Weekend Scenes: St. Anthony Falls, Maca, and Fresh Greens

Happy July! It’s going to take a little while for me to actually believe it’s July but I’ll get there eventually. Once again, the month of June went by in a flash.

Anyway, how was everyone’s weekend? Mine was downright fabulous. It involved a lot  of rest and relaxation. This post jumps around a bit so get ready…

Over the weekend I decided that I will not be following out Option 1 of the Clean Program, but I will be following Option 2 and throwing Option 1 in sometimes. So what the heck does that mean anyway? It means that instead of breakfast and dinner being a smoothie/shake/soup, and lunch being a solid meal, I will now have the option of having solid meals at all three meals just as long as they fit into the foods allowed on the Elimination Diet.

However, for a while I plan on continuing having a smoothie in the morning (that’s easy in the summer), but for the rest of the day, I don’t want to be tied down to the idea of having to have a pureed dinner. This doesn’t mean that I won’t throw one in there time and again to give my digestion an extra little rest, because I will, just not every day.

This fits better with my lifestyle and given that we will be going camping soon, I feel much more comfortable following the elimination diet and Option 2 while we are away versus the two blended meals; that would be extremely difficult. So, I’m still giving my body the detox, just in a more realistic way for me. That’s my plan.

*******

This weekend I threw together my favorite salmon recipe minus the butter that usually goes with the almonds and capers. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really miss the butter!

grilled salmon

This lunch held me over for a loooong time which was a good thing because Dana and I headed to Minneapolis to go for a little walk around the St. Anthony Main area. If ya’ll come to Minnesota you should really put this area on your must-see list. It is incredibly beautiful, and so full of life and fitness. I imagined what it would be like to live over there and have these great paths at my leisure to run/walk/bike and I got a little jealous of some of my friends who lived over there (ONW) :wink:. It would be so motivating to look out the window and see handfuls of people out being active. It would make me want to go lace up the sneaks and get out there too!

I do truly love where I live too. It’s just different! More suburban-y.

I joked that Moose wasn’t a “city” dog because he was sniffing every other inch of the ground while the other dogs walked along very nicely like they’d been there, sniffed that, a dozen times already.

I enjoyed every second of St. Anthony Falls…

dana melanie

Afterwards we drove over to Lake Nokomis to have a picnic. I made a simple lentil dish with onions, garlic, mushrooms, kale, carrots, cumin, turmeric, oregano, salt and pepper. K, it doesn’t sound that simple after typing all of that out, but really, it was simple to make! I crunched up some cashews on top. Delish!

lentil picnic

 

Moose was really enjoying himself while we picnicked–there were lots of young pup chicks to scope out. He was extremely exhausted at this point too.

moose

 

We learned that he doesn’t enjoy celery…

moose

He really doesn’t like many vegetables we offer (not that we give him people food too often because we really don’t), and that’s probably because of the funny texture. He’s used to his dog food. Mmmm :wink:.

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

My newest breakfast smoothie includes a new-to-me ingredient called Maca powder. “Maca is an herbaceous plant native to the high Andean Mountains of Bolivia and Peru.” source

Navitas Naturals Maca Powder

“The maca root was prized throughout the Incan empire for its adaptogenic-like qualities that enable it to nourish and balance the body’s delicate endocrine system, and to help cope with stress. It also energizes naturally, and can aid in helping to balance hormones.” Source

“In the mountainous regions where maca comes from, it is a regular staple in the diet and is often eaten boiled and sliced, similar to potato chips. Other preparations include use as a gruel with milk, and cooked with potatoes, apples, oats, quinoa or fava beans. The roots are also toasted and ground to prepare a maca coffee-like beverage, and fermented cooked and mashed to make a mild homemade beer. Some Peruvians prefer the boiled roots with water, milk, honey and cinnamon. Today, it is possible to find a wide range of products infused with maca, including whiskey, wine, ice cream and cosmetics.

Maca Powder has a pungent and sweet nutty taste with hints of butterscotch flavor. It can be mixed easily into smoothies, shakes and juices for a flavorful and healthy boost, and it can also be added to desserts and baked goods.” Source

I am all about any natural ways I can try to regulate the hormonal system and I’m really enjoying this Maca!

Unfortunately with the Elimination Diet I cannot have bananas because this would be a great addition to a banana smoothie, but since I can’t, I’ve had to come up with other ways to include it in smoothies. Here is my latest concoction:

Superfood Smoothie

  • kale
  • frozen blueberries
  • almond milk
  • maca powder
  • 100% raw cacao powder
  • cinnamon
  •  a touch of stevia to taste

smoothie

I am having so much fun learning about these different superfoods and natural remedies! Come on body, let’s start to normalize!

********

On Sunday we headed to a local Farmer’s Market to stock up on fresh herbs that I will be using this week to prepare our camping meals! We are going to be eating like royalty while we camp. I am going to try to include some recipes for you all when I am away. They are all “clean” but anyone can enjoy them!

We bought dill, parsley, cilantro, zucchini, green onion, and asparagus; all Minnesota grown. MMm mmm. So fresh!

farmers market farmers market

I used the asparagus to make an asparagus leek soup for Dana and myself last night (yes, we ate hot soup on an 80 degree day which is why I’m changing my Clean Plan like I told you earlier).

I don’t have the recipe for ya because it isn’t my most favorite soup ever, but the ingredients were: asparagus, leeks, kale, cashews, water, thyme, bay leaves salt, pepper, and coconut milk.

asparagus leek soup

 

The flavor was actually really good but I just made it too thin.

We took Moose to the dog park and did some yard work and then relaxed for the evening. It was a wonderful weekend. The weather was perfect which made me oh so happy!

I have exciting and fun news to share with you all this week (hopefully tomorrow) about a fitness opportunity to all you local gals! Keep your eyes peeled for it. 😉

How was YOUR weekend?!

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Thank you for all of your sweet thoughts and kind words yesterday. Moose is doing very well! His swelling has gone down dramatically and after I posted yesterday, the vet actually called me back after having talked to a dental specialist who said a little swelling was absolutely normal especially on bigger dogs, so I didn’t need to bring him back in yesterday after all. They told me to keep an eye on the swelling for the next 2-3 days and if it doesn’t go down, then we would have a problem, but otherwise it’s totally normal. And since it’s gone down I am not worried at all!

He did some doggy modeling for me yesterday…

moose moose

Gah! Love him. While we were outside yesterday I wandered over to our garden and spotted one beautiful little flower peaking on its own. It was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, the wind was so intense that by the evening it was completely ruined, but at least I got to enjoy it for a short amount of time.

flower

The temperatures crept to about 98°F yesterday, but since the air was so dry and there was quite a bit of wind, it didn’t feel very hot. So instead of thinking about making ice cream, or popsicles, or chomping on some watermelon, I thought it would be fun to bake up some cookies. Totally not normal I realize. The heat wasn’t going to stop me from my chocolate craving.

I got my inspiration for this cookie recipe from acouplecooks.com. Naturally, I steered towards a healthier cookie, and I knew I wanted to make it gluten-free too.cookie

There is a secret ingredient in these cookies that might surprise you but you will be surprised to find out that you can’t taste it at all and it also packs in some protein and fiber into this decadent dark chocolate cookie and makes for one heck of a soft and fudgy cookie.

chocolate cookie gluten free

chocolate cookie gluten free

Have you guessed the secret ingredient yet? If you guessed black beans you would be absolutely correct. Don’t wrinkle your nose until you try them! I’m telling you–you can’t taste the beans at all and it does wonders for the texture of the cookie and when combined with the cocoa powder, gives these cookies a deep dark chocolate flavor.

IMG_2719

I know you’re intrigued. Here is what I came up with!

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Print
Ingredients
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (or about 2 cups cooked from dried)
  • 1½ Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips or more (I used Enjoy Life dairy-free, soy-free)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking pan with a non-stick mat, parchment paper, or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In food processor puree the beans along with the oil, applesauce, egg, honey, and vanilla. Puree until smooth.
  3. Add cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt into wet mixture; blend to combine. The consistency will resemble brownie batter.
  4. Remove blade from food processor and stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit for five minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy!

 

What are you waiting for? Get baking!

Question of the day: Have you ever baked any sweet treats with beans or any other wacky ingredients? What did you think?

Insanity Week 3 Complete: Push Yourself

First and foremost, Moose says hi!

moose

 

Sometimes I think we should enroll him in puppy modeling because he is so adorable, but I wouldn’t want him to lose his modesty. 😉

I can’t believe how much I have been slacking creatively in the kitchen this week. Honestly, the majority of my meals this week have been “wing-it” meals and I have been settling with Greek yogurt and a couple of snacks for my evening meals. It’s a little strange! I’ll get back on the ball though; I always do.

Insanity: Week 3 Completed

I can’t believe I have just finished week three of Insanity. In case you missed my other Insanity posts you can catch up real quick:

Let’s take a look at how week three went down!

Body and Strength Changes

Many of the moves in the workouts are starting to feel “easier” because I am able to use more core strength to get through it. I say “easier” because these workouts continue to be incredibly challenging, I am just able to keep up a little better with some of the exercises. My core continues to feel stronger each week.

The amount of push-ups I am able to do has doubled since I began Insanity and I am so incredibly excited about this! I am still working towards my goal of being able to do at least one unassisted chin-up and I am thrilled to tell you that I am SO close! One of these days I’m going to hop on that pull-up bar and crank out a solid chin-up. I can’t wait.

My legs feel like stronger and more toned. My pants are all feeling very comfortable although I feel like my legs are looking a bit thicker; this may be in my head.

Weight Fluctuations

For the sake of my sanity (ha) I think I am going to remove this column from the following recaps. The scale and I have a poor relationship and I don’t like having to step on it every week; the number doesn’t matter and I don’t want this to be a focal point. I am feeling really good about the changes I am seeing, and I don’t want the scale to jeopardize these feelings.

The main reason I put this category in my recap posts was because I felt readers may be interested in any weight changes during the Insanity journey, and for that reason I will more than likely include that information in my final Insanity recap post, just not weekly. Thanks for understanding!

Soreness, Fatigue, or Aches

My back was really sore last week for some reason, but this week it is feeling just fine. This is a very good thing because that means I can continue the Insanity workouts.

My elbow is a little sore and have no idea if this is associated with the workouts or not. Kind of strange I realize but I don’t know what else it would be from!

Overall Thoughts and Feelings

I continue to prefer to do my Insanity workouts in the morning before breakfast and after I’ve had a chance to wake up for a few minutes. It’s a little hard to get moving during the warm-up but by the third set of the warm-up I am usually feeling good to go. I love the feeling of being completely done with an amazing workout early in the morning and having the rest of the day to do what I need to do. It helps me to stay energized throughout the day too.

(glistening post-workout photo)

insanity

This week of workouts flew by very quickly. I had an easy time finding motivation to complete the workouts (unlike last week). I think part of the reason why is that I am feeling so good about the changes my body is going through and I want to continue to feel and see those changes. I am feeling so much stronger and I am in complete amazement at the changes a person can make to their body in such a short amount of time. I can’t tell if my body is changing enough for anyone else to notice, but I can personally notice subtle changes and that’s all that matters to me.

motivation insanity

I found this Insanity Survival Guide on a blog I ran across on Pinterest, and if you are following the Insanity workouts or thinking about starting them, you should really check this out. He lists 17 tips to help you safely get through the Insanity workouts.

I began this Insanity journey to build strength, to increase endurance and stamina, and to challenge my body and push it out of it’s fitness comfort zone. I can honestly say it has done all of that and more and I am not even halfway done.

I am proud to say I am done with week three and gracefully moving on to week four!

Here I go!

When’s the last time you pushed yourself out of your fitness comfort zone? How did it go? How did you feel?

 

Spring Has Finally Sprung

 

It’s finally happening people…spring is arriving in Minnesota! Yesterday the temperature got up to 50°F which being that we had these sights just days ago, gets us Minnesotans super amped up. Today is supposed to reach 69, Saturday: 72, and Sunday:  76. If every Minnesotan who is capable of being outside this weekend isn’t outside I would be truly surprised. We have been caged up for far too long. There will be people in shorts and flip-flops left and right, and possibly even bathing suits. Spring is finally ARRIVING! My heart flutters at the thought.

Tomorrow we run are running in a 10K race. Because of the nasty weather, and since the beginning of Insanity, we haven’t been running…at.all. I am hoping since we are keeping up on our cardio and endurance and building up our strength, that 6.2 miles will be a breeze (*fingers crossed*). The other thing that should help is the gorgeous weather. The adrenaline of warm weather and cheering spectators should be all that we need to make this race a great one. We shall see!

Last night there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to grill. At lunch time I started marinading two skinless chicken breasts in coconut aminos, honey, pineapple, ginger, and garlic powder.

When it was time for dinner we threw those bad boys on the grill and hung outside with the pooch while they cooked away.

outside

outside dana grill

“Look ma, no snow!”

outside moose

To go along with the chicken, I put together a simple romaine salad with red peppers and lima beans. For the dressing I made a simple mix of rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and a touch of honey. We plated the chicken over the salad, and dressed it with the Asian-inspired mixture. That’s what you call a springy-looking plate! So light and refreshing!

chicken salad

I’m officially welcoming salads back in as a dinner option now that the warm weather is rolling around.

chicken salad

 

After dinner we took Mooser for a 2 mile walk around the neighborhood. I underestimated my clothing and lack of layers and wound up being pretty chilly through the walk. It was still so nice to get out and not have to trudge through any snow. LOVE.

I am really hoping to make this a ritual in the evenings. So often I find myself wanting to snuggle into the couch after dinner and then I don’t end up moving from my spot until bedtime. I’m working on breaking that habit and the warmer weather will absolutely help that.

After our walk we came in and enjoyed Glee and I whipped up a batch of banana soft serve. I made it in the NutriBullet for the first time and it came out even smoother than when I make it in the blender. We went the simple au natural route and just used bananas and a little coconut milk.

 

banana softserve

 

Between the grilling, the salad, the evening walk, the banana soft serve, it looks like spring has finally sprung over here! Can I get a whoop whoop?!

What do you enjoy most about spring?

Happy Friday my friends!

A Christmas Full of Family, Friends, and Joy

Well hello there my beautiful friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, and the joy of the season.

I gave the food photos a break this weekend, and really the camera in general as well. I soaked up every moment of the celebrations. I’m feeling a bit groggy today so I will be short-winded, but still wanted to recap the events for you all and relive them for myself.

Sunday: Extended family get together on my mom’s side. There were LOTs of people there (I have like a million cousins). We all hung out, caught up, enjoyed some great food and great company.

These photos weren’t taken at the party but they were still fun to share:

A beautifully festive bouquet from my sweetie…

DSCN6285

 

My not so festive outfit…

DSCN6296

 

And my oh-so-festive nails…

festive nails

Christmas Eve: Gift wrapping at the Children’s hospital in the morning and then shuffled off to my mom and dad’s for appetizers, gifts, dinner (french onion soup, tortilla soup, oyster stew, bread, and veggies), and 10:00 pm church service. We actually had my whole immediate family home and of course I had to make sure we got a family photo. I’ll be posting it soon—-very special to me!

In the meantime, another family photo…

christmas eve

 

Abbie girl…

abbie christmas

 

Papa and Dana with some gifts…

papa christmas   IMG_1193

 

Christmas Day: A lazy morning and a yoga session (we opted out of our run given it was –15°F windchill) followed by Moose asking nicely if he could open his Christmas presents…

moose so cute

 

I made homemade monkey bread made gluten-free with almond flour…

christmas breakfast

 

Our baby boy opening up his stocking stuffer…

 

moose christmaschristmas moose

 

“Man, only one present? I must not have been a very good boy this year.” 🙂

christmas moose

 

Kidding, he LOVED it! Plus his auntie Abbie gave him another toy too…

IMG_1198

 

She may not always act like she loves him but I think secretly she does. She’s just playing hard to get.

Next, off to Dana’s parent’s house for a celebration full of gifts, food (ham, beef roast, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, etc.), and again, wonderful company. I did not snap one single photo at Dana’s parents house but I can tell you we had some great food and lots of time to relax.

We got home around 8:30 and after putting away a few gifts, cleaning up the kitchen, and washing my face, I hunkered down on the couch with my new slippers as we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and continued planning a future vacation which is yet to be revealed!!

 

christmas relaxing

 

I had the most incredible Christmas. I am so very grateful for my amazing family and friends who fill my heart with so much love and whom I love unconditionally. I hope you all had an equally delightful holiday.

Now, it’s time to get back into the clean eating!

I’m off to do about 5 loads of laundry and clean up this house a bit! Happy day to all!

 

 

 

 

Hearty Lentils with Spinach

Hello there! Happy Sunday my friends. What’s everyone have on the agenda? Resting and relaxing or running errands and prepping for the week ahead? Whatever it may be I hope it’s a good one so far!

I still have yet to recap the second part of our Colombia vacation but I was really itching to write a “normal” post plus I have a recipe I want to share with you all, so the second recap will have to wait a little while longer. Here’s the Miami recap, and Colombia Part I recap if you’re interested.

I have a little bit of catching up to do from Friday first so we’re going to be starting off there right at lunch time. To celebrate my birthday (a week early) my co-workers and I went out to Houlihan’s for lunch. I received a free $15 coupon for my birthday to the restaurant so that’s why we decided to go there.

I ordered the french onion soup and a caesar salad with grilled chicken and polenta croutons. I was very happy with both of my selections.

Tasty!

Moving on to dinner…

This is your forewarning that the meal you are about to see is one of the most unappetizing dishes ever to appear on BN. However, I promise you that although unappealing to the eyes, it is very appealing to the palate.

Hearty Lentils with Spinach.

After I plated the lentils over the spinach, I stirred the warm lentils into the spinach and decided that I liked it that way better.

Oh yes I am falling in love with lentils. First the Curry Stew and now this.

Hearty Lentils with Spinach
Print
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1½ cups lentils
  • ¾ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. curry
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth*
  • 3 cups spinach
  • *Use vegetable broth if cooking vegetarian
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, saute onions and carrots on stovetop for 3 minutes.
  2. Add in spices and stir.
  3. Add in chicken broth, stir, reduce heat to simmer, cover and let simmer for 2 hours; stirring occasionally.
  4. Before serving, add spinach and stir in until it wilts into lentils.
  5. Serve hot.

It’s such a hearty and healthy dish that I truly enjoyed (and Dana did too).

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

Saturday

I enjoyed two cups of Dunkin Donut’s Pumpkin Spice coffee with hazelnut creamer to kickstart my morning.

Have you tried this stuff?! If you haven’t please go buy some. You won’t regret it. NUM.

Next was breakfast. I topped one banana half with Parkers Farm creamy peanut butter and the other half with Peanut Butter & Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter. Yes it is a dream how good that stuff is. A dangerous dream. Thanks to Peanut Butter & Co. for sending me some coupons for their heavenly product.

I gave breakfast time to settle while watching two episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Dominican Republic and Maine. Both episodes were great. His humor cracks me up.

Then it was time to lace up and head out the door and face the dreary morning with a run. Moose surely didn’t care that it was drizzly and dreary, he was so ready to go. We trekked through the neighborhood and covered about 4 miles.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up the house, “helping” Dana dig out the window well to prepare for egress windows so that we can finish our basement at some point, putting the patio furniture away for the season, hanging out with Moose, and baking up a treat for the worker crew.

Recipe to come soon!

I hope you’re having an excellent weekend. Catch up with you all later!