Friday Favs: Comforts and Pampering

Did everyone enjoy their tropical getaway yesterday? 😉 I have to admit that I forgot all about it, darnit! I’ll be sure to try to visit the sunshine again today.

How about a little Friday Favorites link up with Katie?!

Okay!!

1. This killer salad combo. As much as I haven’t been craving cold salads these days, I decided to throw together this beauty on a whim last night. It was spinach, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, olives, broccoli, sunflower seeds, hardboiled egg, and ranch dressing. It tasted like a salad from a fancy salad bar; I think the egg really made it.

salad

2. Appropriate warm winter gear especially my Sorel boots. I live in those things in the winter. They keep my feet so warm and dry, plus they are cute! I get compliments on them everywhere I go.

jump in winter gear

melanie at nelsons

3. A cup of coffee. I have been limiting my coffee and caffeine intake (again, just trying to give my digestive system a break from stimulants), but this past week I gave in and had some coffee. I am so grateful for a warm and creamy cup of jo. It is such a comfort to me in the mornings. As much as I have been trying to replace coffee with tea in the morning, and convince myself that it is just as good, I can’t. It just doesn’t compare and never will.

coffee

4. My manicured nails and pedicured toes. I only get mani/pedis done once a year but think I may have to make it more of a habit (especially the toes) because it feels so good to have my hands, feet and nails all cleaned up!

pedicure toes

5. My bed. We own a Tempur-Pedic and I can only begin to tell you how amazing it is. I look forward to crawling into bed at night. The bed hugs you softly yet is perfectly firm. My Tempur-Pedic pillow supports my neck and keeps my spine aligned. Awww, excuse me as I go crawl back in bed now. 😉

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Coffee or tea?

Cold salads in the winter?

Favorite winter gear?

Fun weekend plans?

Friday Favorites

I Love This Thing: Ninja Ultima Blender

Happy super cold Thursday to you all from Minnesota. Right now the temperature reads 5 degrees F and feels like -13 with the windchill. It surely isn’t the weather that makes you want to lace up your shoes and head out for a run, instead I want to be cozied up in my warm house with hot chocolate and a good movie. I can’t complain though because I truly enjoy all of the seasons in Minnesota. As long as you bundle up in the appropriate layers, you will be fine.

Moving on. As you may remember, in September I attended the Healthy Living Summit which was held here in Minneapolis this year. Not only did I have a blast meeting so many wonderful bloggers and hanging out with my best blends, I was also able to meet many of the sponsors and vendors at the event. For the full list of sponsors, you can look here: HLS 2013 Sponsors.

Ninja Kitchen was one of our sponsors. They are the creators of Ninja blenders, food processors, and cooking systems, and the product they were so generous to let me review, the Ninja Ultima Blender.

You may have seen the Ultima in stores or on infomercials; whipping smoothies together and pureeing soups in a matter of seconds. When the kind folks at Ninja Kitchen told me that they would give me a Ninja Ultima to try for myself, I was thrilled!

ninja ultima

 

The Ninja Ultima advertises:

  • 2.5 Peak Horsepower Motor/24,000 RPM***
  • Only blender with Dual Stage Blending
  • Total Crushing & High Speed Cyclonic Blades
  • PRO Variable Speed
  • Gives you a wide range of speeds to 
    create anything from sauces to whole juices!
  • 2 Single Serve Cups with Sip & Seal lids 
    for personalized drinks on the go source

I couldn’t wait to tear into this thing! I have used the large blender for making homemade vegan truffle brownie, which includes walnuts, dates, and cocoa powder. This machine whirls those babies together in no time. I did have to scrape down the sides of the blender in between mixing because the batter was very sticky but that’s to be expected.

 

brownie bites from ninja ultima brownie bites from ninja ultima

 

I’ve also used the large blender for pureeing soups and plan to use it for making homemade tomato sauce in the future. What I love about the Ninja Ultima is that it whips everything together SO quickly and so smoothly.

The large blender has a nice pouring spout so that you aren’t making a mess when you are pouring concoctions out of the blender. Also, every piece of the Ninja Ultima (besides the very base of course) is dishwasher safe! How do you like that?!

This blender offers various speed options, that range from a gentle blend to a total crushing.

What I have gotten the most use out of is the single serving cups. My husband and I both use them almost every day for smoothies. We fill the cups up to the line with fruits, veggies, almond milk, etc, twist on the lid and let it whirl on the blender base. Literally within seconds I have a to-go cup of deliciousness.

 

ninja ultima

 

smoothie in ninja ultima

I use the single serve cup for when I make my two-ingredient pancakes. They whip together so fast and make for perfect pancakes.

two ingredient pancakes made in ninja ultima

I’ve used it to make veggie dip too!

dip made in ninja ultima

The clean-up is a breeze I can’t voice it enough. Seriously, this contraption is pretty amazing. I realize it is a little spendy, but it would be worth every penny for the mess of clean-up and time it saves and especially if you use it as often as we do. It is the most powerful, most efficient blender I have ever owned.

Thank you to Ninja Kitchens for allowing me to review your Ninja Ultima!

Disclaimer:  Ninja Kitchen provided me with a free Ninja Ultima blender to review; however, the opinions on the product are my own.

Weekend Happenings: Soups, Weddings, Family Time

Hello, hello! How was your weekend? Mine was FANTASTIC!

It started on Friday. I made myself a super nummy smoothie in my new Ninja Ultima.

In the smoothie (all frozen fruits and veggies):

  • Kale
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas
  • almond milk
  • peanut butter
  • flax-seed
  • cocoa powder

ninja smoothie

 

I gave it a whirl in the Ninja…

ninja

 

So far I have used the Ninja for smoothies and I also used it last night when I made a batch of soup! I love it. It is so efficient! I can’t wait to make nut butters in it. I am hoping the clean up is a lot easier than when I make nut butter in the food processor!

Friday morning I met up with my mom or our annual girl’s day. This year we decided to go to Whole Foods to do some shopping, have lunch at Panera, go for a walk with Abbie around the neighborhood, and just veg out together. It was so nice and so relaxing! I can’t wait for our next one!

Oh, and don’t act surprised when you hear I got the French Onion Soup once again at Panera. It is just my fav! Next time though I might have to try that squash soup, right Katie?

IMG_4199

On Saturday we attended my cousin’s wedding. It was fun getting all dolled up and hanging out with my family for the day.

carolyns wedding collage

On Sunday…more family time! We met up with Dana’s parents in the morning for a while and then went to my parent’s house to hang out with Scott and Nicole before they headed back home. No wonder my weekend was so fabulous, it was full of family time!

In the afternoon I whipped up a batch of veggie soup to eat throughout the week. It’s packed with bone broth, broccoli, green beans, zucchini, onion, carrots, celery and more. I am hoping it turned out well! If so, I will share the recipe!

soup

While the soup cooked, I heated up myself a bowl of four bean quinoa chili from the freezer and added some cheddar cheese to the top. Mmmmm mmmmm! The perfect meal on a cozy Sunday evening.

chili

I have been all about the soups lately. The fall weather has finally nestled in and the forecast is looking like 50’s this week! Bring out the sweaters, slippers, soup, pumpkin scented candles, and let’s get a fire going in the fireplace! Cozy city! LOVE.

What did you do this weekend? Have you been enjoying any soups yet this fall?

Spin Class with Olympian Dara Torres

I couple of months ago, I was contacted by the company Koss; a company that was founded in 1958 when John Koss created the first pair of stereo headphones. They now have a line of headphones, headsets, fit clips, ear buds, and more.

dara torres koss event

Koss has partnered with Olympian Dara Torres to create a new line of ear buds called the Fit Line which includes the Fit Buds, which are designed to be 33% smaller than the normal ear buds, and fit perfectly in women’s smaller ears (and some men’s ears too).

Koss invited me to attend a spin class lead by one of the Cycle Quest instructors, as well as Dara. You better believe I cleared my schedule to make this happen!

Remember when I hosted the giveaway to attend the event a while back? You can read up on some more Dara stats from that post!

So, on Tuesday night I made my way over to Cycle Quest in Eden Prairie, MN. Not only would I be attending my first ever spin class, but I would be working out with Olympian Dara Torres; five time Olympian and 12-time medalist Dara Torres! I don’t know how many times I will have to say it to believe that it really happened.

We were greeted by the lovely staff of Cycle Quest who got us all checked in, gave us a bag of goodies from Koss, and steered us in the right direction towards the locker room and the cycle room.

First stop was the locker room. I had worn a tank top and a t-shirt not knowing exactly which one I would prefer. I had capris on too—that much I knew would be okay. The girls that were there all told me I’m going to want to be in a tank, because I am going to sweat my face off.

So, as I was getting ready in the locker room, guess who walks in? The one. The only. Dara Torres! I was a bit taken back because she was in the normal locker room, not a special locker room just for her, and she was so casual and friendly. She said hey and introduced herself as she used a facial wipe to remove her makeup. Oh my she is so gorgeous and obviously ripped like you wouldn’t believe! What perfect motivation to high tail it during a spin session!

With a giddy grin on my face, I made my way into the cycle room…

dara torres koss event

I was so excited that my Katie was there too! I got to spent all weekend at HLS with her and then I got to see her two days later! WIN!!! She had the brilliant idea to suggest we get a pre-workout/non-sweaty photo with Dara. Dara happy obliged. Yes, she is super tall. Yes, I still have the giddy smile.

dara torres koss event

We all got settled onto our bikes and I had a sweet member of the Cycle Quest team teach me how to adjust the seat, change gears, and get my feet all strapped in.

dara torres koss event

I was dead front row center with Katie by my side and a handful of other bloggers surrounding me. There were also a number of Cycle Quest instructors who took the spin class too. It was a full class and I was so pumped to get started!

dara torres koss event

dara torres koss event

Katie and I started a warm-up ride while Dara and the Cycle Quest instructor finished getting set up in front.

dara torres koss event dara torres koss event

We all wore a pair of the Koss Fit Clips (photo is at the top of this post) and the music as well as the voices of the instructors were streamed through the Fit Clips. These things are SO comfortable! They fit behind your ear and have a bud that sits in your ear. They didn’t move a smidge once I got them suctioned into my ear, even with the insane amount of sweat going on.

Dara played a killer playlist which really helped to keep me pumped throughout the entire session. We have very similar taste in music and I had so much fun singing and dancing along to the tunes.

I wasn’t able to hang on to my phone throughout the spin class (my hands were too wet with sweat to handle a phone anyway!) so I don’t have any photos during the actual spin portion. Let me tell you though, being that this was my first spin class, I am now obsessed with it! I loved the intensity of the workout and also loved how it was so low impact (I will be writing a post hopefully in the near future about my latest thoughts regarding my physical activity). Just like the girls said, I did seriously sweat my face off, and my buns, and my legs. Everything. We were all dripping sweat by the end of the workout. I loved it.

After the class, we had the opportunity to chat with Dara again. It was like hanging out with a friend. She was so easy to talk to. We were asking her about her recent knee surgery (just 9 days ago) as well as where she keeps her medals and what her plans were for when she was in the area. All of her responses were extremely genuine, and she really took the time to talk with us. It never felt rushed or forced; just natural.

dara torres koss event

I was thrilled to meet some new blog friends and see some old ones too! 🙂

As if meeting Dara and getting to participate in a free spin class wasn’t enough, we were also sent home with a whole bag of goodies. Another swag bag! How do I deserve this?! In the bag were three adorable tops: a 3/4 length hoodie, a coral tee, and a bright neon yellow tank. I am in love with all three of them. I also go to take home the pair of Fit Clips I wore in the class along with a pair of the Fit Buds to try! ANnnnndddd….Koss Corporation even wrote us all hand-written notes, thanking us for attending the class and acknowledging that they had checked out our blogs! Not to mention, I also got a pass to attend another Cycle Quest class. I just may need to go back!

dara torres koss event

dara torres koss event

Talk about being spoiled.

This was such an incredible opportunity and I want to thank Koss Corporation, Dara Torres, and Cycle Quest for inviting me to be a part of this event. I can’t wait to try out the Fit Buds and to get my cycle on again!

Disclaimer: This was a free opportunity given to me by Koss Corporation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Mint Dark Chocolate Recipe (Sugar-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free)

That’s what I’m talking about.

One of my biggest vices has always been sweets, mainly chocolate. When I started seeing my Naturopath I told her about my sweet tooth and that I truly enjoy eating chocolate on a daily basis. Since I know that my body reacts very negatively to sugar, especially at this point in my journey, I should be avoiding processed sugar as much as possible. I had settled with fact that at this point in my life I just wouldn’t eat chocolate or at least not as often as I was before.

But then…my naturopath suggested that I make my own chocolate using raw cacao powder, coconut oil, stevia, and almond butter. Why had I not thought of this? Brilliant. She recommended I do some searching online to find a recipe. And that is just what I did.

I found a recipe from Practical Paleo which served as my inspiration. I ended up creating these beautiful chocolates!!

homemade chocolate

I have been experimenting with different ingredients and amounts of ingredients. I have had a couple of flops (my first batch came out pretty bitter) but I would say that I am getting pretty darn good at making my own chocolates. I cannot believe how easy they are to make!

My friends at Navitas Naturals were kind enough to send me a bag of their Raw Cacao, Raw Cacao Nibs, and Coconut Sugar so that I could continue to experiment in making my own chocolates.

Their mission as a company is “to provide the finest organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.” Their products are all organic, non-GMO project verified, and provides a high quality and safe product. I am 100% behind this company. source

navitas naturals

So far I have only used the cacao powder, but I know I will be using the other two ingredients at some point. I am super intrigued by the coconut sugar. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular cane sugar so it helps an individual maintain a more steady blood sugar versus major blood sugar dips and spikes.

Raw cacao is one of the richest antioxidant sources found in nature. Not only that but it provides other important minerals like magnesium and iron. So yes, the rumors are true that dark chocolate is indeed good for you (in moderation of course).

You’re probably thinking, cut to the chase Melanie, I want to see this recipe! Okay okay here you go. This is my recipe for Mint Dark Chocolate which is my favorite recipe so far (the rest still need some tweaking).

In a microwave safe bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted coconut oil with 1/2 cup cacao powder. You can use any cocoa powder but raw high quality is best and make sure it is unsweetened. You can find raw cacao by Navitas Naturals at Whole Foods and I found it at our local co-op as well.

Next, mix in 1/2 cup of almond butter. I use homemade but you can use store-bought, just make sure to look at the ingredient label and check that there is no sugar added!

homemade chocolate

Next, I add in 15-20 drops of liquid vanilla stevia. You can adjust the amount of drops to your liking. More if you like sweeter, less if you prefer not as sweet. Lastly, I add in a minuscule splash of mint extract. I have never really measured this but I would say 1/4 teaspoon or less.

Give this all one last good stir.

homemade chocolate

Next, drop the chocolate into mini cupcake liners ( I didn’t have these so I just used the normal sized ones) on a baking sheet. Once all of the chocolate is dispersed evenly among the liners, place the pan with the cupcake liners and chocolates in the freezer.

(Side note: the top chocolates in this picture below were an experiment that didn’t turn out to be my favorite so I am not sharing any recipe for those ones until I perfect them!). The chocolates on the bottom are the mint ones before they went into the freezer.

homemade chocolate

It doesn’t take long for these to set (20 minutes or so) so before too long you have yourself some tasty, sugar-free homemade dark chocolates! IMG_3200

homemade chocolate

Since I had to use the normal sized cupcake liners, I cut my chocolates into quarters so that they were more bite-sized and I stored them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  If you used the mini cupcake liners you probably won’t need to cut them. You need to keep them in the freezer because they will melt at room temperature.

Now you can have your dark chocolate and eat it too! I hope you enjoy!

Homemade Dark Chocolate (Sugar-Free)
Print
In a microwave safe bowl, mix together ½ cup melted coconut oil with ½ cup cacao powder.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 15-20 drops vanilla stevia (to your liking)
  • ¼ tsp or less of mint extract (to your liking)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together coconut oil with cacao powder.
  2. Add in 15-20 drops of stevia. You can adjust the amount of drops to your liking. More if you like sweeter, less if you prefer not as sweet.
  3. Add in the mint extract.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Drop into mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet.
  6. Place in freezer and let set for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Store in freezer. They do melt at room temperature so you need to keep them cold!

 

 

I’m All About Comfy Clothes

Happy Hump Day/Midweek/Sunny Day!

Recently, I was approached by an incredibly kind woman named Jessica Morris who founded the clothing company, ZeeBee Threads. The decision to begin her own company came after years of overpaying for quality workout clothes. It didn’t seem right to her to have to pay an arm and a leg for a high quality pair of pants, and she wanted to do something about it. So she did. She created a company whose objective is to develop and provide stylish casual clothing options at affordable prices to active women.

The company believes that every woman deserves to wear stylish and comfortable clothing. Those are the two biggest factors I look for when I’m out to buy clothing! Okay, really I’m all about comfort, but it’s a plus when it’s actually stylish too!

As often as I can be, I am Comfy, comfy, comfy! When I’m home, 9 times out of 10 I will either be in some type of sweats or workout clothes.

melanie casual friday   DSCN6721   comfy

But besides feeling comfortable in my clothes, the price tags on the clothes needs to make my wallet feel comfortable too.

Try this on for size: you’ll never pay more than $50 for great quality women’s stylish, casual clothing from this company. They are an online-only retailer, selling exclusively at zeebeethreads.com. They avoid all of the costs of traditional retail which allows them to offer designer quality merchandise at affordable prices.

“ZeeBee Threads is for women who have outgrown major clothing labels selling the newest, seasonal designer trends to a younger generation, don’t have the time to spend hours digging through racks, and want to upgrade their wardrobe at a fabulous value.

Our philosophy is that there are times to dress up and there are other times when dressing down is just as important. Whether it’s running a quick errand, grabbing a dinner with friends or family during the week or lounging around the house, ZeeBee Threadsclothing is designed for “stylish comfort”.” source

I am 100% behind this company, so when Jessica reached out to me and asked me to review some of her products, I was ecstatic. I ordered the Sexy Off the Shoulder Pullover which is $28.95 in case you were wondering, and the Vintage T-Shirt Dress which is $19.95. Crazy good deals!

zeebee threads sweatshirt

zb threads dress

This past weekend while I was away in Northern, MN the temperatures reached high 40’s in the nighttime and ranged from 55-85º during the day depending on where you were. Given the extreme fluctuations, I packed lots of layers. I packed my ZeeBee sweatshirt and wound up wearing it on a hike at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Grand Marais, MN. The weather was cool when we began the hike and this sweatshirt was just perfect for it.

It is lighter weight than a typical sweatshirt and allows for a lot of movement. The fabric is incredibly soft too. I liked that I felt cute in it, not frumpy like I often feel in sweatshirts.

zeebee threads

zeebee threads zeebee threads

It kept me at the perfect temperature on the hike while the clouds were out. As we maneuvered the trails, the sun broke through and the temperature skyrocketed so I had to take it off. It tied perfectly around my waist and stayed put for the remainder of the hike. Once the hike was over the clouds settled in again, this time with rain, and the sweatshirt went back on again! It was the perfect piece of clothing to have with me.

Here’s another thing that is so great about this particular piece. Besides wearing it for activity, you could also wear it for leisure, and even dress it up a bit. Once the fall weather rolls around, I plan to wear this sweatshirt with a scarf or a long necklace along with some dark jeans. This is where the title of the sweatshirt, “Sexy Off the Shoulder Pullover” comes into place.

zeebee sweatshirt 2

Very sexy! I can’t guarantee that I’ll look like that but you get the idea. 😉

I love that it can be dressed up or down and that it is so comfortable and so affordable! Ahhh! I’m so excited about this company. What’s better yet, I still have another piece of clothing in my closet from them that is just screaming to be worn. You can expect another review from me once I wear that little t-shirt dress!

I would highly recommend you head over to ZeeBeeThreads.com and check out their merchandise. Their products are simple yet sophisticated, trendy, COMFORTABLE and AFFORDABLE. Can you go wrong?! Definitely give their Sale section a browse too! You never know what kind of gems you might find there.

What are you waiting for? Grab that credit card and get shopping! 😉

Disclaimer: ZeeBee Threads has provided me with free product, however the views and opinions I express on these products are honest and all my own.

Clean Eating Program Update

Hello! How are you all? I’m doing pretty well. Feeling pretty good. The laundry is almost all caught up from this weekend, now the house just needs to be cleaned a bit and we will be back in working order.

Clean Program Update

I wanted to give you an update on the Clean Eating Program I have been following for the last couple of weeks. For those of you who may have missed it, you can check out the clean program I am following by reading this post: Clean Eating Program.

If you will recall, the program offered the option of following the cleanse for 1-3 weeks. Along with the variation in length of time there was also an option of following the real cleanse which is smoothie/shake in the morning, solid meal for lunch, and a smoothie/shake for dinner OR you can simply follow along with the foods from the Elimination Diet OR you can try to do a combination of the two variables. The elimination diet removes dairy, eggs, wheat, caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, red meat, strawberries, corn, and certain other foods that individuals tend to be sensitive to.

How I Followed the Clean Program

For the first 5 days I was following the cleanse to a T; a smoothie in the morning, a solid meal for lunch, a smooth blended soup for dinner. I would stop eating in the evening so that to allow my body 12 hours to digest and detoxify before my next meal in the morning. I was snacking in between meals only if I truly was hungry and would generally grab for raw fruits or vegetables if I did need something.

clean smoothie

Well, after day 5, I was starting to get real tired of all of this. I would dread eating smooth soup in the evening not only because it bores me having the same thing night after night but also because it was 90 something degrees outside and hot soup is just not appealing when it’s that hot. I’m not a fan of cold soup either. At this point I decided in order to save my sanity, I was going to continue the Clean Program, but would allow myself more solid meals from the elimination diet if I wanted to. This has been working out very well for me for the most part. Often I will still have a smoothie in the morning, a solid meal at lunch and a solid meal at dinner. I am trying to be careful with the snacking but have been finding myself grabbing for the jar of mixed nuts time after time. I believe it’s because my body was/is missing the extra protein.

It worked out really well to follow the modified version of the program while we were camping. There was no way I was going to be drinking 2 smooth meals while we were away. It could have been done, but it wouldn’t have been easy, or enjoyable. With a crazy amount of food preparation, I was able to make enough meals and snacks for us so that we could continue to follow the elimination diet while we were away.

spaghetti squash and meatballs

We went out to eat a couple of times and were able to mostly stick to the plan too. At the first restaurant we ordered a bison burger with a side salad. I just had to take the bun and the tomatoes off. The second restaurant I ordered whitefish with a side salad. I didn’t follow the plan exactly because I had their maple mustard on my salad. I couldn’t say no to that dressing when I was there, I mean come on. Again, I picked off the tomatoes, and the cheese and the strawberries, and enjoyed the rest of the meal completely.

angry trout fish dinner

Oh, and I enjoyed a couple of glasses of red wine too. That’s not in the plan. But for the most part, I did a pretty good job of sticking to the program.

How my body is responding

The intention of the cleanse is to remove excess mucus from the body and help to remove toxins as well. Our bodies are constantly working to remove toxins from the body but this just helps give the body a little nudge.

I can’t sit here and say wow, I feel incredible after doing that, but I can truly say I feel better. Quite a bit better in fact. I can’t really explain how I feel except for I do feel more “clean.” I will be anxious to follow-up with my naturopath and to find out how balanced my body is now compared to my last visit with her. I surely hope it has improved since last time! Otherwise I may be a little disappointed.

What I miss

Knowing that this cleanse was only temporary helped me when thinking of the foods I would need to remove from my diet. However, I am only human and I am really missing some of my favorite things: bananas, peanut butter, fresh summer corn, strawberries and tomatoes. Those are probably the main foods I am missing. Chocolate is another one but I have been able to make my own sugar-free version using raw organic cacao powder, coconut oil, almond butter, and stevia. I will be writing a post on this one soon! This has helped me a lot.

What’s Next

Three weeks is the maximum amount of time that one can continue on this cleanse (especially if following the option 1 plan with the two blended meals and one solid meal). After that time, it is recommended that you slowly wean yourself off of the cleanse and slowly reintroduce some of the foods you have eliminated. This is a perfect time to test specific foods for intolerances. It’s kind of like introducing new foods to infants: when you introduce a new food, you will want to wait a few days before introducing another new food to watch for any adverse reactions. Now that it has been two weeks, I am slowly reintroducing some foods. The first was raisins; my body tolerated them well. The next was wine, again my body seemed okay with it (my wine consumption is probably once every 2-3 weeks btw). Today, I will be reintroducing bananas which I am very excited about. I will continue reintroducing the foods back into my diet and watching for any adverse reactions until I am completely back to my normal diet.

I will most likely continue having smoothies for many of my breakfasts because it’s summer and a cold smoothie in the morning is pretty fantastic, but I am excited to be able to include more fruits like strawberries and bananas which were not allowed on the elimination diet.

My meals will become more exciting again! Wooo!! This means new recipes and fun food photos.

flounder and salad

I am very glad I completed this cleanse. Although I modified it slightly to fit my lifestyle and the events of summer, I do feel proud to say I followed it closely enough to feel the effects. I would highly recommend this Clean Program to anyone who is feeling they need a little detoxifying. Talk with your doctor first though, please!

Feel free to ask me questions about the program. I’m not expert but I did read the whole book and have been researching quite a bit about it the computer.

I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!

Sweet Friends, Decadent Desserts, and Free Wine

Hi my friends! I don’t usually post on Sundays but I have had such an amazing last couple of days and I can’t wait to fill you in. Does the post title intrigue you?

On Friday I got dolled up after work for a friend’s wedding. I was so happy that the weather actually held up and ended up being beautiful and partly sunny when the evening rolled around.

wedding ready

My hair actually looks pretty long in that photo. It’s hard to believe I had about five inches chopped off of it! I’m starting to like the cut more and more.

On Saturday morning, Dana, Moose, and I hit the neighborhood for a five-mile run. This was our test run to determine if we were ready to run in a 10k next weekend. Well guess what? We passed our test. The run went pretty well and we have officially decided to run in a 10k next Saturday! The registration is complete so there is no turning back now.

Next on the agenda was a meet-up with Becky and Katie, a couple of my fellow blogger friends. We met at a local Caribou coffee where we sipped on our coffee, chatted about life, new adventures, and of course, our blogs. There is so much to know and learn about blogging and it is so incredibly nice to have friends to bounce ideas off of.

coffee with blends

I have a few new projects I would like to work on with the blog this upcoming week. The girls definitely got the wheels spinning with some great ideas!

Our date continued at Patisserie 46 off of Grand in Minneapolis. They are well known for beautiful desserts, fresh bread and pastries, ice cream, but they also offer savory menu options like pizza, quiche, cheese plate, and paninis.

I pretty much freaked when I walked in this place. Cue the angelic music.

patisserie 46

Yes, these are all real and edible. Isn’t it unbelievable?

patisserie 46

We all snapped photos, drooled over the decadent beauties, and contemplated our dessert decisions for what seemed like eternity.

I decided on the “Rory” which is caramel mousse, vanilla cream, sable breton (don’t ask me what that is), salted caramel, and pecan nougatine. Sounds pretty fancy, right?

patisserie 46

It was a work of art…almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

patisserie 46

I savored every bite of it’s decadence. It was creamy and caramely and just sooooo good. I also bought a peanut butter and chocolate chunk cookie home to share with Dana. It was pretty good, but not as good as the Rory.

The main reason we went to Patisserie 46 was to meet up with the wonderful Teresa, who is one of the owners of Famiglia Meschini wines. This family-owned company manages a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina which is where Teresa’s husband, Eugenio is from. He grew up in a wine-making family, and his passion for wine only progressed over the years. Teresa is equally passionate. Eugenio, along with Teresa, their family and other extended family members, own and run this growing business.

To read more about the family and their story, check it out here: Famiglia Meschini.

Teresa brought four different wines for us to divide among ourselves and taste. She also mentioned getting together again in the future to do more of a complete taste testing. We were all about that idea! We were all excited to meet her, hear about the wine and her company, and of course, we were all happy to get free wine!

Teresa FM wine

FM wine with blends

***Love these girls!***

After our sugar rush, we parted ways…

I’m not one to have a drink very often, but when I do, it’s almost always a glass of red wine, so I made sure to take one of the reds home to try. The one I got was the Pinot Noir which is made from grapes from Chile (they work with another vineyard in Chile).

FM wine

Dana and I had a quiet night on Saturday so we decided to crack open the bottle while we played an exciting game of Yahtzee. We have pretty crazy Saturday evenings. 🙂

FM wine

FM wine

yahtzee

We both enjoyed the Pinot Noir. It isn’t usually our first choice of reds (we usually go the cab sauv route or red zin), but this was a very pleasant, subtle, and smooth wine and we both liked it quite a bit.

I am excited to try some of the other blends too! If you’re local and what to try some of this lovely wine for yourself, you can click here to find a store nearest to you: Wine Locator.

(In case you were wondering, I beat Dana in Yahtzee). 😉

It was an absolutely fantastic Saturday!

Thank you Teresa for meeting up with us! Can’t wait to work with you again in the future, and ladies, can’t wait to see you again!

Feel Pretty Workout Gear

I couple of months ago, I noticed a fitness apparel company called Ellie, circulating in a couple of health and fitness blogs that I read. Each blog was featuring a workout outfit made by Ellie and every single outfit I saw was just so darn cute that I had to find out more about this company. I reached out to them, expressing my interest in their products and they were kind enough to send me an outfit to try out for myself! I even got to choose my outfit.

About Ellie

Ellie, is an online women’s fitness apparel company who believes workout gear can be not only functional, but also fashionable. They strategically plan out every detail from the stitching to the seam placement to the fabrics, to help ensure a flattering fit for all and that the clothing moves with you which enables you to get your best workout possible.

Ellie features a new fitness apparel collection each month. You can become a member of Ellie’s club and choose any two pieces each month for $49.95 (free shipping, priority access, and other perks associated with the club membership) or you can purchase items individually without having a membership.

I was so excited when I got the package from them in the mail and anxious to try the clothes on. Right away I noticed how comfortable the fabric was. It is soft and durable, and  thicker than some other workout gear I own. It keeps everything tucked in and makes me feel very “firm and stable.” However, after wearing the pants for a short amount of time, I noticed that they were a little bit too snug and started to feel uncomfortable around my waistline. I was pretty sure I needed the next size up. I contacted the representative from Ellie who was very quick to respond with a kind email telling me she would send the next size up right away. Shortly after, I received the mediums in the mail, put them on, and they fit perfectly!

I actually ended up doing two photo shoots of the outfit I chose; one from a while back, and one from more recently.

The outfit I chose was:

The Dark Matter Legging which has stitched panel detail that enhances the tone and shape of your legs.

  • Soft like cotton
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Water, wind and tear resistant
  • Flat seams for a chafe-free fit
  • Designed for: gym, yoga

Forget Me Not Pink Tank

  • Gives the feel of soft cotton with the advantages of modern fiber technology
  • High water and wind resistant, will last against wear and tear
  • Fabric stays true to size and holds shape with regular wear
  • designed for: gym
  • properties: chafe-resistant, breathable, four-way stretch
  • shelf bra: yes
  • support level: low

(Photo shoot #1)

ellie review ellie review

I wore this outfit during a low-impact yoga workout and did not wear a sports bra because it has a built-in shelf bra. This worked out fine because it was such a low-impact workout, however, if there were to be any type of jumping involved in my workout, I absolutely would have added in a sports bra and would have been happy with the support.

The pants stayed put the whole workout and were very comfy.

ellie review

The pants are incredibly comfortable and flattering and the waistband sits very comfortably slightly above my hip bones. I am super picky about my waistbands (they can’t be too tight!) but this one gets my approval. It doesn’t dig into my sides meaning no muffin top and no claustrophobia for me.

(Photo shoot #2)

ellie review

 

Unfortunately, since I began the Insanity workouts and have been working out inside in my warm home, I haven’t had the chance to wear these pants a whole lot. I prefer wearing shorts when I do those workouts because I sweat SO much. Also, since the weather is finally nice in Minnesota, I’m not needing to wear pants on outdoor runs. These pants will get plenty of use next winter, though! I know that for sure.

ellie review

Now let’s talk about the sexy tank. If you want to make an impression, this is your tank. It is beautiful. The fabric hugs you just right yet is loose enough that it doesn’t show every nook and cranny. As I mentioned, I will more than likely be wearing a sports bra with this tank although it does have a built-in shelf bra (this may be enough for some people) because I need a little extra support.

ellie review

The pink tank rests on my hips, and stayed in place as I went for a long walk. It really brightened my mood just by wearing it. I feel good in this top and love how feminine it is!

ellie review   ellie review ellie review

I’m not one to really care about what I wear when I workout. My outfit doesn’t even need to match, but it absolutely must be comfortable. However, I do enjoy cute workout clothes. I mean really, who doesn’t? I’m super excited that this outfit is not only adorable, but it is so comfortable too.

Not only do I get my mood boosted from the endorphins after a workout, but I get the added kick of a cute outfit too! Win-win. 😉

Ellie has so many other items that I’m itching to try. Their prices are reasonable—less than Lululemon, but more than Target. Ha, that’s quite the price range right? They really do use quality fabric like they say, and I have a feeling this outfit is going to last a very long time.

Get 20% Off Ellie Gear!

So here’s the deal, because of my interest and excitement about this company, I am now am ambassador for them! If you go to Ellie’s website by clicking on my referral link here: 20% Off Ellie Apparel! you can get 20% off your Ellie clothing order. Or, if you just want to browse the site and learn more about the products and the company, that’s great too!

I also get points towards more Ellie gear myself if you click on over via my referral link! 🙂 Thank you ahead of time!!

If you do order Ellie gear, let me know once you get it so I can hear about how much you love it.

HAPPY SHOPPING!

Question of the day: What are the biggest factors that go into choosing your workout clothes (ie: comfort, price, style, etc.)?

Disclaimer:  Ellie provided me with free clothing to review; however, the opinions on the products are my own.

Honey P. Nutty Bars

It’s a rainy day, it’s a rainy day, raining outside so we can’t go out and play, so what are we gonna do, anyway? What is that from? My mom always used to sing that with us when we were young. My guess would be Barney or Sesame Street but I really don’t know.

Anyway, it is very rainy and very gloomy over here today. The kind of day that makes you want to snuggle on the couch with a movie and a bowl of popcorn and just stay there for a while. 🙂 Who knows, that may be on the agenda for the evening, we will see.

Breakfast

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I did not have one single bite of peanut butter yesterday. That is unheard of for me! I started the morning off with a bowl of Fage Greek yogurt with blackberries, blueberries, a touch of honey and chia seeds.

yogurt with berries

 

Gym

 

I hit up the gym shortly after for a chest, shoulder, and tricep weights day. Dana was my “personal trainer” and definitely pushed me harder than I would have if I were there by myself. This is a GOOD thing. I am hoping to be able to make it to the gym more often with him so we can train together. I need the extra help especially if I’m going to reach my April Fitness Challenge!

(old photo)

workout

 

Lunch

While I threw my lunch together, I snacked on some walnuts. Lunch was a humungo salad with mixed spring greens, celery, red bell pepper, mushrooms, black beans, peas, and red wine vinegar mixed with olive oil and herbs. I added some cheese and hummus after I snapped the photo.

salad

For dessert: an apple.

Afternoon snacks included a Honey P. Nutty bar!

I received this package of bars from Honey P. Nutty after checking out their website and drooling over their products. They make delicious honey and peanut butter bars that come in a variety of flavors: Chunky PB, Red Chili PB, Cranberry PB, Salty PB, Espresso PB, and Chocolate PB. Their products are also gluten and dairy free with the exception of the chocolate PB which may have some dairy.

honey p. nutty

Of course the first one I reached for when I received the package was the Chocolate PB, aka my favorite combination EVER!

honey p. nutty

I love that the ingredients are so simple: Whole and ground roasted peanuts, honey, organic cornmeal, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Depending on the flavor there are add-ins for example the chocolate PB has chocolate added, the cranberry PB has cranberries, etc. You get it.

honey p. nutty

The bars are chewy and sweet. Personally, I would consider them more of a dessert treat but they could also be used as an energy bar before a workout, after a workout, or for an afternoon pick-me-up.

honey p. nutty

They remind me of peanut butter cookies. They have a wonderful roasted peanut flavor and in combination with the honey, they are perfectly sweet.

honey p. nutty honey p. nutty honey p. nutty honey p. nutty

 

Yea, I REALLY enjoy them. To check out their products you can go to their website at honeypnutty.com. They are a new company and have so much potential for growth with this tasty product! I LOVE IT!

Dinner

Last night we grilled up some salmon and green beans. I actually deviated from my favorite salmon recipe if you can believe that!

I marinated two salmon filets in this marinade:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos (you can use soy sauce instead if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated finely
  • 1 tsp honey

I let them marinade for about 30 minutes before the grilling them up! The green beans were seasoned simply with olive oil, salt and pepper and then grilled.

salmon

 

I still prefer the other recipe for salmon with the sesame oil, butter, capers, and almonds, but this one was really good too! I was proud that I switched it up.

Alrighty, I’m going to go milk this cold I’ve got and get on with my day. Have a good one!