Gratitude, Vegetables + Love: Featuring Zoodles [ Day 7 of #23to30 ]

The last 5 years have taught me more than I can fully communicate in the #23to30 chronicles, but these three concepts have proven to be critically important day to day.  When one is missing, the whole day is off balance.70b009db8decb19162818bffee458eea

I’ve always been a vegetable lover – growing up my dad had to have a backyard garden – we ate fresh food, we learned to like all food (mostly) and fast food was not something that came around often.  My mom did have a thing for Dairy Queen, but we all try not to talk about it.

I truly grew up thinking that salad made with home grown produce, and whole wheat pasta sautéd in olive oil with pine nuts, arugula and sun dried tomatoes was a typical tuesday night dinner for all families.  Add avocado? Obviously.   That’s how I learned to cook (and eat); watching my dad cook, acting as his sous chef, and being second in command to conduct the evening assessment of refrigerator contents to determine what meals are actually possible (aka Fridge Disposal Meals).  When my dad would travel I was automatically promoted to head chef, a scenario which my mom was both intrigued and terrified by; but outside of a few small and thankfully contained kitchen fires, I steadily honed my craft.

As an adult I can honestly say that things have only gotten worse, which of course really means exponentially better.  My love for locally grown and organic food has become more obsessive, I live in a town that is focused on locally sourced foods and culinary uniqueness, and I have slowly (but certainly) become more compulsive about cooking and eating clean and delicious food.  That being said, it should come as no surprise that Zoodlers and spiralizers are one of the greatest things to happen to me in the last decade.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles  Anyone who has peeled or sliced zucchini into ribbons knows, these kitchen toys have completely changed the game.  Lately I’ve been loving zoodles sautéed in coconut oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and ultimately topped with browned ground beef and sautéed peppers, carrots, and mushrooms.

fuel sweat grow: zoodles and ground beef

I love this as another grain free option, in addition to spaghetti squash, to create and replicate meals.  Obviously it’s an amazing pasta replacement, but it also works as an amazing addition to scrambled eggs (like below), fajitas, and pretty much anywhere you might want to mix in some greens.fuel sweat grow: scrambled eggs and zoodles

You can definitely expect a series of zoodle heavy recipes to come out of the winter months, so get excited.  You’ll be zoodling before you know it.

While I never really lost touch with my love for vegetables and ‘fridge disposal meals,’ it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve really focused on creating more in a clean and grain free arena.  The first few months were a little scary, and I missed the meals that I was so used to, but slowly I figured out how to recreate them; how to work with different ingredients, pair different ingredients, and create more flavorful and exciting meals than I ever had before.

This is going to be the winter of amazing meals and I’m inviting you all to dinner, one way or another – so join me with plenty of gratitude, vegetables, and love.

Welcome to Fall: Comfort Food + Charlottesville Weekends

It’s fall.  It’s a leaves changing, crisp air breathing, college football kind of fall, and I’m so in love with it.

fuel sweat grow: pumpkins and fall

I love warm weather just as much as the next winter-fearing southern transplant, but there’s some naturally ignorant draw to the changing of the seasons that fools my body and mind into thinking that there will be a favorable outcome, or at least a perpetual new reality where life is all hot-chocolate, boots, and pumpkin everything.  And listen, if there’s a world like that somewhere, please send me the coordinates.  I’ll be there….fully engulfed corduroys, a turtleneck and tall boots – because that’s my jam.

This past weekend, despite Saturday being unreasonably hot, was a beautiful first full September weekend in Charlottesville.  Football, the downtown mall, long sleeves and my first hot chocolate provided the perfect lead in to what I’m hoping will be a little calmer season than the last.

Sunday, outside of just football and the steep break in the weather from Saturday, was the perfect day of balance and organization.  The morning included my favorite Sunday activities – coffee, breakfast, and strolling the downtown mall, and in the process, seeing this sweet little love note on the door of Mudhouse downtown. [MUD + MAD = <3].

fuel sweat grow: charlottesville mudhouse downtown

Early afternoon kicked off at Citizen’s Burger Bar in tandem with the 1pm NFL kick off, and was followed up by a nap, a trip to HomeGoods and Whole Foods, and then an evening of food prep glory.  It was perfect.

For this week in food, a few things went into production to prevent any meal driven panics, starting my favorite Spaghetti Squash Bolognese. As far as clean eating goes, it’s one of the best cold weather comfort foods you can imagine, and might be even better reheated (so make a LOT and pre-package lunches for the week if you can).

The squash was already roasted, so I took some ground beef from Whole Foods, simmered with squash (zucchini and yellow), and then added in the ‘spaghetti’.  The sauce was my favorite (at least favorite store bought), Keswick Gourmet, made locally in Charlottesville.

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash marinara

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash bolognese

While this was happening on the stovetop, SO much more was happening all around it to make my new favorite pack and go snacks, including chopping, grilling, and even more stove-topping.  The result: amazing spring rolls.

fuel sweat grow: hand rolled spring rolls

I made a batch of these last weekend in Maine with my Aunt, and immediately got all of the necessary ingredients to bring them back to my everyday life.  Stay tuned for the full scope update with recipe options and process.  I’m obsessed.

I guess the cliffs notes version of all the above is: welcome fall, you’re beautiful.  The rest of the week is promising to be pretty awesome as well with the cool air sticking around, amazing sweats, happy hours, live music, and food throughout.

Sweating + Working and Celebrating America

I keep thinking that it’s Saturday, but alas, it’s just Thursday so nobody panic.  We still have 3.5 sweet days left in this weekend and I, for one, intend to use them all.

Since getting back from Charlotte last week I’ve been a catch up and settle in cycle that can only be described as organizational chaos.  Thankfully I’ve squeezed in enough sweats to keep my brain functioning and my body awake.

Sunday required planning + body testing Tuesday’s bootcamp workout, which I was more than happy to oblige to since I needed a little circuit to get myself going in the morning.

The time table looked like this:

  • 45 seconds on / 15 seconds off (rotating through each station once per round)
  • 1 minute of rest in between rounds
  • 5 full rounds of high intensity pace

And the menu was:

  • Kettlebell RDL (option of 12, 16, or 20 kg kettlebells)
  • Medicine Ball Thrusters (holding ball at chest squat full down, drive up through heels extending arms and ball overhead while fully extending hip flexors)
  • Kettlebell twist (using 10 or 12 kg bells – slight dip with hips twisting to one side + pop up to extend hip flexor and twist bell to opposide side of body.  All while keeping an engaged core + strong back)
  • Turkish Getup w/barbell
  • Slamballs (12 or 20lb)

After testing this Sunday, Monday was a welcomed day for a long run + walk around town to slow things down a little and lengthen out the soreness in my glutes and hamstrings.

Tuesday morning was a boocamp morning which means a bright and early 5-something in the morning wake up, and kicking off the day with the 6 + 7am classes.  Per usual everyone rocked it, and we shot this picture of part of the 6am gang after the workout.

fuel sweat grow: 6am bootcampers

Usually I’ll try to swap coaching times with Dar if I can convince her, and I’ll take the 6am and she can take the 7 (if we feel so athletically inclined in those early morning hours) but Tuesday I happily delayed my activity until the afternoon and took a quick 2 mile warm up run before doing the circuit for the second time in three days with the 5:30pm group.  (I’m not pictured because apparently I have the most superior photo-taking skills – or at least that’s the reason I give myself.)

fuel sweat grow: 5:30pm boot campers

Meals this week have also been slightly chaotic, and have involved far more restaurant food than home-cooked, which is something I don’t usually like to let happen.

Monday night I did manage to pull myself together before too late and used the last of the fridge contents to make this meal.

fuel sweat grow: dinner at home

Ground local (Wolf Creek) beef with zucchini, onion, and mushrooms all sautéd together, plus a salad with romaine, almond slivers, blueberries, cucumber and avocado.

fuel sweat grow: guacamole and carrot chips

A side of my homemade guacamole and sliced carrot chips (for dipping and eating) also doubled as the salad dressing.  I’m not sure if it was just a really filling and great meal, or if I was so craving something home cooked, but it was exactly what I needed to kick off the ‘work week.’

There were multiple mornings turned ‘breakfast meetings’ at LaTaza this week, and I finally converted over to Dar’s full-time ‘regular’ order of scrambled eggs with veggies and extra avocado.

fuel sweat grow: eggs and avocado

This used to be my go-to for healthy (@28tolife style) breakfast out, but lately I had fallen into a pattern of getting the same thing, just wrapped up in a burrito.  I highly recommend both from a taste standpoint, but my body is thanking me for cutting out the gluten-full wrap.

Wednesday, which happened to be an off day for my body started with a LaTaza breakfast and began celebrating America a little early with an afternoon bar business meeting in Richmond.

fuel sweat grow: tequila snack time

It’s pretty uncommon (outside of such holiday events…) that I’ll decide on cocktails in the middle of the day, but somehow yesterday fit the bill, so I went for it.

After a full afternoon of meetings, and a quick trip over to Short Pump for a little retail tour, it got too late to think about going to the grocery store and cooking and when we got back to Charlottesville around 8:45, Dar and I settled on the idea of an extended post-business meeting business-meeting at The Local.

The one single change to my usual order is that I ventured over to the House Salad, forgetting my usual goat cheese favorite, and lived on the wild side of choice, even for just one meal.

The Local: House Salad

I’m not someone who can eat the same thing every single meal, or even every single day for that matter (outside of coffee and wine) but I have a hard time diverting from my favorite dishes at certain restaurants, especially if they’re local and real food oriented.  Therefore, once again I got the Tenderloin Special, and unlike Dar I opted to keep the potatoes rather than getting double vegetables.

The Local: tenderloin special

We’re celebrating America here people, and America (apparently) is about starches and butter, not vegetables.  [Disclaimer: I do not actually recommend that choice model or mentality any days of the week or year outside of some select holidays, and in moderation…].

This morning (Thursday — yep, still Thursday) since everyone was off work for the 4th, bootcamp turned into 1 group class with everyone still in town and moved to the park at 9am.

In an effort to push a little more cardio, and account for a larger group, the workout was structured a little differently.

4 people per station: 4 stations (each station had 2 exercises)

1. speed balls (modified wall balls)/breakdancers

2. jump squats/plank

3. slam balls/walking lunges

4. KB swings/star jumps

We started at each station for 2 minutes (1 minute of each exercise + then switch), with one minute of transition rest in between.  It may have been the heat, it may have been hangovers, or it may have just been much harder than we thought, but after the first round of 1 minute for each exercise, we took it down to speed rounds with round 2 having 45 second intervals, and round 3 pushing through at 30 second max effort intervals.  Regardless, there was heavy breathing, lots of sweating, and three full rounds of work.

Fuel sweat grow: boot campers

The rest of my day consisted of catching up on work, stocking up at Whole Foods (updates on that to come later), and this:

Fuel sweat grow: Ball Jar Mimosas

So far I’m enjoying my celebrations of both Freedom and America, but I’m ready for a nap, and still hoping to squeeze out a little more work.  Two contradictory forces working there, but I’m optimistic.

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!