Top 5 Things Right Now

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1. Coffee. This is a love affair that has been going strong for decades, but it’s in a sweet spot right now. It took me most of the year to get used to drinking it black, but I finally stopped missing the sweet taste of sugar. Speaking of which, I’m just shy off 11 months without candy or sugar. How crazy is that???

2. Shameless. I finally got around to watching the US version and love it. Not the most uplifting of shows, but I was hooked after about two episodes. I’m pretty excited that I’m still watching season 6 and there is one currently on Showtime.

3. Queso. This is becoming problematic. I had it twice on Saturday. It’s just so good though and everyone is always up to get it with me!

4. The gym. AKA, the thing that allows me to eat so much queso. Seriously, I have been anti gym for years but love the little community I have become a part of and crave my hour there every week day.

5. Sleep. I still maintain that my allergies are crazy right now and it’s not a cold. Once I fall asleep though, oh it feels so nice and to get out of bed just feels wrong.

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Top 5 Favorite Things Right Now

Shoe boxes in action in the studi
Shoe boxes in action in the studio

I enjoyed my Top 5 Favorite Things so much a few weeks ago, that I have decided to do it again. That’s the beauty of having your own blog after all, you share whatever you want.

1. Jelly hair elastics. I have been using these for a few years and feel that it is my duty as a person with fine long hair who is athletic to bring these up. These things do. not. move. You can jump up and down, run for miles, punch and kick shit and get soaked with sweat and your ponytail will be right where you left it. They are not the easiest to remove as you can’t just pull it off your ponytail, and instead have to unwind it, but no big deal. I bought mine at the grocery store, but Amazon has them too. (Scunci No-slip Grip Evolution Jelly Ponytailers)

2. Crime shows. I have yet to meet one that I did’t love. I actually screamed in excitement yesterday when I saw that there was a new season of NCIS on Netflix. I have watched probably most of the shows out there, but am always looking for suggestions for new ones. I have a few days coming up where I will have to lay low on the couch and take it easy so I’m currently trying to prep myself with good tv…well, you know what I mean.

3. Jicama Tortillas. My gal pal Cyndie brought these to book club to go with her epic cuban pork and holy moly, they’re amazing! They don’t crack/rip/break as you’d think they would, are crisp, delicious (I have a crazy crush on jicama) and really good for you compared to a real tortilla. I’m not sure if other states have them but we have them at HEB here in Texas in the produce section and I HIGHLY recommend you try them.

4. The Container Store shoe boxes. I bought 2 cases for my studio when we moved and I’m ready to order a few more cases. They are great for organizing, well made and cheaper than most boxes this size. I heart them.

5. Magic Erasure. I have been using these for years and years and every single time I use one, I agree that it’s magic. Every house should have one on hand so you can experience it’s magic powers.

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Collecting Cookbooks

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Last year I got into coobooks. The whole paleo thing inspired me to pick up the books of a few of my favorite bloggers and I was so happy with them that I have tried to keep an eye out for any that looked good. For lack of a better description, I’d say that for the most part, I cook “foodie light”. I love food and eat out at great restaurants pretty often, so to counter all the eating out, when I’m home I tend to make meals on the lighter side. I however am into food production sources and ingredients that perhaps the normal “light” eater would not use. Nor would the normal foodie. For example, I really don’t like butter, but 90% of the time I will not use oil other than coconut so this leaves most cookbooks out of my radar. I don’t mind this as I’d rather only buy a handful of cookbooks a year that I love rather then tons that I never look at. Two recent purchases have been Giada’s Good Food, which are the recipes that she actually eats and filled with low cal options which i have appreciated in my recent weight loss crusade. The second, The Pollan Family Table, I have not gotten into yet and I’ll admit I bought it for reasons unrelated to food. The main reason is that I am obsessed with Michael Pollen and his sisters both wrote the book and they did it at their parents home, (down the street from my moms old house!) so I figured that as he wrote the forward, some of his influence had to be there. I also enjoy that Michael J Fox is involved, as I have always loved him. His wife Tracy is of course one of the authors.

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What I am most excited about though is I’s All Easy, Gwyneth Paltrows newest cookbook. One of my favorite cookbooks ever was one I bought a couple of years ago and completely surprised me in how much I love it. Although I’m not a GP hater, I wasn’t sure if I’d like her cooking style, but It’s All Good changed my mind about all of that. I still have recipes from that book in constant rotation and I think her black sesame carrots changed my life. I was so excited when I found out she had a new one coming out this year that I think I screamed. I then of course forgot about it until I saw someone post it on IG the other day and ordered it that second. Thank you to prime, I already have it my hands and I LOVE IT!!! This one is all about the quick end of day cooking and I think most recipes are about 30 minutes. Most are gluten and/or dairy free (which I do eat both of in case you were wondering) and they all look amazing. There is a heavy Asian influence on this one and I wonder if it has to do with the co-author, that they are both in LA or what, I but am really diggin it. I have a hunch that I’ll be making the pork belly ramen dish soooo soon…we in Austin take pork belly very seriously.

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The skinny dress

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Last fall, I was not feeling or looking my best and decided to make a change. Although I ate really healthy (including eating all of my daily fruits and veggies) and exercised, it no longer was enough to maintain and my weight had crept up. At the same time, my good friend Luke was changing careers to make his love fitness a full time job. I worked with him for a month from September to October and I learned that I could push myself much harder without dying and that as I have been aging, that I needed to add more cardio. Besides fitness, we were chatting about food one day and he thought I should check out macros and learn about the importance of tracking them if you work out hard, I was intrigued. After our month together, I was motivated, excited and on the right path. Then some health issue came up and I turned to candy to deal with the stress of it. In mid December, after a visit to the dr and finally figuring out the problem (Adenomyosis) and working towards a temporary treatment and planning an eventual cure, I realized how much I had been stress eating (mostly jelly belly jelly beans). I had ballooned up fast in the short span of a month, could hardly fit into my clothes and felt miserable.

First things first, I, as you may know, stopped eating sugar immediatly after the dr’s office visit. All sugar, no cheat days, none in my coffee, zero, zip, nada. I started dropping the extra weight I had put on in the last month really fast from that alone but then decided to get back to my fighting weight. To the weight I had been for most of my adult life, and what almost all of you know me at, so nothing drastic, however it still felt overwhelming. But I dug my heels in and got to work. I upped my workouts applying what I learned from Luke. I alternated longer run days with days where I would do a warm up run and then a video, each week both of these runs became longer and faster. On my two days off a week, I still walked at least 3-4 miles. I bought a fitbit Zip that I keep it in my bra and I started tracking calories and macros to see where the issues were. (Turns out I love tracking food, its like a daily puzzle I have to solve and works really, really well for me.) I had been against scales for a few years and relied solely on how clothes fit, but I knew that I’d need more than that to do this, so I immediatly went out and bought both a food scale and body scale. I was on a mission to not let my uterus (which during an ultrasound was discovered to be 4 times the normal size) with its enlarged size and bloating tendencies dictate how I looked and felt. I would not let my stupid uterus have any more control.

I set a weight goal, but really my goals were the dresses hanging in my closet. (I mean really, what women doesn’t keep clothing for this purpose in her closet?) There were a few specific dresses that each represented a bench mark I wanted to get back to. Over the last few months, as my clothes began fitting normally again and I found myself able to comfortable fit back in most pieces, there were three dresses in particular that were standing out as the ones I was striving for. I have been trying them on along the way to see where I am, and had been frustrated at what seemed like so little progress with them. This morning though, I was feeling good. Last night, Adam told me that any pro athlete would be proud of the training I’ve been doing, and that felt really good to hear! So I was still riding on that when I woke up today and decided to weigh myself (I only do this randomly every few days or sometimes even every week or so), and discovered that I have officially lost 30 lbs since December! Exciting, but you know, just a number.

So I went for the ultimate test, I had shied away from trying on the dreaded dresses for a few weeks as that last time when I tried on the dress from the day we eloped, there was a lot of extra over hang on top, (upper body muffin top, if you will), I couldn’t zip up a dress I wore when I came to visit Austin 5 years ago and I wasn’t even ready to go near THE DRESS…the smallest and least forgiving of any dress I have ever worn that is raw silk, cut on the bias and tight on the hips and makes me terrified to even consider trying. But today, 2 days shy of a vacation in the Bahamas and 2 weeks before the birthday goal date I was aiming for, I was feeling good. I yelled for Adam to grab the wedding dress from the closet (this took two tries by the way, how do men not pay attention to what you wear??). I think he was more nervous than I was as he didn’t want to see me so disappointed again. It zipped with no problem. There was not a peek of upper muffin top, it may have been a little roomy. We both looked at each with a kind of awe. Then Adam got bored and wandered off. But I immediately grabbed the second, and it zipped right up too! So feeling brazen, I want for the last dress…and OMG, it fit!! There was cheering, maybe some weird version of twerking and lots and lots of jumping for joy! All the dancing lady emojis!!!

I’m feeling pretty awesome about how once again hard work and determination accomplished my goals. To be really honest, I’m also kind of nervous about traveling for 8 days and not being able to keep such a tight grasp on what I’m eating, but I do understand the need to live a little, its just really soon to feel like I could actually undo the hard work so fast. Remember the beginning of this post? I can gain weight really, really fast! But at least now I know how to reverse it. As far as long term goes, I really like using the tracking app, especially for macros. I’ve started to notice that if I get a headache or feel sluggish, it’s almost always because I haven’t had enough fat that day. I will most likely keep tracking so I can maintain without fearing that I’ll keep loosing (I have gone board in the past and become too skinny, that and I want to fit in the clothes in my closet!). I also love my current workouts, so I’m sure if I need to dial it back or eat more, but that will have to be figured out. Right now, I’m just really happy that I was able to give up sugar (which will absolutely remain banned from my life, I have no control with moderation in that area) and show my uterus who the boss really is.

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30 Minute Black Bean Soup

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I love soup in the winter, especially big batches of it that I can easily reheat for lunch. The past month we have had a black bean soup in heavy rotation that I completely forgot I used to make all the time. I had perfected the recipe years ago and was delighted that it really was as quick and easy to make as I remembered. It tasted better then my memory allowed though and that is why I have made it so often. It really does take about 30 minutes, and is soooo tasty!

Black Bean Soup
Serves 4

1 t kosher salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T garlic
1 c red onion, chopped
1 1/2 c red pepper, chopped
3 15 oz cans black beans, undrained
1 3/4 c chicken broth, low sodium

Bag of shredded Mexican cheese

In medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, red pepper and garlic until soft, approx 7 minutes.
Add 2 cans beans, broth, vinegar, salt, black pepper, cumin and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves.
Use stick blender and blend in the pot keeping a few lumps. If you don’t have a stick blender, transfer very carefully into a blender or food processor and pulse.
Add 3rd can of beans and blend/pulse for a second, keeping most beans whole.

Sprinkle cheese on top and serve!

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Pro Tip: Fro-yo

I jokingly posted on a photo I took of my Shack Burger on Instagram a few weeks ago “Pro-Tip: ask for xtra pickles on the side” and I realized I was onto something. As I not only love food, I have personally been in the food industry AND many, many of my friends are in restaurant management or chefs. This all means that I not only know my way around a restaurant, but talk about food All. The. Time. As we have already established, on Wednesdays we talk about food. So now, on some Wednesdays, I will share Pro Tips with you.

This week it’s all about the Fro Yo! I am a big fan of the soft serve yogurt places as you get to add candy and as much of it as you want with no judgement. Its the only time I get to eat candy these days and I look forward to this treat every other week or so. A month or so ago, Adam and I were chatting with the young man who seems to always be working when we go to the place down the street and he changed my life forever with one word: layering. As in layer your toppings. So simple and obvious and yet not something I would have ever thought to do! I was so excited that I made a really quick video…and I immediately changed the lives of my IG and Vine followers. Mind blowing.

p.s. if you cannot view the view, you may watch it on Instagram.

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Top 5 Snacks that are sort of guilt free.

 

peanut butter pretzles

Are you a snacker? I find that eating every four hours works best for me so I usually eat three meals and a snack each day. I have never been much of a snack food eater, so I don’t stock the pantry  with things like chips and crackers but that doesn’t mean I avoid all snacks. The above photo is of my ultimate weakness, peanut butter filled pretzels. These are the HEB brand and are available both in the chip aisle and in the bulk foods aisle. I prefer to buy them in the bulk aisle so I only buy a handful as I have no self control. They never last more than one day, no matter how big the bag! Regardless if they’re pretzels or a bit healthier, my favorite go snack foods are easy to grab and usually a combo of salty and sweet. I will often have my snack within half an hour of a run or workout so I like snacks that fuel me as much as possible. These are my go to top five, sometimes I add in new ones but I usually come back to these:

1. Apples and peanut butter (or almond or sun butter). My lifelong favorite snack and Fuji apples are my go to apples.

2. Hummus and raw veggies. I usually go with cut up cucumbers, carrots, peppers and grape tomatoes. Sometimes instead of the hummus, I’ll have a few olives.

3. Cold soup. A new addition to the list but I buy both in single servings and big bottles. There is a gazpacho that has a little oil in it and I feel fueled enough to run 3.5 miles after a cup of it.

4. Apricot rolls and almonds. Have you seen these rolled fruit thingies? I get them in the bulk food section and these are made from apricots, apples and a bit of coconut. A few of these and about 12 almonds is perfect.

5. Yogurt. I love yogurt even though it does not love me back. I finally found an organic lactose free one that I love though and now can eat it without getting sick…hooray!

What are your go to snacks?

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Current Inspiration

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I’ll have to admit that the only thing that my current favorite inspiration images are inspiring me to do, is enjoy everyone’s favorite summer treat…ice cream. Although the beauty of mu current obsession is that it is not restricted to the dairy delight, but to all frozen treats, including this fantastic idea of making watermelon pops! Looking to expand your frozen intake this summer, check out my Frozen Bliss pinterest board and see what inspires you!

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Deep Thoughts From The Past Week

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At Lenoir in Austin, TX

1. Peeping through windows in fences is fun! It also prompts lots of poses…I should really peep though more fence windows.

2. I really like having short hair in theory. But in practice, I didn’t like it 90% of the time as for me it was much more high maintenance than really long hair is. I think this is due to my fine curly hair…it need attention to look good short. 

3. The bond that you have with people you attended boarding school with is like no other.

4. Volunteering does for my heart what exercise does for my head. I have been figuring out what to do next for too long since stepping down from my last board position and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I finally started again. Service is good for the soul.

5. Having two dogs in bed with you is not conducive to a solid nights sleep. I don’t think I’ve had one night of uninterrupted sleep since Mora moved in. And its almost always Faye who is disruptive.

6. Which brings me to my next deep thought, that Rat Terriers are incredibly food motivated and get worse when there are multiple of them. Are they egging each other on?

7. I’m pretty sure that I only eat fro-yo as an excuse to eat candy. Which by the way, I have been really good about besides a handful of fro yo splurges in the last 6 weeks!

8. People in the South, and Texas is included in this, move slow on many levels. Shipping seems to be included in this. There is no sense of urgency here!

9. Running in 100 degree temps is brutal, but it’s also a little extra satisfying when you’re done and you know you survived it.

10. This one is more of a question…is it necessary to drink water in the middle of a 40 minute run when it is 90-95 degrees out? Somedays I’m ok, but other days I think that I should have one of those little water bottle belts when it’s this hot. I would prefer not to have to wear one or carry water though, so if I’m fine not having water until after I’d like to wait.

 

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Salad Season

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A medley of salads from past summers. Thank you IG for giving me a reason to record these.

As soon as the weather starts heating up, I seem unable to eat hot food at home. I crave the occasional ramen, but for the most part, I am eating salads. This is a pretty loose terms that means mostly raw veggies and a protein. So maybe I should say “salads”. For the most part, I start with a bed of greens…in the past I was almost always reaching for baby spinach, but this summer I have been favoring green leaf lettuce. I then add handfuls of colorful raw veggies, sometimes a fruit such as mango or strawberries and every so often olives, nuts, seeds, pickles or capers. I add a protein and as I do eat meat, it’s usually chicken, prosciutto or tuna. I did go through a crab phase that was pretty epic a few years ago…I should revisit that. I currently have been buying frozen cooked shrimp and that’s been awesome, I will keep that going. Eating paleo, I have not eaten beans in awhile, but this summer, I brought hummus back into my routine because it’s just so good, I can’t stay away. For dressing I prefer naked salads with a little Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt or if I want a bit more oomph, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I also have been making my own mayo, so I started using it with tuna again, and that counts as a dressing sometimes. One summer I was making a lot of dijon tarragon dressing, but I prefer naked veggies so I stopped. This year I have been having “salads” usually twice a day, so the second one tends to be more utilitarian and not as pretty. Here are my recent creations and thank you again to IG for encouraging me to photograph them.

 

Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce, Prosciutto, Cucumber, Tomato, Red Peppers, Mango and Balsamic Vinegar
Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce, Chicken, Cucumber, Tomato, Avocado, Black Olives and Balsamic Vinegar
Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce, Shrimp, Cucumber, Tomato, Red Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas
Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce, Hummus, Cucumber, Carrots, Red Peppers and Mango
Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce, Tuna with Pickles and Homemade Mayo, Cucumber and Tomatoes
Salad
Deconstructed Gyro: Green Leaf Lettuce, Lamb, Cucumber, Tomato, Olives and Tzatziki Sauce

 

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