Falling Back with Coffee + Home Cooking

Hello Monday.

Rise & SHine

Even with the bonus hour of sleep (which I took FULL advantage of), Monday came as abruptly as ever.      And with the lowest temperatures of the fall, which is really only going to contribute to my discontent.

I’m definitely a coffee-only morning person, and will consider food a few hours later once my body has had a chance to wake up.  This morning I was definitely on the slow and steady path, starting with iced coffee first thing, and followed up with a vegetable, steak, and egg scramble late-morning to keep me going.

By noon I was hungry for a little something more, and needing another kick in my veins, so I made my new favorite midday pick me up (aka: vitamixture):


I started hoarding collecting iced coffee tumblers from Whole Foods a few months ago, not only because proves economical for me ($4 refills!), but also because I don’t have the time or energy to coordinate a coffee run every morning.   Having their amazing iced Toddy mixture  just an arms length away, in my own fridge, feels like winning each and every morning.

So, with a tumbler in hand, and vitamix plugged in, I make my own version of a Frozen Monkey.

Here’s what you need (measurements are discretionary):

  • 1/2 c. Ice

  • 1/2 c. Coconut milk

  • 1 c. Iced Coffee

  • 1 frozen banana

  • 4 Strawberries

  • 1 tsp. raw cocoa powder

  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • (option to add in 1 tbsp almond butter)

Frozen Monkey

Today was a long day of work, and since I took class at MADabolic the last three days in a row, I decided upon a well deserved rest day.  I’ve been trying to be better, recently, about really enjoying my rest days and fully listening to my body when it needs a break.  So that’s what I did.

What does an afternoon of rest look like, you wonder?  It looks like this (and it feels awesome).

Fall Salad

Mixed greens, chopped walnuts, a honey crisp apple, and blueberries, made for a pretty awesome fall salad.  And since no salad is complete without some protein and side items, this particular meal was rounded out with a mixture of Sunday night’s leftovers: roasted chicken, and spaghetti squash sautéed with roasted cauliflower.

monday night dinner

Lets be honest, if it’s going to get dark before 6pm, the least you can do to cope is have a great meal ready and waiting.   And this one was exactly the right blend of not-too-heavy combined with the warm comfort that comes with cold weather food.

Welcome November, I was not looking forward to you, but so far, so good.

Morning Fuel + Clean Eat Options

If there’s one thing that I cherish in the morning, it’s coffee.  Hot freakin’ coffee, usually with creamer and a sugar in the raw.  Well, per the 28 day Challenge rules, creamer (along with all dairy) is out.  It took me about two fully pained days to really evolve my despair into a solution: americano w/cinnamon (and/or cocoa).  This little treat managed to propel me through days 6-10 with little feeling of depravation and a new appreciation for the flavor.  Coconut milk is also an optional additive, but that would almost ruin the beauty of the americano.

americano + flavor

In addition to the morning coffee struggle, breakfast has been the biggest challenge for me.  I’m typically not huge on breakfast and take a little time to work up my hunger so it’s been a challenge (for lack of better words) for me to create breakfast options that are on plan and appealing to me during early mornings.  Here are a few of my favorites:

eggs con bacon

Ingredients + directions:

1/2 cup Zucchini + yellow squash: sautéd in coconut oil w/Trader Joe’s ‘everyday seasoning’

3 eggs + 2 egg whites: scrambled in with squash

Applegate turkey bacon: cooked separately (FSG recommends cooking it ALL & keeping extra in fridge for easy adding)

Scramble all together. Serves 2 (hungry bears)

egg scramble w/ real foods

I love eggs, so variations of this are increasingly common around here in the morning, but for the days that I’m still questionable on the real morning food front I will go with a smoothie.  I’ve shared  some of these VitaMix favorites in previous posts, but this week in an attempt to use up some strawberries, I took a different direction.

real strawberry smoothie

We’re going to call this the ‘thank god strawberries are on plan’ smoothie.  It has helped to subside any screams for sugar, and tastes awesome.

Ingredients: (all added into the VitaMix & blended)

10 Ice cubes

1 cup water

1 cup (light) coconut milk

8 medium strawberries

1 (frozen) banana

2 table spoons of fresh ground almond butter

All in all, this week has been pretty good in the morning fuel selection so far, and has helped us to push through an overload of work and ‘to-do-right NOW’s.’

Anyone else have any must-try clean breakfast options? This weekend is looking like a clean slate of prep days, and I’d love to play around with any recipes you have! We’ve got some pretty exciting plans coming up and would love to have your input included!

Day 1 of Real Food Freedom

Captain’s log: Day 1.

The 28 day challenge began for us on Monday.  Cutting out the few ‘food’ ingredients that were off plan wasn’t the challenge (well, not really), it was the loss of half and half in my coffee and any potential thought of a glass of wine that nearly brought me down in hour 1, of day 1.

Cristina recommends adding coconut milk, pumpkin spice and cinnamon to coffee to give it a little kick, but in that most desperate first hour I was unable to comprehend anything other than having my full on creamer, so I went without coffee.  That was my first major mistake of the week, and I paid for it fully around 3pm.

On the ‘good news’ side of this report, Whole Foods Cville had a flash sale on ground beef (85%) from 12pm – 6pm on Monday, pricing it at $3.49/lb.  Since a good majority of my daily food intake is coming from meat this month, the sale created a near hysterical reaction that caused me to drive to whole foods within the first hour of the sale.  Remember, I had no coffee.  Panic was a natural response, and so was this next meal.

beef + veggies : day 1 of 28

Sunday had been a plan ahead day for meals, so thankfully I already had roasted two spaghetti squash, and they were ready to go in the fridge.

spaghetti squash

The meat and the spaghetti squash were awesome together – I just added a little salt and pepper to season, and lunch/dinner was born.

At 3pm when my complete caffeine depravation hit me I went to the extreme of  blending coffee with ice, coconut milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, blueberries and strawberries with a half handful of almonds to bring myself back into the realm of sanity, but that’s a story for another time.  Until then, here’s what it looked like:

clean smoothie

I’m not sure if it was mental, or if just the flavor of the cocoa and coconut milk, plus fruit sugars, were enough to quiet the screams of my sugar withdrawal, but something did it.

So here come the questions for you – what are your favorite juice/smoothie/vitamx blends?  We’re loving the experimentation, from these cocoa based, to the super green, so tell us what you’ve got going on in your kichen!

5 Reasons to Own a Vitamix (or just a really rockin’ blender)

There are a few kitchen appliances and utensils that had gone completely undervalued early on in my life, and the blender was one of them.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a huge need for blending things, or maybe it’s because I didn’t know what a VitaMix was until my mid-twenties, but let me assure you, I value it now.

vitamix blends

Here are a few reasons why you should buy yourself a VitaMix for valentines day, or just rekindle your relationship with your neglected blender.

1. Juicing (fruits + vegetables) and blending shakes is super simple, and the blades crush the ice like nobody’s business.

2. You can grind your own grains, beans + nuts to create your own reserves of gluten-free flours (you might want to look into getting the dry blending blades if you want to do this on the regular).

3. Green smoothies + shakes with healthy protein powders are incredibly quick and easy breakfast and snack options.

4. Waste less food and/or have a solution for the days when you realize you don’t have enough of anything to make a normal meal (see below for my 3pm kitchen scrap-fest).

5. Shenanigans: If you decide that you hate having energy, that all of my blending options are rubbish, and you dislike putting vitamins and minerals in your body, you can just make margaritas.  It’s a worthy cause, and you can always come back to your senses the next day…or the day after.

protein blend

This week I’ve been doing some blending, some tweeting about blending, and then more blending.  This afternoon at about 3pm my energy started to fade and the afternoon hunger games kicked in.  I hadn’t had very substantial breakfast or lunch options since I taught and took Pure Barre this morning, so I was ready for something with a little more nutritional content.

When I get midday hungry and have a little time, I usually get these grand ideas of the culinary masterpiece that I am going to create, but the reality of my steadily decreasing enthusiasm and the lack of food stores in the fridge quickly changed the plan.  New plan: a shake.

Step 1: Ice + Fruit.  I put in a cup of ice, one banana (I usually like these to be frozen, but I haven’t gotten to that phase of my kitchen organization this week), and the last little handfuls of fresh blueberries and blackberries.

this isn't disney, and there are no hidden messages.
relax: this isn’t disney, and there are no hidden messages.

Step 2: Greens! I added in the last of a bag of spinach that was sitting lonely in the produce drawer.  For the non-believers on the leafy green front, you will not taste spinach once you hit blend.

leafy greens will make you hot. I promise, so eat them.
leafy greens will make you hot. I promise, so eat them.

Step 3: Protein Powder! I had not (past tense) found a protein powder that I liked, which is largely why I believe I had an estranged relationship with my blending appliances, but after 28 years of disappointment and rejecting the overly hyped and chemical laden powders of yore, I have found a winner.

fuel sweat grow protein powder SFH
stronger faster healtheir (.com) all natural, grass fed, real protein.

Dar had told me about this brand last summer, and early in the fall during a visit in to get my butt kicked at Fight Gone Mad HQ in Charlotte I saw that they were selling it.  Enter: the stronger, faster, healthier proteins into my life.  Dar and I both use the Daily Balance Whey Protein powder (vanilla), and for having such different tastes and protein needs it continuously amazes me that we both like it, but I digress.

Step 4: re-fuel.

fuel sweat grow protein shake
see, it’s purple. not green.
yes. I use big green straws. and I recommend the same to you. it's a game changer.
yes. I use big green straws. and I recommend the same to you. it’s a game changer.

And that’s the story of my midday shake, and why the VitaMix is a stellar valentine, if you keep your wits about you and don’t get too grabby with the blades.

I’ve been tweeting a bit this week about blending, the SFH proteins, and the endless combos therein.  Here are a few flavor combos that were developed and personally tested by the Fight Gone MAD co-owner/founder + MAD Scientist Himself.  And you better believe after going through the Franchising process (and BEING APPROVED this week), with a newborn at home, this kid understands energy needs.

Here are some of his MAD blends this week:

MAD tweets #vitamix MAD tweets #vitamix MAD tweets #vitamix

Cliffs Notes:

Buy a VitaMix (or blender), put things in it that have grown in/out of the ground, add protein if you so desire, but know what you’re putting into your body.