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.

Monday Coffee + Some Work-Lunch Balance

I’m definitely a fan of three-day-weekends, but there’s something a little painful about it when the short week comes on the front end of the holiday.  Adding an extra weekend day never achieves that extra rest and work catch up that would probably be the responsible time spend.  Instead, adding an extra 30% to the weekend immediately results in a 50% increase of overall wine consumption, sun exposure, and as a combined result, sunglass wearing to compensate for the consequences of both.

That being said, Monday morning brought a pretty harsh snap back to non-holiday reality, so, naturally,  I coped the only way I knew how: with an almond milk latte from Milli Joe.

fuel sweat grow: Milli Joe Coffee

And since Monday’s are tough (and this one didn’t disappoint), I decided to keep the celebration going after work with wine and a catch up friend date at Commonwealth.  I mean, it’s America kids, lets not limit our freedom celebrations to one day in July – celebrate every day and wine when you damn well please.

fuel sweat grow: commonwealth restaurant

And why quit while we’re ahead?  I was bordering on hangry driving while I was looking for parking downtown (which only took about 90 seconds, but they were 90 long seconds), so with my coveted wine I paired up two quick appetizers that proved to be a pretty awesome little meal. [Brussel sprouts and spicy chicken lollipops – try them Charlottesville, they’re both amazing.]

fuel sweat grow: commonwealth dinner

Today was another packed day, so work-life balance quickly translated into a work-lunch balance experiment of trying to eat, type, and strategically mute myself through conference calls to fit in chewing (Kale is NOT a quiet food).

fuel sweat grow: work place lunch

I had actually gotten myself up for the early am classes at MAD this morning to hopefully clear out my schedule for the rest of the day and enable myself to stay in my house with no interruptions, but of course I found myself rolling up to the 5:30 class to check in and take some much needed photos of our clients doing what they do – being awesome.

Dinner was a plethora of leftovers; kale marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, grilled flank steak, cucumber, and avocado.  I’m apparently on a kale binge, which was not intentional, but mostly just a product of some pretty aggressive fridge stocking last week.  Thankfully there’s not much I love better than some really great leftovers, so I’m all for it.

Here’s to hoping that the rest of the week shakes up a little to find some pockets of calm, but I wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway, so I might as well just hope for large periods of productivity coupled with some good food, great company, and MAD sweats.  I’m back to Charlotte next Tuesday so I’m trying to pack in as much time in MADville as I possibly can, and I couldn’t have picked a better line up of intervals than this week.

 

Dog Meets Ocean: A Weekend at the Beach

After a long week of work, and several long months of craziness in general, it was finally time for a quick break.

fuel sweat grow: Myrtle Beach

Welcome to Myrtle Beach, friends.  After an early Saturday morning departure (and a far too long 5 hour drive) it was time to take a breath – and a long nap in the sand.

After the beach it was definitely time for dinner – but first, margaritas.

Fuel sweat grow: margaritas

We went to Twelve, a restaurant close to Garden City, and since they had a $3 margarita special, 3 out of the 4 of us had to give it a go.  It was totally worth it too, there was nothing discounted about it, but it definitely put the happy in happy hour.

For dinner I had the skirt steak with seasonal veggies, and then the garlic mashed potatoes came on the side.  Initially I had no intention of eating the potatoes, but it’s vacation, and they were delicious, so I indulged — but just a bit.

fuel sweat grow: steak at Twelve

Sunday morning came pretty quickly after 3 margaritas at dinner, and kicked off with Bug’s first beach adventure.

fuel sweat grow: bug beach run

So, turns out, she LOVES running on the beach, but she’s terrified of the waves, so there was a lot of zig-zagging around to dodge what she viewed as impending doom.  I did eventually get her into the water, but I had to really coax her, and slowly walk in first.  What can I say, she’s all about safety first.

She spent the rest of the day guarding the house from all other beach goers, and pretty much anyone who considered walking within 100 yards of her perch.

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I spent about 6 hours and two solid naps on the beach getting some much needed Vitamin D (yes mom, I wore sunscreen) before heading back to the house to make dinner.

fuel sweat grow: veggie stir fry prep

Veggies chopped and ready to simmer.

fuel sweat grow veggie stir fry

Paired with chicken and steak for an awesome stir fry modification.

fuel sweat grow: stir fry meats

I was really in need of some good protein, and veggie nutrients, so this was a great Sunday dinner.

fuel sweat grow:  stir fry plate

Since my only real exercise of the day had been my wind sprints on the beach with Ms. Bug, after dinner I hit the beach for a long walk.

I’ve been getting back into walking lately since I don’t always want to push my body through a run (usually after a tough workout, but also during rest times), and this was perfect.  I absolutely LOVE beach walking, and dusk walks with the breeze from the water are without a doubt the absolute best.

My recent iTunes adds included the latest Delta Rae album, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some beach walking music or really honest lyrics.  Double recommend to some of my yogi friends, and I will probably cry immediately (tears of joy?) if you play them while I’m on my mat.  That’s pretty much a promise — the songs are that easy to connect to.

This morning included another beach walk, another dog meets ocean adventure, some sun, and then a run after the long afternoon ride home in the rain.  I’m signed up for Flywheel tomorrow morning before a long day of work, and have a full week of sweats and some awesome new Fight Gone MAD pics to share tomorrow.

I miss the beach already.

Upcycling + Food Inspiration

I have a habit of grabbing coffee at Whole Foods when I go in to buy groceries, but somehow despite my frequent drop ins I had perpetually missed some very important facts that they have posted on the wall.

fuel sweat grow: whole foods upcycling

I love Whole Foods for their foundation work, and knew that they were leaders in renewable energy and upcycling materials, but they actually used the bleacher seating from UHall (the old University of Virginia basketball arena) for their cafe table tops?  That’s awesome.  This method of recyling (and upcycling, if you will) was a serious inspiration for helping to minimize my time spent cooking this week, and maximize the meals created.

I was craving two of Ralph (my dad)’s old clutch meals, tweaked to be clean and balanced fuel meals.  The first half of the inspiration was a meal  I replicated a few months back with (gluten free) spinach fettuccine, an avocado/greek yogurt blend dressing and veggies.  The other half was inspired by his pasta primavera, my childhood favorite which was always rich with vegetables and popping color.

The base of this meal was a mix of sautéd zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and red peppers.  It was all cooked with coconut oil and seasoned with Trader Joe’s everyday seasoning and ground kosher sea salt.

fuel sweat grow - sautéd veggies

My goal with these types of meals is to over produce the most fundamental parts of the recipe so that there are leftovers in the fridge to make future meals much faster.

To stay true to my inspiration for this first version of the meal, I cooked more of the gluten free spinach fettuccine.

fuel sweat grow: gluten free spinach fettuccine

Once the pasta was nice and al dente (yes, I like it a tad firm.  I’m italian.) it was mixed up with the greek yogurt and avocado (2 whole avocados and 12 oz of chobani greek yogurt) and seasoned even more with ground sea salt and ground peppercorn.

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine

Add on the veggies, and voila!

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine primavera

So, here we have our carbs for the meal (probably more than would be ‘suggested’), with our good fats in the yogurt/avocado sauce, and just need our added protein.  Per my favorite grilling trends, the other side of the plate was filled with steak.

fuel sweat grow: fettuccine primavera and steak

This was by far my favorite meal of the week, which was a pretty safe bet since it was a blend of my two old favorites and a little bit of a comfort food ‘treat’ with the pasta and yogurt add ons to my typically dairy + grain free eating.  So here’s where it gets fun: primavera veggies, day 2.

First I should say that these exact leftovers, with slices of avocado for some additional good fats, did weasel it’s way into my lunch the next day.

fuel sweat grow: primavera leftovers

But the veggies didn’t stop there.  They went on to fulfill their meal destiny two nights later when I hastily roasted spaghetti squash and turned it into a yogurt-less meal of squash overload that was amazing.

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash primavera

Of course, to accompany the squash primavera was grilled chicken and an amazing fruit and nut salad, but there will be more on that coming later this week in a full post on some of the amazing salad combinations that have been happening recently.  I can’t explain it scientifically, but there’s something about the warm weather that invites creativity and frequency of amazing salads as the summer meal anchor, and this one was no exception.

fuel sweat grow: chicken and salad sides

With less kitchen time required this week, and a little too much time on (or wine in?) my hands, I even tried to upcycle two of Bug’s toys, covering up the chicken that she feels both active aggression and paralyzing fear towards with her old favorite buddy Cat R. Pillar.  bug says: upcycled babies

Since we don’t allow Bug to drink wine (if we can help it) she found this stunt less than amusing, and is likely working on her emancipation letter as we speak.

fuel sweat grow: freaky chickenHope you’re all enjoying the start of the weekend!