I've conducted a very non-scientific survey of my close friends and determined that everyone agrees it takes about two years to really settle into a new house. So I'm working on my patience (not my best virtue, kids) in realizing that we're not going to get all the house things done right away. Right now I'm focusing on the instant-gratification projects where you put in an afternoon's worth of work and come out with an appreciably improved space. Enter, gardens! I planted a bunch this weekend and everything is still in that newly-planted, weed-free, great-looking phase. This phase typically lasts about two weeks for me, so it's important to savor it.
For being a city with such short summers, Minneapolis residents are serious about their gardens. When spring came this year we realized that we're living in between two expert gardeners, and our sad little weed patch stuck out like a sore thumb. I was pulling nettles and prairie grass out of the front garden to clear it out the other weekend, and one of the upstairs tenants (who has lived here for years) was so confused, because he "thought we had some nice flowers in there" (when what we really had were very dense weeds, punctuated by the occasional large spider). Hello, bachelor pad. Nice to meet you. I am NOT a master gardener, but I know a thistle when I see one. So I've got that going for me.
After I got the front pots and garden planted, one of the neighbors came over to compliment our work and say how excited he was about what we've been doing at the house--AND he gave me some great tips on how to take care of our new azaleas. And then he left and I did a little happy dance for Minnesota Nice neighbors. We're only one for two on that front though, the other set of neighbors was none thrilled about our fence. No gardening tips or compliments coming from that direction. But that's ok! Because I don't really like talking to neighbors anyway, and now I know how to take care of the azaleas! And look how pretty they are!!
I've also got some pretty annuals on the front steps (supertunias and gerbera daisies in the pots) and some herbs and veggies in the back garden (tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, mint, parsley, rosemary, and basil) surrounded by some marigolds because Pinterest tells me rabbits don't like those (although I just googled it and there seems to be some disagreement on that point--I think the smart money's on the rabbits eating all my plants no matter what I've got in there, but we'll see).
Best of luck, little plant-lings. You do not have a very skilled caregiver watching over you, but we're all pulling for ya.
The beautiful thing about living in Minnesota is that every year spring and summer feel like a surprise party--I've forgotten how lovely it is to feel the warm air on my face as I walk out the door each morning, and enjoy daylight hours after dinner, and take advantage of the lakes and the bike trails. And just like the weather, the amazingly delicious produce takes me by surprise (even though I've experienced spring and summer, and the produce that comes with it, for 27 years now). I won't go on too long waxing poetic about nectarines and berries, but the cherry tomatoes that are included in this salad are perfectly in season right now--I keep buying big containers at Costco and everyone in my house is popping handfuls of tomatoes as they walk through the kitchen.
This salad is perfect for lunch or dinner in the summertime. It's substantial but not too heavy or warm, and the flavors are bright and fresh and delicious. If you're not familiar with chimichurri, I'd like to introduce you to your new best friend. This sauce is paleo and Whole 30 friendly, bursting with flavor, and great on any grilled meat (or even eggs). I made a big batch for this salad and I've been enjoying it out of the fridge on all sorts of things.
for the chimichurri
1 bunch flat parsley
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil or avocado oil
1/8 cup white vinegar
3 tbs lemon juice
for the salad
mixed field greens
chicken (I like boneless skinless thighs, but you could do breasts if you prefer)
2-3 red bell peppers
2-3 zucchini or yellow summer squash
olive oil for roasting veggies
italian seasoning, or your favorite dried spice (stick around the oregano/basil/rosemary neighborhood, don't get too exotic)
about 1/3 cup coconut sugar (omit if Whole 30)
about 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or whatever you like)
balsamic reduction for drizzling (I buy this one at my local grocery store, but it does have some added sugar--you can make your own or omit if a compliant version isn't available)
1. Preheat the oven to 375F and place your chicken thighs on a baking sheet. Please don't wash your chicken, it's pointless and spreads germs. I also made a ton of chicken when I was prepping this salad, so we would have leftovers all week. Why bake four pieces of chicken when you can bake twelve? Place your chicken in the oven.
2. Cut your bell peppers into thick slices (4 per pepper, not thin strips) and lay your slices on a second baking sheet. If you haven't seen this method for cutting your bell peppers, check out the link. It's one of my favorite kitchen tricks. Coat the pepper slices in a thin layer of olive oil.
3. Cut your zucchini or summer squash in quarters, length-wise, and lay them next to your peppers on the baking sheet (or on their own, if you're making extra like I did). Coat them in a think layer of olive oil, and sprinkle with italian seasoning.
4. Put your veggies in the oven. I actually roast my veggies at about 400 and cook the chicken at 350 because our new kitchen has a double oven (huzzah!) but cooking both at 375 will work just fine.
5. After your chicken and veggies are in the oven, turn to your chimichurri. Grab that beautiful parsley.
I made a double batch, because I wanted lots of leftovers, but one batch makes more than enough for this salad. I also left the stems on my parsley, which made for a more fibrous sauce--that doesn't bother me, but if I wanted it to be smoother I would chop off the stems where the leaves start.
6. Shove your parsley into your blender or food processor. This is really a job for a food processor, but I truly hate using food processors and love my blender to bits. I think it's because the food processor has so many pieces, but mostly it's just an irrational preference. I smooshed the parsley all the way down in my vitamix and with plenty of scraping down in between pulses it worked just fine.
7. Add all the other ingredients to your blender/FP and pulse until well combined, stopping to scrape down the sides with a spatula as necessary until everything is blended into a bright green, fragrant mess. Like dis.
8. Set your chimichurri aside and take a look at your chicken/veggies. The chicken should take about 30 minutes (give or take 5) and the veggies will take more like 40. You want your red peppers to be charred on the skin side and the zucchini/summer squash to be very soft and charred on the edges.
9. Take out a frying pan to candy your chopped nuts. If you're looking for a Whole 30 version of this recipe, you can skip this step. If not, did you know that you can melt sugar in a normal frying pan and create candied/glazed nuts at home? It's really easy. Add your coconut sugar to your frying pan (the pan should be dry, with no oil or anything other than the sugar).
CAdd your nuts to the pan, and turn on the burner to medium/high heat. Stir the mixture constantly until you notice that the sugar is melting (you'll see it streaking and turning liquid on the bottom of the pan). Keep stirring about 30 seconds past that point to be sure all the sugar is liquified, and then remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir to ensure the sugar/nuts don't burn or clump up too much. Set aside.
10. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half length-wise and set aside. Slice your prosciutto into strips/chunks (mine always rolls up into ball-like pieces, so I just go with that). I like about 2 pieces of prosciutto per salad, but all of these ingredients are to taste--add more of what you like, less/none of what you don't.
11. Remove your chicken and roasted veggies from the oven when they're finished and let them cool slightly before you assemble your salads--they should both be warm, but it's going to be tough to chop them when they're right-out-of-the-oven hot.
12. Chop your chicken into chunks, and slice your red peppers and zucchini/squash into small strips or pieces. I used about 1.5 pieces of chicken for each salad, and 1/4-1/2 a bell pepper, 1/4 of a zucchini and 1/4 of a yellow squash for each one. Again, whatever sounds good to you will work, the ratio is flexible.
13. Start with a bed of mixed greens in each bowl and layer each ingredient evenly over the top, saving the chimichurri and balsamic reduction for last. Drizzle your chimichurri over the top (or, if it's thick like mine was, drop a few chunks around the bowl and spread them with your spoon). I used about 2 tbs of chimichurri per bowl--this stuff is heavy on the garlic and very flavorful, so start with less and add more to taste. Finish with a drizzle of your reduced balsamic if you like, and dig in!
Enjoy on your porch or patio, with your feet up.
You guys, I have some terrible news. I decided to film my workout last night and my bubble is BURST. I had grand delusions of how great my push up and squat form had gotten, and when I watched them on video I nearly laughed out loud (nearly because it’s hard to laugh when you’re choking back tears). Seriously. It was bad. Takeaway: video is your friend when it comes to strength training. Even former athletes who think they’re pretty good at judging their body position can be wildly wrong. WILDLY. Just sayin.
But this post is not about embarrassing push ups, it’s about the Whole 30. I wrote this post about my journey with food issues a while ago, but I wanted to write specifically about the Whole 30 because I’ve been seeing more and more buzz about the program lately, and because my Whole 30 played such a key role in turning my health around.
If you’re not familiar with the Whole 30, it’s a 30-day program where you cut out any foods that are known to cause poor physical and mental health: all grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and added sugars (even natural sweeteners) are out. The book It Starts With Food explains why each of these food groups may cause damage to your body, either because they promote an unhealthy psychological response, or cause an unhealthy hormonal response, or cause problems for your gut/digestion, or cause an immune reaction and inflammation (or several of the above). If you’re interested in learning more about this, I can’t recommend the book strongly enough: it goes through the science in agonizing detail with abundant citations. In a good way.
The Whole 30 gets a lot of flack for being too strict. Health professionals insist that some of the foods the Whole 30 bans are actually healthy, and people like to whine a lot about the rule that you re-start your 30 days if you eat something that’s banned under the Whole 30 rules. But here’s the real key, so stay with me: the whole point of the Whole 30 is to find out how YOUR body reacts to the foods that you eliminate. Because you’ve probably never gone 30 days (or 3 days) without eating the food groups that are off-limits, and because your body might have no problem with them, OR it might have a big problem with them. Without eliminating them for a while, you’ll never know.
The key to the 30-day window is to give your body enough time to recover and heal from any reactions you may be having to foods your body doesn’t like. After that amount of time, your system has been reset and you can actually see how your body reacts to different food groups by reintroducing them one by one and seeing how you feel. (A lot of people finish up their 30 days and quickly binge on all the things they’ve been missing at once, which really, really misses the point and robs you of the magic, in my opinion.)
When I started the Whole 30 I knew that I was sick. I wouldn’t have committed to that 30 days if I had been feeling well, honestly, a lot of those off-limits food groups included my favorite things before I did the Whole 30. But I had gotten to the point that I was either sick to my stomach or battling a migraine (or both) at least four or five days a week. That’s not normal for a 25-year-old, and I was desperate to find a solution. I was certain I didn’t have any problems with gluten or dairy, since I ate yogurt basically every day and saltine crackers were my go-to when I was feeling nauseous. But I was willing to give the Whole 30 a try, and I stuck to the rules. I finished my Whole 30 in January of 2015.
I actually felt pretty terrible during the Whole 30, which I now recognize was my gut healing. It was a different kind of terrible than I was used to—instead of being physically sick, my stomach felt sort of bloated and brick-like, but I wasn’t actually getting sick anymore. By the end of the 30 days, I knew that my problem had to be food-related, because I hadn’t gone a month without being sick in over a year (and by that point the bloated, heavy, swollen feeling had subsided). I was curious to find out what the problem might be, and I followed the program’s recommendations for re-introducing food groups.
What I learned in the weeks following my Whole 30, and in the year and a half since then, is that my body does not tolerate gluten or dairy. It’s a bummer, really, because I like those foods—but feeling as great as I do now is more than worth the trade-off. I also learned that my body doesn’t always react immediately when I eat something that makes me sick—it’s not like I start feeling nauseous as soon as the meal is over, or even hours later—sometimes it’s the next meal, or even the next day when I see the real reaction. The first time I had a few pieces of toast for breakfast, nausea woke me up in the middle of the night (15 hours later) after feeling fine all day. And now, when I’ve basically eliminated gluten and dairy entirely from my diet, my stomach swells up when I eat them to the point that I look several trimesters pregnant.
For me, the Whole 30 was truly the key to identifying my food issues. In the time since I finished the program I’ve fine-tuned that knowledge and learned the hard way that I really need to stay away from my problem foods, but I never would have gotten there without Whole 30, particularly because it never would have occurred to me that the foods that were making me sick might have been foods I ate twelve hours ago, rather than the thing I just put in my mouth.
So what does all this mean for people who aren’t constantly ill or suffering from migraines or autoimmune issues? What if you feel generally ok? Here’s the answer to that: you absolutely don’t have to do the Whole 30 if you don’t want to, and I won’t even strongly encourage you to do it. But what I will tell you is that you may have symptoms of food reactions that you would never recognize if you didn’t try an elimination program. Tons of people suffer from less-than-ideal digestion (that’s why Activia sells so well) and lots more people suffer from joint pain, or skin problems, or poor sleep quality. Those things might not be caused by a food sensitivity…but they might be. And if you go 30 days on this program, you might be shocked to see improvements that you never thought were possible, and the elimination of symptoms that you never dreamed were associated with your diet. So yeah, I guess I am encouraging you to give it a try. Unless you already feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all day every day. Then you’re good.
And, because you probably opened this post wondering about weight loss, I did lose weight during the Whole 30, and I've kept it off since completing the program (because, for the most part, I still eat mostly protein, fruits and vegetables and limit my intake of sugar and grains). But the creators of Whole 30 insist that isn't the point of the 30 days, and I wholeheartedly agree. Seeing how great you can feel when you're well fed (and realizing how crappy you felt before without even realizing it) is far more valuable than losing a few pounds of fat. Pinky promise.
You see that shockingly handsome dog up there? He is the reason today's Fueled Up Friday is going to be brief. A Fueled Up Fri-lette, if you will. Because Chewy needed a haircut in the worst way, so I gave him one tonight, but he decided halfway through that that was enough haircut thank you very much and got quite feisty. But I was cutting a good three inches off, so half a haircut just would not do. People would point. And stare. And laugh at poor Chewy. So we had to forcibly convince him that the haircut must go on, and that was emotionally taxing on all of us. Dan admitted on our walk afterward that he really doesn't like being "mean" to Chewy, so he'd rather not participate in the giving of haircuts. I can't cut Chewy's hair on my own, because it's impossible to both cut his hair and hold him in place, so that means Chewy is officially on his way to becoming this dog:
We'll just see how mean haircuts feel when he arrives at THAT destination, eh?
So. Anyway. Fueled Up Friday. The things that are keeping me fueled up this week are books and berries. Keepin' it simple.
I've mentioned before that we live in a duplex, and that some day in the future we're planning to remodel the duplex into a single family home. That remodel is years away, but sometimes we like to think about what we'll do with the extra space when we have it. I decided this week that I want some enormous floor-to-ceiling shelves to make a little bit of a library in the future. Dan agreed to this plan but pointed out that I read almost exclusively on my Kindle, so I started buying real books again. The collection is small but mighty, and it will grow. Plus, when you buy real books you can lend them to people. Not so with those tricky e-books.
Ok, I do own more books than that, but those are the ones I just ordered and are next-up on my reading list. Recommendations coming your way soon! Also, how adorable are those bicycle bookends?? Target. Their Nate Berkus home collection is so dangerous, I barely escape that section without spending hundreds of dollars every time. But these were just bookends, so no need to be dramatic. Just set them in the cart, and back away slowly. No one needs to get hurt.
Have you bought berries recently?! If not, now is the TIME. Berries are in season and they are incredible. So incredible that it makes me wonder why I eat berries any other time of the year, really. I'm particularly loving blackberries right now, but the strawberries I bought this week were also ripe and amazing (so ripe that I needed to use them quickly, and threw some into a smoothie--they were so flavorful and sweet that a handful of them infused the whole blender full of smoothie with fresh strawberry flavor). And now my mouth is watering. Great. Just great.
They're also cheap, because they're in season and plentiful. Cherries are also great right now. Summer is the best. Go buy some berries. Eat them while you read a book. I can lend you one if needed! Just let me know.
One striking thing about living as an adult in the city where you grew up is that certain landmarks hold memories from so many different phases of your life. Tonight Dan and I went for a run around Lake Calhoun, and we literally ran through my young adulthood in that 3.1 miles. We saw pre-teens rollerblading together, just like I did with my best friends before we could drive. We saw groups of teenage boys and girls walking in awkward clumps, playfully pushing each other and kicking at the grass. We ran past a couple of girls in their early twenties rehashing their latest dating mishaps. We saw a young couple eating ice cream from Ben and Jerry's and sheepishly smiling at each other. (It occurs to me now that some of these kids are definitely still in high school and inexplicably out having far too much fun on a Monday night, which actually isn't all that similar to my teenage years. But still. I digress.)
I have done all of those things at this lake. There was a time when my best friend and I would drive to Lake Calhoun and sit on the dock by the little restaurant and watch the sunset, just passing the time until the night's activities got underway. That dock is now about half a mile from my house, where I have somehow mysteriously turned into an adult...with a job and a husband and a stepson and a polar bear dog. We plan to live in this house for many years to come, which means I'll probably be walking and running and biking around that same lake in phases of life that I can't even imagine right now. It is a strange and beautiful thing, to have so many memories and emotions tied to the same stretches of pavement. And what a breathtakingly gorgeous stretch of pavement it is.
So, here's a dumb thing I did because I am bullheaded: I read about kimchi once in 2009 and thought it sounded disgusting, and decided that I didn't like kimchi and didn't eat it for seven years. Well, 27 years. But 7 years of consciously deciding not to eat it. I don't think I ever tried it at all--just decided that it wasn't for me. As you may know from this blog, I'm not exactly closed-minded when it comes to food, so I don't even have a good explanation for my kimchi avoidance. Sometimes I do dumb things. But, you guys, I'm reformed. I am reborn into the world of delicious Korean cuisine (which is great, because one of my best friends lives in South Korea right now and she makes up about half the readership of my blog, so this recipe is verrrry appropriate). I had bibimbap for the first time when I was in Madison a few weeks ago and have basically been thinking about it ever since. I'm pretty sure bibimbap loosely translated is "bowl of rice and other awesome stuff" and that's the gist of it--rice on the bottom, delicious meat and vegetables and sauce and kimchi, topped with a fried egg. This one is made with sweet potato rice and ground turkey, but you could do cauliflower rice if you prefer that, or regular rice if you're not paleo/whole 30-ing. Ground pork would be the traditional choice, but I choose poultry over pork most of the time (key exceptions being bacon and prosciutto) and Costco has a great organic ground turkey that's antibiotic free with no hormones or steroids and a certification for humane treatment, so I've been using a lot of that. Give this recipe a try, even if you don't think you're a fan of Korean food. You really won't be disappointed.
For the meat:
1 pound of ground turkey (or chicken, or pork)
1/3 cup coconut aminos
1 tsp fish sauce (red boat is a good compliant brand)
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tbs sriracha (or, if you can't find a compliant one, sub a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat) **note: this recipe is flavorful and has a mild heat but isn't spicy as written--add more sriracha or red pepper if you want it hot
For the bowl:
1 large sweet potato
kimchi (you can find lots of options in the refrigerator section of your local co-op or Whole Foods, just check the labels)
Mushrooms (I found some cute enoki mushrooms, but any kind will work)
avocado oil (or coconut oil, or olive oil)
1. Turn your sweet potato into a rice shape. I did this by peeling and spiralizing my sweet potato into thin noodles, and then chopping these noodles with a big knife into smaller rice shapes. I used this approach because I hate my food processor with an unreasonable passion, but you could also use your food processor to pulse your sweet potato a few times into rice grains (just peel and chop it into smaller cubes to start, and then pulse in the food processor until you get rice-like grains). The spiralizer method works great if you have a good spiralizer--if you don't, I highly recommend making the $40 investment, it makes it much easier to turn lots of different veggies into pasta/rice replacements.
2. Throw your sweet potato rice in a pan with a good glug of oil and toss to coat. Place your burner on medium-low heat under the rice.
3. Mix together the sauce for your meat (coconut aminos, sesame oil, fish sauce, and sriracha or red pepper flakes). Add the sauce and meat to a second pan and turn on medium heat. You're going to want to stir both your sweet potato rice and your meat every few minutes so both cook evenly--at first your meat is going to look like it's swimming in sauce, but as it cooks it will all get absorbed deliciously. Trust me.
4. Grab one more little frying pan (sorry for all the dishes--worth it, pinky promise) and add your mushrooms to it with some oil or ghee and a good dash of salt. Turn the mushrooms on over medium heat and sautee until brown, stirring every few minutes.
5. While all your things are sauteeing, chop up your cucumber and green onion. When your sweet potato rice starts to brown, turn the heat off. When your turkey is all browned and the liquid is absorbed, turn that burner off, too (if you're a Jedi master these things will happen at the same time, but if not don't worry--it will all stay warm enough).
6. When your mushrooms are done, remove those from your little frying pan and add a little more oil or ghee. Crack your egg into this pan and fry sunny side up until the white is set.
7. While your egg is frying, layer some sweet potato rice in the bottom of your bowl. Add your bean sprouts, cucumber, mushrooms, turkey, and kimchi on top of the sweet potato rice and sprinkle green onion over the top.
When your egg is done, plop it on top and marvel at the beauty of your creation for a few seconds. Then mix it all together into a giant messy pile and devour. Garnish with coconut aminos and/or sriracha to taste.
Enjoy!! Later this week I have another great recipe to share, thanks to Dan being away fishing last weekend and my taking advantage of the alone time to make a mess in the kitchen and catch up on The Mindy Show.
Yesterday I wrote about Steph Gadreau's podcast Harder to Kill, and something from the episode I shared has been stuck in my mind just nagging at me ever since. Pilar Gerasimo shared a statistic about the percentage of Americans who said that they regularly eat healthfully, exercise, and get adequate sleep. Take a moment to guess what that percentage might be. I'll wait. Ok, ready for the answer? It's THREE PERCENT. Out of every one hundred people in this country, only three of them regularly eat well, work out, and get enough sleep. Listen, I know that trifecta is tough to meet, and I can think of lots of reasons why people might miss at least one. It's hard to eat healthfully when you're not financially secure. On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of high earners don't ever sleep enough. Lots of people who exercise regularly eat poorly because they think that's a manageable trade off (think: I run for cake). But still--eating well, moving your body, and resting enough are pretty basic pillars of health. Are we really in such a bad place as a country that only three percent of us are meeting that standard? Guys, how do we do better? No, seriously, how can we improve this sorry state of affairs? This is the question that's fueling me this week.
Coincidentally, it's also national mental health awareness month, and I clicked on an article today about how to improve your mental health. The point of the article was to offer a starting poing for people who are unhappy and know their mental health needs to improve, but don't know where to begin. You know what three tips the article gave? Seriously, not making this up: 1) get enough sleep, 2) improve your diet, 3) exercise. I'll just leave that right there.
Alright--typically I include something that might be of interest to people in Fueled Up Friday posts, and I do have one lil recommendation for you this week. It's an app called Stop, Breathe & Think, and it offers free guided meditations.
As you can see, I've used this app a total of one time so far, but I really like it. When you open it up, it asks you how you're doing and asks you to choose a few emotions that describe your current mood. Based on what you choose, it offers a few guided mediations (that are 5-10 minutes each) that would be good for you in that moment. I am not a big meditator but understand that it's a good practice, so I downloaded this app to make it easier to add a little mediation to my life here and there. It's free, so you really have nothing to lose, and I really liked the mediation I tried this morning. Download it and give it a try when you're waking up in the morning, or going to bed, or if you have a few minutes elsewhere in your day. Because it's mental health awareness month, and because I'm sure all of us could stand to meditate a little more.
Have the most wonderful weekend.
Minneapolis just cannot make up her mind in May—last weekend it was ninety-one degrees. This week it’s rainy and gray and in the fifties, and it’s staying that way for at least the rest of this week. I’m cuddling up in my chunky sweaters and seeking out some thought-provoking material to sit with me on the couch until it’s warm enough to be outside again. The upside is that I sought out a great new-to-me podcast, and found an episode that’s really worth listening to.
The podcast is called Harder to Kill Radio – Forging Unbreakable Humans. It’s put on by Steph Gadreau of Stupid Easy Paleo, the awesome lady who was also behind the Women’s Strength Summit I wrote about earlier this year. The episode you should seek out specifically is number 52, entitled How to be Healthy in an Unhealthy World with Pilar Gerasimo. Pilar Gerasimo is the founder of Experience Life Magazine, a health and fitness magazine associated with LifeTime Fitness. If you’re a LifeTime member you receive the magazine, and if you’ve never read it you really should. Pilar brings a great focus on whole-life health, meaning that she and her magazine focus on mental stability, healthy eating, environmental sustainability, and general happiness and well-being on top of general physical fitness. Pilar and Steph’s conversation throughout the hour of this podcast is easy and enjoyable to listen to, and meanders through so many topics that will give you good food for thought. Plus, these two women just get along so well that you can hear the genuine delight in their voices several times throughout the hour when one says something that really resonates with the other.
One of Pilar's key messages is that being healthy is a revolutionary act. She bases this on the fact that our society creates far more unhappy, unhealthy people than happy, healthy ones. And, on the simple truth that if you go out into the world and make healthy choices you're going to find yourself swimming upstream a lot of the time. Our culture isn't set up to make healthy choices easy, and if you dedicate yourself to making those choices anyway, Pilar argues you're engaging in revolutionary activity. She's built a website and an app around this idea, and you can learn more about these here.
Another idea that really resonated with me is the concept that finding your motivation in being healthy itself, rather than looking a particular way, or weighing a certain amount, or achieving a specific athletic feat, is a far more sustainable and fulfilling approach than seeking a specific result. I'm very goal-oriented, so naturally my fitness goals are often tied to aesthetic and achievement goals (I want to see more muscle definition, I want to finish X race in X time, etc.). Those goals can be positive and highly motivating in the short term, but the idea that lifelong health is a pursuit spanning many decades, and that it will look different some years than others, but the key is to stay healthy and happy in the long run, is...liberating. The title of the podcast itself is actually all about this concept--Steph's goal, at base, is to become harder to kill. To be an unbreakable human. That involves being strong and fit and healthy and happy--it doesn't necessarily involve a beach body or a specific dress size. Pilar shared that when she gave herself the space to just focus on becoming healthier through her choices (both mentally and physically) she relaxed into a sustainable lifestyle that in turn led to physical changes she was happy with. Essentially, when she stopped stressing and obsessing about her body and just tried to be healthier overall, her mental and physical wellbeing improved and she had a chance to see what her body looked like when it was healthy and fit (and rested, and loved). And she liked it.
I highly encourage you to take the time to listen to this episode. And if you enjoy it, also download the previous episode of the same podcast, with guest Dallas Hartwig (co-creator of The Whole 30) because it is also excellent. Enjoy!
Guyyyssss I want to be making recipes that I can share with you, but what I'm making lately is just a continuous variation on this theme: find assorted vegetables in fridge. Cut up vegetables. Throw vegetables in a pan with something flavorful (onions, garlic, chicken stock, pesto, whatever sounds good). Mix with easily-accessible protein. Eat.
That's not a recipe. I understand that. I'm not going to waste your time with that. But I do still want to give you some fun and inspiring food ideas, so today we're going to have a little chat about ginger. A good friend, former coach, and sometimes reader of this blog sent me a smoothie recipe that used ginger a while ago, and it inspired me to try throwing ginger into more of my smoothies. I'm here to report that experiment was a huge success. Do you guys use fresh ginger in your cooking? Do you drink ginger beer? Do you know how spicy and delicious it is? I've been trying to cut down on the sugar in my smoothies but still want them to be tasty, and I've found that adding a hunk of ginger lets me cut back on the amount of juice I use, but still have a really yummy flavor. Dan still likes his smoothies nice and sweet, so I pour half of the blender into my glass when it's done and then add more juice to his, blend again, and serve.
I've also discovered that frozen carrots are an ideal vegetable to add to smoothies--raw carrots add a weird texture that I'm not into, and steaming carrots for smoothies is...too much work. But frozen carrots don't create texture problems, and they still add nutrients and fiber and veggie goodness! Hooray.
This smoothie includes (for 2 large smoothies):
1 5 oz bag of fresh baby spinach
about 1 cup of frozen carrots (maybe a little less)
about 1 cup of frozen wild blueberries (maybe a little more)
1 peeled hunk of ginger (see above, but note that piece is pretty thin, it's not the whole knob)
splash of orange juice (to taste)
water (enough to blend smoothly)
Ginger is great for digestion, on top of being subtly spicy and delicious. I'm also leaning more toward berries in our smoothies, because the more I read about them the more it seems like they're just the best sort of fruit. I still love all other fruits, too--don't get me wrong--but increasing our berry intake seems like it can only be a good thing.
Peace. Love. Smoothies.
Friends! I was driving to work today and it was suddenly summer. It wasn't summer earlier this week, but somehow the leaves on all the trees came out without my noticing it, and the sun is shining bright and early in the day, and it's green and gorgeous and summer. And it's Friday! All of the best things are here today. On this week's installment of Fueled Up Friday, we're talking about Thred Up and Lara Bars (specifically the coconut cream pie version that I can't stop shoving into my face).
I. Thred Up
My No New Clothes Challenge is still going strong, and I'm starting to think that I'm going to try to buy mostly secondhand clothing permanently. I'm sure there are times when I'll buy new clothes in the future, but the more I look into it the more I realize there's such a wealth of gently used clothing available that can save me money and save the planet some unnecessary waste. I decided to give Thred Up a try (if you haven't heard of it, Thred Up is an online thrift store where you can browse gently used clothing and they'll ship your purchases to you). I ordered a chunky short sleeved sweater, a silky striped skirt, and some snake-skin patterned flats that arrived this week.
The skirt is Ralph Lauren, and it's silk but it's a thicker, more substantial fabric than other silk skirts I've owned. I was also super pleasantly surprised to learn it had pockets (I'll admit that I shrieked a little bit with joy at this discovery. Dan did not understand.) It's comfy and versatile, and helps me to fulfill my dream of wearing stripes every day.
This chunky sweater is basically all I'm going to be wearing this summer. It's soft and chunky and drapey in my favorite sort of way, but sleeveless and perfect for layering over summer clothes when the evenings get a little crisp (or wearing to the office to deal with the constantly overdone air conditioning). Lucky Brand made this beautiful thing. Well done, Lucky. I hate your jeans but I love your sweaters.
These flats are also definitely going to be a summer staple. They have separate toe and heel pieces so they're open on the arch part of your foot and don't get too hot, and they're comfy and easy to throw on with anything. Plus, the pattern is a little more interesting than my standard black/gray/tan flats. They are made by Breckelle's.
I bought all three items for $60, and all three are in excellent like-new condition. I didn't order a bag for selling items to Thred Up, but I think I'm going to try that next with some clothes I've been meaning to drive over to the consignment store (but likely never will, at this rate).
II. Lara Bars
I know that Lara Bars are not a well-kept secret, but they deserve a shout-out anyway. And, if you haven't tried their Coconut Cream Pie flavor...you should do that. Probably now.
For those of you who aren't already addicted, Lara Bars are snack bars that are made out of real, simple ingredients. They all use dates as a base so they're sweet, and they also usually include a nut, maybe some spices, maybe another dried fruit, and that's about it. You could make these at home, and I have before (my mom does all the time now) but at this point in my life I prefer to just buy them. Convenience, you know? These are one of the few easy, pre-packaged treats that are Whole 30 compliant and paleo, and while you do have to be careful not to go crazy and eat then of them (you could, and they're still definitely a treat) they're a healthy treat that I feel good about throwing in my bag for those low blood sugar moments. And they're SO. GOOD. You can order this flavor on Thrive Market, but Lara Bars are available at lots of grocery stores (usually by the Power Bars/Clif Bars, etc.) Go grab yourself some, and eat them, and fall in love, and then we can talk about how great they are together. I'm always up for joint adoration of delicious foods.
Have a wonderful weekend!