Holiday Clean Up: Favorite Products + Gifts

I’ve reached a point in life (who’s with me?) where holiday ‘thing’ gifting has become more of a guessing game/chore of not only what someone would want, but also what they possibly haven’t already bought themselves.  Unless it is personal, hand-made, or something I KNOW do/would use on a go-forward basis, I mostly poke around for weeks in shops and online without too much success.

This year, instead of getting real with the struggle,  I’m pumping out the things that rock the top of my list, are great last minute grabs, and will carry value into the new year for any of your sweat-loving, clean eating, or general healthy-living friends and family [that are maybe joining us for The Whole Damn Thing in January].

Sweaty Betty: Our friends at Sweaty Betty are having a big freaking sale [and you can too].  If you don’t know about this awesome fashion for your sweat lifestyle, you need to, and now you can get some of their community favorites for up to 50%, which you will not want to miss.  Things are selling out fast, so get on it.  [click on the link to get yours]

Gifting 728x90

MODpaleo: this is hands down the best gift for the on-the-go + convenience-loving person in your life that is also trying to keep the sugar/grains/processed foods down to a minimum, while keeping energy up.

To add to the daily-awesomeness of this paleo delivery service, you can also get family-sized holiday sides to take your holiday meals up a notch.

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As we gear up for the Whole Damn Thing, launching for our @MADcville, @MADcharleston and @bcoremethods communities on January 3rd, these clean food focused gifts will come in handy, and in the most dramatic of sugar detoxes will save dozens of lives (mostly of family members and friends). MODpaleo will be running a killer special for a 4 week meal plan subscription, so stay tuned for that news — and in the meantime, grab a gift card to stuff a stocking, or put right under the tree.  I promise, you won’t be going wrong.

hungryroot:  This year, with a focus on expanding the community of food preferences (vegan/veggies unite!) one of our new favorite companies that focuses on keeping food clean of preservatives and gluten is hungryroot, emphasizing the diversity of root vegetable noodles.

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I got my first shipment last week and I have to say it is AWESOME.  It does require a stovetop, and is a little more of a ‘prepared cooking’ option, but it is amazing for the non-gourmet chef looking to learn a little and potentially have some friends over during the Whole Damn month and need a healthy side option that will still be loved by anyone.  You can add chicken to any of the meals, which is great, but also provides a solid veggie-rooted option for all.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 10.46.50 PMOf course, giving the gift of sweats is also an amazing option, and you can get gift certificates to MADcville, MADcharleston, or b:core methods [barre. cardio. core] through our mindbody sites to help your loved one (or loving self) take advantage of our Holiday and New Year specials.  With so much happening around our #sweatIX compound in 2016, you’ll want to get in on it early and take advantage of our full lifestyle pricing options – more info to come soon.

Until then celebrate the season of giving [to yourself]:  eat well, and sweat often.

Gifting 728x90

How my Cream of Mushroom Soup Went Paleo to Complete my Thanksgiving and Save my Life

This Thanksgiving has lasted for what feels like forever, yet despite it being December, it’s still not over for my crew.  Apparently 2015 is for epic ‘Thanksgiving Never Say Die’ efforts [read: excuses] to keep the wine flowing until it’s appropriately close to the next Holiday, for eight crazy nights, to then ultimately transfer the blame onto an old fat man and his elves.  Whatever, long live all the holidays, I say.

The truly amazing thing about my Friends/Family-giving crew this year is that over the last two years it has, for the most part, not only evolved into a paleo/cleaneating lifestyle, but actually owns it like bosses…..and at this point, they probably do it better than us.

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After teaching barre at b:core bright and early on Thanksgiving morning, there was nothing more I wanted to do than exactly what happened next; park sprints with the dogs in the 70 degree weather and a full blown dinner with some of my favorite people.

There’s something to say about how food brings people together, and having a group that likes to eat the same way, testing new clean recipes with love and lots of flavor…well that’s pretty much the best possible holiday combination.

Now, I did an absolute garbage job of documenting the first (and probably most important phase) of my Turkey Day kitchen therapy, but thankfully the foundation of it all persisted through two more amazing meals this week.  And it all started with just seeing those green beans.

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I’m pretty obsessed with green bean casserole (alarmingly obsessed), so I didn’t want to forego my one true holiday love, just in the name of Paleo Thanksgiving.  So, like any innovative and desperate meal experimenter, I took to the internet to make my dreams come true.  And I found it, a paleo recipe for cream of mushroom soup that is surprisingly easy to make, and even more surprisingly delicious.

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So, as you’ll see above in my less than delicately organized plate, we had mashed yucca (or YUMMA!) at 12 o’clock; my butter lettuce with cherry tomatoes, almond slivers and truffle salt/olive oil dressing at 2pm; brussels sprouts and root vegetables at what looks like 5:30 and then my coveted, ever loving paleo green bean casserole with oven broiled onion topping (victory!) at 7pm, before filling the rest of the space up with Turkey and carnitas.  Yes, paleo carnitas.  Life was amazing, and when washed down with good wine and great conversation, there was nothing else I could have wanted in life.  Bonus: we were all wrapped up, home, and asleep by 8:30 – magical.

So, what’s the rest of the story?  Well, it all comes back to the cream of mushroom soup that I made with my very own hands and killer hand blender.  It didn’t just end with the green beans; a couple of days later it found it’s second home in a chicken, brussels sprouts, peppers, and brown rice bake that rocked my midweek world.

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The finished product was awesome, and was the perfect pairing for a romaine, tomato, avocado, almond sliver, radish, and tesse mae dressed salad.

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And just when I thought that perhaps the (mushroom) gravy train had possibly ended, I was lucky enough to get whatever horrible winter cold is circulating at the moment and found myself miserable, hungry, and desperate for a little cold weather therapy — so I made some.

Sauted onion, brussels sprouts and zucchini in a pot, followed by the remaining chicken/rice/veggie leftovers, all the rest of the cream of mushroom soup, a full liter of chicken stock, all came together to bring SO much happiness into an otherwise dreary evening of sick.

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Now, off to sleep because there are way too many amazing things happening this week (and that need to happen) to let this cold crush me.  So, in closing, paleo cream of mushroom soup is a real thing, it’s amazing, and it has already begun saving lives this holiday season.

 

 

 

Food Lately, November Style

The last two weeks have been about cleaning up from the chaos of the previous few months, organizing everything within reach, and setting up for a solid start to 2016.

I’ve been doing a little more of a local and multi-source roundup for food stuffs lately, trying to both create and save a little change in the process.  Last weekend, however, with limited time and limited need, I hit up Whole Foods, my own personal Kryptonite.

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I’m going through a pretty serious chicken phase at the moment, trying to move away from the all too frequent steak indulge – both for a little reining in of my food expenses, and also for a little change up to get out of the repetitive meal rut that I’ve been in for a while.

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Whole chickens are totally my jam, so I kicked off the week  on Sunday with a little grill action; all the chicken, asparagus, and my favorite kale slaw [shredded kale, cabbage, green onion, carrots with bonus radishes and avocado dressed in fresh squeezed lime juice, olive oil and himalayan sea salt].  Dinner = Yum.

IMG_4031Tuesday night I took a different twist on one of my absolute favorite meals.

Salad was just a simple love [torn romaine, cherry tomato and slivered almond combo (avocado added as the finale) dressed in light olive oil and truffle salt].

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The main love of the meal (for me) was simmered ground beef and onion (with coconut oil), zucchini, and mushrooms, with spiraled sweet potato noodles added in for the last 5 minutes to soften and absorb the flavor.

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When I say I loved it, I think I’m actually not fully doing the meal justice since it was absolutely everything I wanted and nothing that I didn’t.  The red wine that accompanied it also didn’t hurt.

When I make the time to refocus in the kitchen to allow for creativity and  a little personal therapy, having time away from everything else that takes my attention, it is usually the best way to infuse energy back into all aspects of my being.

This weekend, which ‘thankfully’ started two days early, is a long awaited opportunity to get all of the things organized, strategies completed, and life organized as we march hard into December and the scheduling chaos that is before us.

Tomorrow we’re doing a b:MAD misfit toys paleo potluck hosted by part of the original tribe, so get pumped for the recap of what will undoubtedly be a crazy amazing holiday to remember.

A Week of Travel, Organization, Work, and Feng Shui MADness

Life lately has been a little bit of everything; it’s been the good, the bad, the ugly, the exhausted, the energized — and all the things in between.  My instagram feed would detail the below as the highlights, but it hardly captures the ‘all’ that it entails.  So, join me as I head back to the chronicles, and warm the blog back up in tandem with the newly launched website/blog for b:core where you’ll be hearing from me, some of our favorite partners, and of course, our teachers.  We’ve got a lot to say, me especially, so I’m pretty excited to welcome in the hibernation and existential thought producing season that winter is.fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

Last week I was in Charlotte for work, which is always a little bit of an adjustment to my personal time and life management style. Somehow I always forget how crazy the traffic has become since I first moved there in 2009, and just how unbelievably convenient life in Charlottesville is with everything falling within a 1 mile radius and 5-10 minute commute – tops.  Running in line with that is just how much I love my #sweatIX compound, and all of the things that keep my life motoring along [almost] effortlessly now that we’ve got all the tacos and coffee that we could handle.

After a full week of all things work, and some mid-week celebrations for the MADabolic CLT 4 year anniversary, I could not have been more ready to head back home — of course with a 10 foot box truck filled with all the favorite things that filled the Charleston MAD apartment for the last 6 months.  For whatever reason, come Saturday morning, my exhaustion turned a corner (or came full circle) and in a post-interval craze I felt compelled to begin what can only be classified as an all-day over[u]haul of MADcville and b:core methods to bring all the happiness and warmth to the spaces, and my sanity. [And this is where I’d like to thank West Elm and HomeGoods for always being there, powering my home decor and nesting addiction, and being ever so clutch in my life – here and everywhere. I love you.]

And here it is, my home away from home, my work-day office, and the #sweatIX think tank where all the decisions are made and grand ideas are launched (or decidedly not).

fuel sweat grow: office juju home decor

fuel sweat grow: Office organization and MADcville

It might not seem like a lot, but it has truly changed my whole world — and while I don’t really go around spouting about feng shui per say, my environment and it’s set up makes the full difference in how productive (and happy) I am.  There are few things I love more than a good scorch and burn of closets and living spaces to make room for organizational bins and everything HomeGoods, so this was probably the best possible way for me to close out a long week.

Oh, and this: FREE coffee being served up outside of Whole Foods on Sunday thanks to Allegro Coffee Company and their #FLXBUS.

fuel sweat grow: Allegro Coffee bus #FLXbus

At b:core we’ve been slowly but surely adding all the things that make it feel the appropriate winter level of warm and welcoming, and over the last few weeks we made a few updates that have majorly contributed to our love affair with the sweeter, softer, and very deceptively [not so] gentle side of the building and it looks a little like this:

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods cville barre studio and core life

Our teacher photos are hung, happy, and will soon all come to life with some more never been seen shots as we release our teacher features on the blog.
fuel sweat grow: b:core methods teacher photos

Just to add a little to the ‘everything’ theme of the weekend, we also went to Red Shoe Cville’s AMAZING Rocktoberfest at the IX art park on Saturday Night, and it was so. much. fun.  Next year we are certainly all going to rock out at this event, so stay tuned for my full recap and launch of the really amazing opportunities and experiences that are about to come to life through this partnership.

fuel sweat grow: Red Shoe Cville ROCKTOBERFEST

So now, I’m just slowly recovering from a week of the non-stop in a city so far from the quiet convenience of this small Cville town, and I’m doing it from my newly happy-fied office in this place that owns my heart at it’s core.

The Inexact Science of Business, Life + Pumpkin Muffins

When I bake, I typically use a recipe (or two) as a framework, but the actual mixing of the ingredients is usually more of an inexact science.  For the last few years, trying to eat and cook clean has led to a fair amount of substitution and modification – mostly through trial and error – to figure out what combinations do or don’t work.

It’s a lot like life and business (the business of life?); systems and framework are critical to the foundation, but the rest is somewhat of an inexact science – an art if you’re lucky – that either blends into something amazing, or something that warms your garbage.

I’ve been thinking about it all lately as I try to navigate the ebbs and flows of the different businesses, my day job, and all things life.  So, today, I decided to dive into the metaphorical, and fulfill a few of my core desires in the moment: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and kitchen therapy.

Without naming names, there’s a coffee shop in town (cough:: Mudhouse) that in the fall makes amazing pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I became addicted years ago when Mudhouse was the only real local coffee game in town, and I would buy them in pairs like a little muffin hoarder out of fear that they’d run out the next morning before I got there.  Over the last few years the debut date of the pumpkin muffin has been more and more delayed –probably for the best, since eating sugar-laden muffins two-by-two is not consistent with any of my life goals.  Regardless, I still think about them every fall as the weather turns crisp and just like the stroke of midnight, everything turns into a pumpkin.

So today I pulled up this recipe from paleOMG and decided to fall in love with a muffin that I can have a reasonably stable relationship with.

fuel swat grow: paleOMG pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Of course I had to make some modifications; in part due to ingredient preferences and availability, and in part due to my inability to painstakingly measure anything out exactly — that’s the art part for me; the outlet and liberation from following all the rules.

Modification #1: Date Paste subbed in to replace Maple Syrup.

fuel sweat grow: raw date paste

My main objective when cooking/eating clean is to eliminate most processed sugar, and leverage the flavor and sweetness of the natural sugars.  There are a number of different replacements out there, but dates are usually my go-to and were at top of mind this week after our friend Lisa geeked out over date paste to make what looked like some pretty amazing waffles this weekend.  Here’s a pretty basic and easy walk through from the chalkboard to get your sweet on without delay.

fuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplementfuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplement

Once I had the paste set and ready to go, it was out with the maple syrup and back to the muffins.

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I ‘followed’ most of the rest of the instructions, pretty loosely, substituting in ‘pumpkin spice’ to replace the majority of the spices (except for cinnamon), eye balling most of the measurements, and multiplying the recipe by 2 (or maybe 2.5…who knows).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Yeah, I went a little rogue, but we all survived, and 10 minutes later it was all in the oven ready to prove whether or not my ‘art’ of mixing works, or not.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

While I waited for the moment of truth, I checked back in with the recipe and blog to get a good vision of what they ‘should’ look like, you know, if my muffin babies were ever going to be brunch models.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin muffinsSince I pretty much just used the recipe as a suggested guide for basic structure and context, I wasn’t counting on my muffins being anywhere near as photogenic as the ones in the recipe, but I don’t think they’re half bad (if I do say so myself).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin muffins paleOMG Maybe I’m just having a proud parent moment, but outside of looking appealing enough, they also happen to taste AMAZING. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I’m just saying, if they’re wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

[Disclaimer: if you’ve never had anything made with coconut flour before, the texture will likely seem odd at first, but once the taste sinks in, and you’ve had your first one, you’ll never turn back.  Just don’t freak out because it’s all in your head.]

They also apparently smelled pretty good, because this little diva begged incessantly before giving up to watch the rest of Harry Potter, in a full on pout, alone with her chipmunk.

fuel sweat grow: bug says pout

So, in short, I think what these pumpkin muffins are representing today is the reality life requires flexibility and modification.  There’s no one way to do anything, but if the basic systems aren’t there and the foundation is weak, it doesn’t really matter how you modify the rest.  It’s metaphorical, sure, but I really think there’s something to it.  The trick is having the patience to stay focused and committed to that core structure so that the modifications can just strengthen the goal.  I guess bells and whistles are nothing without wind.

And if that’s wrong, well, I gave it a reasonable shot, and whether the outcome is perfect or not, hopefully the modified version will still be tasty in it’s own right.

Fall, You’re my Jam.

October is my jam, more specifically.  It’s the month of all the colors, of the crispest fall air (before winter starts to loom), of all things pumpkin, the return of lattes and the beginning of the cold weather nesting.  There’s nothing I love more than settling into regular supper clubs, friendsgiving gatherings, recipe collections, and more focused gratitude for all of the amazingness in our lives.

It’s not that the rest of the year doesn’t have all these things (except, pumpkin since it definitely peaces out), but there’s a different sense of calm as the weather begins to turn, and this year I’m more than ready to embrace it.

Life lately has looked a lot like this, with even more crazy planning, fall organizational efforts, and big exciting news (to come soon) than can’t be captured in only so many pictures:
fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

At b:core we’re settling in to our systems and structure, just in time to get ready to launch our cardio component, which take the intensity of barre up about ten notches, with the most structured, athletic, and bad ass functional cardio compliment than you can get.  Our MAD folks complimenting their lifestyle with b:core will be pushed to their heart’s content with this hybrid method, and our barre athletes will get that extra level of functional and full movement to increase strength, endurance, and overall activation of those fast-twitch muscles.   Translation: get ready to start your engines, friends.

Also, get pumped to grab some LUMI juice after class, fresh from our fridge. We’ve narrowed down to some of our favorite flavors (it was harder than it sounds) and can’t wait to share the juice love.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods LUMI juice

Our website and blog launch is happening this week after much back and forth, development, and thought, so stay tuned, we can’t wait to share the voice of our #corelife.

On the MADabolic side we just started a new program cycle (welcome to durability month, my friends!) and are in a state of constantly evolving with our communities and demand, so it goes without saying that there’s some pretty exciting phases of MADness coming at us soon.  We also finally have some of our sweet new merch in, most notably our new trucker hats from our partnership with Big Truck Brand.  Big Truck Brand is an awesome company, and rather than offering wholesale accounts for typical merch, they choose to partner with the brands they represent on their hats, and hand pick which companies and brands they’re willing to be partnered with.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic MADlifestyle Big Truck Brand Hats

Needless to say we’re pretty stoked to have these guys are digging our #MADlifestyle and are letting us share their sweet hats with our community.  There are four different styles, but only a few left in total, so if you haven’t snagged yours GET.IT.NOW.  [If you post a pic of you living your MADlifestyle with your Big Truck Brand hat [and tag #MADlifestyle & #BigTruckBrand] you’ve got a pretty awesome chance of winning $100 to MAD from MADabolic corporate and getting another $100 matched by us to either Cville or Charleston.]

On the ‘other’ development front, I closed out September with my third class/seminar of the semester on personal brand and career path development [strengths finder heavy, of course]; the last class being with the 4th year trustees at UVa.  This is my second semester doing this with undergrads, and it’s been a really awesome experience, though pretty different from the typical early to mid-career groups that I have historically workshopped and developed through with these programs.  I’ve got a lot coming up with this, and some pretty awesome new opportunities, but I’m going to have to come back to that at another time when I can do it all proper justice.

fuel sweat grow: personal branding career path development

The same is true for the food and fitness [development] side of life.  While I’ve been cooking more, I’ve been sharing less, and that’s on my shortlist of things to change in the very near future — but you’ll be able to catch a lot of the relevant business content on the b:core blog, and this will dig back into a more functionally evaluative forum for food, fitness, and the personal growth.  In the fitness space I’ve still been researching and pushing forward with my own development needs, but I haven’t get committed to a certification (outside of Lagree) for 2016, and am torn on where the most value lies for me at the moment.  If I were advising myself I’d say that it sounds like I’m overdue for some serious vision boarding, goal mapping, and accountability setting, so thats exactly what I’m going to do.

So, October, it’s time for you and I to get a few things done.