Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Strawberry season...

Well, tis the season for these beauties...
So can I tell you something?  I always thought strawberries were all fine & dandy, wading my way through your standard supermarket strawberry all my days.  But I had no idea what I was missing until the first time I tried a strawberry nearly straight from the vine from the Collingswood Farmer's Market quite a few summers ago...
Gems, I tell ya!  Absolute GEMS!  There is absolutely NOTHING like FRESH berries.  Those bland, flavorless supermarket varieties don't even hold a candle to these sweet, juicy beauties.  And since it's the height of the season, I just HAVE to share with you one of my VERYFAVORITE sweet & savory recipes:

(and cheese grits + pepper & corn saute on the side to round out the meal if you'd likeJ)

I know, I KNOW...don't look at me like that!  This dish is allllll the sweetness of the strawberries combined with salty toppings plus a kiss from the grill.  AKA- a SUMMER 101 dish that your family & guests (this is SOOOO pretty enough for company!) will never expect.  You're gonna LOVE it.

You just heat a cup of those beautiful strawberries in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of sherry vinegar (or sherry wine) and a dash of cardamom.  Mash the berries, give everything a swirl to combine the ingredients and bring the liquid to a boil... 

Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally...

You know it's done once the strawberries become thick and syrupy.  You can strain the mixture, but I like to leave it as is and keep the little strawberry chunks hidden in the syrup... 

While the strawberry sauce is cooking, you can toss the chicken on the grill with a little salt & pepper until cooked through.  Meanwhile, mix the topping of gorgonzola cheese, a little thyme & some diced prosciutto (or crumbled bacon even!)  Once the chicken is cooked, plate it on top of the strawberry sauce and cap it off with the gorgonzola/prosciutto/thyme mix.
Just divine!  Get ready to be pleasantly surprised.

Strawberry Chicken with Gorgonzola
Serves 4
  • 1 pound chicken, pounded flat
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar (or wine)
  • Dash of cardamom
  • 1 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 slices prosciutto, diced
  1. Combine strawberries, sugar & sherry in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for to until thickened (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  2. While the strawberry sauce is cooking, sprinkle the chicken with a little salt & pepper and cook on the grill (or stovetop) until cooked through.
  3. Combine cheese, thyme & diced prosciutto in a small bowl.
  4. Pour a little strawberry sauce on a plate and top with chicken and cover with cheese & prosciutto mix.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Holiday balance...

Monday:  1 slice of pizza from Pete's Steakhouse + salad
No irony AT ALL that I'm starting my balance post of the week, particularly a week I really worked on pulling it back together, with pizza.  Salad was my dinner plan, but when some of my family came to visit that day, there was no way I was going to pass up time with them because "I had to go home and eat my salad."  That just seemed so silly.
  In full disclosure, I had ordered a salad for my main dish, but I felt like the pizza looked too good to pass up without feeling deprived with my 'sad salad.'  So I stuck to one piece.  Monday motivation made it a lot easier to stick to itJ

Tuesday:  Skinnytaste Stuffed Cuban Pork with Carrot salad
You know the thermostat is on the rise when dinner is made on the grill in the slow cooker (nope, slow cookers aren't just for fall & winter!  They're also great for not heating up the kitchen in the summer) and when your side dish looks like the one above.  Shaved carrots mixed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Simple & cool = me likes.

Wednesday:  Cuban paninis with cucumber salad 
Scott & I couldn't wait one more day to try the pulled pork, ham, cheese & PICKLE sandwich at home.  And another cool side dish here:  Cucumbers + sour cream + dill + salt & pepper.  I actually used to have this for lunch quite often back in the day.  I may need to bust it out again in the hot days ahead.

Thursday:  "Naked" vegetable burrito (no tortilla) 
My lunch was so filling on Thursday that dinner wasn't even needed....and I forgot to take a picture, so double whammy.  Lily has a few remnantsJ  Salsa, guacamole, cilantro rice, black beans & grilled vegetables.  Again, none too shabby for the mall food court options.

Friday:  Tortilla-crusted taco chicken + steamed broccoli 
LOVEEEEE this chicken!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

And with that, I got swept up in probably my favorite weekend so far this year.  I feel like we've all been swirling around in our day to day busy-ness and me beginning my yoga teaching that it felt like a LONG WHILE since we really STOPPED and had some good family time together.  And despite my teaching schedule picking up over the holiday weekend, we had plenty of time to REALLY enjoy the moment.  Only 'blog problem,' I took hardly any food photos...opps.  I honestly didn't even think of it, which is sorta scaryJ  I definitely over indulged a bit over the weekend (particularly when I showed up to a picnic on Sunday STARVING and wanting to eat ALLTHEPICNICFOOD...rookie mistake!) but really just enjoyed myself and knew I'd go back to eating normal once the weekend was all wrapped up.  I have a blog post brewing about this, so I'll share more on Friday.  So, until then, here are so NON-food pics from the weekend....

Saturday night picnic on the beach...

...and our 1st trip to Hoffman's of the year...

 ...a picnic on Sunday afternoon, with Lily's 1st dip in the pool...

...and a Memorial Day trip to Circus Drive-In in Wall, NJ (a FUN, MAJORLY RETRO "ONLY IN NJ" kinda spot!)...

...before heading down to a cold, breezy trip to the boardwalk to take our 1st spin on the rides for the season... 

I can definitely say we kicked off the summer rightJ  We ALL had a blast...and I woke up this morning with no guilt about our indulgences and ready to tackle a healthy week ahead.  More on that later...OH, and at least I balanced with exercise for the week.  Like I said, my teaching schedule really picked up this weekend, so that helped with all my 'reminders' to get my exercise inJ:

Monday:  20 minutes dance/weights/squats/planks + Hatha Vinyasa yoga

Tuesday:  Taught yin yoga

Wednesday:  Taught vinyasa yoga + 20 minutes dance/weights/squats/planks + yin yoga

Thursday:  Taught gentle yoga

Friday:  Taught vinyasa & gentle yoga

Saturday:  Taught 1 1/2 hour vinyasa yoga class

Sunday:  Taught Power & gentle yoga

Here's to all of us kicking butt this week!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On the flip side...

I figured after writing my post last week that I debating about posting regarding the "retrograde" situation, that a follow-up this week would be necessary after all my ramblingsJ.  

So for those of you who don't know, Mercury finally planted itself back into position on the 22nd (Hallelujah) and since Friday, I feel like my brain has been finally coming out of that 3-week fog.  Things finally seem a little bit calmer & clearer and the 'space' that I've created in my head during meditation the last few months is finally starting to return.  For those who don't understand:  When I say 'space,' I mean it's that moment you give yourself before doing anything too impulsive and/or taking that breath before reacting.  I find that meditation gives you more of that mental 'hang-time' between action & reaction (does that make sense?)  And in the food world here (since, hello, blog!), it's that break you give yourself from that moment of "FREAKINOUTI'MSTARVING and I need COOKIES!!!!!!" to being able to STOP and make a rational choice.  I'd be lying if I said I still wasn't feeling more snacky than I have the past few months and that my brain has NOT calmed to the point where I'm not thinking about snacks & treats (especially in the afternoon & at nights).  BUT 'that space' gives me that moment to reassess and realize what I REALLY want.  So even though the snack cravings haven't diminished 100%, that calm brain makes choosing the healthier options throughout the day MUCH easier.  
And ya know what?  If I still need a bite of chocolate in the afternoons, I'm gonna have a bite of chocolate in the afternoons.  As long as the REST of my daily diet is about making healthier choices, that chocolate choice is A-OK in my bookJ

Another 'post-retrograde' moment I also noticed:  Teaching yoga has been MUCH easier the last few days....or at least LESS nerve wrackingJ  To be honest, nearly all of the classes I taught in the last couple weeks were extremely nerve wracking, feeling like the clock was at a standstill and the hour felt like YEARS, and feeling no confidence whatsoever.  And in having no confidence, it makes it INFINIETLY more difficult to just be yourself.  But every class I've taught since Saturday?  I felt like I got up there and OWNED it.  Even last night I taught a class in a style of yoga that I'm not really too familiar with and, even though I didn't feel like I did the BEST job, I was OK with it.  VERY different from the last few weeks of feeling like I was back in that old cycle of 'beating myself up' and thinking I did a bad job at every turn.   

How could it change so rapidly without there being some external reason??  Or am I just GRASPING for a reason and making this retrograde one fit??  I admit, I'm a person who likes REASONS because they helps things make sense for me.  And maybe this one is a stretch, but right now I feel OK with itJ.   It was funny because I can even distinctively remember other times where I was struggling and making unhealthier choices and (after a quick Google search) 97% of those times lined up with past retrograde cycles.  WILD!  It might just be a moment for me to acknowledge that those few weeks a year might be a little tougher than usual but that they WILL pass and I WILL get back on track.  I even physically had to shake myself one day last week to remind myself that that feeling would pass.

Maybe some of you out there feel the same, and maybe you feel the same for the zillions of other reasons that life can knock us down and make us feel like we're swimming upstream.  And maybe I'm supposed to write this post to let you know that those difficult times:  THEY DO PASS.  Just keep movin forward.  Moving forward is the only way to right any past let's all keep movin forward together.  

Woah...things just got too real & dramatic around here, huh???   

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Monday, May 23, 2016

A stumble, not a plummet...

Morning, all!

So ya know why this week's Monday post is NOT going to be about balance?  Because this week was not balanced in the slightest.  As a matter of fact, I think I barely even made dinner this week because my breakfasts & lunches were so out of sorts, that dinner was usually either non-existent or some weird combo of crap leftovers.  And to cap off the week of insanity, yesterday we had a breakfast of donuts:

And ended with a...get ready...a bacon wrapped-meatloaf: 

I mean, this is supposed to be a 'trying my best to be healthy' eating blog, right??  But this is also REAL life and while I usually try my best to eat within the 80/20 rule, some times everything just goes off the rails.  And after struggling for nearly THREE weeks and not doing great, but STILL trying to keep it within reason, yesterday ended up being the culmination of all those tougher 'stuggles.'  It's been a tough few weeks and hard not feel all of those 'bad' choices adding up, making you feel lousy and your brain feel cloudy.  But at some point yesterday I said to myself 'ya know what, instead of feeling guilty about this and mentally beating myself up over it, I just needed to recognize it for what it was:  a MOMENT.  Realize that NO, it was NOT how I actually LIKE to truly eat (or how I like to feel after eating all that non-healthy stuff), but it just was kind of a day after a couple harder weeks.  Just a day in the grande scheme of a normally 'healthy' lifestyle. And instead of saying 'THAT'S IT!  I'M GONNA GAIN IT ALL BACK NOW!  IT'S OVER!', I just recognized that I was going to get it back together.  And THAT'S IT.  Instead of turning this into a death spiral in my brain, yesterday I just wanted to own it and be fine with it.  Because ya know what, I ALWAYS feel better when I do well and I knew I wanted to feel that way again, like, NOW.  So maybe I could just be OK with the rougher days and then MOVE ON.

And ya know what I've already done this morning??

Worked out.  And not because I 'had to and had to beat myself up for all I've done,' but just because I wanted to and wanted to start off the week with MOTION.  That's it.  And in an effort to keep this positive, I also tried to focus on all that I HAVE achieved in the last couple months, so here goes:

  1. The # on the scale is one I would have KILLED for a few months even though there's a WAYS to go (isn't there always?), ya definitely gotta acknowledge how far you've come so far.
  2. I have kicked my daily 'coffee creamer' habit!  As I've mentioned on this blog before, coffee creamer was probably my most unhealthy DAILY habit.  I don't stress too much about ingredients in occasional TREATS, but didn't really love that I was having all those unpronounceable ingredients, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup and artificial flavors DAILY.  So I've swapped to honey & 1/2 and 1/2 for my daily coffee back in February and haven't looked back.  And even when I have creamer once or twice a month, it's not nearly as enjoyable.  Now, all remains to be seen when my favorite HOLIDAY flavors roll out in the Fall/Christmas...but we'll cross that bridge when we get thereJ
  3. I finally got myself into a near-daily meditation habit, which has been instrumental in ALL of my 'clear/rational' moments about food and ALLTHETHINGS in life.  Confession:  I had downloaded the app "Calm" in April, and one of the features is that it keeps track of your meditation "streaks."  THIS has been the one thing that brings me back to meditating, especially in those moments where you JUSTCANTDOIT.  My OCD reminds me that I want to keep the streak going and it's just that motivation I need to pluck myself down, even if it's just for those 10 minutes.  Whatever works, right??  I'm so close to going for a CLEAN SWEEP in I'm gonna keep on keepin on!
Not to mention, how awesome that it adds up all the minutes??  Crazy to think how those 10 minutes here and there can add up to HOURS.  Hours where you weren't stressing, fretting, obsessing, depressing and all of those negative 'ings,' but rather just being CALM.  Sounds like a much better way to spend your time, right??  

So that's what I'm going to choose to focus on at this moment rather than all the donuts/bacon meatloaf/lounging/rougher moments of the last week/couple weeks.  Which is making 'getting back on track' feel MUCH less like this unsurmountable mountain that you're staring up at from the very bottom.  Instead I'm just going to look at it as a little dip and now I'm gonna get back to climbing.  Why add the stress of feeling like you're 'starting all over,' when it's just a few rough moments in a whole lifespan?
It also helps me mentally keep everything in perspective that even though my food wasn't balanced last week, I DID at least keep up my workouts:


Monday:  Vinyasa yoga

Tuesday:  Tap class

Thursday:  Gentle yoga

Friday:  Taught gentle yoga + Gentle yoga + Power yoga

Saturday:  Taught vinyasa yoga (my 1st taught hour & a 1/2 class!)

I am already freaking out a little bit that this weekend is Memorial Day (WHATTT??!!!) and with that comes more opportunities for splurges and treats, BUT I'm going to focus on how I've been eating the last few months, where I've just taken each meal as it comes and focused on doing the best I could in THAT moment.  One thing at a time is always an easier way to handle EVERYTHING in life, right??

And with to kick of this week on the right foot: with a good breakfast.  Have a great day, everyone!

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