The ‘On the Go’ Chronicles: Food + Love Edition

Life, lately, has been on the go — to say the least. Work and travel are the two main constants, and my long-time skills of throwing together quick meals for ‘on the go’ (or more accurately ‘on the clock’) have been more useful than ever.  The days of hurriedly eating over the sink have been pushed aside by the days of eating at the computer and at a stop-and-go pace that supports conference calls, emails, and all the other distractions that dominate the day.

fuel sweat grow: food on the go

I have a ton going on at all of my jobs right now so that seems to be a dominant theme in my life, and something that I’m both trying to balance and desperately organize so I can breathe a little easier.  I think what I’m working towards is more of an impossible mirage than it really is an achievable goal, but that’s pretty fine by me.  Landing somewhere in the middle is still somewhere closer to fine, and that’s still progress.

On days when things are beyond crazy, it’s not that abnormal for my eating schedule to be off, so I’ll either need a little snack to make up for an off-schedule, or to help me power through the mid-afternoon yuck that is 3pm.  Recently this little tomato / chicken / avocado salad has been my go-to with a little balsamic glaze and a crank or two on the sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: on the go snack avocado salad

Since I’m typically a proponent of over-grilling (in quantity) meat to force the possibility of leftovers, this is particularly appealing to me.  The balsamic glaze part is a little newer to me – not in concept, but mostly in obsession.  I went Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for Memorial Day and they happened to be grilling avocado and watermelon out front, and sampling them both with the glaze.  I’m nothing if not a sucker for a tasty sample, and moments later I had all three items planted in my cart, all before I even stepped foot in the store.

Which takes me to my next obsession of the moment, and an incredibly simple throw together salad if you have the ingredients in ‘prepped and ready’ mode in the fridge.

fuel sweat grow: watermelon arugula salad

I’ve always LOVED watermelon, so this watermelon + arugula salad is seriously the best thing of my life.  Slightly modified for a stricter 28toLife/Paleo approach, it’s just a bed of arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, topped with watermelon chunks, blueberries and chopped mint (not pictured).  It’s freaking good, and if you want to add in a little extra with some cheese or other snacks on top, have at it.  I’m pretty sure it is beautiful no matter how it is dressed up.

This past week has spanned all three of my cities; Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Charleston – and in that order.  I barely had any time in Cville to settle in or even really unpack before I was heading right back to Charlotte — but this time, work was thankfully balanced out by celebrating some love, and a fairly normal weekend (for a change).

Friday night brought a sweet relief from the work week, and an even sweeter night at the Vanlandinham Estate celebrating two awesome people – Kelli + Graham.

fuel sweat grow: Kelli + Graham Wedding

I’m not really sure how to explain Kelli outside of just saying that she’s incredibly smart, loyal, honest and supportive friend that anyone could ask for. While it was once difficult to believe that anyone would be able to fully match up to all of her awesome, it’s clear that she’s found that match, that best partner, and (most importantly) absolute happiness with Graham, and that’s more than enough for me.

After weeks (months…years) of crazy, it was such a welcomed break to enjoy and be present at such a beautiful wedding, on what might have been the most beautiful night of the spring so far.

fuel sweat grow: Vanlandingham estate wedding

This week has reverted right back to the desk eating and hurried meal creation, but after taking a little break from it all and a little trip into someone else’s bliss, somehow it doesn’t seem so bad.

I’ve got more food, b:core, MADabolic, and general life updates coming at you in the next week(ish) so stay tuned, and of course, let me know if you’re around Charleston this weekend and want to get in on celebrating the 1st Birthday of MADcharleston — it’s on.

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Prepping for the Week + The Whole 30 Challenge

There are some weekends that stand out from the rest, and this weekend was one of them.  Fall is in full swing in Charlottesville, and things in MADville are getting crazier by the day.  A full social, sweat, and food recap of the weekend is in order, but I need to take a day or two to get myself in order and honestly just recover from what feels like a week of constantly being on the go.

While this week is another over-full week of work and life (in a good way), the most exciting for me is a client-driven restart on the food front.  Some of our clients signed themselves up for the Whole 30 challenge from Whole 9 and are starting tomorrow.  Hearing this was awesome not just because I have a group to motivate and recipe share with me, but also because it’s such a huge part of the lifestyle and health change we continue to love seeing slowly take over this community.

Since I was out for most of the weekend and didn’t have a kitchen at my disposal to prep meals, I’m a little behind, but I’ve committed to getting my life together tomorrow to walk (or eat, really) side by side with this group as they start this 30 day push.  That being said, here are a few of my favorite / must-have ingredients, recipes, and just generally amazing food to lead off week 1.

fuel sweat grow: Whole 30 Grocery list

STANDARD Grocery List:

– Chicken (skinless, boneless, thighs or breasts)
– ground beef (or turkey / chicken)
– applegate farms chicken sausage
– yellow & purple onion
– zucchini / yellow squash
– red/orange/yellow bell peppers
– mushrooms
– cauliflower (2 heads – I ❤ it)
– celery
– carrots
– spaghetti squash
– avocados (MANY)
– asparagus
– (local) Keswick Gourmet Marinara Sauce (the only one WF sells that does not  have added sugars…and it’s local, so that’s a bonus)
– kale
– romaine
– cucumbers
– broccoli slaw (only at Trader Joe’s)
– blueberries
– green apples (usually 6, but if i’m making the streusel recipe about a dozen+)
– bananas
– strawberries
– lemons / limes
– almond butter
– coconut oil (for cooking)
– olive oil (for salads only)
– coconut milk (light)
– eggs (I buy 2-3 dozen at a time….but I’m also usually feeding Dar)
– plantain chips (only at Trader Joes — NOT to be confused with banana chips)
– almonds (whole and slivered)
– sunflower seeds
– fresh ground almond butter (if it’s not ground fresh, check the ingredients to ensure it’s just almonds and doesn’t have added sugar or chemicals)
This isn’t totally exhaustive, but for the most part every recipe that I make that is an ‘everyday’ recipe includes these ingredients.  Every once in a while I’ll really branch out, but only if I’m making a new/special recipe.  These staple items will still be stocked in the fridge.   The MOST important part of staying sane during the first week or two as you quit sugar and adapt back to real food is to HAVE food available.  This is not a starvation diet — you NEED to eat, so make sure you have good clean food available and prepped to keep your energy up and balanced.
fuel sweat grow: grocery list and meal prep
The easiest thing to do is to make a big dinner on Sunday night (or any night really) with several sides and spend some extra time chopping things up (like zucchini or celery, etc) to have ready for cooking or snacks.  I’ll usually roast a spaghetti squash or two on Sunday while I have time so it’s ready in the fridge for quick meal assembly since my week nights (and days) are usually much tighter on time.
Here are a few favorite meals that can all be made with the food on the grocery list above, and save amazingly well (read: amazing leftovers and quick grab-and-go options).
  • [Lunch / Dinner] Thai Chicken Stir-Fry is probably my favorite rainy-day or winter meal, but it’s still awesome in the summer with cauliflower rice OR over spaghetti squash. There are no exact measurements, but the feedback we’ve come up with is that adding a little more coconut milk for a thinner sauce is better than a really thick one.
  • [Lunch / Dinner] Spaghetti Squash Bolognese.  It keeps AMAZINGLY well as leftovers, so this is a great one to make in excess and pack up for lunches during the week.
So, to our Whole 30 first-timers getting ready to give up all of their ‘favorite foods’ tomorrow…. congratulations, you’re about to know what it feels like to be fueled with the best stuff on earth – REAL food.  It will change your life.
For other general ideas, search salads, vitamix (for smoothies) or dinner, or check out the eats or fuel categories on the blog.

 

It’s All Business: Lessons from Bug & Tank

If there were a canine version of The Godfather I’m pretty sure Bug and Tank would be the main characters.  Beyond their creepy co-dependence with each other and the fact that Tank’s snaggle tooth and collar bling makes him the best mob-style short Italian dude ever, I’m constantly finding animal heads in their beds and strewn about the house.

Fuel sweat grow: tank the godfather

Last week I had both dogs with me in Charlotte they must have torn through at least two new babies a day.  The mistake was definitely mine because I gave them too many new things up front — by friday the house was full of empty, lifeless carcasses of once fluffy toys.

As tedious as it is to constantly pick loose fluff off the floor (and out of the carpet), I have to respect their spirit.  These dogs have never met a challenge to large, a toy too durable, or anyone impressive enough cause them even the slightest misstep on the way to achieving their goals of destruction.  They’re all business.

Lately I’ve felt like my life is all business as well – transitioning from one job to the other, slowly transforming into that ‘face behind the computer screen.’  All projects and business items are in the ‘build and stand up’ phase, which is actually what I love the most, but with it all converging at the same time work days seem like continuous cycles just broken up into 24 hour phases with short interruptions for food, other obligations, and physical activity when at all possible.  Last week I hit up Flywheel in Charlotte twice to salvage what I could of my cardio endurance, and squeezed some short runs and walks into other available windows.

I could not be more excited for our MAD Charleston location to be open, and for the really fun parts to begin; welcoming new clients, planning the grand opening party, and connecting with the community that has already been creating so much buzz for us.  In Charlottesville we’ve hit a really amazing tipping point with new clients and energy in the space, the MADrave with TruPilates and Opal Yoga coming up in June, and then our 1 year Anniversary party on August 16th.  The things on the horizon are definitely appealing, now is just the business of getting there.

This week Dar is in Charleston to check on the last phases of buildout, work through layout, and stand up some of the major operational pieces, so, in the spirit of keeping all of our bases covered and continuing the momentum across the board, I’m holding it down in Charlottesville working remotely for my (other) job by day and working it ALL out by night.

Last night I got to squeeze in a little more of the fun part — coaching – with packed evening classes (and thank you to Elly for being back up at the Front!).  I’ve only been on the schedule a handful of times in the last couple of months, so it was so fun to return to the floor and experience the energy of the workout on the other end.

fuel sweat grow: MADville MADabolic Cville

Clients that were ‘new’ in the beginning of 2014 are now moving like seasoned veterans of the MADness, and everyone has managed to really engage mentally in the business and intention of the work at hand, without sacrificing the social and charismatic vibe that makes us all want to be there day after day.  In these moments, whether coaching or taking, every hour spent on back office planning and tasks all seem so worthwhile.

Accompanying my return to coaching has been my return to working out, and I’ve managed to squeeze in the Monday and Tuesday intervals.  I’m still in the debating stage of whether today will happen or not, but I’m going to err on the side of it happening since I need something to counterbalance the last three days of absolutely dreary and horrendous rain.  The other way I’ve been fighting the rainy day blues is by getting back into the kitchen.

Happy Spring Salad: romaine, snap peas, heirloom cherry tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds.

fuel sweat grow: spring salad

I’ve also been incorporating more grains into my meals, not every day, and on a moderate scale, but it has changed everything about my energy level.  I’m definitely not a carb fiend, but every once in a while I need it for that recovery — just usually in the form of quinoa, or products made with brown rice.   So, last night, to go with my ground beef, zucchini, and Keswick Gourmet Sauce, I threw in some brown rice fettuccine and tossed it all together.

fuel sweat grow: fettuccine w/meat sauce

 

I’m actually in Charlottesville through the middle of next week, so I’m pretty psyched to hit up the city market this weekend and put together some new local meals that hopefully can be paired with actual spring weather.   But for now, it’s all business, and like Bug and Tank, I’ve got my eye on the end goal.

Hello Again Cville, 28toLife & ACC Titles

On Saturday I made the journey back up to Cville for a pretty exciting week at MADabolic Cville, and an epic afternoon for Virginia Basketball.

MADabolic Cville

In addition to a pretty full docket, our MAD team is preparing for a visit from Cristina (our favorite nutrition guru and lead trainer from the Charlotte location) by kicking off our 28toLife reset a week early.   As brutal as it is to give up wine and cider when I’m in the land of plenty, Charlottesville thankfully is one of the best places to possibly be when you are buying local and eating clean.

Saturday afternoon, after my obligatory and desperately scheduled nail appointment, my nervous cooking habit was in full force while Virginia Basketball took on Syracuse (right down the street at JPJ).  Whatever happened, I was making sure I at least won dinner.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Saturday meals, spaghetti squash

For the menu at hand I broiled asparagus in the oven, and then payed it forward a little by popping in two spaghetti squash to roast for Sunday night’s dinner.  I can get pretty impatient when I’m hungry, so when I have the opportunity to do a little extra prep, I take it.

The meat portion of the meal was brought to life with some rib eyes that were unbelievably good, and were accompanied by more ‘make it just in case’ chicken since the grill was fired up.

Fuel Sweat Grow: rib eyes

The side carb/fat combination came in the form of a salad: romaine, kale, avocado, cucumber, and almonds in a balsamic vinegar/olive oil.  Bonus vegetable was cauliflower, grilled until tender, and it was the perfect addition to the whole meal.

Fuel Sweat grow: salad

Dinner was done by the end of the game, which we won pretty convincingly, and there was happiness all around HOOville.

Fuel Sweat Grow: ACC Champ Dinner

It was a slow start into 28toLife, but the good news is that no one is hungry.  That’s the whole point — eat clean, fuel your body, and feel better.

This meal was everything I needed to get me through the night and kept me going for a long and strong interval on Sunday morning — and the marathon day that followed, including the BEST meal I’ve made in recent memory.

Quick Sweats + a FemCity Locavore Dinner

It has been a long last two weeks, which is only supported by the look of complete contention on Bug’s face.  She goes to day camp three days a week at Pampered Pets, which is probably her own personal disney land, but with people she loves instead of humans dressed as animals (she doesn’t love that).
bug stares

The unfortunate bit of her schedule is that on Tuesdays and Thursday’s she’s stuck at home and usually ends up watching me spend what she likely feels are her ‘best years’ doing work and checking emails.  These days have been especially bleak for Bug since the amount of work happening in the home office (and out of the house) is at a possible all-time high, and that is definitely saying something.

Somehow I’ve managed to fit in workouts most days, and try to take rest days when my schedule is just too full to rationalize creating another obligation.  I’m incredibly lucky to still be able to  go back to the weight room + athletic facility that I trained in when I was rowing for UVa.  All of the equipment is amazing, the strength and training staff is some of the absolute best out there, and it just feels like a second home to me.

McCue Center

Despite the amazing platforms and equipment, since I’m no longer training on a high level I try to avoid olympic lifting at all costs. I typically make an appearance when it’s too hot (or cold, or rainy) to use the Woodway treadmills – they are amazing pieces of machinery.

Last Thursday I stopped in and did a quick workout with a run + a small circuit:

  • 4 mile run
  • 25 wall balls
  • 25 sweepers (laying on the floor holding a bumper plate right above your chest + lift your legs taking toes to plate working on your lower abs)
  • 25 burpees
  • 25 air squats.

Normally I’d shoot for 3 – 4 rounds of this, but I was running out the door to get ready for our FemCity event, so I cut myself off at 2 rounds. It still started the big muscle engines though, I assure you.

Which brings us to the next item on the menu, literally: the FemCity Charlottesville Locavore Dinner Series.  One of the main purposes of Femfessionals, and our FemCity community here in Charlottesville is to connect, promote, and support women in business, across all industries and professional levels, to create a dynamic and powerful group of women actively changing and developing our city.  That being said, we love to have business (and human) connection events where members and future members can meet other women in the community.  The purpose of these events is to connect and share the passions, projects, and businesses that they put their time and energy into, hopefully increasing interest, support, and awareness for their work.

Last Thursday we launched a new dinner series to do just that, with a hyper-local focus that not only reflects our FemCity community, but also Charlottesville as a whole.  The event was limited to a small group of local women and was a dinner event where everyone was able to sit together, around the same table, connecting personally and professionally over a locally sourced dinner.  For this first one, I cooked, in the spirit of representing this very blog as well as many of our local bakeries, markets, and food vendors to keep things, well, local.

local asparagus from FEAST

It’s not too terribly difficult to accomplish an entirely local meal in Charlottesville, but it is somewhat expensive if you’re really committed to a tight radius.  I found some amazing asparagus, strawberries, and a local pesto at Feast! that cost a pretty penny but could not be beat in freshness and quality.

pesto

While I was at Feast! I grabbed some cheeses, including but not limited to, a great cheddar that I used to make some little grilled cheese appetizers, with local Breadworks bread (of course) in two flavors: 1) pesto + cheddar, and 2) granny smith apples + cheddar, all done directly on the grill.

the makings for grilled apple-cheeses

There are no pics of the finished project, but in full disclosure I did break from my typical no-bread stance and indulged in the apple and cheddar sammies, and it was TOTALLY worth it.  They are probably my favorite little treat snacks from recent memory.

I scored an amazing amount of produce from C’ville Market for less than $80, which always seems to be the case there, and had more than enough for all of the dishes, including the salad.

fuel sweat grow: salad

Mixed local greens, topped with avocado, cucumber, local strawberries, blueberries, and last but not least: sliced almonds.

fuel sweat grow: salad

I’m on a fruity salad kick right now, and have definitely been appreciating the surplus of local greens available at the market, so it pretty much just created itself with only a little help from my hands.

For one of the main dishes I went with my favorite veggie topping (zucchini, yellow squash, red + yellow peppers) all sautéd in coconut oil and served over amazing local fettuccine from Mona Lisa Pasta.  Even though they don’t have a gluten free variety yet, this pasta is made fresh in house, and is absolutely amazing.  This dish had half spinach fettuccine and half basil fettuccine to give everyone a little bit of choice in the matter.

fuel sweat grow: mona lisa pasta

In addition to the pasta we had gilled chicken from the Organic Butcher, marinated in either the local pesto or honey dijon, with a side of tomato mozzarella.

fuel sweat grow: chicken and tomato

The meal capped off with some SweetHaus cupcakes (and wine of course).

fuel sweat grow: sweethaus cupcakes

We had amazing conversations, a number of brand new faces, and an awesome night all around.  I could not be more excited for what is to come in our little FemCity, as well as all of the exciting projects and upcoming plans that all of our Fems brought to the table.  It was incredibly inspiring.

It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘work’ and the demands of every day life, and it was so great to have a casual reminder of just how energizing and productive it can be to sit down and share with no particular objective or necessary outcome.  We’ve got great programming coming up, so check our FemCity Charlottesville if you live here, or whatever Femfessionals community is close to you – they’re all amazing.

Some ‘Almost’ Summer Sweats + Eats

Happy Memorial day WEEKEND!  It feels a little strange to think that it’s already memorial day weekend since I’m not sure how we got to May, and have seen only a handful of days that I would categorize is truly ‘spring’ days, but hey, if everyone is in agreement I think I’ll just take it as the truth.

So far the weekend has been amazing.  Totally relaxed, driven less by a to-do list than a want-to-do list which is just beautiful in and of itself.  The lead into the weekend was pretty sweet with Thursday night’s bootcamp group rocking out a partner workout.

Workout: 3 station with 7 minutes of constant work for BOTH partners, alternating work at each station.

There was a 2:30 break in between rounds.

Station 1: 6 Box Jumps / 6 slam balls (counting rounds)

Station 2: KB swings / 200m run

Station 3: Air squats (or goblet squats w/KB) / Plank hold

After bootcamp was in a complete grilling (and using everything in the fridge) sort of a mood, so here’s what happened.

1. grilled asparagus.  made the usual way – light olive oil + sea salt.  grilled to tender, but not wrinkly.

asparagus

2. grilled turkey burgers! I bought ground turkey from Whole Foods a couple days prior so it was time to put it to use, so, that’s what I did.  I literally just made them into patties and added nothing except for a little ground sea salt on the outside.

turkey patties

While they grilled I set out the ‘fixins,’ which included iceburg lettuce for buns, tomato, cucumber, avocado and (not pictured) some amazing dijon mustards.  I always order the dijon at Citizen Burger Bar when I build almost this same burger there (but with Timbercreek beef and pickles instead of cucumbers) and it has this unbelievable kick that I can only assume is horse radish, so of course I bought some.

fixins

Here is my completed plate for a meal that was exactly what I needed.  I did add one more lettuce leave for full coverage (and control) of the burger, but it was amazing.

val burger complete

A few hours after dinner I somehow managed to make a slightly better choice than the Sweethaus cupcakes that Margaret had dropped off during her lunch hour, and had strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, a few mini chocolate chips, with a shaken coconut milk/cocoa/vanilla extract ‘sauce’ on top.  It was awesome and I got exactly the right amount of sweet from it.

dessert

Friday morning we had the 6 and 7 am bootcamps who did the same workout as the Thursday night group, and then I jetted off to Richmond for the morning to get some things signed and to get a little retail therapy in on the backend at Short Pump.  I scored some amazing new sneaks at Nordstrom and a new outfit at lululemon, of course.  By the time I got home (and after I woke up from a surprise hour-long nap) it was time for Friday’s after Five downtown.

There’s not a ton of graffiti in Charlottesville, or really much at all that I could even recall, but this was on the wall at my new favorite ‘not so secret anymore’ parking spot for Fridays.  There’s something about it that really actually appealed to me for some strange reason, and added a little color to a random and hidden side street.  There is a serious artistic talent to some of these sections that I totally appreciate and that actually make me miss making art.

charlottesville 'street art' charlottesville 'street' artcharlottesville graffiti art

Friday’s was awesome as per usual, despite the chilly winds that took the heat of the sun away, immediately.  Most of the usual suspects were out, and Dar of course managed to meet some new people that will likely now add the group of ‘The Usuals.’

Thanks to the chilly winds we did split a little earlier than usual to find refuge and delicious food at the upstairs bar in The Local.  I love the local in general, but there is something about sitting at the bar and getting to chat with other people, bartenders included, that really adds to the element of being out, and Dar and I were able to talk at length about new ideas and thoughts for the Fight Gone MAD grand openings here in Charlottesville, as well as in Richmond.

Sidebar: have you ever read the ‘history of the building’ section in the menu? It’s so very Charlottesville, and gives a great historic feel to the whole space.

The Local History

 

The drinks definitely helped the feeling of excited jubilance.

bold rock cider

They have my favorite Bold Rock Cider, which helps me cause greatly, and then my favorite courses of local meals around.

Local (Caromont) Goat Cheese Salad:

the local's goat cheese salad

Followed by the tenderloin special with no sauce, cheeses, or dressings of any kind.  Asparagus and red bliss mashed potatoes underneath.  It’s amazing people, you need to try it.

The Local's tenderloin special

That was a wrap for Friday night, and it was a good one.  Definitely an awesome lead into a three-day weekend full of beautiful weather and nothing but want-to-do’s.

More to come on that later.  Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends, let us know what eats, treats, and possibly even sweats (?) made their way into your holiday fun!