combo, especially with a side salad and half a grilled cheese and tomato.

Chipotle-sweet-potato-soup-with-salad-and-grilled-cheese

I didn’t do anything with the Kettle Corn chips besides try them right out of the bag. I personally wasn’t crazy about them–I found the taste a bit confusing when combined with the texture of a chip (I kept expecting popcorn). They were a bit too sweet for me, but WHH really liked them. Within a few days, the bag looked like this:

Food-Should-Taste-Good-Kettle-Corn-Chips

Of course you know I was eyeing those chocolate chips! I’m a fan of just about anything chocolate (except white chocolate, because that’s not really chocolate). I had actually tried them a few months ago when my parents brought us some goodies from their Boston chocolate tour. I didn’t think much of them then, but when I tried them this time, I was pleasantly surprised. They have more of a cocoa taste, with only a slight sweetness. After a stop at Whole Foods on Monday (during which I always need to freshly grind some honey peanut butter–seriously, if you haven’t tried it, you must!), I knew exactly what to do with those chips.

Food-Should-Taste-Good-Chocolate-Chips-with-Whole-Foods-peanut-butter

Because chocolate and peanut butter are always a good idea. A few of those chocolate chips scooped into the peanut butter made for a nice little dessert after dinner a few nights this week.

The Cantina chips were last on the list because we were waiting for some avocados to ripen. But as soon as they were, WHH whipped up his deliciously simple guacamole.

Food-Should-Taste-Good-Cantina-Chips-and-guacamole

The guacamole is incredibly simple to make and I love how the taste of the avocado isn’t masked by a bunch of other ingredients. To make, simply combine:

1 avocado, mashed
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp lemon juice, as desired
1-2 garlic cloves, as desired
Salt, to taste

Easy-homemade-guacomole

I decided to make some homemade hummus last night to go with the rest of our Mediterranean-inspired dinner and you better believe the Cantina chips were yummy with that as well!

Easy-homemade-hummus

In a food processor, combine:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 clove garlic
1⁄8-1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt to taste

Once everything is combined, add water as necessary until it reaches your desired consistency.

A little secret: pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then stir. It’s really good warm!

Homemade-hummus-with-eggplant

This also made for excellent leftovers today! A new favorite in our household!

All in all, I really enjoyed these chips and can’t wait to try more of their new flavors. We already buy chips every few weeks and these will be sure to remain in the rotation. Next on my list to try? Avocado!

Questions: Have you tried Food Should Taste Good chips? What’s your favorite flavor? Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Have a great weekend!

 

Friday Favorite: Almond Coconut Milk (Updated)

TGIF, amirite? In what has ended up being a week of sickness and recuperation, I’m happy to finally be on the other side! There’s nothing like feeling sick to make you grateful for just feeling normal.

Today’s favorite has made a regular appearance in my some of my food lately. I happened upon this when I was picking up my usual unsweetened almond milk.

Almond Coconut milk

Coconut is all the rage these days, partially thanks to the CrossFit/paleo community who are firm believers in the use of coconut oil even though it’s gotten a bad rap for having so much saturated fat. So why is it suddenly okay? Since about half of its saturated fat content is actually from medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier to digest than longer-chained ones, it’s not as harmful as we first thought. So not all saturated fat is created equal.

Coconut water is also a great source of electrolytes. I personally don’t love the taste of the ones I’ve tried and I don’t require electrolyte replacement right now, so I don’t drink it. I may revisit the idea once I amp up training and the heat and humidity return to Massachusetts, whenever that may be.

This combo contains coconut milk, however. Like coconut oil, it does contain a some fat. Let’s take a look at the label:

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Amond Coconut Milk Unsweetened nutrition

The fat content isn’t that bad, especially considering I use less than the serving size. One of these usually gets me closer to 8 servings. And there’s nothing wrong with fat in moderation! It keeps you full and is necessary for many things to happen in our bodies.

I want to point out that this isn’t the “cleanest” product out there. There are some added vitamins and other, shall we say, stuff. I would be better off buying an organic version. However, the way I look at it is this: I don’t use it that often and when I do, I don’t use that much. My diet is relatively clean most of the time, so I’m okay with using this. If I find a better, cleaner version in my travels I will buy that instead. It’s all about the amount of exposure over time.

Update: While I still stand by my statements above, I no longer purchase this product. I am now particularly wary of carrageenan, a thickener that comes from red seaweed. However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill seaweed. For some reason our bodies see this as an invader and so mount a response against it, notably in the GI tract. It can cause inflammation, irritation, and possibly even cancer. If I happen to eat one thing once in a while with this, again, I’m not going to freak out. But since I have almond milk 1-2 times a week, I think I’ll stick to the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk.

Almond Coconut Milk Smoothie

Delicious in smoothies

The reason I really like this product is, as I said above, it contains some fat. Regular almond milk doesn’t contain much of anything, so this has more umph to it. Why this and not organic cow’s milk? I feel it mixes better into smoothies and I don’t mind that it has a slightly lower calorie content. Plus, I eat a decent amount of dairy and like to mix it up. I don’t like using water in smoothies because there’s nothing to it, and I don’t like using cow’s milk because, well, mixing milk with raw spinach just doesn’t do it for me. Almond coconut milk has more presence than water, but not so much as cow’s milk.

Why not soy milk? I avoid soy as much as possible because it’s an endocrine disruptor, a goitrogen (and therefore messes with my already underactive thyroid) and most soy in this country is genetically modified (a Frankenfood!) and in a ton of items we don’t even realize (thus, the cleaner you eat, the more you can avoid it). Okay, I’m done with my little lecture.

What else do I use it in? My oatmeal, for a little extra something-something.

Oatmeal with almonds, maple syrup, almond coconut milk

And I also do a 50/50 mix with cow’s milk in my Not Your Sugar Mama’s Be Cozy hot chocolate.

Not Your Sugar Mama's Hot Chocolate with cow and almond coconut milk

 

Questions: What form (if any) of milk do you consume? What’s your feeling on the coconut rage–love it, over it, or don’t really care?

Have a great weekend!

*I apologize for the size of the pictures. It seems that WordPress changed some options and I haven’t yet figured out why I can’t edit them as much as I could before. Perhaps it’s time to change to a self-hosted site so I have more options? Does anyone have a particular one they suggest?

Friday Favorite: Greatist Parcel Favorites

Happy Friday! I’m a little under the weather here, but I really can’t complain since I managed to evade any sickness for the entire fall and winter using this approach. I’m not willing to say, “I’m sick” just yet–I still think I can beat this thing before it gets the best of me.

Emergen-C, echinacea tea, licorice tea, coffee

I usually have my coffee black, but need milk when I feel sick!

For today’s favorite, I wanted to revisit some of the items I received in my Parcel Greatist box (full Parcel Greatist box review post here). I’m personally always curious about how much people actually like the items they received from a subscription box and if they’d make a point to go out and buy them, so I’d thought I’d do a run-down of the items that really stood out and that I plan to buy.

Greatist Parcel Box

December’s Box:

Salamandra Naturals Lavender Soap: This soap was seriously great! All natural and exfoliating but also hydrating. Sign me up! Bonus: if you follow Salamandra Soaps on Twitter, you get a discount! Just use discount code twitter.

Salamandra Lavender Oats Soap back

January’s box (yes, that’s all for December’s box, but this box was much better!):

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds: I enjoyed these so much that I promptly went out and bought more once I was all out. I love that they add more protein, fiber, and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to my weekend smoothies.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Raw Green Organics Super Greens: These are another item that I have thoroughly enjoyed adding to my smoothies! It is a healthy, antioxidant-rich organic vegetable blend packed with EFAs, amino acids, phytonutrients and fiber. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but my small packet lasted me well over a month of having two smoothies a week, so a little bit goes a long way.

RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Look at how green it makes my smoothie!

Smoothie using RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Amala Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yogurt Mask, and Face Cream: Another expensive item, I know, but I can’t begin to tell you how well this moisturized my skin compared to my regular moisturizer! My usual cream quickly sinks into my skin, hydrating it, but leaving the surface a bit dry. This cream was not only absorbed, but left a barrier on the top of my skin, making it feel smooth and nourished. Add to that the fact that my skin didn’t freak out, and that they use organic plants and custom distill them, and this is definitely a quality product. I will be adding this to my Christmas wish list!

Amala hydrate collection

After having sore heels last weekend, I think I’m back on the upswing. I was able to go out yesterday and felt pretty good. I changed things up and instead of using KT tape and my old orthotics, used only my new orthotics. Both of my heels hurt for the first five minutes of walking, but since they both hurt I decided it was because I was still breaking in my orthotics.

Langer custom orthotic

New orthotic on right, old orthotic on left

Once I started my run/walk intervals (stage 7), they felt much better. The Achilles of my PF foot felt a bit tight, but no pain. The only real problem was my feet felt clunky, almost as though I had cinderblocks in my shoes, to the point that I felt my form was off. It was probably a combination of the fact that I was coming down with something (my legs felt fatigued) and adjusting to the weight/stability of the orthotics themselves. But I just had to get out and enjoy the first day of spring!

Questions: Do you have a subscription box? If so, which one(s) and what are some of your favorite products that you’ve received? Did you do anything to celebrate the first day of spring?