February Fitness Challenge Review

Happy Saturday! Today’s my second favorite day of the week after Friday, so I’m a pretty happy camper today.

Considering I don’t have many food photos to share (the SCD is fairly redundant right now), how about we talk about fitness instead?

At the beginning of February I set a goal for myself to complete three strength training workouts each week. They could involve free weights, machines at the gym, workout videos, whatever, as long as they involved improving my strength. I also challenged myself to complete one plank a day for at least one minute.

I am a cardio junkie and love getting my heart rate ramped from the cardio which is also great for overall health, but all-to-often slack on the strength and I wanted to do something about it. I called this challenge, my February Fitness Challenge.

Although I know there are still five days left in February, I have decided to reflect now.

I am happy to say that even though I was struck with a head cold for a solid week this month, and felt very low energy due to the SCD intro, I still managed to stick to my goal each week. I tried to keep it spicy and exciting so that I wouldn’t get bored with it.

Some of My February Strength Workouts:

  • Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred: Level 1 and Level 2
  • This leg workout incorporated with dumbbells
  • This arm workout plus other arm exercises
  • Ab workouts (from the January Abs Challenge)
  • Most of the time I just did my own thing and mixed up different exercises

I have done my plank-a-day every day too!

I have noticed that with the combination of eliminating white sugars from my diet, and increasing my strength activities, that I do feel stronger. I even feel it when I’m doing cardio. When I’m running my core helps carry me and makes me run lighter.

I definitely feel stronger overall, however I have a looooooonngg way to go to get my strength to where I would like it to be. But it takes time. I’m going to continue to work on it.

I already have a March fitness challenge brewin’ in my head! Be on the look out. :wink:

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I can’t leave this post complete photo-free because that’s no fun, so I do have a couple to share.

Yesterday I couldn’t eat meat (Lent), which is a main component of the SCD. I was thrilled about it because I am SO TIRED OF IT and completely tired out of eggs too, so it was time to introduce a new food. Peanut butter. I’m not talking boat loads of pb, but enough to satisfy my hunger and give me some protein.

I introduced baked apples into my diet two days ago and my body responded well. My girlie girl Kalkal said one of her favorite breakfast combos lately is cut up apple, with pb and cinnamon. I usually do that combo with banana, but often forget about the lovely apple. I gave it a whirl, but used a slightly cooked apple instead (to aid in digestion for now).

apple with pb

I honestly think I could slather peanut butter on anything and it would taste good. This was a very nice treat! I would prefer it with a raw apple like Kalley had suggested, but for now this will have to do!

The REALLY good news is that peanut butter is sitting very well with my system. Like I said I have no plans of going crazy with it like I tend to do, but one serving a day and I should feel just fine. I am really missing my legumes and lentils however. Soon enough!

The evening was spent:

  • getting some more vacation stuff together
  • doing some food prep for vaca
  • vacuuming
  • mopping
  • planking
  • core strength
  • running around the house and up and down the stairs with Moose
  • and cleaning up broken links on the ol’ blog (this is quite the task)

We also picked this guy up from the groomer after getting a nice intense brush-out. He looks so handsome.

moose

I have plans to get a little run in this morning and then we have some more packing to do!

What’s on your Saturday agenda?!

You Can’t Always Win

Yesterday I mentioned I was fighting off some sort of cold bug and I had big plans of squashing it before it made its way any further into my body, but I’m afraid it has won.

I did everything in my power to ward it off. I took all of my vitamins as I always do, I wash my hands, I got plenty of sleep, I made myself a fruit and veggie packed smoothie for breakfast…

smoothie

I sipped on warm water with lemon and honey, tea, and water all day, crammed fruits and veggies like it was my job, and even attempted to get a workout in to get the blood circulating and move this thing out…

  • February Fitness Challenge: I completed this ab workout along with 45 minute run/walk on the treadmill. My strength focus was on the core yesterday.

I was lovingly greeted/interrupted while doing the ab workout by this needy face…

moose moose

Maybe he was trying to tell me about the spider crawling on the floor that I noticed shortly after he left while holding my plank-a-day? If so, that was sweet of him.

In the evening, my mom, dad and brother Kevin came over to join Dana and me for tacos. Abbie and Moose have yet to become buddies, so Abbie made her way over to her little roost where she overlooked the situation.

abbie

I used the chicken I had used for my bone broth for the chicken tacos. I diced the chicken meat, added it into my pan on the stove top, added bone broth, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. I let it all simmer together until the liquid evaporated.

I also made refried beans with black beans which I cooked on the stove, again with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper (no paprika), salsa, cilantro, and some diced tomato. I added a touch of bone broth as well to get it moving along and let it simmer for a short while.

I got all of the fixings together and then dinner was ready. Tacos are so easy to make and always so darn good. I ate my tacos in lettuce cups but we also had corn tortillas for everyone.

chicken tacos

After dinner, we all hung out and I played beauty shoppe with mom. I’ve never been too good with hair but I like to try being creative every once and a while, and mom is the perfect client. Her hair is the perfect texture that holds well to styling, and I’m pretty sure she is okay with the free head massage. Who doesn’t like getting their hair fanangled? I know I do.

mom

I also thought a little TLC from the family may help fight this thing off, but unfortunately this morning I woke up feeling worse than yesterday. The darn cold definitely got me much to my dismay. You can’t always win as hard as you may try. :smile:

Let’s just hope I feel better as the day progresses. Even though it got me, I won’t let it stick around for long. Okay, enough of my belly aching. I hope you all are feeling well, staying active, eating healthy nourishing foods, and getting plenty of sleep. Take care!

My February Fitness Challenge

Happy February 1st! What?! That blows my mind.

You know what else blows my mind? The fact that I stuck with an entire month of the January 30 Day Abs Challenge. Just a reminder, the challenge was to complete ab circuits which were given to us weekly, three times a week and to try to do a plank for at least one minute on the off days. I think throughout the entire month there was only one day where I didn’t do the plank, besides that I stuck with it entirely.

What amazes me is how much our bodies can change in just one month. I noticed a significant change in the strength I feel in my abs and not only in my abs but in my legs and arms as well. The circuits involved our entire body which I appreciated so much.

If this is what can happen in a month, imagine what could happen during a longer time frame. This was just the push I needed to begin including core work not only more frequently into my workout routines, but more heavily. I know now that I can be pushed further than the ab workouts I was doing before this challenge. I am so glad I accepted it!

However, I still have a lot of work to do. I really like setting monthly goals and fitness challenges because one month isn’t daunting, it isn’t intimidating, and it keeps me focused on a particular activity for a month.

In an effort to continue building up my strength, I have decided to make a fitness challenge for myself for the month of February.

February Fitness Challenge

  • Incorporate strength training activities into my routine three days a week–this can be free weights, simply using my body weight, weight machines at the gym, fitness classes which include weights,workout videos, etc. and will target different areas of the body. I will continue to mix in my cardio when I please and complete at least a one minute plank daily.

There it is. I know I have mentioned it before, but strength training is my weakness and it’s something I am always wanting to improve upon. I know the benefits and can feel the benefits, and I want to continue my journey in the right direction. I’m a little nervous about this one because I really don’t want to fail, but hey, it’s only 28 days!

Bring it on February!

And now we’re going to back track. Yesterday I let myself have my peanut butter and banana breakfast. I’m still working towards “livening” up my breakfasts.

banana and peanut butter

Mid-morning I crunched on some snap peas and a clementine.

snacks

And for lunch I ate a big salad with mixed greens, chicken, avocado, peas, sunflower seeds, and hummus. Dessert was an apple.

After work I headed over to mom and dad’s to hang out. Right away I threw back a handful of baby carrots and a few almonds, but then wanted to get a quick workout in so I got changed, completed my “last chance workout” from the 30 Day Abs Challenge, and then finished with 20 minutes on the elliptical.

Then I got to the hanging out part of my visit.

IMG_1533

For dinner I had requested some sort of red meat. I realize I hadn’t had any in a really long time and don’t mind it every now and again. We had surf and turf (steak and shrimp), a big ol’ salad, and green beans. I made myself a side of honey mustard dressing for both the salad and the steak made from Dijon mustard and honey. I loved that stuff.

surf and turf and salad

It was a great dinner and felt so nice to be cozy and warm with madre y padre. It was ridiculously cold last night and continues to be extremely cold today.

Later in the evening I came home, fed the pup, and called it a night.

moose

I am constantly amazed at the size difference when I go from being with Abbie, an 11 lb Yorkie Poo, to Moose, a 90 lb German Shepherd. Just a little bit of a size difference there. :wink:

Okee doke friends. I am OUT of here for now. I definitely have some fun plans on the agenda for the night. Catch up with you later gators.

Question of the Day: Do you have any fitness challenges planned for February? If so what are they?

Banana Almond Bread (Gluten-Free)

Howdy howdy howdy haaa…HAPPY WEDNESDAY! We are halfway through the standard work week! I hope everyone is having a good week so far.

In an effort to amp up my breakfast creativity, I have called on a little challenge with myself to limit my usual banana with peanut butter breakfast to every other day or less often. I love my pb and banana so much but am eating it so frequently in the morning that even I am getting bored of it. I am always up for a good challenge—so there you have it.

I switched it up yesterday and made myself a smoothie.

This is a kefir (first time trying kefir btw), egg white protein powder, strawberry, banana, and kale smoothie. The verdict on kefir? It made for a slightly tart yet sweet smoothie and I really liked it. I’m on the kefir train.

I ate my smoothie in a bowl with a spoon like soup. It makes the moment last longer than drinking it through a straw, and since I truly enjoy the eating experience, it’s a good way to prolong the enjoyment. If I’m in a hurry or running out the door though, it goes straight into a cup with a straw.

Who says you can’t have a cold smoothie in the dead of winter?

DSCN6418

For lunch I ate a bunch of sugar snap peas and carrots, followed by leftover chicken salad from the night before with peas…chicken salad with avocado

An apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter…

apple with pb

And I finished lunch with a small handful of cashews and a bite of applesauce. Very random and very satisfying.

After work I headed to the gym and snacked on two clementines. I am lovin’ those little cuties these days. I wasn’t feel super great at the gym which made for a quick trip. I fought my way through 20 minutes on the elliptical and then called it quits. Besides not feeling good, the gym was PACKED, and I just wasn’t feeling the ambiance at all.

At home I completed the rest of my workout which was the 30 Day Abs Challenge circuit.

Next up…dinner. I made a veggie scramble made of red onion, black beans, kale, one egg, cheese, cilantro, salsa, and avocado. It rocked my socks.

veggie scramble

For “dessert” I had two dates and a small handful of raisins.

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Banana Almond Bread–back tracking

Back on Friday, I threw together a mean gluten-free, SCD-friendly banana almond bread. I’ve been meaning to share it with you since I first mentioned it, but kept having other things I needed to share! Well now’s the time.

I realize now that I didn’t do a very good job of snapping a photo of the finished banana bread product. All I really have to show for it is this…

banana almond bread

It didn’t get the photo recognition that it deserves because it did turn out great! Here is that recipe for you finally.

Banana Almond Bread
Gluten-free; SCD
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 2 cups ripe bananas (about 3 small bananas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spritz a standard bread loaf pan with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly add in dry ingredients into wet, and mix until completely combined.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing. It will continue to set after it is removed from oven.
I enjoyed the bread plain, or with a little smear of peanut butter, almond butter, or with a little bit of butter. It’s best to store it in the refrigerator and lasts for about one week.
I hope you have time to get fun in the kitchen! Have a HAPPY day.
Question of the day: What is your favorite homemade bread?

Salmon on Sunday

Happy snowy day here from Minnesota! It is gorgeous outside. Finally, we have snow on the ground again and it feels so right. I just hope the roads are okay because I have a bunch of running around to do today.

So how was everyone’s weekend? Mine was spent working on the laundry room which is really coming along. The walls are painted, and the tile is down. Next will be to seal the cracks of the tile, finish painting a few shelves, and then begin to organize all of our storage bins in there! I’m still really excited about it if you can’t tell!

We are now on to the final week of the 30 Day Abs Challenge which means there is a new workout posted. Here is the final workout circuits. Circuit 5 is a doozy I tell ya. Yikes! I still can’t believe we are coming down to the end of January.

abs challenge

Once we were all finished with the laundry room yesterday, I cleaned myself up and got into cozies. I was sitting in the living room enjoying watching the snowfall, I decided there was one thing missing to really complete the cozy atmosphere…a fire in the fireplace.

Soon enough, Dana had the fire a-blazin’ and I was one happy girl.

dana

Poor Moose really doesn’t appreciate fires like I do. This was way too close for comfort for him.

moose

In the late afternoon I started marinading salmon with a honey, lime, ginger, and garlic powder mixture. It was salmon night again.

Remember how I mentioned that I don’t love salmon but I really wish I did because it is so gosh darn good for you? I made a deal with myself that I was going to eat it once a week in hopes that I will teach myself to like it. I’m getting closer, but still not quite there.

We cooked the salmon on a grill pan on the stove to get the feeling of grilling outside. :smile: I took the advice from Shannon and lit two vanilla candles while cooking the salmon to try to eliminate some of the odor from the fish. We also opened up two windows and go the fan going above this stove. I think it all really worked! There was only a very faint smell lingering.

I topped the salmon with a pineapple salsa simply made from chopped pineapple, cilantro, red onion, a small pinch of salt, and garlic powder.

salmon

I still enjoyed the dinner greatly, just not as much as I typically do. I will get there! I will continue the once a week salmon challenge. :smile:

Alrighty, I am out. Have a wonderful day my friends. Catch up with you soon.

Question of the day: Is there a food that you don’t like that you wish you did?!

Baked Vegetable Marinara

Well hello again ya’ll! Did everyone have a fantabulous Friday? Mine was pretty great and very productive.

It started out with a couple of errands and appointments. I made myself a green smoothie super loaded with kale, egg white protein powder, almond milk, and a banana to begin fueling the fire (aka breaking the fast, getting the metabolism revved up).

green smoothie

Dana and I made a trip to Starbucks while we were out. I decided on a light roast with a splash of half and half and a shot of hazelnut flavor. This really got me “revved up.”

On the way home from our errands I was starving. I am always prepared with food in my purse and had a delicious apple turnover Uberbar calling out to me, so I dug right in.

uberbar

LARABAR, marry me? I love these things.

Within another couple of hours I was hungry again, but was planning on getting my workout in at that point, so I made myself a small snack plate to tide me over yet not fill me up too much.

Turkey breast with avocado, and sugar snap peas and hummus.

snack plate

Next on the agenda: the treadmill. I did the same combo as the other day alternating between running on the treadmill and the ab challenge circuits. I was feeling very fatigued yesterday so ran at a very easy pace. I was nice and sweaty by the time I was done.

Enter another snack: microwaved apple with cinnamon and coconut oil:

apple

Followed by a spoonful of almond butter. Then it was time to change into my painting clothes and get to work on the laundry room. That is where you found Dana and I for a good 3-4 hours. Jammin’ out to music and painting the laundry room. It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a room. I am so anxious to see it when it is all finished. Tiling the floor is on the agenda today!

Dinner

I was SO glad I had prepared our meal the day before and had it waiting in the fridge to go into the oven, because by the time dinner rolled around we were both exhausted.

I created a concoction I am going to call Baked Vegetable Marinara. I can’t figure out why I haven’t thought of this creation until now, because it was stellar.

I began by roasting my chopped veggies in the oven for about 20 minutes. I chose to use broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. I spritzed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper before they went into the oven.

Roasting the vegetables before baking them in the dish helps to remove some moisture from the vegetables so that you don’t end up with a watery dish.

baked vegetable marinara

While the veggies were roasting, I made the cheesy topping. I combined shredded Monterey jack, parmesan, almond flour, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and gave it a good stir. 

baked vegetable marinara topping

One the veggies were done roasting, I added two big handfuls of baby kale. Next, I poured the veggies into a bowl and added about 2/3 of a jar of no sugar added Ragu marinara sauce and stirred together.

baked vegetable marinara

I poured the veggies into a lightly sprayed 9 x 9 baking dish.

baked vegetable marinara

And then topped them with the cheesy mixture.

baked vegetable marinara

I baked it in a 400ºF, oven covered with aluminum foil for about 40 minutes (cooking time will vary!). I then removed the foil, and broiled on low until cheese melted and turned slightly golden brown.

baked vegetable marinara baked vegetable marinara baked vegetable marinara

Please, please, do me a favor and make this dish. It is so unbelievable tasty and comforting. Dana and I and our ravenous appetites finished this whole dish except for about four bites. MMMMmmmm.

And more MMmmmmm….I made banana almond bread. Oh yes I did. It was the perfect bedtime snack. I WILL be sharing this recipe with you all soon. I am very excited about it. I had a hard time keeping my animal paws off of it last night.

banana bread

Off I go to another productive day! I hope you all have a beautiful Saturday.

Baked Vegetable Marinara
(these are not “exact” measurements, but they are pretty darn close!)
Ingredients
  • 4-5 cups roasted vegetables–broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, garlic, zucchini
  • 2 cups baby kale or chopped kale
  • 2/3 jar of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese or mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBSP almond flour
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp basil
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9 x 9 baking dish with olive oil.
  2. In a medium bowl combine roasted veggies, kale, and marinara sauce. Pour into prepared dish.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the cheeses, flour, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese mixture over vegetables evenly.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Uncover and broil on low for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Question of the day: What are your favorite dishes to make in the winter?

Catching Up on Weekend Eats

Happy Tuesday!

Since I kind of dove deep yesterday into the topic of curbing my sweet tooth, I didn’t get the chance to share the rest of my kitchen adventures with you from the weekend. Even though it’s already Tuesday, I still want to catch up. There’s no better time than right now!

My Weekend Eats

On Saturday I broke out the food dehydrator. I sliced up fresh bananas which I rolled in melted coconut oil, and frozen strawberries which I thawed in the microwave and sliced thin, and placed them on the dehydrator trays. I let them go for 7 hours.

strawberries in dehydrator

The bananas came out great as they always do, but the strawberries were just kind of ‘meh’ to me. They are good, just not goooooood. I still enjoy them though!

dried strawberries

For dinner Saturday night I had not a clue what I was going to make. After taking inventory in the fridge and freezer, I pulled out a bunch of veggies and got chopping. First I sliced a whole lot of brussels sprouts into shreds. I sprayed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for about 20 minutes in the oven.

roasted brussel sprouts

In the mean time, I sautéed carrots, onion, mushrooms, and one garlic clove. In a separate  pan, I cooked two strips of turkey bacon.

sauteed veggies

Once the veggies were nearly done on the stove top, I added pre-cooked brown lentils to them, added a pinch of savory seasoning, salt, and pepper, and gave it a good stir.

Once the brussels sprouts were done roasting and the lentils were warmed through, I began plating. First, the lentils and sautéed veggies, next the roasted brussels sprouts, and finally, the icing on the cake, the turkey bacon cut into confetti pieces.

brussels sprouts and lentils brussels sprouts and lentils

This dish was outstanding! There was so much flavor, it was very hearty, and it was full of stick to your ribs soluble fiber. I LOVED it. Dana gave it two thumbs up as well.

Sunday

I already showed you my breakfast in yesterday’s post, so moving on to lunch. After running our normal Target and Costco errands, and grabbing a few nummy samples along the way, I wasn’t that hungry for lunch, but since Dana and I still had more errands to run, I knew I had to eat something to hold me over.

I threw together a salad made of mixed dark greens, blueberries, feta cheese, and almonds.

salad with blueberries

I more than likely ate some dates for dessert. In the afternoon I made homemade cinnamon honey almond butter and you better believe I had to be taste-testing along the way. :wink:

Sunday evening dinner was sesame soy salmon. I marinated the salmon in a mixture of low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, dried ginger, one minced garlic clove, and honey for about one hour. We grilled it on the stove top inside, about 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. I cranked the windows open, turned the vents on high above the stove, and still wound up with a house that smelled like sesame salmon. I’m anxious for the weather to warm up just even slightly so we can grill outside again.

The marinade gave a nice crispy crust to the salmon which was what I was hoping for.  Salmon is one of those foods that I hope grows on me. I’m just not a huge fan…yet. The plan is to eat salmon once a week, in hopes that I will start liking it more and more. It is just so darn healthy and I don’t want to be missing out on that! I didn’t like red wine at first, but I kept trying it and now I love it so I’m hoping for the same effect. We shall see.

DSCN6378

We began a very exciting project around our house on Sunday. We are “remodeling” our laundry room. I use the term loosely because technically in order to remodel something it has to already be modeled, right? Well ours isn’t. Ours wasn’t even fully sheet-rocked yet. It needs a lot of TLC and that is exactly what we’re giving it.

We will be painting the walls, tiling the floor, putting sheet rock up on the necessary walls, and we will be reorganizing. Our basement is completely unfinished except for the bathroom which we completed last year (whoops except I still need to decorate one wall in there).

This is one more step in the right direction in finishing that basement and I am ecstatic about it. Once we have the laundry room completed, I will be sure to show you before and after photos. Mission laundry room!

One last thing. Since it is now the 4th week of January, that means that there is a new workout posted in the 30 Day Abs Challenge. Here it is!

week 4 abs

I can’t believe it is the 4th week in January already. Did this month even happen? I say that every month! I am still keeping up with this challenge and am feeling very good. I will be sure to update you on any progress I made throughout the month once the challenge comes to an end. :smile:

Have a fabulous day!

Questions of the day: What health goals have you made recently? What are your goals for future months?

I am thinking I may need to find another fitness challenge for the month of February. I love how these monthly challenges motivate me and I enjoy the support of other people partaking in the challenge. I like to set goals and reach those goals!

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? :smile:

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 Bogotá 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
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!

Surround Yourself with Positive People


Can I get a “whoop whoop” for Saturday?! It was so nice not waking up to an alarm clock this morning (sigh). I am feelin’ completely rested and ready to go.

I had a fantastic day yesterday. In the morning I had an appointment and then made my way to the gym for a quick sweat sesh. Then off I went to meet up with my friend Courtney at Whole Foods.

Courtney and I were both completed our Dietetic Internships at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. When we were first accepted into the program, we were sent a list of information of all the other interns. Ironically, Courtney lived about 15 minutes from my parent’s place. We met up one time before we moved out to Wisconsin so that we could both have the comfort of knowing at least one person out there. We had the immediate bond of being “Twin City Girls.”

courtney and melanie

Throughout the 11 month internship, our friendship continued to grow. We shared many emotions together and many memories both good and bad. Courtney was my saving grace when I was running a 105°F fever. She picked me up in no time and rushed me to the Urgent Care without hesitation.

We related on so many levels; both having such love for our families and being home. We struggled through the emotions of being away from home and the stress of the internship. We both traveled home quite a bit on the weekends. We shared our dreams, studied vocab terms, and sang at the top of our lungs as we carpooled home.

I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t been there. We got through it together and grew as individuals on so many levels throughout the process.

I am so lucky to have her in my life. She is one of the most positive, genuine, selfless people I know. One of my unofficial new year resolutions is to surround myself with more people like her. People who look for the good in others, who imagine positive outcomes, and pour their hearts out for those they love. These are the people that make the world a better place.

We will continue to follow our hearts and reach for our dreams.

I don’t know how to transition into food smoothly after that, so I’m just going to go for it. Lunch was from the Whole Foods salad bar which is a glimpse of heaven for me. The veggie packed salad bars basically having me drooling just thinking about them.

  whole foods

 I tempted myself by walking through the frozen treats aisle. I mean seriously they have everything I could ever want: Coconut Bliss, Frozen Kefir, Soy Ice Cream…I wanted to try them all! Can you believe I walked out of there without purchasing one? That’s because I forgot.  whole foods
 In the afternoon I completed another session of the 30 Day Abs Challenge. Here is what week 2 workout looks like:
week 2 ab challenge
For dinner I headed over to my brother Kevin’s place for spaghetti with mom and dad.
 I had a gluten-free version with spaghetti squash. The sauce was amazing; full of italian sausage, ground turkey, veggies….YUM. Mom also made her Italian salad which tops Olive Garden salad if you ask me.
SO stinkin’ good and so nice to be with my beautiful fam bam, who are also such positive, genuine, beautiful people.
Being that I forgot to buy a frozen treat for Dana and myself at Whole Foods, I thought it would be a good idea to stop by Cherry Berry on the way home to fulfill my frozen yogurt wishes.
I went easy on the toppings (for once). I chose the non-fat vanilla yogurt with marshmallow sauce, sprinkles, and one mini Reese’s peanut butter cup.
cherry berry frozen yogurt
It was a delicious, warm-hearted, lovely day. I can’t wait to make today just the same. Embrace the day. Spread the love. Surround yourself with positive people. Xoxo.

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?