Starting the Week with Sunday

Sundays are the days that I look forward to most – not just because it’s part of the weekend, but because it’s usually the re-grouping day.  It’s the day when my errands happen, groceries are stocked, and the chaos of the last week gets settled so life can be organized.  It’s also the day that I spend the most time in the kitchen, and is arguably the most involved dinner of the week.

Last night’s dinner included a grilled flank steak, grilled chicken thighs, roasted cauliflower (seasoned with sea salt and light olive oil), and a salad with kale (marinated for an hour in lemon juice), cucumbers, slivered roasted almonds, and avocado drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: sunday dinner

While I like the therapeutic process of Sunday meal prep, the absolute best part about Sunday dinner is Monday lunch.

fuel sweat grow: monday leftovers lunch

I am such a huge kale fan in the summer because I’m on the go so much, and when I’m packing lunch for work it is the ABSOLUTE best and easiest salad to have.  I can make a huge salad on sunday, and leave the lemon juice (or lime juice) and olive oil dressing on it, and it just makes the greens softer and more flavorful.  Other greens just get soggy and slimy with dressing, or wilt when prepared dry in advance.

Today I threw all the leftovers in together to make a sweet combo lunch for work and it was even better than last night.  There’s nothing better than heading into a busy work week prepared with meals and snacks to sustain you, and nothing worse than walking in unprepared and hangry even before the case of the Mondays has sunk in.

This week I’m back in Charlotte after an extended stay back in Charlottesville, and while I’ve got a lot of great things going on this week, it’s hard to watch the HOOS in the College World Series and not miss the homeland.  I took this picture walking over to Friday’s after Five last week, and just love the little piece of the city and the huge part of our community culture that it captures, so please, indulge me for a second with this extra boost of Cville love.

fuel sweat grow: Fridays after five

In other news, I want to send a big congratulations to my dear friend Tracie Chan on opening MADabolic LKN, in the Huntersville/Lake Norman area north of Charlotte.  I absolutely can’t wait to come up an get in on the MADness with her this week, and I hope all of my Lake-living co-workers and friends will check it out too.  Better yet, let’s go together, and then get coffee.  Maybe on Sunday, my favorite day of the week.

 

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Eating Local: Charleston Tour

I’m definitely a creature of habit, with all the potential for an addictive personality – energy that thankfully (usually) gets focused around food and fitness.  This past week was exactly that, all set in the ever-loving and beautiful city of Charleston.  From beginning to end the trip was an exploration, and a somehow stressful break from the normal routine (such is opening a new business), but the food scene and amazing weather made it worth it.   Here’s a quick glimpse into the food tour that became my life, and the sweet local spots we experienced.

Verde:

Salads and wraps — with all the fillings — either tossed or chopped.  This concept is so simple, clean, and done exactly right with quick and convenient and the ‘create your own’ combination(s) had every option i could have wanted.  And if you live in Charleston (or vacation there), it’s all within your reach because they have two spots: mount pleasant and charleston.

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped salads

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped saladI think I ate there 5 times in a week (not kidding) and never repeated the same combination. This summer combination blended their mixed greens with kale as the base, and then added cucumbers strawberries, almonds, grapes, hard boiled egg, and avocado.

I always got the salads chopped, and then played between their chipotle lime vinaigrette and just balsamic and olive oil.  On Wednesday as I was heading out of town I stopped for my last and final visit (for the week) and switched things up with a wrap: base of arugula,  with added cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg.  Cilantro lime vinaigrette, chopped, and wrapped — it was AMAZING.

Between my trips to Verde, and our time at MAD with the trainers, I also squeezed in some amazing meals out in Charelston:

SALT at Station 22:

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

This spot on Sullvan’s Island is awesome – the perfect higher end and foodie friendly beach restaurant with a great seafood selection, and an incredibly diverse (and delicious) menu — because it actually changes daily.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

The first night we went there for our MAD management dinner (yes, first night, because I had to go back) I had an awesome arugula salad with beets, goat cheese, and homemade croutons.  For dinner I had their tenderloin special with a pretty awesome sweet potato mash.

The second stop at SALT was actually on the last night and I had the absolute best roasted half chicken of my life — the Roasted Tanglewood Chicken.  The chicken itself was unbelievable, and it sitting atop of a mix of crispy sautéd onion and vegetable and jus.  It was unbelievable.  This will, without question, be a favorite for me every time I’m here.

Graze:

This spot is so close to our space in Mt. Pleasant (in the Whole Foods shopping center right by Pure Barre and Charleston Power Yoga) but to be honest, probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t popped up on Open Table.  As I say that, I want to immediately (and vehemently) say that I will absolutely go back – this place is awesome.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Charleston

This tenderloin entree was honestly one of my favorite meals from recent memory and the roasted cauliflower puree it was sitting on is something that I’m going to have to try and recreate, but I’m certain I will not fully be able to match.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Tenderloin

Low Country Bistro:

Another favorite spot in downtown [Charleston], and the perfect Sunday night dinner.

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

Dinner was with two of our coaches from MAD, and in addition to the great food and great company, we had GREAT wine – and lets be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for on a Sunday night.

fuel sweat grow: low country bistro

From what I’m told, the Chicken & Waffles are exceptional – it’s a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle people –  and there ain’t nothing wrong with that….except that it’s not something that would register on my clean eating plan.   For that reason I didn’t even give it the courtesy of a menu skim when we were there but if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about it now — the answer is: slightly regretful.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails:

Our second to last night in Chuck Town ended at Crave in the Shoppes at Seaside Farms for dinner, and I got the slight indulgence I had been waiting for.  Chicken Marsala over an amazing risotto, with broccoli and sautéd spinach on the side.  I actually took most of this back to the hotel with me and never managed to finish it, but what I did have was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: crave charleston

This place was a really unexpected treat, and from what we learned, the chef, Landen, happens to have an affinity for paleo-esque clean eating, so they’re definitely on our short list to cater the Grand Opening Party for MAD (save the date: July 19th).

All in all, from a food standpoint, this trip was an absolute success.  From a getting the doors open standpoint — well that hasn’t exactly happened on an even remotely reasonable timeline, so I’m just going to focus on the food — the delicious and saliva inspiring food.  Our last team trip in February was full of equally as impressive spots that I definitely want to go back to (Stars and The Grocery, for instance), so Charleston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite restaurant cities of all time — and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been back in Charlotte for a few days now and head back down to Charleston this Wednesday to hopefully get the doors open at MAD with our team there, and then will finally make my way back to Charlottesville.

Now, for the most important part of this post — any suggestions for awesome places to eat in Charleston?  I’m assembling my to-do list for the next year, and that food tour is definitely on on it.

 

 

Hello Charleston, Lets Get MAD

Where to begin? I think it was Alice in Wonderland that taught us all that it’s usually best to begin at the beginning, so, I will.

I spent the first half of the week in Charlotte tying up every loose end I could think of, preparing to head down to Charleston by Wednesday.  I had my mobile workstation in tow, and with the help of the coffee/smoothie bar at Whole Foods, I powered through everything on my list (I hope).

fuel sweat grow: working morning

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around and I was officially on PTO, I was so very ready to shut down my mobile work station and take in our new home of the MADness — and the girl was there, awaiting my arrival.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston welcome entrance

We have been pretty delayed in our buildout which has (and always has) led to some anxiety and discontent in the ranks, but we started to get back on track Thursday and can hopefully set our preview week (FREE class) schedule in the next couple of days.  The bright side of the extra time is that we’ve had full availability to spend more time with our trainers to fine tune their coaching, our methods, and the operational procedures that we’ve developed over time in Charlottesville that can luckily kick off day 1 at this location.

fuel sweat grow: trainer training

The past 6 days have been constant work, development, learning, and thankfully, training for this whole group.  We don’t hire ‘trainers,’ or ‘fitness professionals,’ because we’re not just a gym with exercise classes (and because both terms are so generic and overused that they’re virtually meaningless at this point).  We’re a training facility, with a focus on training the everyday athlete.   Our target market ranges from the recreational sweater to the elite level athlete, and everyone in between. And as such, we require coaches – real, knowledgable, credible, fit and inspiring coaches – and that requires not only finding the right people, but providing perpetual training, development, and opportunities for them to better reflect and embody the product and lifestyle that we believe in.

I shot the below photo during one of our board talk/interval training segments, and just can’t get past the symbolic nature of the lighting.  This team, and this facility is still living in the shadows: of the hype, of the branding, and of all the unknown that exists outside of these four walls and these 6 coaches.

fuel sweat grow: trainers

In the next two weeks the doors are going to open, the classes will begin, and all the bodies that walk in the doors will be experiencing the product (obviously) but more importantly they will experience the community, the structure, and overall energy feed that we aim to deliver.

We’ve been so spoiled with our staff in Charlottesville that it’s unreal.  We have the best coaches we could have hoped for, and they make us better every single day.  They are the energy that our clients’ experiences and that our overall success is derived from.  The staff in Charleston is going to be amazing, and they are ready, but still don’t know what they don’t know — and that’s the most exciting part.  The next month is going to be crazy fast, and before we know it we’ll all be standing at the Grand Opening party with our brand new community, and a full month of new learnings, and a wide open road ahead.  I remember the beginning so vividly in Charlottesville that it’s completely insane to me that it’s almost been a year.

Which brings me to the much needed, never-long-enough, and just plain delightful non-work portion of this ‘vacation.’

fuel sweat grow: Charleston pool time

I’ll touch back more fully on this later, but we’re staying at the Wild Dunes Resort (I know, cry for me), just for a few days to break up the trip, and it is exactly what I needed.  Sun, beach, pool, and drinks – it was definitely not a bad way to start the weekend.

This morning was another training morning up at the space with a couple hours of coaching discussion and demoing, followed by the same interval that was being done in the other (open) locations this morning…just so no one felt left out.   While it was definitely more of a day of work than a day of rest, it was awesome to sweat with the group and detox from all of the absolutely killer food (+ wine) i’ve been consuming since I got here.  Restaurant reviews are a must, and will definitely not disappoint, since I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating better than anyone on the planet the last few days.

If we weren’t missing our Charlottesville group so much, we might never leave.  But, we are, and I can’t WAIT for the MADrave coming up on June 7th at our Charlottesville space in the IX building, so if you haven’t signed up already, get on it.  I’ll be there, glowing brighter than the sun.

 

From the Fridge to the Plate: Everything Taco Salad

A few weeks ago, amidst one of the most brutally cold days of the winter, I found myself staring into my fridge around 5pm, desperately hoping that I didn’t have to head out for groceries.  I really do love grocery shopping and meal planning, but when I have a ton going on I hate the last minute obligation of it.

Thankfully, I had some of my clutch grocery items, and after a minute of working it around in my head I decided on Taco Salad.  It had been forever since I made this, and the first time without rice or any sort of cheese, so I wanted to make sure I had enough variety to keep me interested.

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The key for me is mild seasoning — I don’t love a ton of seasoning, and never actually liked the packet mixes — so I sifted through the spice cabinet to find some chili powder from Savory Spice shop and got to work.

The basics: onion, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, yellow and red bell peppers, and mushrooms all sautéed in coconut oil until tender, and then add in (local, grassfed) ground beef.

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Enter my beloved Chili Powder and some fresh ground pink himalayan sea salt, and the meat portion was finished and ready to cool.

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The completed product (once cooled) then topped chopped romaine, avocado, and cucumbers.  And I have to say, this is one of my absolute new (old) favorites, remade into a clean and 28 to life acceptable meal.

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Even my most faithful sidekick and kitchen assistant loved it — despite what she may imply with her saucy little face.

Bug

These types of simple and basic recipes are so critical for me and my lifestyle in order to stay on plan, keep things clean, and also allow for the ‘everything in the fridge’ type meal while still being damn good.   It’s also incredible for leftovers and lunch planning — just make sure you package the meat and lettuce separately to  avoid any slimy/gross wet lettuce situations.

Here’s to hoping the coldest of the cold weather is past us, and we can all sail sweetly into a premature spring.   Or at least that’s what I believe when my glass is half full of wine.

Kitchen Therapy: Thai Chicken Stir-Style

I’ve been feeling pretty anxious and overly committed lately, so last weekend I made a very concerted effort to take time to do some of the things that too often get dropped from my schedule.  Aside from taking full advantage of the additional hour of sleep, I managed to squeeze in two massages (yep, two), a mani/pedi, and back to back trips to Home Goods.  That last one might not sound restful, but for me it’s damn near a spiritual experience for me these days.

And while all of those things were great, and definitely contributed to a few necessary zen moments, the most important thing I did for my overall well-being was an extended  (un-rushed) and completely unplanned full-cart adventure at Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joes

It had been a while since I strolled through TJ’s Isles, and it felt great to be back.  It’s so easy to fall into the routine of going to Whole Foods, and blindly adapting to the $250/trip sticker shock until it almost seems uncomfortable to spend less.

I held back at nothing — I bought enough meat, produce, and ‘extras,’ to last through the full week, and a few bottles of wine to make it (me) whole.

On Sunday night I roasted the chicken, cauliflower, and spaghetti squash — all which turned up in Monday’s meal of leftovers.  I also took some extra time on Sunday night to revisit the Apple Streusel (Egg) Muffin recipe, thanks to a special and fresh delivery of Granny Smith apples from Carter’s Mountain Orchard.

Apple Streusel

These are pretty easy to make, and this time just by switching to coconut oil spray (rather than trying to manually spread oil with a paper towel…) and letting the apples cool before mixing them with the eggs, the batch turned out just a little better.

With the fridge stocked full of groceries (and some pre-made daytime meals), I got to have a little fun with dinner this week.  Ingredients included:

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Red + yellow bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Almond Butter
  • (light) Coconut Milk
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Coconut Oil

vegetables for sauteing

And of course a glass of wine on the side, which is optional (just not if we’re going to be friends).

The idea for this meal was to make a (non-peanut) Thai Chicken Stir Fry.   And, if you ask me, it worked.

I started by (cutting up &) sautéing the chicken in some sesame oil.

stir fried chicken

Once it was a light golden brown I placed all the chicken on a plate, and threw the cauliflower (finely chopped) into the remaining oil to fry it up like rice.

cauliflower fried rice

 

Vegetables were next.  Cut in long slivers (where possible) and simmered in coconut oil to give it a sweet flavor, they cooked until they were tender

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Then came the ever-too-simple part that made all the difference in the world – I mixed almond butter and coconut milk in a little tupperware, and shook it until it blended into a nice sauce and poured it over the vegetables to finish.

non-peanut thai chicken stir fry

 

Despite being born out of zero planning, and mostly just a desire to use what was stocked in the fridge, I have to say this is one of the best meals I’ve cooked in the last six months…. humbly speaking of course.

thai chicken and rice dinner

 

There’s really nothing like taking time in the kitchen to create when things are getting a little too stressful and real — and if you do it up big enough, mass quantities of leftovers can also help to ease the burden of lunch-time hunger games.

Well, there’s nothing like it if you get to reap the benefit of eating it.  Spectating, apparently, isn’t the jam when you’re a hungry little bug….

Bug

MADville is Open + I’m Back on the Blog

Hey there.  It’s been a while.

The last couple of months have been beyond packed, prepping to open the MADness in Charlottesville.   As we got down to the wire, I had to unplug for a while, but I’m finally (almost) back to normal.  And you know what that means — we’re finally up and running in Charlottesville.

MADville

It was an incredibly long road (relatively speaking) to finally get here, and given that fact, it was even more exciting to open the doors and share our MAD lifestyle with Charlottesville.  Plus, I absolutely love how our space turned out.

MADville desk

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There is something so vulnerable, raw, and simultaneously empowering about opening the doors to a business that you’ve invested so much of your energy into.  This past weekend was exactly that, but so much better.

We offered four days of free preview classes, and had 200 people come through the door- some familiar faces, and some brand new.  We were lucky to have one of our business partners, Georgi, up from Charlotte to coach and help bring the brand alive.

MADville preview week

One of the things that I have always loved most about Charlottesville is how active and vibrant the community is.  Runners (both marathon and recreational), yogis, triathletes, swimmers, rowers — we have it all, and an overflow of active individuals driven both by competition, and an inner drive for well-rounded health.  That’s exactly what our brand is about.  Our programming was developed to feed that need of the athletically minded and to enhance the performance of competitive and elite level athletes .

MADville

This week was our first week of official business, and I could not be more humbled and excited by the response of the community and all of our clients.  Our clients have brought in so much energy, and so many friends, that it actually feels like we’ve been open for months.

MAD pricing

Tomorrow marks the official end to our first week of business, and we’re kicking off the morning with a full class.  It feels good to look at that in the system, but I can tell you it feels even better when we’re in the middle of a full, energy laden, and intense interval.

Now that I’m just about caught up with everything to be just marginally behind in life, I can catch up in all of the amazing meals, community finds, and updates that have been held back.  Also, don’t be surprised if you see the blog get a facelift — I’ve been getting antsy with it, and I feel like fall is a good time for a style change.