Local Loves: Hellos, Goodbyes + See ya Laters

This past weekend was all about local living and embracing the beginning of the new, and finally a weekend (though just barely) to check in on Charlottesville.  New chapters, jobs, businesses, and lives; there is so much change happening these days that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with it, and it’s damn near impossible to anticipate.  But, thankfully, the first adventure of ‘the new local’ came by way of Brazo’s Tacos, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

Last summer when Brazos popped up temporarily in the IX building for 60 days, they became the 60 best days of summer.  Locally sourced ingredients, clean and delicious, and so freaking convenient to MADabolic that sweat + tacos began to define the MADlifestyle.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

This summer, especially with the impending addition of b:core right around the (other) corner, it’s so huge that Brazo’s has set up shop — for good.   Sweat it out, taco up, and shake it off….all in a days work at IX.  Plus, I mean, can you really beat the indoor/outdoor friendly vibe?  Taco ’bout a sweet new spot, right?

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

After that taco action and a quick (and fun) check in with our photographer for b:core to plan some awesome projects, it was off to Pippin Hill for an afternoon of goodbye and good luck to Elly, our lead trainer at MAD in Charleston who is leaving us for new love, life, and adventures in dog mommying — which trumps most other things, in my opinion.

We were a little late with the pictures so we missed a whole lot of the crew, but these jokers managed to stay to the last minute to join in on our quick snapshot of beautiful Viriginia.

fuel sweat grow: elly goodbye pippin hill

And if it wasn’t just organically beautiful enough of a day, our friend Bill who happens to be the Chef at Pippin, made sure that we were taken care of — and free of the un-paleo menu anxiety that typically plagues so many MAD lives.  Pumping up some serious veggies, with honestly the most amazing hummus I’ve ever had, was definitely not a bad place to start.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

Then this happened — along with other incredibly amazing and saliva inducing dishes that rocked our world (including the non-paleo but very-life changing homemade bananas foster that pretty much changed our lives.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

I don’t have a picture of the dessert because honestly, while my heart and soul will never forget the moments we shared, my mind was desperately trying to wipe it from memory so I didn’t go to a dark place of addiction and full on NEED.

So, instead, I (eventually) put down my spoon and finished off my wine to appease the now full blown sugar craving that I just made happen.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill

Sunday brought a return trip to Charlotte that was a little too quick for my liking, but with just one day separating me from vacation I managed to push through it, and just to give myself that little extra boost, I made a stop in my happy place (Erin McDermott’s Jewelry Studio) for a little Suki love and jewelry stockpiling to round out my packing.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott

Since I pretty much only wear Erin’s jewelry these days, this trip was about rounding our my outfits specifically, and pairing up some new things with some of my favorite old pieces — and here’s what we came up with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

I seriously love love these, and also LOVE how they’re going to pair with my outfits, so I guess I’m finally ready for vacation.

While I’m going to miss the mainland — mostly the four legged creatures that are being left behind — I’m most certainly not going to miss all the other garbage that comes along with too much chaos.  I’ve got a lot going on, and a lot coming down the pike, so a little re-boot is definitely in order.

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Paleo Eats: Game Day Style

So, one of the hardest things about a real food / clean eating challenge can be the social aspect — especially if you’re not surrounded by people who share a similar lifestyle, or that support what you’re doing.  That’s usually the biggest fail point for anyone looking to make a lifestyle change — being surrounded by people and choices that counter the healthy habits they are trying to form.

The first time Dar and I completed 28toLife we were pretty much alone on our own island.  Friends would want to hang out and fear and panic would set in because we didn’t know how we could possibly make it through an outing where everyone else is eating and drinking whatever they wanted.

fuel sweat grow: all i need is food

The second time we went through the 28 days of garbage-free living was a little easier, and we had far greater understanding and appreciation for the lifestyle and how to find that place of complacency even when out of a controlled environment.  This third official time that we’ve completed the full 28 days was the best of all, not only because we had a pretty secure grasp on how to live in normal-ish society, but mostly because the community that surrounds us was a part of what we were doing, all inspired and motivated with the same healthy sense of purpose, and commitment to living a better cleaner life.  And it was awesome.

It’s February now and the ‘challenge’ is over, but the lifestyle remains, and so does the awesome community that came together over the last 28 days, and this weekend we proved it.  While Saturday brought Dar’s 49th (that’s not a typo) Birthday and a little bit of an off-the-wagon wine and beer indulgence (not to mention the most amazing ‘asparagus’ cake from Maliha Creations).

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Sunday re-directed itself back on track thanks to sleep, recovery, and the continued culinary expertise of Anita (the love behind Maliha Creations). So, instead of having a Sunday afternoon full of food that we just spent a month detoxing from, it seemed only fitting to re-create our favorite treats, paleo style.

Homemade salsa, to ensure no sugar; stuffed peppers (amazing); spaghetti [squash] + meatball nests, and a veggie ‘chip’ plate for scooping guacamole, all helped us kick off the game.

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks I brought the guacamole deviled eggs (upper left corner above), which are easily my new favorite quick grab snacks to make.

Quick details:

Ingredients:

  • One Dozen Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 1/2 LIme (sqeezed)
  •  Garlic Powder

The quick how-to:

  • Shell the eggs
  • Cut the egg in half with a sharp knife
  • [in a small bowl]: Combine egg yolks, avocado, sea salt, chili powder, garlic powder + lime juice
  • Mash all together (with fork or avocado masher)
  • Spoon filling into egg white
  • garnish with a light sprinkling of chili powder

All in all, while the weekend brought back wine and some dessert cheats, it all came back around in the end, and things went (relatively) back on track.  I’m actually so excited to do food prep tomorrow night for the rest of the week that I almost can’t contain it — and I probably won’t.

Memorial Day 2013: Red, White + Bourbon

I seriously considered posting a true photo journal of this past week simply because so much has been happening and I while I’ve managed to keep up my picture taking, I’ve been horrible at posting on here.  I’ll get us all caught up this week (that’s a promise) and we’ll be back on track right in time for me to take you on the road with me to Charlotte (again).

If I were to pick one picture from the last week that could pretty much sum up my life lately, this would be it.  My two essential must-grabs when I leave the house: sneaks and wallet.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere.

sneakers

Last Saturday (were I seem to have left off) was a sweet morning of ‘rest’ that involved running around town to hit up the city market and visit the top-secret (now about to be announced) new location of Fight Gone MAD Charlottesville.  The afternoon included a 25 minute workout jammed into a 26 minute available time frame, wine down the street with some neighbors to talk new business in Charlottesville, and capped off with a quick at home meal and heaps of wholesale/retail catalogues from Shelley at Diversified Sourcing Enterprises (our wholesale retail go-to friend).

retail orders

The meal was built on the fly, in a hunger panic, and with only the remaining ingredients left in the fridge.  It ended up being a lettuce wrap with a leftover turkey burger from two nights before, avocado slices, dijon mustard, and little side boats of yellow peppers, avocado chunks, and a drizzled natural ranch dressing (you know, for flavor).

avocado boats and turkey burger

Sunday felt like a bonus day since it was smack in the middle of the three-day weekend.  I had a ton on my to-do list that I wanted to knock out early which was pretty awesome for me, and apparently pretty devastating for Bug.

bug depressed

By mid-afternoon I was ready for a full workout and felt too hot to run, and managed to talk Dar into hopping on board with me for this workout.  It is a pretty close modification of Fight Gone Bad, and was just horrible enough at 3 rounds that clearly we did 5 rounds.

fight gone mad(isn)

I’m sure I would have managed to do it alone, but having another person (or 5 ) definitely helps to keep motivation up, even if it can’t dull the pain.

Monday was, of course, Memorial day, and was both incredibly gorgeous day and and incredibly fun.  Anita and Uday, our neighborhood social sponsors, had a joint bourbon tasting party and celebration for their friend’s birthday.

birthday bourbon table

There were neighbors, friends, kids, and most importantly, the most amazing Bourbon drinks I have ever had.

blackberry bourbon

The food was also awesome, and I had some great ribs, pulled chicken, slaw, pickles and a little bit of potato salad.

memorial day pulled pork and ribs

I had really been missing potatoes recently, but I have to say, it was the only thing on my plate that I didn’t finish – but that could have been largely due to the fact that everything else was so good that I ran out of room.

Once we had food in our bellies, it was game on.

bourbon

A full-on 7 round bourbon tasting was up next, and definitely propelled the party forward.

bourbon tasting

While I LOVED the blackberry bourbon drink, I don’t have much of a palette for dark liquor, so I sipped the rest of what I had and hung out with Asha and waited for the next course.

val + asha

Pecan Pie.  And of course, it gets even better.

pecan pie

Pecan Pie a la mode.  My dessert, and my life, were suddenly complete.

pecan pie a la mode

All in all, it was a successful holiday weekend, and by Monday night, even the dogs were ready to crash.  A+ for Memorial Day 2013.

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Rainy Day of Work, Workouts + Clean Eats

The excitement from yesterday’s announcement is still lingering, but thankfully reality has also set back in because we have a ton going on and it’s time to get back to work!

In addition to all of the Fight Gone MAD developments, FemCity Charlottesville is moving into the spring with some pretty awesome spring and summer programming that we could not be more excited for.

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The next event is coming up on Thursday, May 30th, and is the kick-off to our Locavore Fem Dinner Series all highlighting local Fem business owners, FemCity members, and inspiring entrepreneurs, as well as local farm to table fare.  Space is limited to each dinner, so register ASAP to reserve your spot!

This is an amazing opportunity to connect with other amazing Charlottesville Fem’s in a small group, sharing your business or professional goals, asking for feedback or connections, and hearing about the amazing projects that everyone else is working on as well.  Share, collaborate, connect, that’s the idea.

We’ll be sharing some really exciting, big, events that we’ve got planned for the summer and early fall that you don’t want to miss.  They’re going to be great, and we look forward to a ton of great engagement from Fems and Fem businesses!

In other news, while today was definitely a busy one, I got a head start early this morning on returning emails, checking off my to-do list, and was able to easy into the day.  I had coffee first thing, but after the pizza and cider celebrations last night I wasn’t ready for food until about 9:30.

Breakfast was spaghetti squash, zucchini and eggs scrambled together.  I never would have assumed it, but the spaghetti squash really adds something to the eggs, more of a texture than a flavor, that I love.

scrambled eggs with spaghetti squash

After I ate and had a few minutes to wrap up some ‘office’ work, I managed to convince my mind, and body, that I should do Dar’s 10:30am small group session.  I was actually really glad that I did, and in the moment believed that I was done for the day, but alas, I ended up doing the workout a second time with the 5:30pm bootcamp group.  I’ll let you all know if I’m able to walk tomorrow.

Today we did a 6 station circuit:

-Around the World Oblique work with a 15lb bumper plate

-Overhead Squats (walking) with 10-20lb bumper plates overhead (with arms LOCKED out)

-Getup Sit ups with a 15lb barbell

-break dancers -or- mountain climbers

-wall sit (with or without a 10lb bumper plate overhead)

-TRX pikes or knees to elbows

Each station was 1 minute of work, with 30 seconds off, for three continuous rounds.

After the 5:30 class my body was demanding dinner so I tried to put to use what was left in the fridge.

I had spaghetti squash, ground turkey, a zucchini, a red pepper, an onion and the 365 brand pasta sauce (no added sugars!) that all went on the stove. It was all seasoned with kosher sea salt and my favorite everyday seasoning from Trader Joe’s, of course.

food skillet of goodness

For the salad I had romaine, blueberries, avocado, walnuts, and cucumber.  Pretty simple, but a great mix of flavors and colors.

salad

It was a great blend of different (random) ingredients, and definitely replenished everything that I needed following today’s double workouts and hours at the computer and running around the house trying to get re-organized.

Tomorrow is another day of bootcamps starting bright and early at 6:15 am, so I’m going to take my own most common advice and get some sleep so I’m not totally dragging.  The only bonus to all of the rain is that it really helps me sleep, so I’ll embrace it and just appreciate my sleep rather than being beside myself about missing the sunshine.  Fingers crossed that we really do get to 70 degrees tomorrow!

Winter Relapse Comfort Food

When I lived in Philadelphia, under the great foodie reign of Stephen Starr, I had some of the greatest restaurants (arguably in the country) within a stone’s throw from my apartment.  At one of his restaurants, Continental, there is a chopped salad on the menu that is so simple, yet so absurdly delicious, that I still think about it.

Sunday, which marked day 14 of the challenge, was also the day that we decided we needed to add more dynamic ingredients to our meal plan, and one of the first menu items was, of course, a chopped salad.

The Continental salad was a mix of chopped romaine, tomato, red onion, feta, chicken in a red wine vinaigrette.  Since several of those ingredients were on the ‘no-no’ list, things were improvised, and some ‘crunch’ was added to liven up the experience a bit.  In the bowl we’ve got: chopped romaine, tomato, red pepper, celery, avocado and sliced almonds.

salad

The salad was a perfect compliment to the burst of spring-like weather we experienced last weekend, and sort of a last supper for the premature spring (is it really premature if it is overdue?).  Snuggling up to the salad we had flank steak from Wolf creek Farm, here in Charlottesville, and a side of broccoli slaw sautéd in coconut oil with a pinch of coarse sea salt.

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This week brought yet another round of heavy wet snow, so in complimentary fashion the meals took on a more comforting cold weather appeal.

spaghetti squash

Of course there was spaghetti squash.  It’s such a great comforting base for so many meals, and just completes the snowy winter feel of the week.

To top it off, I took some of the remaining ground beef I had frozen after the insane deal day at Whole Foods, browned it with yellow onion, and added in some uncured turkey bacon and the whole foods pasta sauce (the only one with no added sugars).

clean bolognese sauce

This was by far my favorite meal by far.  In fact, this might be one of my favorite meals, ever, and it was even better as a leftover lunch.

spaghetti squash bolognese

To stay true to the carb, protein, fat balance, and my need for green in every meal, the spaghetti squash bolognese was served along side a tomato, cucumber and avocado salad drizzled with balsamic and light olive oil.  It was perfection.

dinner: fuel sweat grow

When you get excited thinking about the next day leftovers before you finish the first round of the meal, you know it’s a winner.  Even Tank gave it his seal of approval, and with a grill like that you know he doesn’t mess around.

sir tanksalot

We’re now 16 days into the challenge and this week’s meals have been the best of all, so I’m thinking we’re just approaching some of the most inspired and diverse meals of the month.

Quick and Clean Weekday Meal

Since the middle of the week brought temperatures (and snow) that kept winter alive and well, the menu took a warmer and more comforting turn to match it.

broccoli slaw

The broccoli slaw that had been looking to fulfill it’s dinner time destiny was finally put to use, and the remainder of the leftover spaghetti squash was turned into a stove top mix-turepiece.

meat + squash

The broccoli slaw was cooked with coconut oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Pretty simple, and pretty darn good.  The spaghetti squash was added into a ground beef mixture with zucchini, yellow squash and the remainder of the mushrooms in the fridge, seasoned with everyday seasoning and a little extra sea salt.

The meal was lightened up just a little with a cucumber + avocado salad topped with salt, pepper, balsamic and olive oil.

fuel sweat grow - food blog

This meal was absurdly simple to make, and since the spaghetti squash was pre-roasted, start to finish time was about 20 minutes, max.

During weeks when things are undoubtedly going to be crazy and schedule times seem to be pretty obscure, I always like to spend time on Sunday or Monday prepping extra staple food items to keep in the fridge for easy grabbing and meal prep.  Recently I helped Dar pack 4 days worth of pre-planned meals for her trip to PA for her FMS certification, and the planning helped her get through days 3-7 of the challenge without being hungry.

Stay tuned for Sunday updates on meals, meal prep, menu planning, and kitchen organization.  It takes a village people.  And with that being said, I’ll leave you with a sweet pic of my sous chef, Bug, who could not be more exhausted by all of the kitchen time.

sleepy bug