Gratitude, Vegetables + Love: Featuring Zoodles [ Day 7 of #23to30 ]

The last 5 years have taught me more than I can fully communicate in the #23to30 chronicles, but these three concepts have proven to be critically important day to day.  When one is missing, the whole day is off balance.70b009db8decb19162818bffee458eea

I’ve always been a vegetable lover – growing up my dad had to have a backyard garden – we ate fresh food, we learned to like all food (mostly) and fast food was not something that came around often.  My mom did have a thing for Dairy Queen, but we all try not to talk about it.

I truly grew up thinking that salad made with home grown produce, and whole wheat pasta sautéd in olive oil with pine nuts, arugula and sun dried tomatoes was a typical tuesday night dinner for all families.  Add avocado? Obviously.   That’s how I learned to cook (and eat); watching my dad cook, acting as his sous chef, and being second in command to conduct the evening assessment of refrigerator contents to determine what meals are actually possible (aka Fridge Disposal Meals).  When my dad would travel I was automatically promoted to head chef, a scenario which my mom was both intrigued and terrified by; but outside of a few small and thankfully contained kitchen fires, I steadily honed my craft.

As an adult I can honestly say that things have only gotten worse, which of course really means exponentially better.  My love for locally grown and organic food has become more obsessive, I live in a town that is focused on locally sourced foods and culinary uniqueness, and I have slowly (but certainly) become more compulsive about cooking and eating clean and delicious food.  That being said, it should come as no surprise that Zoodlers and spiralizers are one of the greatest things to happen to me in the last decade.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles  Anyone who has peeled or sliced zucchini into ribbons knows, these kitchen toys have completely changed the game.  Lately I’ve been loving zoodles sautéed in coconut oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and ultimately topped with browned ground beef and sautéed peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles and ground beef

I love this as another grain free option, in addition to spaghetti squash, to create and replicate meals.  Obviously it’s an amazing pasta replacement, but it also works as an amazing addition to scrambled eggs (like below), fajitas, and pretty much anywhere you might want to mix in some greens.fuel sweat grow: scrambled eggs and zoodles

You can definitely expect a series of zoodle heavy recipes to come out of the winter months, so get excited.  You’ll be zoodling before you know it.

While I never really lost touch with my love for vegetables and ‘fridge disposal meals,’ it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve really focused on creating more in a clean and grain free arena.  The first few months were a little scary, and I missed the meals that I was so used to, but slowly I figured out how to recreate them; how to work with different ingredients, pair different ingredients, and create more flavorful and exciting meals than I ever had before.

This is going to be the winter of amazing meals and I’m inviting you all to dinner, one way or another – so join me with plenty of gratitude, vegetables, and love.

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Wine, Apples, Brunch + More: #23to30 Days 4 & 5

This weekend brought Day 4&5 of my #23to30 chronicles, and marked a solid October weekend of both amazing friends and the first convincingly crisp fall air.

Day 4 landed on Saturday, and it kicked off with an abrupt wake up call that was the second to last day of cardio week intervals at MAD Cville. Saturdays, when I’m in Charlottesville, typically always involve taking and teaching the interval, and this week was no different.  While there are some moments when I first wake up that I reconsider this scheduling decision, I have to say it’s by far my favorite day of the week with our community, packing classes with clients from all week-day time slots, always adding a fresh dynamic to the morning.

After class, the second week of patronizing Brazo’s Tacos, the new pop-up taco spot in IX (In the Al Dente space) brought both fuel and happiness into my life, perfectly timed right before what turned into a marathon day of errands and chores.

Thankfully the day ended with some much needed wine with a few of my favorite people, a finale that inspired this #23to30 philosophy for the day:

fuel sweat grow: #23to30 Day 4

All of these things are absolutely true, and just further support the notion that wine = happiness, and since happiness is the basic goal, wine is the foundation for life and prosperity.

Today, Sunday, brings day 5 of the chronicles, and if it’s possible, was end to end one of the best Sunday’s in a long while.  Wake up, grind out a durability interval at MAD, finally have coffee, eat an amazing brunch at the Guptas (the patron saints of Cherry Hill) and then go apple picking with some of the MAD folks? Yes please.

[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee....brunch perfection]
[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee….brunch perfection]
Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew
Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew

I’ll have to circle back on the specifics of the day because there are many moments worth sharing, but the main focus was enjoying moments with friends; the beauty that we’re lucky to have in our backyards, and all of the subtle thrills of Charlottesville life.   I could write about this all day, and as much as I want to, I also want to keep to the point —  and that is that sometimes it’s important to just take a break for the people and things that are right in front of you — the ones that give content to your life, everyday.

fuel sweat grow: get excited

 

There’s so much to be so grateful for, and positively overwhelmed with, so take a time to make room and celebrate all of the little things that make up your big happy life.  They add up, and more importantly, so do the relationships, making the difference between simply having a life to having an amazing quality of life….and that deserves a little enthusiasm.

My Tribe: Wonder Women + The Countdown to Thirty

Two weeks ago one of our first ever MADville clients, and a pretty freaking awesome professor at UVa, Lisa, made/gave me this Wonder Woman mug for my coffee, of course personalized with my name on it.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman VAL

If you know Lisa, you know that in addition to being an amazing super woman/mom/human who makes her family’s clothes and works out at MAD Cville almost every day at 6am, she’s also the now incredibly renowned and cutting edge Professor at UVa who teaches the Game of Thrones course that caused so much chatter this past summer.  (I mean it…you can check out more about it in these articles from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone...and even Perez Hilton. There are more, but I think this sampling proves my point.)

Aside from just loving Lisa for all of her unique badassery, I also love her as a part of this amazing tribe of strong, brilliant, and driven women that I’ve been so lucky to surround myself with, and this coffee mug symbolizes that in so many ways.  I’m so grateful for all my Wonder Women.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman

Today is the first day of my Birthday month, which I love, but there’s a slightly different vibe this year.  This year marks year thirty of my life — which I’ve realized I’m much more comfortable spelling out than showing in digits.  While I do feel the full weight of the manufactured milestone that thirty signifies, when think back to 25 and realize that it was just 5 years ago, I feel both slightly exhausted by the multiple life evolutions that I’ve gone through in that short time, and liberated from the weight and struggle of ‘the twenties.’

When I turned 25 I remember telling myself that at thirty I wanted to look better, feel better, and be better than I was at that moment in time.  In the last 5 years I’ve pushed myself, I’ve grown, I’ve built things that I’ve loved and things that I haven’t, but I’ve learned from every moment of it.  I’ve put myself out there, I’ve confronted fears and learned more about loving myself for what pieces of my experience I own.  I’ve walked knowingly into conflict, stood toe to toe with ignorance, and I’ve embraced more vulnerability than I thought my anxiety (or mind) would allow me to.   I not only survived it all, but I’m better for it.  I’m the better version of my 25 year old self that I committed to, and while the road was certainly more challenging than I may have ‘hoped’ for, it got me here, and I am better than fine.

My birthday is the 23rd, and in this final 22 day stretch to the next decade, I’m going to share the top lessons from the last 5 years of growing into adult hood in my own countdown to thirty.

So today on Day 1 of my #23to30 push I’m appreciating the strong women – the peers and role models – who inspire me, empower me, and fill my heart up with the courage and self-assurance to push my goals forward. In a world where competition and insecurity are so prevalent, it’s important to celebrate the soul connections of those who make you better, love you, and not only support what you’ve accomplished to date but also what you’re building towards – flaws and all.  We all need each other, and there’s something so amazingly beautiful about the possibilities when we all work together to create a collective legacy that goes beyond our ‘portfolio’ of work, to bring the power and influence to empower the next generation of women.

So to my own Wonder Women, near and far, thanks for being exactly who/what you are, and for being a part of my own development over the last 5, 10, and 29.99 years.  You’re everything.