WIAW #63: Smoothies

I’m happy to report the weather is finally getting nicer and I can drink a smoothie for breakfast without having to crank the heat in my car to warm up afterward. I love smoothies in the morning because they are portable (who has minutes to spare in the a.m.?), refreshing and  I can sneak extra veggies into them. Who doesn’t want to start their day with a handful or two of spinach?

At Costco this weekend I stocked up on frozen cherries, frozen berries and a few tubs of baby spinach (which I froze) in order to prepare for lots of smoothie goodness. My other favorite add-ins are almond milk, chia seeds and Greek yogurt for some protein aka staying power. I’m looking forward to lots more smoothies this summer and to trying out some recipes from the smoothie cook book I got for my birthday in November (thanks, friends!).

As you’ve probably gathered, this week’s eats are going to start with a smoothie. Probably the weirdest picture of a smoothie… but here it goes!

Breakfast

Cherry Spinach Chia Smoothie (photo is the inside of my travel mug aka protein shaker… don’t judge.)

20140423-082516.jpg

Snack

Apple and string cheese… photo taken halfway in:)

20140423-082523.jpgLunch

Black bean veggie burger, roasted sweet potatoes over spinach, alfalfa sprouts and avocado

20140423-082530.jpg

Dinner

Farmers Market salmon and asparagus, brown rice

20140423-082537.jpgWhat are you eating this week? Smoothies – yay or nay?

This Week

Too many Easter treats result in a Sunday evening that ends with this:

20140420-210458.jpg

The juice was pricy, but if it gets the detox going, it will be worth every penny. It’s my first time trying the Blueprint juices (I’m usually a Suja girl) and this one definitely tastes like spicy lemonade. The agave gives it an interesting flavor… one of those flavors I can’t decide if I like or not.

This weekend was jam-packed with fun, food and fitness. Friday evening I picked up a new pair of Brooks and finally used a Lululemon gift card from my birthday in November. New shoes and new crops made for one heck of a run on Saturday morning. It was hard to tell if the extra pep in my step was due to the new gear or the fact that I knew I’d be ending my run at the first Farmers Market of the year.

One of my favorite parts of our town’s Farmers Market is the bakery that makes fresh doughnuts on site. They are probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. I’m not a Dunkin fan, but give me a bakery doughnut with sprinkles any day. We usually grab a doughnut each (they’re only $1) and stroll through the vendors.

Not a whole lot of produce yet since we’ve had a terrible winter, but we did pick up some mushrooms, asparagus, garlic and shallots. We also discovered a new vendor that carries local meats and fish. We picked up a huge piece of salmon and some ground beef. I can’t wait to try the fish. It was priced comparatively (a little cheaper) to Whole Foods where I usually buy my seafood. If it’s good, I might have found a new place to buy fish. You just can’t beat local.

20140420-210637.jpgSunday I did a little food prep and then we went over to my parents’ house for a BBQ feast. That’s how we do Easter around here. All of our holiday meals are a step above in my opinion. I love coming from a family that likes to eat. No boring potatoes and ham here… nothing against ham and potatoes… but they’re just not as delicious as smoked BBQ ribs and chicken. I made corn muffins and cole slaw to bring to dinner. I love corn bread, but there seriously has to be a way to make it healthier for you… it’s my new mission.

Eats

A solid week from Cook Smarts! I’ll be trying out all the recipes this week which are perfectly laid out to use some of our Farmers Market salmon.

Monday: Egg Mushroom Scramble (Cook Smarts)

Tuesday: Lemon Garlic Salmon with Asparagus (Cook Smarts)

Wednesday: Leftover Salmon Spinach Salad (Cook Smarts)

Thursday: Stirfry Udon Noodles with Chicken & Broccoli  (Cook Smarts)

Friday: Eating from the freezer, BBQ leftovers!

Exercise:

Monday: At-home power yoga (Grokker)

Tuesday: 3 mile run

Wednesday: At-home yoga

Thursday: 2 mile run + strength training

Friday: Live music yoga

Saturday: 4 – 4.5 mile run

Sunday: Rest/riding bike outdoors

How To Choose Almond Milk

How to choose almond milk

A few days ago I got asked a seemingly simple question -

“What kind of almond milk do you drink?” 

Instead of simply responding with Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla, I chose to respond with a few paragraphs (via email) detailing how I’d come to choose this particular almond milk. Don’t worry – I did warn the person it was a loaded question before I answered.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the different varieties of almond milk out there (and other non-dairy milks too) and how confusing it can be to stare at the shelf in the dairy case, not knowing what to choose. In fact, I once helped a women with a puzzled look on her face choose an almond milk for her daughter. Seriously… I love talking to people at the grocery store… and I hope her daughter liked the milk!

Over the past year or so, I’ve started buying almond milk exclusively although my husband still drinks dairy milk, so I do use it for cooking from time to time. The decision to eliminate dairy milk is a personal one, so I’m not going to preach about how wonderful it is. For me, the decision came because I didn’t drink a lot of milk in the first place (don’t really care for the taste) and I knew I was having sensitivities to dairy and was trying limit how much I consumed. Milk was out… cheese had to be in.

I began drinking shelf-stable Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla. It tasted pretty good, but the bottom of the glass (and carton) tended to have a chalky residue that was less than appetizing. A few months in, I noticed it contained the additive carrageenan which is derived from seaweed and added to many products as a thickening agent. Research has shown it may cause digestive issues in some people so even though the research isn’t definitive, I choose to avoid it where I can.

On to almond milk number two (Trader Joe’s) and three (Whole Foods), both unsweetened vanilla flavor (refrigerated). I like the flavor and texture of both of these almond milks and they are both carrageenan free. The deciding factor for me is the higher calcium content in the Trader Joe’s version. Since I don’t eat that much dairy (a good source of calcium, though there are others), the added calcium is what sets it apart for me.

I think it’s worth saying I much prefer refrigerated almond milks to shelf stable almond milks. The texture is smoother and I don’t have the chalky residue problem. Also, in the matter of full disclosure, I’ve never tried Silk brand, but I believe it is carrageenan free as well. I can’t provide any information on the nutrition facts either.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could make your own almond milk too. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Oh She Glows if you’re interested. I’ve never made my own, but maybe someday!

Do you drink almond milk or other non-dairy milks? What’s your favorite?

WIAW 62: Sunday, Sunday


Happy Wednesday and welcome back for a full day of eats! This week’s edition of What I Ate Wednesday is going to be a little different than most because I’m showcasing my meals (I use this term loosely, you’ll see why) from last Sunday. I don’t know about you, but eating on the weekends can sometimes look a lot different than a typical weekday.

During the week, I follow a pretty structured eating pattern. I make batch salads/meals to eat for lunch. Breakfast doesn’t change too much from day to day. Most of the time, I’d say I do better eating healthy during the week. Weekends tend to be for going out and enjoying restaurants and drinks with friends.

Part of the reason I wanted to share a day of weekend eating (and will probably do it again) is to once again hit home that you can’t judge a person’s diet on a snapshot of their choosing. Remember, WIAW is all about having fun and getting food inspiration, not comparing yourself to others.

Let’s roll with it…

Breakfast

I love sitting down and enjoying larger breakfasts on the weekend. This week, that meant scrambled eggs, leftover grilled veggies from the night before and some fresh pineapple.

20140416-074814.jpgLunch/Snackage

Due to running some errands and being home by myself on Sunday afternoon, I didn’t really have a proper lunch (whatever that means). Instead, I snacked here and there until I was full. First up was a mango-strawberry yogurt smoothie from Red Mango. It was delicious! I also munched on some leftover guac-kale-mole from Whole Foods (you got to try that stuff!) and some trail mix from TJs.

20140416-074820.jpg20140416-074826.jpg20140416-074832.jpgDinner

More errands and a hungry belly meant stopping at a local restaurant for dinner. I like to eat something really enjoyable for dinner on Sunday nights. For me, it helps ease in to the next week by finishing the last one off on a high note. That night I was being festive… grilled cheese in honor of National Grilled Cheese Month.

20140416-074839.jpg

What did you eat this week?

This Week: Fuel & Fitness + An Honest Message

I need to be honest for a minute – over the past few months maintaining this blog has been a struggle for me. Not because I don’t want to write it, but rather because I’m re-learning how to juggle life. Working, taking class and having at least a shred of a social life is tough, but worth every stressful minute.

For the first time since graduating college, I finally feel like I know what direction  I want my career to head and somewhat of a plan to get there. Creating a meaningful healthy-living blog is part of that journey for me, so I’m going to take a step back and hold myself accountable for a little less in order to hopefully move forward.

From now on, you can expect three blog posts per week: Monday (Weekly Snapshot), Wednesday  (What I Ate) and Friday (Wildcard). I’m hoping this schedule helps give me the structure I desperately need right now to move this blog forward. Enough of the serious stuff. Let’s talk about this week!

cajun fried rice from cook smarts

Cajun Fried Rice from Cook Smarts

Fuel

In terms of food, this week is looking pretty typical. I’m trying to eat more protein at breakfast and right now adding a scrambled egg to my Ezekiel toast is doing the trick. This week I bought the cinnamon raisin bread – delicious!

Lunches will be salads. I find lunch to be one of the best times to load up on my veggies for the day. As for dinner, I dug back in the Cook Smarts archives to pull out a few meals for this week. One new to us recipe and two we’ve tried before and loved. Here’s what’s on the menu in case you are interested!

Monday: Greek yogurt mac n cheese with added spinach (Cook Smarts)

Tuesday: Lemon shrimp, spaghetti squash & asparagus

Wednesday: Pulled BBQ chicken tacos (Cook Smarts)

Thursday: Vegetarian summer chili (Cook Smarts)

Friday: Grilled pizza – trying this for the first time!

Weekend: Not planned yet!

Running happy outdoors

Running happy outdoors

Fitness

This week I’m still focusing on building a base for my half marathon training. I’ve also been testing out the website Grokker for at-home yoga workouts. I’m hoping to try a power yoga workout this week.

Monday: At-home power yoga (Grokker)

Tuesday: 3 mile run

Wednesday: 40 minutes cross-training (elliptical or maybe another yoga video)

Thursday: 2 mile run + strength training

Friday: Live music yoga

Saturday: 3.5 mile run

Sunday: Rest/riding bike outdoors

What does your week look like?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.