Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche

Put it in the books—I did body weight-bearing leg exercises yesterday. I have¬†quite the issue with committing myself to strength training but I cannot tell you how much I do want to get into it. I love the slightly sore feeling I get the day after a great workout.So don’t get me wrong because I know the importance of it and the great outcomes that comes from it, I just need to COMMIT. I am thinking about dipping my toes into the cross fit world…but we shall see.

After a 10 minute warm up run on the treadmill I completed this leg workout I found on Pinterest:

leg workout

I then did 5 minutes on the rowing machine followed by ab strengthening. Today marks the beginning of the 3rd week of the 30 Day Abs Challenge which means a new workout has been posted. Here is week 3:

30 day abs

A reminder that on the off days they encourage you to do at least a 1 minute plank. I am still loving this challenge. Am I seeing results? I think so…slowly but surely? ūüôā

For lunch: mixed greens with baby bell peppers, and¬†shredded chicken¬†from dinner the night before. I didn’t get too creative with this one now that I look back at it!

chicken salad

 I also had an apple and a couple of dates.

In the afternoon I got absorbed in a book on the treadmill and couldn’t believe when I looked ¬†at the time and I had been walking for an hour. I had to force myself to stop so I could get a couple of productive things done around the house!

For the past couple of weeks I have been attempting to plan out meals ahead of time in the hope that it will help me to stay creative during the week when I might otherwise be feeling like just tossing a salad together (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). This week our evenings at home are scarce, so I decided not to plan a week’s worth of meals, but one thing I had decided on for last night was CEVICHE!

I was first introduced to ceviche in Bogotá, Colombia in November when I was visiting my brother Jeff. According to Wikipedia, ceviche is usually made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, and spiced with chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and cilantro, may also be added but there are also other versions of this dish.

The ceviche I chose in Bogot√° had shrimp, plantains, onions, and a creamy sauce. It was amazing. Sweet and salty.

ceviche

When we traveled to Atlanta later in November, I stumbled upon another gem of a ceviche full of shrimp, scallops, pineapple, cilantro and spices.

Shrimp Ceviche from Atlanta…

ceviche atlanta

 I have fallen in love with ceviche. It was time to recreate that dish from Atlanta.

I chopped red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, pineapple, and shrimp and tossed it together in a bowl with lime juice, salt and pepper, a dash of garlic powder, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a tiny bit of heat. I plated it up along with some romaine leaves and called it Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche!

shrimp ceviche

shrimp ceviche

It turned out SO well and it is so darn healthy too.

Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche
Print
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1 Tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked shrimp, chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a dash of garlic powder
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Serve cold by itself or with lettuce scoops or endive leaves.
This dinner comes together in about 10 minutes. Yes seriously 10 minutes. Give it a whirl and see if you like it!
I’m off to take on my day—-in the next 5 minutes I need to decide whether or not to get my yoga on or go for a run. I’m thinking since I slept wrong on my neck that a slower yoga session might be a good choice. Hmm…decisions decisions.
Have a great day my friends!
Continue Reading Shrimp Pineapple Ceviche

30-Day Abs Challenge & Vacation Plans

Howdy! Happy weekend to you all. Did everyone have an enjoyable Friday?

Like many of you, my Fridays at work at “casual.” I wish that meant I could wear sweats to work but it’s not¬†that¬†casual. Jeans will do though!

melanie casual friday

Lunch was not captured in photo but I had a bowl of leftover veggie soup, carrots, an apple, and a piece of dark chocolate from a lovely co-worker. We call dark chocolate our “vitamin” so if one of us was looking for a piece of chocolate we will ask the other for a vitamin. We love our daily dose (moderation, moderation moderation!).

After work I snacked on a handful of blackberries and 2 dates with peanut butter. Then I got movin’. On Sunday, I accepted a physical challenge (this brings me back to the show Double Dare–anyone else?) through Challenge Loop. The challenge is being put on by Jen Morgan and is called….

30 Day Abs Challenge

Each week for the month of January Jen posts a new workout and you must complete the workout 3-4x a week. Here is the first week’s challenge:

jen morgan

On the “off” days she encourages everyone to do a 1-minute plank. Besides the fitness aspect of the challenge, she also promotes the importance of clean eating in reaching your health and fitness goals.

In my entire life I have never had “abs.” When it comes to ab work I tend to get extremely lazy. I’ll do “core” work after some cardio exercises, bust out a few sets of the same move and then be done. I’ve never been consistent enough and have never given it a fair chance to see results. This is why I signed up for the challenge.

It was totally free.¬†The stipulations are you comment on the Challenge Loop site each time you complete one of their workouts and you must post 8 times in order to be entered into a contest to win a copy of Women’s Health Big Book of Abs. The book isn’t my motivation, building confidence in my appearance is.

After 1 month, I shall see my progress. I finished my first set yesterday and I was really struggling through it. I hope I will continue to feel my core strengthening as I progress through the month’s exercises.

What’s REALLY motivating me to get moving and get my body in tip-top shape is knowing that I will be in a bikini in less than two months. Dana and I booked a vacation to¬†Turks and Caicos for the end of February!!!

Turks and Caicos is a little exotic island just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and east of Cuba.

turks and caicos

Turks and Caicos Quick Facts (source):

  • Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited
  • Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea
  • Language¬†– English
  • Currency¬†– The US dollar is the official currency
  • Climate (while we are there)¬†– From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees. Water temperature in the winter is about 74 to 78 degrees. A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. PERFECT!
  • Government¬†– The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony.¬†A Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council formed by an elected local self-government.

I am literally getting more and more excited by the second as I write this post! We decided on the end of February because that is usually the time that I start to get a mild form of the winter blues. Minnesota winters are very looooonnnnggg so having a wonderful trip like this to look forward to really helps to get you through!

chairs-on-the-beach-turks-and-caicos

Instead of a hotel we are staying in a villa—-so basically our own little home. We decided to go that route because 1. It was about the same cost as staying in a hotel and 2. It is complete with a full kitchen so we can make all of our meals, therefore hopefully keep my tummy feeling semi-normal.

It’s the same story each time we got to an all-inclusive resort, I end up eating way too much food namely desserts. Not that we won’t stay in an all-inclusive again, because we will, but this will be a nice change of pace. We will bring some of our own groceries which are non-perishable, and then purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood while we are there.

The resort supplies us with 2 stand up paddle boards which I have been so anxious to try!

SUP

The villa is right on the water…:smile:

Anyway, I could really go on all day about how thrilled I am about this, but I will stop. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to go on this trip with Dana. It will be a very relaxing getaway for us. I am planning to pack lots of books, games, and peanut butter!

Back to reality again…dinner’s this past week were all pre-planned. I wrote them all out before we went grocery shopping and stocked up on all necessary ingredients. This made evening meals SO easy. I really need to start planning more often.

Monday: Lobster and crab feast!

Tuesday: Bean burritos—this one was actually spontaneous

Wednesday: Vegetable Soup

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Salad

Friday: Turkey burgers with grilled onions, brussels sprouts, and broccoli

turkey burger

After dinner we took down our Christmas tree and rearranged our living room back to normal. As much as I LOVE Christmas, it feels good to be moving on now and starting the fresh new year.

I also munched on highly addicting Chex mix that Dana made…

chex mix

Nom nom nom…

Okey dokey, it’s time for me to get on with my day. Happy Saturday my friends!

Question of the day: If you could go on vacation ANYWHERE right now, where would you go?

Continue Reading 30-Day Abs Challenge & Vacation Plans

Birthday in Atlanta

I had the most amazing weekend in Atlanta celebrating my 27th birthday with great friends. I have lots of photos to share so I am going to get right to it.

Friday

I made it a priority to go to Caribou Coffee and get my free birthday coffee. I chose a light salted caramel mocha and HOLY COW, it was sooo good. It was like taking a bite of dessert each time I took a sip.

We took our coffees to Piedmont Park which is like walking in a dream for me. The park is huge, the leaves are all turning colors, it is very fitness friendly with fitness stations set up throughout the park, I have a free coffee in hand and am walking with Dana and my girls. Dream. Love.

Kate, Me, and Heidi at Piedmont Park

Three little monkeys sittin’ in a tree…

The views were gorgeous everywhere you looked. Combine that with friends who humor me by posing for photos throughout the weekend and you have yourself some great pics. ūüėČ They love it.

Later in the afternoon we went to Olympic Park which held the 1996 Summer Olympics—woop woop Kerri Strug and Dominique Moceanu.¬†The park was decorated for the holidays so we took full advantage of the photo opps.

Next we made a spontaneous decision to visit the Georgia Aquarium which is the world’s largest aquarium. We went an hour before they were going to close and only had to pay half price for tickets. SCORE! This place was incredible. I especially loved the whale shark and dolphins. The aquarium had the best filters for betta fish, and so, surprisingly, the fish were in the same tank as the sharks.

 

For dinner Friday night we went to JCT Kitchen and Bar. We sat on the “rooftop” patio outside under heat lamps. The evenings cooled down to about 50¬į F, but sitting under the heat lamps kept us nice and warm. I enjoyed being outside while we ate. They had live music too!

I order the “Day Boat Fish of the Moment” with creamy cauliflower, brussels sprouts, toasted hazelnuts, and lemon vinaigrette. I couldn’t tell you for a million dollars what the name of the fish was that I ate. It was very tasty though; mild and not fishy tasting. Right up my alley.

Dessert=amazing. Chocolate stuffed pastries of some sort with ice cream and a birthday message written on the plate?! Yes please.

The red lights from the heat lamp made for some snazzy glamour shots.

After dinner we walked over to a bar across the street that had ski-ball, bocci ball and a fun laid-back atmosphere. We spent a couple of hours competing in ski-ball (Heids was the champ) and Dana and Heidi dominated in a game of bocce against a couple of Atlantans (is that a word?).

Saturday

We finally got ready and out of the house by noon the next day. It wasn’t that we weren’t up until then because we definitely were, we were just all feeling a little too lazy to get moving very quickly.

The girls parked over at Piedmont Park to go for a little walk before meeting the guys for lunch at the Park Tavern. We sat outside while we ate and enjoyed the sun and people watching in the park.

Dana and I split an order of¬†edamame and a crab cake salad with avocado dressing. It wasn’t until we were all done eating our seafood lunches that someone made the comment about how it is ironic that we ate fish last night and today after visiting the aquarium yesterday. Womp wompppp.

It was once again a beautiful day. I was happy to be back at Piedmont Park again. I could spend hours there. We were going to go check out another park in the area but decided against it since we were all feeling extraordinarily lethargic. We went home instead to rest up instead so we could enjoy our last night together.

For dinner on our last night we went to a restaurant called Seasons 52 Fresh Grill aka one of my new favorite restaurants. Their menu is full of seasonally inspired dishes and nothing on their menu is over 475 calories!

We ordered the ceviche appetizer to split. In it was cooked shrimp and scallops (again with the seafood), pineapple, cilantro, lime, and a bit of pico de gallo type mix. Oh my goodness this stuff rocked my socks off.

For dinner I chose the Autumn Vegetarian Tasting which included “grains of life” (a quinoa salad), a soft taco with black beans, chili relleno, brussels sprouts, cedar roasted tofu with ¬†mango chutney, and butternut squash with a sweet maple glaze.

I really enjoyed this sample platter. My favorite was the taco and the salad. Nummy!

And as if the meal couldn’t get any better, our waiter brings us out a complimentary dessert shooter mix. BTW if you go to Seasons 52 our waiter was Kason and he was awesome.¬†There were nine different shooters each filled with a different dessert: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, s’more, peanut butter chocolate, berry something, raspberry cheesecake, key lime pie, and two more that I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter because all you need to know is that they were all fabulous. We all shared the desserts and polished them off in no time.

We called it an early night knowing we would be getting up early the next day to catch a flight back to Minnie.

What an incredible way to celebrate my birthday. A girl could get use to that. I had such a blast in Atlanta, and again thank you to our sweet hosts Kate and Luke for letting us stay with them. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

************

I am happy to be back home and I am getting ready to host my first ever Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Yikes! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are having a good start to your week. Catch up with you soon.

 

Continue Reading Birthday in Atlanta

Cocoa Cookie Bars with Peanut Butter Drizzle

Let me tell you, if there is something I do not enjoy, it is packing. When it comes time to pack, I do everything in my power to not do it. I distract myself with snacks, internet, exercise, cleaning, dancing, and anything else I can possibly think of to keep me from the daunting task.

I think when it comes down to it, the reason I don’t enjoy packing is because it takes me so darn long to figure out what I want to wear on any given day, so having to plan for an entire weekend or a week full of outfits becomes so grueling. Inevitably I end up packing too much of everything, but it’s because I just don’t know what I will want to wear at any given moment.

(FYI this was a photo taken during packing struggles before Colombia)

I also have to take into consideration how I might be feeling… bloated, normal, tight jeans, loose jeans? Am I going to be walking all day or can I wear heels? What’s the weather like? All of these things a woman must consider as she is packing. My husband will never understand as hard as he tries.

Needless to say, last night as I was finishing up packing for my trip to Atlanta, I first ate dinner (that’s usually a priority), it looked something like this but different since this is a recycled photo…

I then cleaned, tried packing, gave up after 2 minutes, worked out on the treadmill, distracted myself on the computer, tried packing again…you see the pattern.¬†Poor Moose was probably so confused as I tore around the house. He may have offered me a chill pill at one point, but I wouldn’t know. I was too busy distracting myself.

Does he not look GINORMOUS kangaroo in this photo? No offense to him or anything. 

The good news is, I am all packed. I am SO ready to take on Georgia. Bring on the southern accents, peaches, and Coca Cola.

Cocoa Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

A couple of days ago I flashed a photo of a dessert I made. Remember this?

The original plan was to make cocoa cookies (gluten-free style), but as I mixed away, the dough was actually more of a batter, so I rolled with it and came up with what I like to call Cocoa Cookie Bars (since they were supposed to be cookies after all).

They are gluten-free, made with almond flour, low in sugar, and super simple. I used Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams¬†to drizzle on top, but you could use any creamy peanut butter you would like!

Cocoa Cookie Bars with Peanut Butter Drizzle
Print
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups almond flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. almond milk
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Truvia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Peanut butter drizzle (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 9x9 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, beat together remaining ingredients except peanut butter.
  4. Add dry ingredients gradually into wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean.
  6. Drizzle with creamy peanut butter (place in microwave for 30 seconds and give it a stir to help with drizzling).

I hope you all have a fantastic day! I may or may not be checking in this weekend. If I don’t get a chance, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to filling you in on my latest adventure to Georgia when I return.

Continue Reading Cocoa Cookie Bars with Peanut Butter Drizzle

Mmm mmm Turkey Chili

Happy mid-way through the work week day aka Hump Day! ūüôā

I worked late yesterday therefore don’t really have any catching up to do from yesterday, BUT I do want to catch you up from Monday. I keep getting so behind on my posts but you don’t mind that I have to rewind a day or two do you?!

Monday

I’ve really been loving this combo lately: one banana topped with Parkers Farm creamy peanut butter and Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams. Mmm mmm that’s the stuff.

I had a bucket load of things to do including doctor visits, a haircut, Target run, and most importantly, using some of my birthday money (which I got early) to go shopping for a few new items.

I can proudly say that I bought four items at TJMaxx: three were clearance items and this sweater below was regular price.

I loathe trying on clothes¬†at¬†the actual store. I prefer to purchase items, take them home and try them on, and return them if necessary. Of course if the store isn’t conveniently located near my home, I go a different route. Anyway, I went home and tried on the four items and it turns out I love them all, however I am going to return an oversized sweater which would be so comfortable if it weren’t so itchy. I can’t handle itchy or uncomfortable anything, so back it goes. I’d say 3 out of 4 isn’t bad though right?!

Lunch

Once lunch time rolled around I pulled together this beautiful thing. We have a mixed green salad with blackberries, chicken, feta cheese, walnuts, and Ken’s Lite Poppy Seed dressing. Oh, and avocado. Goodness, I can’t forget the avocado. This salad was fabulous.

I did end up getting a half hour walk in but the walk was done on the treadmill this time around. On Monday it was a whopping 28¬įF or so here so I thought I would stay warm and walk inside. I flipped the TV back and forth between Ellen and Paula Deen. I was a happy camper.

Big news! I am hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year! This will be my first time ever hosting as well as my first time ever preparing turkey. I am planning the menu and getting super excited about it! More to come on that.

Check out my new kicks! On Sunday actually, Dana and I headed over to Marathon Sports in Minneapolis because we both needed some new running shoes. We had our other pair since March and we were both starting to feel some discomfort in our feet after runs, so we declared it time for new shoes. You don’t have to twist my arm for new shoes!

I stuck with the Asic Gel Kayano 19. The 19 is a little bit lighter than the 18 yet still provides cushioning, not to mention I LOVE the colors! Score.

On to dinner. We’re talking comfort on what was a pretty cold Minnesota day. What does that call for?

CHILI! I pulled a bag of garden tomatoes from the freezer which I had peeled and froze this summer. I threw a handful ingredients into a pot, let them all simmer together for a couple of hours, and something magical happened. I am excited to share this recipe because it was such a wing-it one for me and turned out just FANTASTIC! Mmm mmm!


Turkey Chili
Print
Ingredients
  • 4½ cups pureed tomatoes
  • ⅓ lb lean ground turkey, browned
  • 1-15 oz. can chili beans
  • 1-15 oz. can red kidney beans
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ Tbsp. cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powder
  • ½ Tbsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. black pepper
  • Optional toppings:
  • fresh cilantro
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • avocado
Instructions
  1. Combine all soup ingredients into medium pot; stir to combine.
  2. Cover and let simmer on low for two hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Ladle into soup bowls and top with avocado, cilantro, and cheese (optional).

One last bit of exciting news…My 27th birthday is this Friday and I am lucky enough to be celebrating it in Georgia this weekend with some amazing friends! We will be staying with these two foxy individuals…

I am SOOO excited! I can’t wait! I miss them so much.

Geez I’ve noticed this post turned a little bit random but that’s okay! Alright, I am off to take on the day. Take care my friends.

 

Continue Reading Mmm mmm Turkey Chili

Colombian Vacation: Part II

Let the second and final half of our Colombian vacation recap prevail! In case you missed it, check out the first half of my journey to Bogot√°, Colombia.

I’m starting off from where I left off in Part Uno which is Saturday evening, just before heading out to dinner.

Jeff and Ana were really hyping up our dinner/night out joint all day. They said it is the coolest place and when asked to compare it to something from back home, they couldn’t.

“It’s indescribable, you just have to see it, then you’ll get it.”

The destination was called Andres Carne de Res, which basically means it’s a steak house. We drove about a half hour out from Jeff’s place to get there. Upon arrival I knew that this place was going to be incredible.

After parking our car in the lot, we were walking towards the restaurant entrance and passed two small buildings; one being restrooms and the other a room with little cots set up in case people had a few too many mojitos and needed a little rest. Crazy right? But smart.

Next, after paying the cover charge to get into the restaurant and bar, we were given bright red hearts to wear as our entrance tickets. We made our way to the entrance and were led to our table. I took in all of the eclectic decorations and was immediately struck by the lively atmosphere. This place¬†is indescribable.¬†They’re right.

 

The pictures I have don’t even begin to capture the outgoing and energetic ambiance. The energy inside was contagious. They greeted us newbies with crowns and sashes and entertained us with a little song and dance.

We sipped on our mojitos, ate some fabulous appetizers, steak, and desserts while enjoying eachother’s company, but the highlight of the evening was definitely this…

The dance floor. EVERYBODY was dancing. This is what Latin America is known for. They can all move. Every single one of them. I was so impressed and loved shaking it to popular music from the region. I didn’t understand the lyrics but it didn’t matter. The way everyone would cheer at the beginning of their favorite songs let me know if it was going to be a really good one or not.

We danced our little legs off for a good three hours (don’t mind the creepy eyes from a couple of us in this photo) before getting a ride back home.

And I crashed. Andres was amazing.

Sunday

On Sunday we all got well acquainted with the couch. We did get up to go to the market to buy some local fruits, snacks, and chocolate to bring home to family and friends, but besides that, the day was pretty much a relaxing one.

I loved trying the different fruits from the region! The market was like heaven for me.

 

Eventually, we cleaned up and headed out for a late dinner on our last night.

I don’t recall the name of the restaurant, but it specialized in meat mostly: steaks, chicken, seafood, and the special of the day was lamb. I wasn’t feeling too adventurous that night, so I stuck with the chicken. It was in a red wine sauce and topped with fresh herbs. Pretty tasty!

Ana and Jeff surprised me with birthday presents considering they won’t be seeing me on my birthday which was SO sweet and completely unexpected. They gave me a super cute black purse and a scarf. I love them both. I wore the scarf the next day in Bogot√°, which is the perfect segway…

Our last morning in Bogot√°

We got so lucky with nice weather during our stay. Jeff couldn’t believe how nice it was while we were there. He said it was unseasonably warm and dry. It even hit 80¬įF one day! Typically it rains just about every day and the temperature hovers right around 65¬į F. The last morning was a rainy one, but it didn’t stop us from heading out.

We started our day the right way…with Colombian coffee (num) and then made our way to the mall for a brunch time lunch.

Jeff and Ana wanted us to try this burger joint that they enjoy. It was kind of funny to me ending our trip with an all-American meal, but I liked it. I was having a difficult time making a decision (weird) so I ordered a regular burger with tomato and lettuce on a whole grain tortilla.

It hit the spot. We hung out and chatted as I soaked up every last bit of Jeff that I could before he head to bring us to the airport for our departure back to Minnesota.

Our weekend in Bogot√° flew by but was filled with so many wonderful memories, sights, FOOD, and friends. I am so happy that we finally made the journey out to visit Jeff to see where he lives, works, hangs out, and to meet his wonderful friends and beautiful girlfriend. Thank you for everything! I love you so much and can’t wait to see you again!

Te amo,

Your baby sister.

 

Continue Reading Colombian Vacation: Part II

Colombian Adventure: Part I

Happy Happy Friday!

It’s time to begin the big Bogot√°, Colombia recap! I was going to try to fit it all into one post but it was nearly impossible, so I’m going to break it down into two posts: the first half of the trip and the second half of the trip. I weeded through the photos to condense as much as possible, yet still fill you in on the good stuff. It wasn’t easy, but here’s what I came up with.

The first half of our Colombian adventure

Upon arrival in Bogotá, we met up with my brother Jeff who lives and works in the city and is also fluent in spanish. He had to finish up a couple of things at work, so Dana and I spent a couple of hours relaxing, and I talked myself into a 25-minute yoga session. Denise Austin really makes you work.

Later in the evening, our gracious host was home so we cleaned up and headed out to meet up with some friends for dinner.

The restaurant we went to was called Carta Central and their specialty is ceviche. Jeff said we had to experience their ceviche.

We ordered a couple of appetizers: one was fried seafood (calamari, shrimp, etc.) and the other was ceviche served with avocados. I snapped photos of both of them but they turned out to be pretty hideous, so they got the “x”.

I’m not a huge “fishy-fish” person meaning I don’t like my fish to taste fishy, and I’m weird about textures when it comes to seafood too, so I went the safer route and chose a shrimp ceviche where the shrimp are fully cooked. This particular dish came in a light cream sauce with plantains and chives. It was awesome! My first experience with ceviche was definitely a good one.

It was super dark in the restaurant so I apologize for the terrible flash on this bad boy but you can at least get an idea of my delicious dish.

Here is our wonderful group at dinner…

After dinner we walked back to Jeff’s place and crashed. We needed our rest for the adventures of tomorrow.

Saturday in Bogot√°

In the morning we walked over to a restaurant called Bagatelle for some breakfast. Colombia is known for their amazing juices so Dana and I split a guanabana mandarin juice (on the left) and Jeff got pineapple juice with mint. Both were excellent and so refreshing!

I love all of the fresh herbs used in Colombia. It inspires me to want to try to grow a mint plant in my house this winter. Is that possible? Any thoughts?

For breakfast I ordered some type of egg souffle. I was challenged each time we went out to eat considering I couldn’t understand half of the menu. I took spanish back in middle school and freshman year of high school, and I still remember some vocab, but not enough to decipher over the content of the menus and be 100% sure of my decision. ūüôā Also, I didn’t want to bother my brother or Dana each time it came down to it since they were trying to decide on their order as well. I did my best, and the boys (and Ana) helped me too.

Back to this egg dish…what they do is mix the egg whites with parmesan cheese and they whip them up and bake them so it turns into a souffle and in the middle of the puffy mass are two runny yolks. It looked like a TON of food when it was brought to the table, but it was actually very light, yet still filling. Again, the power of eggs and their satiety rate I tell ya.

After breakfast, Jeff, Ana, Dana and I made our way out to explore the city. Our first stop was taking a gondola up to the top of a mountain to visit Monserrate which is a beautiful church in the mountains.

Did I mention I’m claustrophobic? I was happy the packed gondola ride was a short one.

The stunning views on top of the mountain…

The entrance to the market area…

And the market where I tried ants for the first time and the last time. Ants are a delicacy in Colombia. There are only two regions in Colombia where they find these ants. They fry them and salt them and I have also heard they come in chocolate-covered, and people eat them. When in Rome…I tried some ants.

Okay, I tried a single ant. It tasted like a salty dirty soy nut. I may have preferred chocolate covered? I am proud of myself for trying it but am happy to say I never have to do that again.

After our mountain adventure, we walked over to La Candelaria which is a historic area in downtown Bogot√°. We all shared a bag of freshly fried plantain chips which were SO good.

The side streets were lined with small cafes and restaurants. We stopped into one and ordered an authentic tamale which we all split.

Pretty tasty!

Next stop, empanadas. Tamales and empanadas were two things on my list of foods to try while in Bogot√°.

They were pretty good but not as good as a homemade version a Colombian friend of mine makes. ūüėČ

We ended up having a snacky lunch with the plantain chips, the tamale, and empanadas which I actually prefer to one big meal. That way I am able to try more foods and not be completely stuffed.

I bought a sweet treat while we were at the tamale place. I am not 100% sure what it’s made of but I do know the outside is candied guava. The inside is sort of like a thick caramel. I really enjoyed this guy.

I’m going to stop there and save Saturday evening-Monday for the next Bogot√° post. I am having so much fun reliving the memories! We seriously had such an incredible time and were able to see so much of the city¬†in such a short period of time.

More to come soon!

Have a wonderful day my friends!

 

 

Continue Reading Colombian Adventure: Part I

The Beginning of Our Journey: South Beach Style

Hi to my amazing readers! I’m back!

We made it home safe and sound from our vacation to Bogot√°, Colombia. We had deemed this vacation as an extended part of our wedding anniversary celebration. We had a layover in Miami, so we planned a couple of days in South Beach to enjoy the weather and relax before heading to Bogot√°. We had the greatest time while we were away.

I am going to start the recap of our trip and do my best to condense our day and a half stay in Miami into one post today. It might be a dooooozy! You have been forewarned.

Miami Recap: Day One

Wednesday morning we flew out of Minneapolis and began the journey to Miami. Coffees in hand were necessary being we were up at 3 am.

Bienvenido a Miami. We stayed at the beautiful Hilton Bentley right on south beach. We were greeted by the friendly staff as well a complimentary bottle of Prosecco. Our room was gorgeous; complete with white robes, a kitchen, living room, and a stunning beach and city view.

      

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there; about 80¬į F and sunny. I was anxious to get out and enjoy the sun and we were both pretty hungry at this point, so we changed into our swimsuits and shorts, heading down to the walking path by the beach, and walked to a restaurant called The Front Porch.¬†I couldn’t help but keep singing Vanilla Ice’s, ¬†Ice Ice Baby lyrics, “the block was dead yo, so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue!”

I ordered the chicken satay omelett which was made up of eggs of course, basil, grilled chicken, mozzarella, spinach, and a satay sacue made from peanuts, red curry paste, coconut milk, cilantro, and lime.

It was such an unusual combination that I never would have imagined but it was AMAZING.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and enjoying the sun. We laid by the pool, went in the hot tub, enjoyed our Prosecco, and later headed out to explore more of Miami.

On our way to dinner, we made a pit stop at Kardashian’s DASH Miami to check it out and who knows, maybe run in to one of the girls?! No such luck with the celebrity spotting but it was neat to go inside. I really liked the clothing but it was slightly out of my price range!

We ate dinner at Larios On the Beach along Ocean Drive. The restaurant is owned by Gloria Estefan and has excellent Cuban food. I ordered Ropa Viejo which is shredded beef with onions and peppers in tomato Cuban criolla sauce, served with plantains, and rice and beans.

I am a huge fan of Cuban food. My goodness that dinner was great! While enjoying dinner we also were highly entertained by passerby’s who were dressed up in their Halloween get-up.

After dinner we headed over to Lincoln Road which is an area lined with shops, bars, and restaurants.This is where the action was. People were packed in the streets and sidewalks, and the majority were dressed in costume. It was insane!

I was completely overwhelmed as I walked through this area, trying to weed through the crowd, yet also notice each and every costume and take it all in. The energy was incredible, but I was definitely happy once we were clear of the chaos. I should have packed my costume! What was I thinking? Oh well!

I think we calculated about 7 miles that we had covered on foot for the day. The combination of that and being sleep deprived put me right into a sleep coma as soon as we made it back to the hotel.

Miami Day Two

I did my best to follow a gluten-free diet while away on vacation. I gave in a couple of times but for the most part did a pretty great job. On day 2, we ate breakfast at the hotel and I managed to keep it very GF friendly (that’s gluten-free not girlfriend btw). ūüėČ

Eggs, bacon, sausage (not a fan), fresh fruit, and coffee of course.

After our protein-packed breakfast, we laced up and headed out for a long walk to scope out more of South Beach. We made our way to the beach, and to a long boardwalk. We then curved around and covered foot on more of the “city” area as well.

Absolutely stunning views.

We rented bikes for the afternoon and drove down towards Lincoln Road again to scope out a place to eat lunch. To give you some idea of how well our breakfasts held us over, we ate breakfast at about 9:30, and we didn’t eat lunch/weren’t hungry for lunch until around 4:00 pm. That’s the power of protein!¬†So really we were out on the prowl for late lunch/early dinner….Linner.

  

I was overwhelmed by the number of dining options, but knew I was in the mood for some veggies. We peaked at the menus and decided on a restaurant called Nexxt. They served just about everything you could ever want.

I must have been in a Thai food mood while in Miami because I ordered the Thai Cilantro Cashew Chicken Salad (the day before I ordered the Thai peanut omelett). But really how can you go wrong with peanut sauce?

 

I took off the fried tortillas and really went to town on this thing. It was monstrous and I was so glad because I was loving every bite of it. I walked away feeling satisfied. We hopped on our bikes and made our way back to the hotel.

One last trip to the hot tub. I felt like it was our own private hot tub because no one was in there either times we went! VIP baby.

Since we ate a late lunch/early dinner, and neither of us our ones to stay up too late, we decided against going to dinner. We headed out though around 8 pm to walk the city one last time, and to grab some frozen yogurt. Our phones guided us to a frozen yogurt shop about 10 blocks up from our hotel only to lead us to what was now a travel agency of some sort. Thanks a lot. Oh well, at least we had a nice walk.

We headed towards the next location on the map. It was closed. I believe there was a third stop in there. It was open but didn’t look too impressive. Maybe we weren’t meant to get frozen yogurt?¬†Okay, let’s try the very last one on the map. Apparently frozen yogurt isn’t too popular in this area yet. The last attempt led us to a gelato shop called 4D. Hey, they were open, and although it wasn’t frozen yogurt, at this point we were more than ready for a cool treat.

The not-so-friendly gal behind the counter served us up a nice two scoop cup of gelato (caramel swirl and chocolate hazelnut for me), and we walked out of there smiling. Mission accomplished!

Nothing beats Italy’s gelato though I tell ya. Nothing. We headed back to our hotel, packed up our room, and called it an early night. Our flight was taking off early the next morning and we wanted to be well-rested for the next leg of our journey.

I would absolutley recommend visiting South Beach. There is so much to see, it is a great area for people watching (Halloween or not), the weather is unbeatable, and the food is incredible.

We so enjoyed our time in Miami and the Hotel Bentley was wonderfully accommodating. So that’s our Miami vaca in a nutshell. Next up, our trip to Bogota to visit my brother Jeffrey. It may take me more than one post to fill you all in on that portion, but it will be coming soon!

It’s bittersweet to be back. Although I was only gone for 6 days, I missed everyone at home, but now it’s back to reality. Time to make more money to fund our next vacation! ūüėČ

I hope you all are having a great week so far. Happy hump day and happy no more Presidential ad campaigns! Wooooo!

 

Continue Reading The Beginning of Our Journey: South Beach Style

I Witch You a Happy Halloween

Light up those pumpkins, get your bowl of candy ready for those trick-or-treaters, the day is finally here. Since we already had our Halloween party last weekend, and since we aren’t going to be home for Halloween, I actually feel like the day has come and gone already. But no no. ‘Tis here.

How about some old snapshots from past Halloweens? Shall we?

Halloween 2008: Sheriff and a convict, college style. I made my costume myself by using black duck tape across old white clothes that I never wear. I went to the dollar store and bought plastic handcuffs too. Sheer genius right? ūüėČ

Halloween 2009: Danny and Sandy from Grease

Halloween 2010: I thought I would throw a nerdy pumpkin picture in this mix…

And we were a birthday party princess and a pi√Īata this year. This was one of my all-time favorites. Dana’s costume was NOT easy to make but so worth it!

Halloween 2011: No dressing up this year because I was in my dear friend Angela’s wedding that weekend.

Halloween 2012: As you’ve seen already, we were Ms. Kourtney Kardashian and Mr. Scott Disick this year.

I love getting creative when it comes to Halloween, but it seems like every year when the time rolls around I am always scrambling until the last minute to pull something together. Why is that? Oh yes, such is life.

Anyway…we are off to Colombia! Wooooo! I won’t be blogging while I am away but I do have a couple of posts lined up for ya including a special guest post. Don’t miss me too much! I can’t wait to fill you in when I get back.

Oh and if you’re anything like me, you’re possibly interested in what I ate yesterday, and since I have some photos lying around, here ya go!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and ketchup.

Lunch: Carrots and sugar snap peas, an apple, a banana with peanut butter and cinnamon, and a handful of peanut butter M & M’s.

Dinner: hodge-podge salad with mixed greens, tomato, bell peppers, peas, avocado, and turkey bacon. SO GOOD!

There may have been a couple of halloween candies that jumped into my mouth too. Just maybe.

This post is finally ending now. Sorry for all of the exclamation marks!!! I’m excited for vacation! Will miss you all!

 

Continue Reading I Witch You a Happy Halloween

Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

What a great weekend that went by all too fast as always. How about catching you up a bit from the last time we touched base which would be Saturday around lunch time.

In my belly…a harvest pear salad with romaine lettuce, pears, walnuts, feta cheese, and poppy-seed dressing. Complete with fall leaves in the background of the photo.

After lunch I got to work preparing an appetizer for a Halloween party we were going to that evening.

Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

I combined tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a cowboy caviar. I then halved orange and yellow mini bell peppers, took out the seeds and the stem, and filled each boat with cowboy caviar. Delicious, healthy and beautiful to boot!

To the Halloween part-ay we went. We were greeted by this beautiful witch brewing up a secret potion and making snarky remarks at us.

Before I reveal what Dana and I dressed up as, let’s have a little fun and let me give you some hints and see if you can guess.

  1. I am holding our newest child Penelope.
  2. Our son Mason is at auntie Kimmy’s for the night.

Any Kardashian fans out there? I was Kourtney Kardashian and Dana was her boyfriend Scott Disick. That’s alright if you didn’t get it, most of our friends didn’t know¬†either.

Our lovely hosts for the evening were Freddie Mercury (Adam) and Katniss (Stacy). It made me feel better that I didn’t know who either of them were dressed up as either. It was a general theme for the night—no one knew who anyone was supposed to be.

Except for the egg. I knew that Amanda was an egg. ūüėČ

We had a great time as always being with our friends, munching on some great chow, and ¬†laughing at everyone’s ridiculous costumes. We were home and into bed by midnight and I was wide awake at 8:00 am Sunday morning.

Sunday

I made myself a chopped banana with Parkers Farm peanut butter and cinnamon.

I also drank a cup of coffee while we flipped through the Sunday paper. Next, we hit the road for our grocery shopping extravaganza. We will be leaving for our vacation to Colombia in just a few days, but we needed to stock up the fridge for a very special guest who will be staying at our house with the pup.

We got a late start on running our errands so by the time we got home it was 1:00 pm and we were both very hungry. I notice that’s a common theme around our house. I was excited that I had leftover cowboy caviar from the appetizer on Saturday, so we cooked up a few over easy eggs, topped them on top the leftover cowboy caviar with some cheese, and had a protein packed and super tasty meal within minutes.

In the afternoon I made myself change into workout clothes and took the dog out for 2.6 mile run around the neighborhood. I could tell I was tired and dehydrated because it was a pretty difficult run for me.

A very good friend of mine was in town for the weekend so I got to see him and his beautiful girlfriend for a little while, then mom and dad stopped over too! After that we did a little packing and got ourselves ready for the week ahead.

Oh and we ate dinner too…a turkey burger served on top of a salad with onion, tomato, cheese, and green olives.

*************

Yoga Challenge

Since it’s Monday that means it’s time to check in on the last October Yoga Challenge for the month!¬†I can’t believe the month is over in a couple of days. I kind of feel like October didn’t happen it flew by so fast, but IT DID. Don’t let me fool you.

This past week I got in not one, but two yoga sessions. The first one was a full body session and the second was a session geared towards athletes. I completed the whole month’s challenge using OnDemand yoga sessions. Once again, I loved every second of this challenge.

Yoga is about connecting the body and the mind, and it is good for all of us to take the time to practice that. Whether or not you are lying on a yoga mat, or sitting in your office, take 30 seconds periodically to become aware of your mind and body. Focus on your breathing if you are feeling overwhelmed. Remind yourself to live in the moment.

I said this before but I do truly mean it again, I really hope to continue to include yoga in my life even though this challenge comes to an end. I feel better after every session and it reminds me to stay calm and helps me to control stress. Thanks to Courtney for hosting this challenge once again!

Namaste.

*****Thinking of all of my friends and family on the east coast. Stay safe!*****

Continue Reading Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers