The Longest Week of [My] Summer

It’s not like Bug to be the face of canine depression, but even she couldn’t keep up with this past week.  [And perhaps she is jut a little dramatic.]

Bug: bored

Last week marked the second full week of being the MADness in Charlottesville, and it was a long one thanks to life AND the Memorial Day extension.

We kicked off week two with a growing group of now ‘regular’ faces, and great new-to-them intervals that will set their foundation of familiarity, and indoctrination into the MAD methods. We’ve had a number of full classes both weeks, and no empty ones, so I’m pretty happy with that start.

MADville

I personally kicked off my second week straight of taking classes with little to no rest days, and a continuation of the respiratory illness that I have been fighting (but not really doing anything about) since before we opened.  Exactly the opposite of the balance I believe in.

Now, let me be the public service announcement stressing the importance of taking rest days, and listening to your body.   The moment I stopped taking the time to really focus on my own fitness schedule (which sometimes means RESTING); eating clean meals over convenience food;  hydrating more than caffienating; and most importantly sleeping enough, I unbalanced my own scales.   When we hit crunch time for getting MADville opened,  I could no longer hear the warnings from my own body — except for the lung burning and rib crunching coughs that came out of it.

I now have a rib injury that is entirely self-inflicted… from coughing. So what’s the moral of the story? Be kind to your body.  Rest it, nourish it, and listen to it.  Sometimes the last thing your body needs is another workout, so take a day off.  And then, take another one off for safe measure.

Instead of hanging out in the sun and officially living out the end of summer by a pool or at a vineyard, I spent the last few days of the week indoors hugging my survival kit.

cough bin

I’m not great with idle time, typically, but when I found myself with a few hours of unplanned freedom (thanks to Dar and April for picking up my classes) I took the opportunity to get reacquainted with the kitchen and the last remaining ingredients in the fridge.

Per usual, there was a salad, and this one consisted of a bed of romaine and kale, topped with tomatoes, cucumber, purple onion, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

salad

The main dish was split into two options to create some great leftovers for the rest of the week on both fronts.

I browned some ground turkey with onions (in coconut oil) and threw in zucchini and yellow squash with it.  In two different pots/pans.

Pan number one housed this base combination of ingredients, and kept things simple.

ground chicken scramble

In pot #2 (or #1, depending on how you look at it) I had the same basic foundation (ground turkey, zucchini, onion, squash) with a few added plops of whole foods pasta sauce and two containers of free range chicken stock.

ground turkey soup

 

This was possibly the most simple solution I could come up with to fill my need for some fresh soup, and it totally did the trick.  The rainy weather helped me to love on this soup a little more than normal in August, and was the perfect answer to soothe my cough (and spare my ribs).

Since ready-to-eat protein in the fridge is a complete necessity around here, I threw the last remaining steak from the Wolf Creek Farm’s cow share on the grill and called it a meal.

steak

With good food in me, and rest under my belt, the rest of the weekend managed to shape up into a little more mobile few days, still taking the time to rest and refuel when necessary.

I took time off from my own sweats to let my body heal, and instead enjoyed watching the athletic pursuits of others around grounds at UVa, starting with Men’s Soccer on Friday night at Klockner Stadium.

UVA Men's soccer

I haven’t been to a soccer game in a few years, so it was awesome to return and just relax in the stands.  Saturday, after the 8:30 and 9:30 classes, I managed to fit in a ‘quick’ 3 hour nap before heading over to Scott Stadium for the first Football game of the season, where we actually beat BYU.

UVA Football v. BYU

The only slight bump in the game was the 1st half evacuation of the entire stadium due to an impending thunder storm (lightning included).   In case you were wondering what that was like, it’s pretty much like mass confusion, but if you’re ever faced with this scenario where it’s a seemingly low-level emergency, remember this: be the first out.  Why? Because you’ll get the best seats in whatever building you decide to take cover in.  That’s what we did.

This was the scene from my super cozy seat after the space had filled — not too shabby.

Rice Hall

 

The rest of the weekend followed suit with some good relaxation time, some more new client faces getting MAD, and a restful transition into week three.  Also, I went grocery shopping, so things are just about back on track.

Sunday Groceries + Organization

By far the hardest thing about eating clean (and staying fueled) is being organized and keeping lots of balanced meals ready to eat.  Whether we’re talking full blown meals, at home or on the go, or just the snacks that are vitally necessary to keep you going until the next meal, it takes some forward thinking and preparation.

The day before we began the challenge (and every sunday thereafter) the fridge got cleaned out and organized. Since week one required a far more extensive weeding out of ‘garbage food,’ it was a fairly big undertaking.

fridge garbage

Most of that food was way past it’s prime, so it shouldn’t have been so shocking when it filled up two huge bags.

Once we had gotten the fridge contents down to the essentials, the next steps were to re-fill the fridge with essential groceries, and organize the other pantry items that had been driving me insane in crinkly bags and complete disregard for my preferred symmetrical organization. So, after I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, this is what went down:

1. vegetable & snack food prep: with so many meals requiring cooking, it’s nice to have some the main add-ins chopped and ready to go.  Typically this includes squash (zucchini + yellow) mushrooms, grilling vegetables, and any strawberries or fruit that needs to be chopped or washed in advance. Hard boiled eggs are also a very easy snack to prepare and have on the go.

squash preparedness

hard boiled eggs

2. fridge re-stock + reorganization: (disregard the beer + brown rice pasta, they were discarded shortly after this photo was taken, and have been mourned heavily ever since).

fridge reorg

Since Dar’s weakness is snack items, she pre-packaged some snack combos of blueberries, blackberries, and either almonds or walnuts to take with her (usually with an avocado as well).

IMG_4911

3. organization: I can’t even begin to tell you hot therapeutic this was, but it may have changed my life.  I’m an enormous fan of Ball + Mason jars, and  basically hoard them as craft organizers and decorative accents, so the idea of converting them into ingredient receptacles nearly brought me to tears.  Joyous. tears.

The idea is simple – take everything that was in a bag or unnecessary packaging (that wasn’t thrown in the trash for being too delicious), and transfer it into a jar.  Label the bottom side of the lid with it’s contents (and a cooking time if it applied) and organize accordingly.

ground flax seed jar

jars

Needless to say, I had a fair few things to store.  From different typed of ground flours (of the gluten + grain free variety), to brown rice pastas and all sorts of nuts and seeds.  Everything got a home, and order was restored to the kitchen.  Plus, if you ask me, it add’s a little warmth and character to the kitchen when it’s visible and orderly.

kitchen organization

jar organization

Even though we haven’t been eating any grains or pastas lately, they still look awesome in the display, and are nicely tucked away on the bottom shelf, and not in the fridge or pantry, so they’re not staring me in the face when I try to plan big meals.

The Sunday prep tradition is one that makes the whole week possible, and even today on Easter was a vital component to the day.  In fact, in the spirit of the holiday I went well beyond the normal prep work to make extensive pre-planned meals in anticipation of a pretty busy week.  Those updates will be waiting until tomorrow though since this bunny is all tuckered out.

Hope you all had happy and delicious holidays, or just quiet Sunday afternoons! Let us know if there were any must-try foods that you had, healthy or not, and we’ll do our best to re-create them as clean as possible.

This Little Piggy Went to Market.

Some people look forward to Friday nights so they can hit the bars with their friends (I know this, because sometimes I am ‘some people’), but this week, I looked forward to a night of absolute nothingness, at the end of a long week.

So, instead of getting dressed and going out to a bar, I got in my sweats and made my way over to C’ville Market to re-stock my fridge for a weekend staycation.

fuel sweat grow - food blog
on Meade Rd, next to Belmont Pizza, in Charlottesville

I love the fact that we have such a locavore community here in Charlottesville, and this market is such a huge part of it.  I used to come here once a week to get my produce, but once my route changed and the City Market went out of season, I found myself (and the majority of my income) going to Whole Food or Trader Joes to get my groceries.  Well, yesterday that all changed, and I had the best time spending part of my friday evening picking out my eats of the next week.

amazing produce. rows of it. virginia grown.
amazing produce. rows of it. virginia grown.
my favorite section: zucchini, yellow squash + BEETS!
my favorite section: zucchini, yellow squash + BEETS!
grains, beans, gluten free flour, etc
grains, beans, gluten free flour, etc

This was such an exciting trip out that I almost couldn’t contain myself, and I certainly didn’t limit myself.

(I probably should have put this disclaimer at the beginning of the post: I’m a huge dork.  A huge food dork, and a I prefer cooking over going out to dinner, pretty much all the time.  I typically go out as the simple product of social obligation and the fact that I actually do like to talk to other humans.)

So brace yourselves, I’m about to throw a pretty proud moment your way in the form of numbers and quantities.  Since I’m not certain I could execute basic functions on a graphing calculator, I wouldn’t be too afraid of the math coming at you.  I don’t think it even qualifies as ‘math,’ persay.

Here it is: 1+1 = I got ALL of these groceries for under $100.

green beans, beets, brussels, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash + baby spinach
green beans, beets, brussels, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash + baby spinach
sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, 6 avocados, bella mushrooms
sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, 6 avocados, bella mushrooms
spinach fettuccini, pumpkin seeds, snack (nut) mixes & eggs
spinach fettuccini, pumpkin seeds, snack (nut) mixes & eggs
apples, pears, lemons, limes + chocolate covered mini pretzels (YES!)
apples, pears, lemons, limes + chocolate covered mini pretzels (YES!)

There is food in the house, and it is everywhere.  After I finished putting everything away, I un-puffed my chest, cranked down my sense of accomplishment and got down to business turning some of these newly stocked ingredients into a friday night dinner.

I was craving avocado (per usual), and really anything green, so I got creative and threw in a few additional colors to make it look more appealing.

Here’s what happened:

diced zucchini + carrots
started with diced zucchini + carrots
threw in red pepper, mushrooms + simmered in coconut oil
threw in red pepper, mushrooms + left simmering in coconut oil (stirring occasionally)
halved the fingerling potatoes
halved the fingerling potatoes + mixed around in ziplock w/warm coconut oil
mixed the potatoes around in a ziplock with warm coconut oil + then squirted lemon over top
then squirted lemon over top
added cajun spice, salt + Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning
added cajun spice, salt + Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning; put in the oven to broil
halved avocado w/side of tomato, cucumber, balsalmic vinegar + olive oil
halved avocado w/side of tomato, cucumber, balsalmic vinegar + olive oil
boiled brown rice spaghetti
boiled brown rice spaghetti

Once the pasta was finished, everything was ready to go, and what was going to be a small friday night meal turned into an awesome feast that will undoubtedly be eaten as leftovers for days.

brown rice pasta w/ zucchini, mushroom, red pepper + carrot blend mixed in
brown rice pasta w/ zucchini, mushroom, red pepper + carrot blend mixed in
avocado packed w/tomato + cucumber salsa
avocado packed w/tomato + cucumber salsa
roasted cajun fingerling potatoes
roasted cajun fingerling potatoes
Oh yeah, and there was steak! Pan seared, medium.
Oh yeah, and there was steak! Pan seared, medium.
jklkjk
My plate was full, and it was good.

From beginning to end my friday night culinary adventure was a total theraputic energy boost, and fed whatever need I had for down time in the kitchen.

Plus, I got to spend time with my littlest sous chef, Bug!
Plus, I got to spend time with my littlest sous chef, Bug!

This was definitely one of my favorite meals to date, but that review is strongly linked to the extreme hunger and fatigue that I was feeling at the end of a long week.  If I were to make one change it would be for more protein, and I would have either added ground chicken to the pasta mix, or white kidney beans.  Otherwise, it served as great fuel to recover from the week and fuel up for my Saturday on the go.  Mission accomplished.